Friday, October 29, 2010

Hunting Harmony

It's been ten days since my last post.  In the world of the Internet, I'm sure that's a lifetime.  I've been inside a self-created "circle of safety",  experimenting with recipes, cooking, posting pictures of the results, and corresponding with experienced vegans.  It feels good there.  While I've been enjoying the transition "inside", the issue plaguing me has been my life "outside" of the circle.  I made the decision long ago not to respond to "artificial deadlines" so, I chose not  to post until I could grasp exactly what has been nagging me.  Sometimes the best way to analyze a situation is to stand still.  I thought about Day 45 - the Six Week Point.   It was such a glorious day.  I spent quite some time that day chatting on-line with a new found vegan friend.  I found her to be such a wonderful, positive spirit filled with great suggestions, advice, and support. Soon after I started to snuggle in to the embrace of the vegan community,  I encountered a negative, questioning being. I was hit with judgment, as if I had done something wrong.  As if I weren't normal.

Ground chick pea (veggie tuna) sandwich & tofu salad
Vegan or Normal?
I bound my tongue until I could write without absorbing or passing this energy. I thought, "Wow! If I had been eating something that most people eat like a sandwich or a salad, this person would have ever raised an eyebrow".  Now that I'm announced vegan, all of the sudden, it's some sort of an abomination.  I wondered, "Is it possible to co-exist? Where is the understanding?  Can't we all just get along?"  Thus, for the past ten days, I have been on the hunt for harmony.


One thing that stuck out during my conversation was the suggestion my friend made:  to check out the website The Kind Life by vegan,  Alicia Silverstone.  I remember watching the actress promote her book, "The Kind Diet" on a talk show just last year.  I gave it little attention.  At that time, of course, I was still consuming meat on a regular basis.  Today, as I perused  the website, reviews, and personal testimony of how the elimination of meat changed her life, I thought with a different perspective with feelings I gained from other side of the imaginary line ... the line which exists between those who consume meat and those who do not.  There seemed to be a annoying tolerating attitude of omnivores towards vegans.  Having been one myself, I can attest to it.  I was guilty.  Lack of information and ignorance lead to assumption and judgment.  I thought of vegan as a just a diet choice, extreme vegetarianism, and did not realize the link to animal rights and the environment.  I politely "tolerated" vegans, never once realizing that there is emotion and feeling behind the choice, that it is a lifestyle, that vegans also tolerate meat eaters.

Where's the Beef?

I've lost count of how many times I've been asked in just six short weeks "Where do you get your protein?" Vegans get protein from the same place as meat-eaters do:  from amino acids.  The difference is the source of the acids.  Meat also has fat and hormones meant for the sustainability of the animal...not man.  I couldn't help but laugh at the irony, judgment, and contradiction the last time I faced this question.  The person could not grasp the idea of not eating meat.  As she asked me this question, she proceeded to tell me how I needed meat for protein all the while she was devouring a greasy, fast food meal of fried beef, cheese, and fried potatoes.  Even when I ate meat, I did not eat such an unhealthy concoction.  It was like garbage to me. After getting over my initial feeling of anger and resentment, I exhibited tolerance, realizing I had no beef with this woman.  I showed the compassion she failed to show me.  It was the lack of knowledge or worse, reliance of limited knowledge that causes people to say or do the things they do.  We all make decisions and judgment based on "what we think we know".  I decided to find a way to exist in the midst.


Harmony:  Sandwich made by my non-vegan husband
Yellow squash, zucchini, mushroom, tomato, onion
When we are hurt, we often seek refuge with those who are able to provide comfort because they share our point of reference.  These people become our cheerleaders.  While that is good, the opportunity for growth can become limited for true challenge comes from the diversity outside of your comfort zone.  We must learn to live amongst those who are not like us. This can be global or as minute as your own home.  When I made the decision to become vegan, I informed my family who have remained omnivore. My husband has increased his vegetable intake and has contributed to some of the veggie recipe ideas.
We have however, both excluded each other for some meals as I am no longer joining him for a big hunk of meat on the grill in the same manner he is not first in line to eat some of my vegetarian inspirations.  This exclusion doesn't mean we can't live together in harmony.  Our home is still happy, we still love each other, we continue to prepare meals together, and we still sit down to eat dinner together.  We now exist in two different worlds, side by side.  It doesn't always pan out perfectly, but it is harmonious. 

No one can change the whole world in one swoop but each of us can work to affect harmony within our small piece of it.  If we all did just that, then with each of our pieces linking together, with cohesiveness, the hunt would be over.

"Become the change you seek in the world" ~ Gandhi

Yoga:  Anahata or the Heart Chakra meditation for internal harmony and emotion

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