Vegan. Part 1.

I started being picky about what I ate when I was about 16. I read the Omnivore’s Dilemma and found out about factory farming, forever changing the course of my life.

I was beyond shocked at the things I learned about my world. About what we do to animals to create “food”. It was completely appalling and unacceptable to me.

And yet, there it was, existing at the absolute foundation of the functioning of my society. Underneath everything. People justified its presence by saying “We need to feed everyone somehow.” People justified its presence with poverty consciousness, saying “This is how you create a lot of food cheaply”. As if this is the only way — as if the costs of this atrocity don’t outweigh the benefits.

What happens to your world when your foundation is built on something evil?

I learned from iboga what living in a lie can do to you. It will confuse you and separate you from the truth of reality and the truth who you are. It will rob you of your spark and your joy. It will make your life a living hell.

So what happens to us collectively when we lie every day about the wholesomeness of our food system? When we serve each other meat that was stolen from animals whose whole lives were created and controlled by us, who were forced to be born into this world in a chaotic, overcrowded, bacteria-ridden farm, immediately ripped away from their mothers to be initiated into a life of being force-fed manufactured feed and antibiotics and growth hormones.

I once related factory farming to the Holocaust, and that made someone sour and annoyed at me. But I stand by that comparison. How can we selectively extend compassion and empathy? How can we reserve our sadness for humans and pretend that the other members of the animal kingdom don’t suffer too?

How can the human heart handle this… ignore this?

Are we not beings of compassion and light? Are we really so hard that it’s a REAL OPTION to just TURN OUR HEAD THE OTHER WAY?

I realize that one of the issues here is scale. This is a problem that’s caught a lot of people’s attention, but it’s so big that most people don’t know what to do with it. It’s a monolithic, billion-dollar problem.

And we don’t think we can handle it, because we all believe we are too small to really change things.

“If you can’t change it, why worry about it?”

This is a sentiment that I agree with. And of course the answer to huge problems isn’t to sit around in worry, or endless sadness. But neither is it a good response to numb out to the truth of what’s happening, because that only enables us to live in a lie, which is a worse kind of pain.

Lies hurt worse than sadness. When we live in the lie, we all continue creating the same world that we were born into, even though on some level we know it is deeply wrong.

Waking up to the truth is painful, because we have to look at everything we’ve been pretending to ignore, and it isn’t pretty. There is a real fucking mess to clean up. But guess what? It isn’t going to clean itself! We are all responsible! Each one of us!

I think we avoid looking at the problems deeply because on some level we don’t believe we can do anything about it. When you mull over a big issue with that mindset, you can feel totally eclipsed and helpless.

So, I get it. I get why people look the other way and eat burgers and buy Costco meat. It’s more comfortable to pretend than to look at the truth, feel it in your heart, and engage yourself deeply in finding the right path forward.

Going Vegan

I’m really not a political person, is probably why I haven’t written more about this, but I’m coming to see this as something I need to push my comfort zone around.

I have been various degrees of ‘vegan’, on and off, for 9 years.

I’m not perfect. I have my weaknesses in life, especially with food. My first year of being “vegan-ish”, I ate ice cream all the time because there was an ice cream bar at the freshman dining hall at Duke, and I didn’t want to miss out on it.

I’ve learned a lot since then, about what really feels good to me. I love eating a plant-based diet. I love eating sprouted grains, and avocado, and nuts, and greens, and all kinds of vegetables and fruits. These are foods that make me feel alive and connected.

But I don’t do this all the time. I eat junk food and fall off the wagon. Sometimes I get in a place of doubt around my food ethics, because I care too much what other people say and think and do. Sometimes I fall into a state of hopelessness and apathy, and my inner comes out and binge eats ice cream in secret. So while there is a part of me that wants to always make food choices from a place of power, and out of my compassion and empathy, I know I am a work in progress and that that has to be good enough.

There is some confusion in me, because way back when I started changing the way I eat, I lost weight and my mother told me I had an eating disorder. At the time, I didn’t know how to stand in my power with my mother, and it totally deflated me. I learned that it wasn’t safe to stand out and be different in the way I eat, that it would be too threatening to the people around me and that they would not love me if I did that. This was extremely traumatic, probably much more traumatic than whatever weight loss my body went through. I started binge eating after that, because it felt like all this negative attention came to me and that my whole world was crashing down. Because it didn’t matter how much I wanted to change the world, ultimately the word of my parents eclipsed all my caring.

I was a teenager back then. Things weren’t good between me and Mom. She didn’t understand where I was coming from with the food stuff. I think she took it as a personal attack. I only share this to say, I know that the roots of our behaviors are complex, and it’s worth it to extend yourself a huge degree of compassion and understanding in the process of self-transformation. The point isn’t to be perfect. The point is to actively be a work in progress towards something that matters more than you do. So even though I know I’m not perfect when it comes to the choices I make around food, and life in general… I still want to show up here and share what’s on my heart.

Is a vegan diet even helping the situation?

I’ve heard a lot of people say that going vegan isn’t going to actually change the issue. That the impact you make on the environment as a single person cutting out animal products, is minimal.

I don’t think this is completely the issue at hand. What I’d like to talk about is getting honest with my soul about what in my life aligns with who I am, and what doesn’t. Who can eat factory farmed meat and say with full certainty and pride, “This is who I am and what I stand for”? It would probably be more honest to say “This sucks, but it’s what’s in front of me and I don’t see a way around it right now.” If more people were willing to acknowledge the misalignment in the first place, then things wouldn’t change overnight but at least we’d have a lot more people creatively engaged and invested in the issue.

This is a really interesting time to be alive. One of the things that will determine whether we succeed or fail in the near future is our ability to work together on a large scale.

Imagine a flock of birds in flight. You know how quickly they make a decision as a group about which way to go? It’s amazingly synchronized.

Compare that to us humans, who spend all our time hemming and hawing and fighting over what to do. We literally have split our society into two opposite halves having a never-ending argument.

It doesn’t have to be like this. We can be like the birds. We can align with each other elegantly. These are the skills of the 5D world, and what is required next!

It starts with feeling. With really feeling the truth of what is inside you and around you. This is the first skill we need to learn, and it goes against the old way, completely. The old way was to push down or deny all the feelings, to turn off our psychic senses and our empathy, and to focus on the material world, and live in our thoughts and beliefs and stories about it. Endless justifications.

Instead: From a place of feeling, you can actually ask yourself, “What in my life do I not feel good about?”

It is totally disempowering to numb yourself to the misalignments in your life. On some level, a lot of us have done that to survive. But times are changing. We need to remember our power and strength. And a big part of doing that is actually feeling good with how we live our lives.

And to do this we need to FEEL. We need to open our hearts and be honest with ourselves.

A lot of things come up in the process. Fear comes up for me. Guilt and shame come up for me. Sometimes I want to just hide under the rug and not care at all, just going along with the status quo.

But if I do that, I’ll have come here for nothing. I’ll die without having fully lived the life I’m meant to live. I’ll have lived a fake life.

My wish is for all of us to wake up to our power and create the lives we’re meant to live. We’re all here to change the world. It’s a scary thing to wake up to the truth of that, but the truth will set you free.

Life underneath the blanket of apathy is enticing in some ways – it’s tempting to let go of our personal responsibility and stay in some victimhood story – but it totally pales in comparison to the magic and beauty of the REAL world. The bigger you become, the more honest you become, the more life shines. The bigger your capacity for facing hard truths, the bigger your capacity to feel joy and aliveness.

This is the experience I’m having post-iboga. Remembering what the point of life even is. Remembering that I’m here to enjoy this exquisite world, and also to leave a mark. I’m not just here to float along with the crowd – when I try to do that, a piece of me dies. So I have to grow my bravery. I have to grow my ability to see fear and act anyway. I have to grow the strength of my heart. And it’s my wish to help others do this too. To get honest about where you are and aren’t living up to the truth of your soul in your life! This is the question you must ask if you want to heal and transcend whatever problems are manifesting for you right now. We ALL have this power. The power of the truth.

Homework

Ask yourself the following:

Where in my life am I aligned with the truth of my soul?

Where in my life am I misaligned with the truth of my soul?

What can I actually do to remedy this misalignment TODAY?

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