In four years as a vegan, I’m still grappling with the fact that I have yet to have a single authentic conversation with a non-vegan on the issue of using animals for food. Those who choose veganism often filter their true feelings, and here’s why:
- Vegans tend to be ridiculed by society. It’s clear in TV shows, the news, movies, and the radio that culture at large, especially in the west, continues to judge veganism as extreme.
- This widespread societal attack has led vegans to feel excluded, misunderstood, and judged, causing a manufactured lack of confidence among many of us.
- People choosing veganism must always walk carefully on the eggshells of society’s comfort zones.
- Without safe spaces to truly express the transformative, emotional journey that so many vegans go through, we are left instead to engage in artificial, disconnected arguments with those vehemently defending what is merely an inherited set of social norms.
Discomfort is the seed of growth.
For so many of us, going vegan is a heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, mind-expanding, ego-exploding process. Look: nearly all vegans spent years and even decades eating and using animal products. This means that at some point, virtually all vegans you know chose to transform the worldview they had into something drastically different. And the catalyst of this transformation is open exploration and extensive research into the animal exploitation industry. And that shit is not comfortable!
No one is saying discomfort and change is rainbows and butterflies, but stepping outside of what is comfortable and seeking the truth are the only ways to expose yourself to the beautiful and terrible truths that are intentionally invisible within our comfort zones. Yes, “the truth hurts”; and at the same time, “the truth will set you free.”
In my personal realization of the horrors that animals face in the industry, as well as the incomprehensible destruction animal agriculture has had on our planet, my whole life flipped upside down. I began to see the world through an entirely new lens. I was able to see clearly, for the first time in my life, all the violence we were perpetuating on innocent animals, on our own bodies, and on our once-pristine planet. Even worse, I was able to see that I had been an active part of this destruction all my life, ignorant to the truths hiding just beyond the border of my comfort zone; ignorant to the fact that my actions were impacting my personal well-being, the lives of the animals I share this planet with, and of course, the health of the planet itself.
You matter: your actions do have an impact.
So many of us live lives of comfort and convenience. From simple pleasures like iced water and hot showers to lavish privileges like endless food options and fancy cars, it seems that humans are more concerned with what’s easy and familiar than what is honorable and right. Lots of people cling to the idea that individual change has no impact on the world, giving them free rein to continue living and consuming mindlessly and without compassion.
This is increasingly apparent in westernized societies where any threat to overconsumption and convenience is beaten down immediately, to protect the status quo. With little to no regard for the expense that our choices have on each other, other living beings, and our planet, this reactive tendency in our culture is merely a manifestation of the ego and a suppression of the soul.
When your actions have victims
You have probably heard something along the lines of: “It’s my right to eat what I want when I want.” But you know what? No. It is not your right to do something if that “something” has victims outside of yourself. I am a huge proponent of personal freedom, but when your so-called freedom actively suffocates the freedom of other beings, that argument is void of logic. When your actions cause unnecessary violence and suffering to innocent beings, you have left the realm of freedom and are entering the realm of domination.
Culture is not your friend.
Terence McKenna said it best: “Culture is not your friend.” Western, dominator culture would like us to believe that we can have anything we want without any consequences. This type of dangerous thinking has led us to rape and pillage our precious planet of its natural resources, steal land and massacre native peoples, own human beings as slaves, and slaughter tens of billions of animals every year for food, clothing and entertainment.
I find it astonishing in our culture that so many humans demand perfection and deliver mediocrity, putting minimal effort into living a meaningful, diligent life, while expecting infinite levels of pleasure and privilege on demand. This imbalance must be healed through an understanding of our interconnectedness to all living beings as well as a commitment to remain open to the truth and to live according to that truth.
We must not dismiss ideas simply because they make us uncomfortable and challenge our worldviews. We must embrace the flaws and impermanence of our perceptions. We must face the realities that bring us immense sadness and immeasurable love. We must allow the truth to shine through so that we no longer have to live a lie. Together, we can stand up to the culture of violence and suffering we inherited against our will. Life on Planet Earth is a miracle of our universe, and it’s time we started acting like it. Let us shine the lights of excellence within us all and share the greatest version of ourselves with each other. Let us envision and co-create a world of peace, joy and love. It starts within each and every one of us.