Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Loaded Question

I was on Facebook earlier today looking at a media site. I noticed a post someone had written saying they want to go veg, and were asking for help. I responded saying I was vegan and gave some pretty basic tips and stuff. To my surprise almost instantly there was a response, and a chat thread began. I learned that this person lived in a far away country and before long, we had taken the conversation off that board and to our private pages. We exchanged chit chat about food and stuff. One of the first questions I was asked is what is it like being vegan?

What is it like being vegan?

I sat and thought, I had NEVER been asked this question before. How is that even possible to not have been asked that?

I thought a moment more. What IS it like for me being vegan?

I didn't want to scare away my new friend because I knew there is sincere effort for wanting to go veg. And, he seems like a nice person. Further, I am interested in people, and learning about people and different countries, and cultures. Because of this, I kept it relatively light, not going into the whole deal for me about what is it like for me being vegan.

That is a loaded question if I ever heard one. Seems so basic, but it's so complex.

What is it like for me being vegan?

Being vegan is liberating for me. It gives me freedom to try and eat anything that exists that is non-animal based, or by-product. I never used to live like this before, I was a relatively picky eater, actually more of the type of person who was not experimental, instead ate the same few types of foods, whatever they were. Now, if it's vegan, I will try anything once.

Being vegan makes me joyful. I have completely altered my perception of other life on this planet. I now am "out" and feel confident enough to shout out that animals are just like us, they feel joy, pain, love, grief and all the other emotions. The problem is, we use our might and bully them around, exploiting them.

Animals live on the same planet as us, but it is a VERY different world for them.

Being vegan has so many positive things. My health has improved. You may overhear me say "I'm tired," but I stopped and thought about that today too. I am approaching AARP age (oh my freaking dog, is that possible?) fast enough, and I am putting in 12-14 hours a day 7 days a week. I work out consistently about 5 days a week, run a few miles 5 days a week, and do lots of things to serve my community and neighbors. Of course I'm tired!  Most people this age work 40 hours a week, and complain they're tired. I have tons more energy than some people half my age. It's vegan that is boosting me!

Being vegan makes me part of a "club" of sorts. I find kindred spirits all the time just by hearing them say "I'm vegan." I know that they understand much of what I do too.  It's so good to just be accepted by the tight knit veg community across the globe.

Then, there is the dark side. How is it even possible there is a dark side maybe you wonder? To me, the dark side is living with the knowledge that I have contributed to the suffering of animals, that I have caused torture and death because I ate meat, dairy, chose to wear animal skins like it was a badge of honor or something like that. It's not. It is, now for me, a sign of ignorance (or denial) to wear skins, eat meat, to be joyful on the death of another. And, then there comes the actual educational process of becoming vegan. I had to find out the truth. I read leaflets, I saw photos, I watched videos, I read books, I joined AR organizations, I heard the screams. I still do all that, and it wears on me. But, it keeps me motivated, it propels me daily to fight the good fight.

I understand why people live in denial because they may feel overwhelmed about the truth in the non-veg world about animals for food, animals for entertainment, animals for clothing, or anything else. It's absolutely HORRIFYING. Abuse. Violence. Torture. Murder. Suffering. Suffering. Suffering.

So much suffering.

This is the dark side. Once I knew the truth, I cannot forget it. Then again, why would I WANT to forget it? Is ignorance really bliss? No, it is not. Ignorance is NOT bliss, because ignorance is the equivalent of death to another sentient being.

I've mentioned this little story before, but it bears repeating. Was it in "Bizarro" or was it some other "comic" strip.... there's 2 people playing with an ant farm. Joking and laughing about the captive ants, working really hard, they don't know any better they're stuck in a box, right? Their whole life, in that box. And, then flash to the next box.... 2 aliens holding a box. Inside the box are the 2 people holding the ant farm. See where I'm going with this?  Yes, of course you do.

I think someday aliens will visit us and take "specimens" for study. They will study us and ask "do humans feel pain? can humans feel joy?" you know, just like we do with animals now. And, it will be their form of "research" but it will separate parents from children, tear families and friends away from each other, and be a horrible thing full of abuse, violence, torture, murder. Suffering. Suffering Suffering.

So much suffering.

No one has ever said to me a reason I can accept for NOT going veg that is anything but selfish. It's "I can't watch that" "I need protein" "I love bacon" "I work out and I need meat and eggs." Notice that every sentence starts with "I."

I get impatient with humanity and myself on the issue of compassion. There's no time to waste we have to do the maximum NOW. There's too much suffering, too much murder, too much torture.  Too much pollution, too much waste. Too much vanity and too much selfishness.

The ONLY regret I have about being vegan is that I didn't go vegan sooner. The only other regret I have is not really my regret because I cannot control this next one.... it's that I wasn't born vegan.

Being vegan has at times caused others to bully me and publicly ridicule me. Plus, I've been slurred more than once saying that it's a good thing I don't have children because I'm not fit to parent being vegan.

Oh my.

It's incredible how some people have a "gift" of being able to deflect things away from the realities of their own choices and push insane comments off to someone else as an argument.

Regardless, those words and comments like it always sting.

I've been expected to defend my compassionate choices with insane digs about "what if I lived on a deserted island, and only meat was there, would I eat it?"

Um, seriously....?!!!!

What's it like being vegan?

It's the greatest joy, that has come at the "expense" of trading ignorance for knowledge.

Ignorance is not bliss. Knowledge is power.

What's it like for me being vegan?

I guess there's an element of power for me having immersed myself in this lifestyle. Maybe power isn't the right word... it's more EMpowered.

Yes. That's it!

Stream of consciousness writing at it's best.

I've been called names and referred to as a zealot. If I consider the true meaning of "zealot," I don't think that's a bad thing, but when someone calls you that, they don't mean it as a compliment. This I have learned.

What's it like for me being vegan?

I aspire to be more, to do better. More what? Better what? 

More everything, better everything. More than an innkeeper, more than a cook. More than a student of life. More than a vegan. Better advocate. Better activist.  Better mentor. Better teacher. Better student.

A better human being.

What's it like being vegan?

It's like knowing the best thing EVER, and wanting to share it with everyone else, so they can know the best thing EVER too.

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