Why an Environmental & Animal Rights Activist Walked Away from Veganism.

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I distinctly remember the day I turned vegan.

Through a series of serendipitous events, (I won’t call them coincidences), I found my way to reading books that led me to the plight of factory farmed meat.

I couldn’t even call the tortured creatures that lived on factory and other farms “animals” anymore, just meat, because they were being treated as simply a means to an end. A disturbingly inhumane end.

I had been raised on meat, dairy and eggs. I liked those things. I ate a traditional Polish diet. My adoptive parents had gone through the Second World War and food, all food, was regarded as nothing less than holy, which one can only understand if one has been hungry. I had been hungry.

In Poland, where I scavenged eggs, tomatoes and plums from my neighbor’s gardens to fill the larder as a five-year-old, I was a thief. Veganism, to my relatives, seemed like a First World luxury, where one had access to a multitude of expensive, imported food choices.

I was suddenly on the outside; a freak who did not understand the economics and nutritional value of food. And what was I to be fed at the holiday table? All of us who have made the transition to vegetarianism/veganism can tell stories of needing to explain ourselves countless times, and bear the condescending looks.

Veganism was a consciousness shift. It brought me toward other paths and causes that I would champion. Like environmental activism. Like expanding my awareness to the sacredness of all life forms. Like a trip to Findhorn, where there was not a scrap of meat to be found within the community, and which had several females sneaking beef jerky to my husband from town because he once almost disappeared when he tried vegetarianism in support of me. (What women will do for a good looking, spiritual man.) But I digress.

For those readers not familiar with the Findhorn community in Scotland, it is a magical place founded on the principles of the sacredness of life and where a garden of nothing less than miraculous proportions was established with the co-operation of nature divas.

Yes, that meant communicating with ethereal beings that belonged to each flower and vegetable. Before I had come to Findhorn, I had read much about the consciousness of plants, their sentient intelligence, and one day, to my complete surprise, I was gifted with a soft, telepathic communication from a flower in my garden as I approached her with scissors in hand.

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And that moment was pivotal in my shift from vegan to what I can only describe as a champion of all sentient beings. A difficult moment, much more intense than when I understood that animals were my brothers and sisters; this moment required me to understand that if I was to live on this planet, something would have to die in order for me to survive.

Suddenly I understood these things:

All things are sentient. Even rocks. All things feel. Perhaps not describable in the same terms as humans, but they do. Plants are intensely aware of suffering and shrink back when aware that they will be harvested. This occurs when the human has the thought of harvest; it can be long before the actual deed.

Plants are telepathic and can even identify criminals in a line-up, such is their conscious awareness wow! They knew! Knew like humans know, only more, apparently.

Plants want to live as much as animals do. That we humans are still at an evolutionary stage that most of us cannot recognize their suffering (because they have not eyes and faces to communicate with like an animal has) doesn’t change the fact that they are screaming their protest.

And now I was in a serious quandary. Because the flower who asked me for the courtesy of a warning before I cut her down, (plants will put themselves into a type of coma to escape the pain of harvest), brought me to tears and in direct contact with my superior attitude toward meat eaters.

What was I to eat now? Knowing that this live being had the voice to tell me what she was feeling made me question everything I had known until then.

We went on a journey, plants, animals and I. I faced the fact that as a vegan, I was thin, yes, but not healthy. I had ignored these things, such as memory loss and a constant battle with low blood sugar levels because I so wanted to not participate in the suffering of animals. It’s not like I didn’t know how to eat; I am a Holistic Nutritionist by training. I’ve counselled plenty of vegans in my clinic.

My body just needed animal protein after years of abstaining. I knew that carbs break down into simple sugars and animal proteins break down into amino acids, so I could not make my chickpea “protein” any less the eventual carb than it really was. When my body yelled “feed me amino acids,” I actually heard it physically. But it’s not easy being a “sensitive” to all energetic forms.

I spent hours in my garden listening to plants, communing with my dairy goats and chickens, taking advice from devic beings and meditating on my findings.

I no longer had the luxury of believing that I was causing no death, no suffering when I ate. It split me open, devoured me whole, and left me questioning my lifestyle. I read everything I could on plant consciousness in an effort to understand my journey.

I found these things (the shortened list):

Animals die when we eat vegan. All those big machines that harvest corn, wheat, soy, quinoa or spelt chop up rabbits, voles, mice, birds and their ground nests, even foxes. I no longer could say I had killed nothing. A sobering and humbling thought.

Rivers are run dry and eco-systems destroyed (this includes displaced wild animals) to water all the grain production we require to sustain us. Yes, humans are the other reason why so much grain must be produced and so much land is stripped for acres and acres of agriculture; we can’t just blame those cows.

Plants are not treated ethically when they are grown on factory farms. They are poisoned, and treated without any dignity. They suffer.

Precious topsoil is lost on the acres and acres of open fields left after our staples are harvested. This stuff can’t be reproduced in a couple of years. Over-cultivation of land is a real threat to the environment. I was part of the problem as a vegan. Again, an affront to my belief that I was causing no or less harm.

Imported food stuffs that I ate as a vegan put unsustainable pressure on the environment. I could ignore it or face it. How much did it cost society and the planet for me to support my habit as a non-meat eater? If I was to remain a vegan or vegetarian, I would now make choices for as much locally produced fare as possible. Hundred Mile Diet anyone? Not easy as a vegetarian, I’ve tried it.

At some point I began to shift my thinking toward a lifestyle that suited my beliefs. I hated it when someone told me that my veganism was ridiculous and had no intention of converting anyone to my new way of living. I simply wanted to live according to what I found to be true for me. If no one agreed, that would be fine—I’ve never run with the pack anyway.

What I wanted was to value all life forms, and to protect the environment as best as I was able to. Of course, no one can claim to be living the lifestyle, there is no such thing, and when one does say it to me, I regard it with the same suspicion as I do religious fanaticism. It is time we supported each other on our individual journeys.

To conclude, though my plan is not perfect, I now support a varied diet, as much local, organic or sustainably farmed as possible.

But I love lemons, olives and coffee, so these I buy judiciously and support fair trade. Vegan meals are still a staple, but contain more things I have grown myself, like a leek soup instead of stuff from Mexico or California which are thousands of miles away from me. When I eat meat, it is locally grown by organic farmers whose treatment if animals I can agree with…free roaming, loved, honored.

I have harvested both plants and animals in my time. Both with equal sacred ceremony, and many tears. I leave notes in my garden to the vegetables and send telepathic messages before harvesting my beets. None of it is easy, but then, life teaches us many difficult lessons. I have had great conversations with both goat and thyme. Their wisdom is non-judgmental. They are great teachers.

My thoughts here are my path only. My hope is that meat eaters and vegetarians will find common ground in our passion for the ethical treatment of all living beings and in supporting sustainable farming practices. We need to eat less meat and also less factory farmed vegetables. We certainly do not need to agree on it all. What would we learn if we all had but one thought?

I leave you with a list of books that I found helpful on my journey.

Empty Harvest: Dr. Bernard Jensen and Mark Anderson Avery Press
The End of Food: Thomas F. Pawlick Greystone Press
The Secret Life of Plants: Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird
The Vegetarian Myth; Food, Justice, and Sustainability: Lierre Keith Flashpoint Press
The Findhorn Garden; Pioneering a New Vision for Humanity and Nature in Cooperation: The Findhorn Community.

 

Relephant:

4 Ways to Come Back from a Vegan Diet Fail.

 

Author: Monika Carless

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photos: Author’s Own

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Monika Carless

Monika Carless seems to be following the setting sun---from Europe to Eastern Canada, to mountain and ocean life on Vancouver Island, B.C. Trained as a Reiki Master and Holistic Nutritionist, Monika seeks the Sacred through nature. She is a Mystic who follows the Wise Woman Tradition, facilitating Intuitive Soul-Path Sessions, guiding women and men worldwide on their authentic journey, in the areas of sexuality, relationships, spirit and life-direction. She believes in skinny dipping, laughter with friends, and moonlit walks as therapy for the human soul. A road less ordinary and a heart filled with love is what you’ll find her patiently seeking. The author of two novels, The Dark Pool, and its sequel, The Raven and The Aspen King---tales of erotica, pagan mysticism, polyamory, and past lives. Monika can be reached via her websiteInstagram, or Facebook.

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24 Responses to “Why an Environmental & Animal Rights Activist Walked Away from Veganism.”

  1. Tracy says:

    Hi Monika,..Great article…now I get it. 🙂 Thanks for the book list. 🙂 xo

  2. James says:

    Is this one giant comedy article? I mean seriously, is this a parody or am I meant to take it seriously?

  3. Ange says:

    The logical fallacies in this "article" are innumerable. Vegan food is full of amino acids! Have you heard of bananas? You NEED carbs – carbs are good.

    Everything thing feels, so who cares about animal suffering?

    Egad, you are brainwashed.

    It takes far more water to create "meat" than it does to create grain.

    Please do not put vegetarians and vegans together – they have nothing in common. It is more harmful to consume diary/eggs than it is to consume meat.

    Go fruitarian if you want to not hurt plants. Your current "path" is utter hypocrisy and rife with overwhelming cognitive dissonance.

    • simplysolitary says:

      I care about animal suffering as my article states. And have done much research into water/agriculture/what it costs to raise food of any sort. Yes, carbs are good, but not all blood types are suited to a highly carb based diet. I've been both vegan and vegetarian, know the difference. I would die on fruit only, tried it. A banana breaks down to simple sugars in the gut at the end of it's cycle…not enough amino acids to sustain my blood type. We do not agree, this is ok. My path is still valid, as is yours.

      • James says:

        Yeah but, rocks tho.

      • "Not all blood types are suited to a highly carb based diet"? Please. Firstly, as a vegan, you have the option to choose the ratio of fats and carbohydrates and protein in your diet. Secondly, the blood type diet? Please. I am Type O, allegedly the hunter-gatherer type, and yet have been happily vegan for over 23 years. I even donate blood.

        I'm not altogether sure that you even understand the term "amino acid".

        Most importantly, if you care about plants, eating meat is worse than being vegan. Or are you going to deny that the animals you eat have previously fed on plants?

        As for the notion that slaughtered animals feel honoured and loved, really? That is some twisted love you're talking about.

      • TheVeganAstronaut says:

        Food for different blood types? Are you referring to Peter J. D'Adamo's nonsense? He isn't even a real doctor. And his "theory" was de-bunked by actual medical professionals. BTW, meat is not "grown", it's not a vegetable or fruit for you to refer to them that way.
        "I have harvested both plants and animals in my time. Both with equal sacred ceremony, and many tears". Woooow….Animals and plants are NOT THE SAME. Animals are SENTIENT beings, plants are not. How hard is it to understand this? Does it really take a rocket scientist to spell these things out for you?
        If you REALLY were concerned about the environment and animals, you would have remained vegan. But instead you found excuses. Disappointing…

  4. @organicjack says:

    My journey is so similar… and with the same conclusions. Thank you for sharing your story with such eloquence and clarity.

  5. alex myles says:

    I loved reading this, opened my mind drastically, I understand the theory, however, not enough to have strong opinions on it, although, still, it was a brilliant read, enjoyed every word of it. It is definitely something I will be looking further into. Thank you for this eye opening article!

  6. Erica Leibrandt says:

    Monika, I love this article. Thank you.

  7. Josh Garcia says:

    There seems to be some VERY backwards thinking here in an attempt to justify eating animals.

    The purpose of veganism, isn't to be perfect. It's to reduce your impact on the environment, reduce cruelty to God's creatures, and improve your health. Certainly in any agricultural process bugs and other animals may be killed. And certainly every plant wants to live, but lets not be foolish here: I've never heard of the Coalition for the Senseless and Inhumane Treatment of Nuts, Seeds & Fruit. Have you?

    Lets pick the least of the two evils here:
    1) the resource intensive and senseless murder of billions of animals each year or
    2) the much less resource intensive farming of fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds & legumes.

    Cravings are NOT synonymous with "needs" as she puts it. I crave junk food all the time but should I claim deprivation and act on these cravings? No. It's a craving. I know better. So lets not claim we "need" animal-protein-based amino acids because they "hit the spot" better than plant based aminos. That's just silly. What makes more sense is if you're upfront – that animal rights and the environment come second to your cravings.

    • simplysolitary says:

      I'm not justifying meat eating just as you do not need to justify what you eat. I'm talking consciousness of all living beings. I don't crave meat, I crave well being in my body. Once, a man who cared nothing about the suffering of pigs said 'who has asked the pig if she needs to turn around' when confronted about farrowing pens. People used to say that animals and women had no soul, but this has been proven wrong. Perhaps my observations into the plant world are also considered insane by some. Time will tell. My article, when not misinterpreted, is about respect towards all living things.

    • evelyn says:

      I'm vegan, and I absolutely agree that it's not about being perfect. Perfection is impossible. In some way, shape or form, any way of living has the potential to cause harm (whether it be direct or indirect). It's a reality we can't escape, even as vegans. However, I would choose veganism 100 times over because I'm decreasing that amount of harm and draining of resources considerably more than I would be otherwise. I don't mean to be moralistic – I'm just speaking for myself – but I could never think of it in terms of: "Well, since I'm causing some degree of harm no matter what I choose, I'm just going to give up and eat animal product again." It's not all or nothing! It makes me sad when people become vegan and believe this. It's not the right attitude at all – it can cause such harm and stress to oneself to think this way. I know this very well from my experience and I hope that more people realize this.

      Unfortunately, nutrition is a tricky thing. And it can become a lot more daunting moving toward a plant based diet, but you can get what you need. For me it's taken a lot of work and adapting over the years, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. The benefits are worth it.

  8. Tara Minshull says:

    Not only is this an incredibly relevant piece for our thinking about food and it's sourcing, but it is beautifully and consciously written.

    An important line to re-read for those here that are not honoring the words written here is, 'It is time we supported each other on our individual journeys.'

    Let's not devastate someone else's celebration. Let's just have respect for one another's beliefs and opinions. If you have alternative viewpoints, write it with grace and courtesy to all.

  9. facetiouseloquence says:

    The plants talked to you and that's why you are supporting the slaughter and suffering of sentient animals whose pain is unquestionable. If you really care as much as you think you do, go fruitarian. But don't give us this delusional new-age nonsense and expect us to find your moral decay as anything more than what it is.

    • simplysolitary says:

      I don't think you read my piece. I don't support the suffering of animals. My experiences as an animal and plant communicator have me in a different place than people who don't have that ability. Perhaps it cannot be understood by most. It is not new age to support kindness all living things. The age we're living in has created factory farming.

      • James says:

        It's not new age to have kindness for all living things. However, if you are not a vegan, you support, condone and are actively a part of their suffering. I read the entire piece and that is not an opinion or each is on their own journey, it's just a fact. If you buy the flesh of an animal from any source, you gave money to have them killed. If you buy eggs or milk then it is the same. Unless you abstain from all animal products, you're a part of the problem, not a part of the solution. There is no debate to be had on that front.

      • Josh says:

        "Respect for all living things" is being confused here. Your position is similar to that of meat eating foodies or localvores which claim to connect with animals by killing them. We are the only specie capable of convincing ourselves that this makes sense, but also the only specie with enough emotional intelligence wake up if our ego's can get out of the way.

        An extension of "Respect to all living things" is "Take only what you need." We DO need food and sustenance, but no matter how we justify it, we DO NOT need to eat animal parts or their secretions.

  10. Ben says:

    Plant protein breaks down to simple sugars, rocks have thoughts, and blood-type diets are anything but bunk. Oh! And Lierre Keith in the suggested reading list. Did I miss anything?

  11. Gaia Oeion says:

    Respect for all living things, so well explained by our vegan fellows, is sure not showing through their own written words. It is sad to see that this subject is still an avenue for such arguments. We as humans will not make this earth any better if we can't grow up and be respectful of each other's views (which are inevitably different).

  12. Tara Minshull says:

    For the conscious and enlightened readers of this enlightenment focused journal, pehaps we can use this comments portal as a beginning for a new way of respecting each other as well as 'all living things'. That said, let the peace settle between all our disputes. We all clearly come from a place of caring about our food. So let us respect our differences.

    🙂

  13. Angie says:

    If you truly believed plants were sentient beings you would still be vegan. By eating meat you are killing all of the plants the animal ate (so killing plants daily for at least 6 months) and then killing the animal. If you cut out the middle man (plant eating animal) and ate the plants only you would dramatically cut down the number of plants you killed (6 months of a cow eating plants is A LOT more than you would ever consume in the same time frame) and completely cut out all the animals. If you truly wanted to reduce suffering you would only eat plants. So seriously if that is your belief how do you justify the excessive killing of plants when you know they experience pain?

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