My journey to a plant- based diet began when I watched a documentary on Netflix about factory farming. I knew intellectually that meat came from killing animals and dairy from the mother’s milk but never had to look at these truths. Watching the animals being killed, the suffering of the mother cow producing milk, the baby calf taken from its mother at birth, the destruction of our planet………… Just to satisfy my taste buds!? There must be another way!
So now the journey begins! How do I get enough protein from plants? What about iron? B12? What will I eat when I am out with friends? What will I eat at family gatherings? Is it going to be uncomfortable being the only non-meat eater at a social gathering? So, I did what any other warm- blooded human would do. I went to guru-google to get some answers!
I found the answers to all my questions, well……. Almost all of them. Google had little to say about my comfort level at social gatherings! As for the family gathering- after a couple of uncomfortable explanations of: “Well, actually, I am not eating that anymore”, I have noticed a shift at the dinner table of my family members. To sum it up simply, I found I could skip the middle man (animals who eat plants) and go straight to the source! And for the B12, I found no shortage of supplements available. Braggs nutritional yeast is one of my favorite B12 fortified seasonings.
Ahimsa, non-harming: how do I live this practice? I found it to be two-fold: by eating, wearing and drinking animal products I am harming my body and harming other beings. Stop consuming animals and voila: two for the price of one! (The first metaphor that came to mind was “two birds with one stone”- just so, the harming of other beings is woven into every stitch of our collective fabric.) I find practicing Ahimsa is a practice of unweaving the threads of violence and harming, one thread at a time. It was a gradual process. I removed beef and pork, then I removed birds and fish and after doing my 500- hour yoga teacher training with Sri Dharma Mittra, I was able to let go of eggs and dairy. Cheese pizza was the most difficult. I would justify eating dairy by telling myself “We are not killing the cow, so it’s ok!” I took another look at the dairy industry and found the suffering of the dairy cows, with their lives of being artificially inseminated, their calves being taken at birth, with their confinement to a small milking station. We are using these beautiful beings as a commodity. I could no longer justify it away.
I will share the benefits I’ve found from eating a healthy vegan diet, and occasionally a not so healthy vegan diet. (There is plenty of vegan junk food, not to worry! Binge watching a Netflix series and finishing off a box of dark chocolate cookies and a half gallon of chocolate almond milk is totally vegan.) Eating vegan is not just salads and green juice shots, although these have become some of my favorites. The practice of veganism has led to other shifts in my diet as well- such as reducing the amount of sugar and processed foods. My energy has increased- I am a carpenter and work 8-10 hours a day and manage to get an hour of asana (yoga poses) practice in. My mind has become calmer, traffic situations no longer send my blood pressure through the roof! These practices have lead to the quieting of the mind which translates to longer and deeper meditation.
Everyone I know loves animals! We all want to be healthy! We all want a healthy planet!
Everything in our conceivable universe is made of the same energy, so by not consuming animals I no longer consume their suffering and the energy associated with their suffering. This has deepened my compassion for all beings.