Shortly after becoming vegan, I had the amazing privilege to hear some seasoned vegans/animal advocates speak at my first Hoe Down. One such speaker was Gene Baur, founder of Farm Sanctuary, and he said something that really stuck with me. He said that there is no such thing as a perfect vegan...we all somehow do harm to living creatures & the environment. Just by living & breathing, we do some harm. He called veganism an "aspiration". Something to aspire to, continuing to do the most good for animals, step by step, without beating ourselves up. Wow! So here is my list of "learning experiences" and my WWGBD (What Would Gene Baur Do) approach to actually learning from them!
|Do my doughnut goggles make you want to forgive me?|
1. SAY YOU'RE SORRY!
Say you're sorry now, or you can't have dessert. You're a vegan and making everyone here uncomfortable, and you must apologize 100 times. BFF, I'm sorry. This is just a choice I've made for myself, please ignore me, I'm obviously crazy, can we please never mention this again? Honestly, I just recently realized that I am constantly apologizing for being vegan. I apologize to friends who have to "bend over backwards" to provide something for me to eat at parties, I apologize to servers at restaurants for asking questions & for requesting no cheese on my pasta, I apologize to said server for having to take back the pasta that has arrived with cheese, and I apologize to all friends at the table for being "difficult". Ugh! I am so annoying myself! I'm not even sure I can look at myself in a mirror. Oh who am I kidding, I can always look at myself in a mirror...but let's get serious here. In my quest to be the nicest vegan you have ever met, I have "sorry-ed" away my very valid, not to mention compassionate, life choices. This has got to stop! I'm done apologizing. This is who I am, and I'm truly NOT SORRY! WWGBD? I think GB would tell me to have some compassion for myself as well. I can be mindful of animals, others, and myself without feeling the need to say "sorry" 20 times in one sitting. Thanks GB.
**Little side note** I've realized that others always feel the need to apologize to me for their life choices. A friend walks in the door & I compliment her on her outfit. She immediately apologizes to me for her leather belt. As if it's MY skin she's wearing around her waist! Ha! People will be talking about a picnic they had and will apologize to me for every food item mentioned that is not vegan. This is pretty funny...but it's also starting to piss me off!
2. THIS IS STARTING TO PISS ME OFF!
I have realized that there are certain places where, times when, and people with whom I feel very comfortable & "let my guard down". What I mean is that in these circumstances, the central focus is not my veganism, & I admit that I like it. We don't have to spend an entire meal/evening talking about me and my life choices, but rather we can focus on more important issues like who's husband is a lazy POS, and remember that time 'Shelly' got so drunk that she fell over, and you'll never believe what my crazy MIL did at my daughter's birthday party! You know, BFF, important life stuff! In these situations I often find myself annoyed & ill-prepared to answer questions and defend my veganism. More often than not I try to get out of the situation and/or say something I end up regretting. WWGBD? I think GB would be open all the time to all possibilities of discussing being vegan. Every situation is an opportunity to share info and advocate for animals. Most people are genuinely curious and not trying to make me feel bad. Lesson learned: ALWAYS be open & prepared to discuss veganism! I also need to recognize that when others apologize to me for their own choices (leather belt, picnic food, etc.), that their own awareness is growing. They are recognizing how their choices affect animals, others, and the environment. In these situations, I am actually a representative of the animals & of the vegan movement, and if they feel the need to apologize then maybe a connection is being made. How cool is that??????
3. DECISIONS, DECISIONS, DECISIONS.
There have been times where I have caught myself in the grocery store staring at an item for 15+ minutes. What exactly IS this calcium sulfate & is it from an animal? Is this company one that I can support? Do you think they test on animals? Yada, yada, yada...the questions go on and on and on. I have beat myself up over some honey in a loaf of bread. Or buying Revlon mascara because they do not test on animals, but are not completely vegan, but I cannot justify $20 on the Urban Decay mascara right now because I have no job. Ack! It's difficult in the beginning, before you know what companies are safe, what bread is ok...it's all a learning process. At the most recent Hoe Down, Bruce, Gene, Victoria Moran, Susie Coston, and Zoe Weil all said the same thing...What will do the MOST GOOD for the animals. Meaning, you've chosen a vegan lifestyle...that is soooooooo good for animals! What if you accidentally buy a loaf of bread with honey in it? Should you throw it away and beat yourself up for it? WWGBD? Dearest GB would remember that we are not perfect and that while we are aspiring to be the best little vegan we can be, there will be minor bumps in the road of lesson learning. Oh, well! Pick yourself up, learn from it, move on, & do better next time! You cannot completely undo all the good you're doing by being vegan with 1 loaf of bread!
While I do believe that every question is an opportunity to advocate for animals, I also feel that there are certain situations you cannot allow yourself to be sucked into. For instance, the co-worker who says that plants feel pain too, or the steak eating woman who has had one too many glasses of wine, and many other situations...you'll know 'em when you see 'em. Some people are looking to get you fired up. Some are looking for a fight. In situations like this, when someone is purposely trying to make you mad...walk away. Change the subject. Stick another forkful of tofu in your mouth. Shut up. And then go home and vent like crazy to someone who will understand! If you know you cannot remain calm in a situation, it's best not to engage at all. WWGBD? I imagine GB to be calm and cool at all times. As a seasoned vegan maybe he never loses his cool...I really can't answer this question for GB. But I go back to what will do the most good for animals? Will coming to blows with a DB hell-bent on making you look bad help more animals? I don't think so. I remember that I am a representative of the vegan movement & realize that sometimes an argument can do more harm than good. There are lots of opportunities each and every day...it's okay to avoid certain ones.
There are many, many more mistakes I've made as a vegan & more in my future. But I remember compassion is my motivator, so some of that should be given to myself. It's a journey...and it's your journey. Love it! Enjoy it! Eat a vegan doughnut...or three! WWGBD???
|Heaven is a vegan doughnut!|