Sept. 29, 2011
What Vegan Means: Love
Today's guest post is written by my friend Megan. She never fails to brighten my day and is genuinely such an amazing source of positivity. She speaks German and is a teacher who blogs at Go Places! (a play on going places both literally and figuratively).
My vegan journey began simply with my love for dogs. I hadn’t met my best friend Jasper yet, but I was close to family dogs and was known among friends as a dog lover. I got dog-shaped cards for holidays and chose to spend my birthday visiting the local shelter. I desperately wanted to adopt a pup of my own.
And then one day I thought, “I love dogs so much. I would put myself in danger to save one of the dogs I love, but I eat other animals. What’s the difference?” And that was it. Soon after, I was vegan.
Vegan means discovering a love for animals (or yourself or the environment) that inspires you to change your way of eating, shopping, and thinking. It is a love that causes you to change your life.
When I first became vegan, I thought it was just food. I was enthusiastic and committed, but felt hopeless and a little inconvenienced as I shopped and shopped for non-leather, black, knee-high boots (I lived in Germany at the time, and found some eventually). Going from an omnivorous to vegan within a week was a big jump, and every day – it felt like every minute – I learned something new that wasn’t vegan, or some aspect of the lifestyle I hadn’t anticipated. Wool, beeswax, medicine, gummy bears, the adhesive in Band-Aids…veganism was an issue in every choice I made throughout every day. Everything I touched was a chance for my mind to be blown.
But it wasn’t just my mind. With each new piece of information about animal testing, the use of animal-derived products in consumer goods, and the abuse suffered by animals for human convenience, my heart broke open a little wider. How did I live in this world for so long with no idea? I often explain this feeling to curious friends and family as falling down a rabbit hole. Like Alice, I feel like I’m floating in a strange place with no sight of the bottom. Even on days that I didn’t have to make an overt choice between vegan and non-vegan items, my emotions and conviction snowballed.
My two-year veganniversary is coming up on October 15. I wasn’t terribly emotional about it at the time and was admittedly less well-informed than I should have been. All I knew was that it was the right thing. Choosing to live as a vegan has touched my life in ways much more far-reaching than the edge of my dinner plate. Though veganism in some ways seems like the zenith of a compassionate journey, the last step in a transformation, for me it has only been the beginning.
I am more aware of animal issues and continue to do the best I can on my tight-budget to make life better for the animals in the world. I am also more compassionate toward other humans. I take more time to listen and try harder to understand other perspectives than I did before; I’m on the outside now and understand what it’s like to be misunderstood. I also take better care of myself. In the last two years I’ve become a runner and learned more than I ever anticipated about what my body needs and what it can do. Veganism, despite the fact that explanations of the lifestyle often center on the word “no,” is really about “more.”
I feel more love, for animals, people, myself, and the world. And I feel that how I am living honors that love and produces more.
October also marks the one year since I adopted Jasper, a black lab mix who had already had two neglectful homes. The love I feel for this little fuzzy soul, with whom I have bonded so completely, is beyond anything I could have imagined. He is not a pet, I do not own him. We are in this life together for as long as we have, we are a team, a family. Every day with Jasper reminds me why I’m vegan. Though not all animals have evolved to interact so well with humans, they all deserve to live the lives they came into without fear, discomfort, or untimely death. Remembering Jasper’s desperate barks at the shelter is enough to convince me of that. And being vegan also helps me love Jasper more, to empathize with him and be patient when he barks too loudly at the UPS driver or eats all my vegan cupcakes off the counter.
I love more and better because I’m vegan. Veganism is love.