Back in April, we received a beautiful letter from two of our all-time favorite penpals… Eric and Lilly came to visit Shangri-La as wwoofers back in 2010, and have stayed in touch ever since. It’s always a joy to hear about their vegan-making adventures, and we felt this particular letter was worth sharing…
Dear Gentle World,
At this time one year ago, Lilly and I were sitting in Auckland anxiously awaiting our visit to Gentle World, not knowing what to expect. Veganism was a far-off thing that, quite frankly, didn’t seem like a realistic thing to do. Now, one year later, we are still Vegan-American and proudly so. It has changed the course of our lives dramatically.
Through the inevitable challenges, I have become more dedicated and passionate about food and strengthening humankind’s bond with nature. I have become more aware of my role with other animals in the global ecosystem and I am realizing that through the use of food one can see how unjustly separated we have become from what makes us.
Enjoying the riches of the vegan lifestyle has allowed me to remove myself from this cycle and to see it from an alternate view. I have come to see this view as a blessing and I am grateful for the food I eat. I have learned to love cooking from scratch and for groups of people and now I crave the days of going to the grocery store just to look at the produce aisle. I am excited to graduate school so that I can finally settle down in a place where I can have a garden of my own. A deep connection to food has revitalised my life.
Being a vegan for a year I feel much better about what I put in my body, and my body knows it too. I have more energy and I dropped to a stable weight of 15 pounds less. I am happy to cook, eat, and share the joys of food with anyone willing to sit down.
During my summer job I had a 13 year old camper say “I like that you’re a vegan because you know how to make vegetables taste good.” During my time in Iceland, I was the only vegan of the group in a country of dairy and lamb. I remained strong and the reward was great. People became aware of what they were eating and always thought of me. This resulted in them trying to make vegan desserts and it ended up being almost universal group consensus that the vegan brownies were much better than the egg-laden ones. At the end of the semester, I had one fellow student become a vegan and another in contemplation about it. I am glad that I could at least pass the light on to the others.
Lilly and I still reminisce about the days at Gentle World. It was such a blessing that I don’t think either of us realized the full impact it would have on our lives. It continues to grow daily and with only a year under our belts there is a lot of experience yet to be had. Even now, we continue to receive the benefits of Gentle World and share them with others.
A short message from Lilly:
Veganism has affected my life in so many unexpected ways. Gentle World was such a profound experience because the connectedness and love of the community was undeniable, so much so that veganism simply spoke for itself – there was no convincing needed. In understanding and adopting this way of thinking and relating to the world, intentionality has been a powerful agent in my life. Living according to my values has allowed me to achieve balance in a way I never had before. Now I am able to make decisions that echo and promote the beliefs that resonate with me most deeply.
Veganism was the perfect spiritual decision and came at just the right time – to live a cleaner life; in mind, body and spirit. It is such a freeing and empowering decision! What we thought would be one week of gardening turned out to be a rare chance to get to know such an inspiring group of people living in harmony with nature. Before I went abroad, I felt a missing piece in how I lived my life. Veganism was the ultimate way for me to finally express the powerful connection I feel towards humans, animals, and nature.
After returning from NZ, I struggled to incorporate my changed self into my previous world. Veganism allowed me to integrate all that I had become into the life I was so used to. Veganism has given me opportunities to meet other like-minded people and has opened up so many doors I would not have been exposed to otherwise. Being vegan has allowed me to work with other vegan students at my university and together we have helped make many changes to our school – from increasing vegan awareness to expanding the vegan meal options. Veganism has served as a bridge between my new self and my old setting, allowing me to meet people I could relate to after returning from abroad. In turn, this has both solidified my sense of veganism and helped it evolve further.
The Vegan American Duo Lilly & Eric