Being raised by two very loving and slightly hippie parents, I have been a vegetarian my entire life and a few weeks ago I decided to go full vegan and only buy organic products, and when possible Fair Trade, as well.
I consider this to be an act of love. Here’s why:
It is not that I am patting myself on the shoulder for paying half a dollar more for my organic Fair Trade bananas or for sparing the lives of a tiny portion of animals that are slaughtered each day. My point is that since eating is something I have to do on a daily basis, I might as well make it into something mindful.
For me, eating is not just something I have to do in order to survive; it has become a conscious action that radiates love and compassion.
Not eating meat, consuming sustainably, meditating and trying to be compassionate has become an important part of me living a balanced and happy life.
But at the same time, as a wise person once said: ”sometimes being balanced means falling out of balance”. And yes, sometimes I do fall out of balance but I do so consciously.
A few times in my life I have decided to stuff my face with non free-range chicken (although this has often been accompanied with a fair share of guilt) and sometimes at parties I will sneak away and try on fur coats in the closet because they are really nice looking coats.
But when I do so I am doing so mindfully and I am consciously deviating from the path of my moral compass. I am not just passively floating along in the comfy river of indifference.
Everyone has the right to choose as they see fit. But in this day and age we have unfortunately come to a point where what we chose to eat and what we chose to do is no longer exclusively our business. It affects the animals in the meat industry who live out their entire lives in captivity and suffering.
And the way we consume is having global environmental consequences that are or will affect all of our lives negatively.
This does not mean that I think that everyone should become vegan and only buy organic Fair Trade right at this moment, because this might feel too overwhelming. Instead, a suggestion is to start out small and start with the most important item in the grocery basket. If you love coffee for example, try choosing an organic Fair Trade brand and why not give tofu sausage a try instead of the regular one.
Organic and Fair Trade food is generally more expensive so changing everything to organic and Fair Trade at once might be a slight economic shock. But start with baby steps and a few small changes to eventually add on. After all, Rome was not built in one day
When it comes to things, don’t go buying a new vacuum cleaner or a new pair of jeans just because they are cheap or because of a spur of the moment decision. Spend money mindfully and remember that products are cheap for a reason; the amount of water used to produce one pair of jeans, 1800 Gallons (7000 Litres), is generally not reflected in the price.
One key aspect in order to avoid consuming more than one needs, is to exercise the often underused ”letting go muscle.” We can, for example, do so by practicing compassion and letting go of old grudges or by sitting in silence for 20 minutes each day, letting go of our thoughts and emotions. Once we have gotten accustomed to letting go, it might be easier to appreciate the beauty of a thing, such as a new car or a pair of pants without necessarily feeling the need to buy them.
Having said all of this, I feel that it is important to point out that we are not what we do and contrary to the popular saying, we are not what we eat.
I have been a vegetarian my entire life but have vowed to never pass judgment on people who eat meat because I believe that what we do does not equal who we are.
Our souls and our true natures do not subscribe to the same evaluation system as we do.
For the soul, everything we do is an experience. The soul does not categorize things as good or bad in the same way we do.
If we eat excessively and don’t exercise, we will become fat, in this life. If we take lots of drugs we will become a drug addict in this life, and if we eat meat we will contribute to the status quo of the meat industry, in this life.
But this does not affect the soul since it is essentially beyond this human way of looking at things. Whatever we do in this life does not change the fundamental fact that we are all creatures of unconditional love and compassion.
After all we are called human beings, not human doings.
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