Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Overcoming Fears

Day 60.  Wow, It has been two months since I began this journey.  I actually do not remember the last time I ate meat other than it was fish that had lost its appeal.  Two months is a short period, a mere infinitesimal spec  in the flash of a lifetime.  Who specifically remembers any random two-month period unless it is bookmarked, representing something which will effect the remaining days, months, and years ahead? The thought of this "notch" that I've created is numbing.  In this short time, I:
  • have absolutely no desire to eat meat, dairy, or any animal product
  • am completely comfortable in this lifestyle
  • have begun to see and fear the unattractive aspect of the vegan world
    Ugly Truth?

    Animal Rights?
    For the most part, up to this point, this journey has been a "kum-ba-yah" experience.  I had readily fortified and prepared myself for the comments, feedback, and response from non-vegans.  It was to be expected.  The shock came from the realization that within the vegan world, there is another side - an ugly side.  I am becoming more and more exposed to it as I delve deeper into veganism and I do not like what I have begun to see.  It frightens me.

    In my "new girl" naivety, I failed to realize that the vegan world is no different than any other, that there is an extreme element that lives on the outer edges, just outside of the "norm" with levels of judgment, feeling of entitlement, and accusations of what is right and wrong.  I came across a dialog in which a dedicated vegan posted a faux meat dish that had been prepared for her children.  Almost immediately, she was met with an onslaught of hate and criticism by a "fellow", extreme vegan who felt she was being hypocritical for  making "fake meat", that vegans who do so are secretly harboring desires to eat meat; that somehow, she wasn't being a true vegan.  But what about me?  What about those who are converting or who are thinking of converting?  Where is the bridge?  The accuser had a right to his opinion but the tone and the language was so  ugly.  This person spewed anger with words just short of hatred toward a fellow vegan.  Aren't we all on the same team?  Several people on both sides of the debate commented but not me.  I was too afraid to say anything.  It was disappointing yet sobering as if someone had thrown a bucket of ice cold water on me shouting, "WAKE UP!!!!".  Are there vegan activists out there who profess their love for animals so much that they would not hesitate to show lack of love to their fellow man?  Would these same people commit an act of violence to express their viewpoint?  

    I seek to receive and work to give peace.  The thought of a physical, negative encounter with a fellow vegan is really scary.  I feel immediately faced with a new challenge - how to overcome this fear?


    Wheatgrass: the drink of resilience and coping
    Just before the "ugly", I met my friend Susan for lunch at a vegan restaurant.  Susan is not vegan.  I appreciated that she, as most good friends do, supported my efforts and "tried something new".  She had her first shot of wheatgrass, surprised that it tasted a little sweet. We discussed our latest endeavors and she mentioned the need for resilience.  Later, in a blog entry about our lunch, she revealed her own fears and the need to cope.  EUREKA!, there were the magic words I had been searching looking for:

    • COPE - to face and deal with a difficulty in a calm or adequate manner. 
    • RESILIENCE - the ability to recover; to return to original form or position after being bent or stretched;  buoyancy.
    Since I'm not much on the water, I related the buoyancy to being rooted.  I love root plants.  Ginger, mushrooms, onions, garlic, radishes, potatoes, turnips, carrots, yams, and my favorite, the mighty beet.  Root plants are tough with thick skin.  They manage to grow, thrive or "cope" in all types of soil compositions while maintaining  strong, full, earthy flavor, and hearty texture, even after cooking.  Root plants are resilient. Since they grow underground, they absorb minerals and nutrients from the soil and provide a plethora of health benefits as they contain vitamin C, beta-carotene, antioxidants, fiber, and potassium just to name a few.

    Stay rooted:  Beet greens, beets, and turnips

    Staying Rooted

    As I processed each of these experiences - the high of lunching with Susan and the low of the ugliness, I realized that there was one point of relevance between the two:  Me! I was the connecting piece between the two.   While I had reached out in one instance and recoiled in another, I had remained in the same place.  I was rooted and didn't realize it.  Although the unfortunate incident had frightened me, I had remained steadfast in my commitment and desire to be vegan.  I feel empowered to grow my roots, to introduce my non-vegan friends to something new (who knows, perhaps a few of them will join me).  I feel that I can grow my roots even stronger and as this strength increases, perhaps one day I will be able to confront the extreme beings on the fringe.  Perhaps one day, I can show them that you can gain more with a positive, loving approach than a negative one  that we are all on the same team. That each of us may arrive at a destination along a different path or vehicle but that the point is:  we all arrived and are in the same place together.  It is a choice.  In my lifetime flash, I will remember these past two months.  I will remember how I chose to grow my roots with positivity, togetherness and compassion.

    I will also remember the exact moment in the future to yet come when those roots strengthened and enabled me to cope with resiliency to overcome my fears.


    Yoga:  Boat pose for buoyancy,  Mountain pose for root connection to the Earth.

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