A wise philosopher once said, “Thinking differently begets behaving differently.” I believe deciding to choose a vegan lifestyle or merely wanting to discuss vegan lifestyles, are both opportunities to think differently. Forward thinking welcomes debate, critical thinking, and problem solving, which all allow for more progressive, enlightened, and innovative communities. Empowered and unified communities can create awareness around specific issues and stimulate change. I believe we exist in a time where change is crucial to our survival.
Currently, we live within a system that strategically works hard on influencing us to consume, consume again, consume more, and eventually die. This desire to continuously consume plays out in many aspects of life. We constantly need the newest phone, the biggest house, the fastest car, and/or the most fashionable clothes. Initially, this way of living becomes expensive and frustrating. We stress when we can’t possess these items in a timey matter. The more we consume, the more we need to work. Now, this is America, there are many people who do what they love, but most work hated jobs for the sole purpose of making money to buy unnecessary shit. Tyler Durden said it best “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate, so we can buy shit we don’t need”. The more we consume, the more we need to work, which means less time. Eventually, less time translates into less opportunity to engage in nurturing experiences (i.e. developing a desired skill, learning a language, writing a poem, dancing, cooking, hiking, or creating a work of art). How is that? The more we consume, the less satiated we become. Yeah, we got the new phone, but why are we still looking for more? We want more because we are looking for belonging and understanding within inanimate objects. These objects distract us on our route to self-understanding and purpose.
If you’re still reading, you may be wondering, “What the hell does any of this have to do with being vegan!?” The choice and the ability to go vegan, at face value, can be seen as a mere personal decision. Many consider veganism as just a diet, as way to eat healthier, as a way to bring awareness to animal cruelty and exploitation, others as a way to stimulate a more sustainable existence, and the list goes on. I can assure you, “extremists” believe in all of these ideas, plus the notion that ideas are powerful and a different way of thinking can bring about change. You may not have the ability, desire and/or resources to adopt a Vegan lifestyle. You may hate hearing the word vegan. However, you do not have to be Vegan to understand we are living on a planet with limited resources, that we treat living beings like objects, that nutritional literacy is fucked, that we vote everyday with our dollars not in the poll booths, that depression is a real issue, that people are addicted to screens, or that the media can buy our souls. You just have to be open and willing to look at things differently and not take everything at face value. You may not go full out Vegan overnight or ever, but the subtle thought and knowledge about the idea will arouse questions like: Where does this food come from? Why can I not read or understand most ingredients on a food label? Meat is not the only source of protein? What are GMOs? What does free range actually mean? Do cows need to be pregnant to produce milk? Is meat with every meal necessary? Is dairy as addictive as heroin? Why does the food industry have financial ties in the outcomes of nutritional research? These thoughts can ultimately lead to changes in behavior. Changes in behavior can translate into better education surrounding nutrition, deciding to not to buy certain products because of the companies our dollars empower, the importance of creativity and self-expression within our communities, or the need for more movement in our day to day life.
Personally, I find relief in most conversations around Veganism, it feels like we are willing to view the world in a deeper way. Veganism stimulates the desire to reach better understanding. For me, it is a surrender of my ego, a way to minimize suffering, a way to understand others better, it has taught me to revere life and treat others how I want to be treated, and to find the power in my choices. Most importantly, is has taught me to ask questions about the system I take part in. The same word may do none of the above for you, but at least, I hope, it opens you to the option of thinking differently.
Peace, Love, Unity, Respect, Compassion, and VEGANATION!