I’ve learned a lot about who I am through my journey to veganism.
When I first became vegetarian 29 years ago it was a crystal clear and empowering decision. I became keenly aware that I could no longer eat animals and vowed to make a difference. I was still young at the time and my newly found vegetarianism was not received in a supportive way. There was no guidance or words of encouragement from my family. I found PETA and other animal advocacy groups and began learning. Through reading their newsletters, I became aware of how animals were being used in other ways; through animal testing, entertainment, and for fashion. This was eye-opening! My life had changed. When I was 18, I put my animal advocacy stickers on my car. I knew I wanted to make the world a better place for the animals and hoped to change the opinions of those who I was closest with along the way.
Then something unexpected happened. My passion for the animal rights movement faded into the background. It just shrunk. While I was proud of my actions, I learned to be quiet and not share information with others so I wouldn’t offend anyone or sound “preachy”. Being vegetarian simply became a part of me, like having brown eyes or being female. It was just a fact.
I went to college, studied well, began my career, went back to school for my M.A., bought my first house and kept checking things off my goal list. But what about my passion for saving the animals? Was it silent, gone? Sure I still sought out vegan cosmetics and non-leather shoes, but those decisions had become second-nature. I had yet to meet another vegetarian.
In 2015 I became vegan. I saw a shocking image shared on Facebook by my former yoga teacher turned vegan lifestyle coach. It wasn’t graphic, but it helped me connect the dots in a way that I had never done before. On the spot, I was vegan! I removed dairy and eggs from my diet and even joined a vegan activist group and for the first time in my life, I sat in a room surrounded by other vegans! Then I returned to my life. I focused on building up my small business and gave my energy away to everything else. Feeling depleted and unhappy, I began some deep inner work. For the first time, I listened and realized I was not living in alignment with my truth.
The truth is that the vegan movement is really exciting to me, that meeting and talking with other vegans is supportive and nourishing to my spirit, that the food can be incredibly inventive and delicious and that spreading the vegan message is really important for both the animals and planet. I had learned to stifle this enthusiasm and pursued all the things in life I thought I was “supposed to” pursue, but was not fulfilled. I began the process of reclaiming this lost part of myself.
So, what did I do as a 40 year old re-awakened vegan? I learned, I engaged, I shared, and I became active! There was a new-found celebration of veganism arising from my spirit! I no longer pushed my vegan identity off to the side, but invited it along for the ride- front and center! I found incredible vegan podcasts to listen to, watched documentaries, read books, and created a grass roots support group right in my little neighborhood. My inner young vegan self became so joyful now that she was recognized!
I am living a more joyful life than ever before. I know I am making a difference for the animals who I made a promise to those 29 years ago. I am enthusiastic, alert and energetic. I have come full circle.
Some people refer to this as the “call of Spirit” and it very well feels that way to me. I just needed to learn to listen and watch how it all begins to unfold for me.