Today I am grateful. There is so much good in my life and I feel so blessed to be in this space. There are many directions I could go with this, but my mind goes in a specific direction this morning:
I haven’t talked about this in a while, mostly because I would rather ramble on about running and living my life than speak specifically about my views. After all, I don’t talk politics much or even religion even though my relationship with God is important. I simply use this blog as a reflection of my day-to-day lived experience.
However, when something is on my mind for longer than usual, I see it as God’s way of telling me to assess or pay attention to those thoughts. Here we go.
My lease is up in June and for a while, I’ve been thinking about moving. I love my roommate and life here is pretty good, but I feel restless. I’ve lived here a while and want to get some new experiences. This led me to looking around in Syracuse, NY.
Why Syracuse? Well, it’s farther away and different enough to shake things up, but not too far as to be a complete fish out of water. I also was assured I could get a job at Strong Hearts Café, the birthplace of my vegan racing team. This is an important thing and one of the reasons I am meditating on my veganism today.
I felt like working in that environment would help me develop in my journey and concern for animal welfare. I think that it would give me a place to grow but also be similar work to what I do now. Perfect pairing in a way.
After a few days of looking into moving seriously, calling places, talking to the owner Joel about working etc, I realized that moving to Syracuse is not really what I want to do. I still think living here in Ithaca for another year would benefit me, allow me to get some more money and then I should think farther away. States away.
I also realized that I can easily brush up on my vegan knowledge and continue living my truth anywhere I am. There are so many opportunities to grow here in Ithaca and many ways I can continue on my path.
My journey has been rocky. I had a lapse a few months back, I ate too much vegan junk, I preached to people and was a snarky vegan.
All those things did not work, but rather than hold me back, they made me more confident in myself today. I don’t need to preach to be effective. I don’t need to go off veganism in order to be less wasteful. I also don’t need to be a junk food vegan just to prove that “anyone can go vegan” and “I’m not giving up anything.”
I’ve found that honestly I just need to be me.
On a different note, but related, I am grateful for the environment I have been able to nurture my veganism in. I am grateful because other people told me it would be hard. When I was learning about common problems or struggles when converting to compassionate eating and living, sources told me that others would be mean and I should be ready. I should always be on the defensive, ready to combat anyone who questioned my views.
To be honest, yes I have encountered negativity and rude questions, but largely, people don’t care. I was overly prepared in the beginning and preached too much. I wish more people and knowledgeable vegans told me to just live my truth and answer honestly, with kindness, and everything would be fine.
If I don’t know an answer to a question, be honest.
If someone makes a rude comment, leave the room.
Be prepared with a nice answer that doesn’t make someone uncomfortable.
Be relatable, be fun, be you.
That is the best way to both be accepting of your new lifestyle and a great activist. Challenging people, being mean or silly about things is not me. Honestly, I’ve affected more people by being the fun, compassionate person I’ve always been, but eating in line with my values.
I wish I had learned this earlier rather than listened to social media vegans cynically comment about how people who ate animal products would berate me and ask rude things. If someone asks why I eat seitan or Daiya cheese instead of regular, I was most successful saying “It tastes good” or “I try not to eat animal products out of preference.” If they ask anything further, I explain in one sentence, “It makes me sad to think of what an animal went through, so I choose not to eat that.”
Most times people just nod or say how they try to eat free-range or have reduced their meat consumption. I always say that’s great!
If they respond with an “I could never give up cheese.” I respond with, “I couldn’t either, so I’m so glad companies have made delicious cheese without animal products, you should try…”
However, looking back over the 2.5 years of being plant based and mostly vegan (a few lapses), I can say that I do not deal with questions on a regular basis that make me sad or pissed off. The great thing about veganism is that it is becoming so mainstream, along with other food intolerances or preferences, that people no longer bat an eye if cheese or meat is not included in your entrée.
To conclude, I am grateful for how my journey is progressing and for the rich experiences I am having along the way. To future vegans or plant based pioneers I say, relax, live your truth, and people won’t attack you.
No questions, just thoughts today 🙂