More Than This

Like most people in my area, I was raised Christian, Methodist to be more specific. My family was never super religious or anything, but we did go to church every Sunday when I was little. As soon as I was old enough to question things, I did. When I found that none of the important questions I raised could be answered, I decided to cast aside these religious teachings and become an atheist.

Without really realizing it, I harbored a lot of pain and resentment toward religion after that. I spent a lot of time feeling superior to people that were still religious. I thought they were idiots, brainwashed, or at the very least painfully ignorant. Slowly I began to give up that anger though. While there are plenty of things I disagree with about a lot of religious teachings and organized religions, I don’t feel the need to fight against them or throw them out entirely anymore. I’m content to let others find comfort and meaning in life in whatever way they see fit.

My yoga journey has reawakened my interest in spirituality and the things we still don’t understand about this existence. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts addressing these fascinating subjects. I’ve always had a thirst for knowledge and there is simply nothing better than learning something new that completely changes your perspective. I’ve been lucky enough to learn a lot of those kinds of things in the last few days and I’d love to share a few of them with you.

I’ve been thinking a lot about exactly what we are. For most of my life, it seemed obvious. We are these physical bodies. We are matter moving through the world and when we die we’re dead. Our consciousness disappears. These bodies turn back to dust. A few things I’ve heard have led me to challenge that belief though. Did you know that what we consider to be our body is actually made up more of the empty space between/within atoms than the actual atoms? Not only that, when you only consider the cells our bodies are composed of, we are made up practically equally of germ/bacterial cells as we are human cells. How can that be?! It completely changes my conception of what it means to be me.

With those two things in mind, it seems like we should identify more with our consciousness and the energy inside of us than our physical bodies. But what exactly is that energy and where does it come from? I don’t pretend to know. But I have learned that our thoughts, feelings, words, and emotions are not as immaterial as I once thought. I may not have all the answers that I would like to have, and I may not ever have them, but I believe there is much more to existence than can currently be understood or explained by science. I no longer have the arrogance I once did. There is so much I don’t know. There is so much for me to learn and discover. And that’s okay. I am so excited to keep searching.

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Vegans & Parties

This weekend I went to two different summer parties with the people I work with. One was with my coworkers from the Child Advocacy Center and one was with my yoga studio friends. It used to be a bigger deal to go out to restaurants and parties and other social events when I was first finding me vegan footing. Now I don’t really give it a second thought. I’m used to either ordering a garden salad or bringing my own party favors when I go out. What I did find interesting was the distinctly different experiences I had at these two parties this weekend.

Since I began working at my new job, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how accepting and considerate of my veganism my coworkers have been. Despite the popular trope that vegans “love to tell you they’re vegan” I actually usually keep it hidden from new people I meet for as long as I can. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it or anything. Talking about it just usually ends up turning into an invitation for all the age old vegan questions. “Where do you get your protein? What do you eat? Can you eat eggs? Do you eat fish?” Etc. etc. It’s quite exhausting. I quickly got tired of dispelling common myths and teaching everyone I met about my diet. But when my friends at work found out, they didn’t seem shocked and horrified like most people. They were great. They were respectful and a lot of them even told me how great it was that I was vegan.

At my work party, I came with a bag of food to eat and share, assuming I wouldn’t have much available there. It was a fondue party after all. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived. There were two giants vegan dishes (pasta salad & a quinoa dish) as well as hummus. All were labeled very clearly too! It honestly nearly brought tears to my eyes. I had never felt so respected and well taken care of at a party before. (Plus I made chocolate chip cookies that everyone ate up immediately, not even noticing they were vegan.)

Now I must have gotten a little cocky after that party on Saturday. I didn’t really expect my veganism to even come up at the annual studio picnic I went to yesterday. I’ve known these people for years now and I thought we’d gotten past the question and answer stage. Unfortunately it was immediately brought up when I offered tabouli to everyone. To be fair I guess that’s not an ideal dish to offer since not many people even know what it is. I only know because I’m Greek and my grandmother used to make it, not because I’m vegan. Anyway, I digress, it seemed like quite a bit of my time there was just spend explaining veganism and nutrition to everyone. I got all the classics. “Where do you get your protein?” That one always kills me. I also had people acting upset that the impossible burger wasn’t “healthy.” Well yea, neither is a regular burger. It’s a junk food replacement, not a health food. Someone even told me, “It’s great being vegan works for your body. I don’t think it would work for my body.” What the hell does that even mean? Haven’t heard that excuse before.

I was so disappointed that my fellow yogis were the ones that made me spend my time at this party lecturing and justifying my lifestyle. They all seemed to be much more defensive than my work friends. It’s interesting to observe the way different people react to my veganism. It says a lot about a person. What I’ve seemed to notice is that the more in line with vegan principles someone already is, the more threatened they seem to be by me. Not always, but a lot. Ahimsa or non-harming is one of the main principles of a yogic lifestyle. Of course that can be interpreted different ways by different people, but obviously veganism is the way I interpret it. I think veganism is quite threatening to some people. They hear you saying you’re better than them even when you’re not. They feel attacked and become hostile towards you. It’s a visceral reaction brought on by the cognitive dissonance within their own minds. They see the value in veganism and know that it aligns with their beliefs, yet they aren’t ready to give up their current habits. The discomfort that creates is then a problem that the vegan catalyst is blamed for subconsciously.

Whatever you opinions of veganism are, I just want to point out that it’s not polite to put a vegan on the spot with endless questions, especially at a party. I went there to have fun, not to answer questions that are quite frankly boring and irritating to me at this point. I used to think that it was a great opportunity to educate people and even though I didn’t really enjoy doing so, I tried my best to answer everything adequately. After being vegan for nearly a decade now and hearing the same questions from the same people again and again, I see it a bit differently. I don’t think most people really care what your answers are. They are just asking questions to make conversation. If they truly had any interest in the answers to those questions, they could have just googled it and gotten a much more comprehensive and helpful explanation.

One of the questions I always get is: “what do you miss most?” They are expecting it to be a “food.” But honestly I miss fitting in better, being able to blend into the crowd. The social ostracizing it the hardest part. It’s practically the only difficulty that still has stayed with me after all these years as a vegan.

24 garden party ideas to transform your backyard for celebrations | Real  Homes

Empathy for All

I consider myself incredibly lucky to work in such an interesting field. Psychology has always fascinated me, but actually working with kids and families in my community has broadened my horizons even more than I could have imagined back when I was still in school. Given that I’ve struggled with social anxiety for the majority of my life, it seems strange to me that I would have such a good time working is social services. However, I’ve learned to be more fascinated than fearful of people. Even so, I also believe that I am on the autistic spectrum which I feel gives me an interesting perspective on interpersonal matters. I have always been able to set aside my emotions around a subject or situation fairly easily and act based on logic and facts rather than my feelings.

I’ve learned throughout my life though, that this analytical character of mine can often be seen as cold and calculating by those around me. Many times I have offered up an opinion about something that seems perfectly logical to me, but has been terribly shocking and offensive to others. For instance, a recent conversation I’ve had with a friend at work sticks out to me. We were discussing the idea of legalizing all drugs and illicit substances. We both agreed that at face value, this seems like a shocking and unethical idea. I think most people have a gut reaction to this proposal that causes them to condemn it right away. However, I have read the research on this idea from countries where similar policies have been implemented. It came as a surprise to me, but legalizing these substances actually has the opposite effect than you would expect. Rather than more people abusing drugs and overdosing, there are less instances of this behavior. This is because people are more easily able to reach out for help. There is less of a stigma surrounding drug abuse. People that use are also able to do so more safely than they are when it’s illegal, which results in less instances of overdose and infection.

After discovering this data, I was fully on board with legalizing all drugs. Even though my emotional reaction to the idea remained unchanged. It still felt like a bad idea, but I was confident in the science enough to overlook my personal biases. However, when I shared this information with my coworker, he refused to change his position on the matter. I asked him, “So you’re still against it even if it results in less drug abuse?” This seemed so interesting to me. That even highly intelligent people will often side with their emotions rather than the facts.

A similar discussion came up the other day at a meeting with people we work with on cases of child abuse. We began discussing the idea of virtual child pornography or child sex dolls. Of course the idea is repulsive. Everyone’s initial reaction is of disgust and condemnation. Yet, I remain convinced that if there is data that shows these things lessen the likelihood that actual children will be abused, then I think they should be allowed. I’m not aware that there is any such data. It could very well be the exact opposite. But even in this hypothetical situation, no one else would agree that this should ever be legal. Even if it stops children from being abused. Once again, I was left feeling amazed at the irrationality of these smart individuals.

I am careful to watch what I say, lest I upset anyone, but a lot of the time, I don’t find it as easy to condemn the alleged perpetrators as I feel I should. Obviously child abuse of any kind is inexcusable and all measures must be taken to protect children from these offenders. However, this doesn’t make me incapable of still feeling sorry for everyone involved. After all, a lot of pedophiles were once the innocent victims. This obviously doesn’t justify their crimes, but it does somewhat explain them. We are unable to just cast these people out of society. The fact remains that putting them in prison for ten years doesn’t solve the problem. They are very likely to go on offending as soon as they are released. The science has shown that as upsetting as it is, pedophilia is a sexual orientation. It is something that cannot be changed. These people must learn how to control these urges and understand that although they cannot control their thoughts, they are able to control their actions. If they are considered monsters by society for their thoughts alone, why wouldn’t they give in to their urges? There needs to be an effort to rehabilitate these people, not just punish them.

Often we will interview a child because they have been abusing other children. We won’t ask them about what they’ve done, rather we try to ascertain whether or not something has happened to them that is causing them to act out this abuse on others. I think it’s very interesting that when a child hurts another child, we still feel empathy and compassion for both of them. It makes me wonder at what point we draw the line. When does a troubled child become an unforgivable adult? Does the limit of our compassion end at eighteen? Why do we make that distinction?

I find it hard to make sense of this divide, even though I do feel it viscerally within myself. It is much easier to vilify an adult than a child for the same crime. At the same time it seems illogical to arbitrarily make a decision that someone isn’t culpable at 16 but they are at 18. How exactly were they expected to “fix themselves” now that they are legally an adult? This atmosphere of shame and condemnation only makes it harder for the “undesirables” in society to seek help. Apparently in the U.S. you may be reported to the authorities for even mentioning you feel sexually attracted to minors to your therapist, even if you’ve never acted on those urges.

At the end of the day, despite our feelings on these difficult matters, we need to act and make decisions in a way that results in the best outcomes for society as a whole. Sometimes it may end up to be something that at face value seems counterintuitive. But we’ve got to learn to look past our emotional impulses and trust the data. I certainly don’t know all the answers to these very challenging questions. I just hope that we can be objective and open as we continue to search for those answers.

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Writing

I love to write. I love seeing my handwriting slowly consuming a blank page. I love notebooks and pens. I love typing even more perhaps. The sound of rapid clicks on a keyboard, the feeling on my fingertips as I am pressing the keys, is so soothing. I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember. I have diaries from the time I first learned how to form letters on paper. The massive amount of misspelled words stand as a humorous testament to how young I was at the time. There is just something so beautiful and therapeutic about organizing thoughts and feelings in order to release them into the physical world. Even if what is written was never intended to be read, there is still a sense of connection that is inherently part of language.

Even though I love it and I’ve done it nearly all of my life, writing has become more and more challenging as the years go by. I often get the urge to write something, anything. But when I sit down to begin, I am always gripped by panic and fear. Part of me is feeling that right now. It is a fear that makes me feel like running. An urge to escape, to look away. A fear that reminds me of being a little girl, holding the covers over my head at night, feeling that as long as I don’t look at the dark expanse of my bedroom that I will be safe from any monsters that might be lurking there.

It is terrifying to look this fear in the face, to study it long enough to even recognize what it is I am afraid of. When I really force myself, I can see that I am afraid of introspection. In order to create anything, first we must look within. When I’m drawing it is easier. There is no threat among the shapes and lines inside my head. Just images, with no emotions underneath. Writing is different. So much so that I’ve grown to dislike the phrase “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” A thousand words could reflect much more than a picture ever could. Some things can only exist within language.

When that familiar urge to write strikes me, the question that follows is always, “what should I write about?” This is usually where fear slams the door so to speak. In order to answer that question, I’ve got to go within. I’ve got to look inside of myself, to probe around my heart and mind, feeling for something that sparks my interest, my passion, my emotion. I know that I’ll find inspiration somewhere in there. The problem is what I might stumble across in my search.

The older I get, the more I find that I am keeping my mind on a very short leash. There have become more and more tender places where I dare not tread. I’m no longer even sure what exactly it is I am afraid to find. I don’t have any truly traumatic memories. Perhaps I am afraid of the good ones. That I’ll miss those old joys too much to bear. Maybe part of me is afraid I’ll look inside and find there is nothing left. Then again, maybe I am just analyzing this fear too much. After all, I am a perpetually anxious person. The majority of the time there is no cause for the nervous energy I feel vibrating through my body.

It doesn’t really matter why I feel this fear. I am forever being distracted and misguided by that persistent question, “why?” Even when I was little, I was one of those kids that had to ask why after being told anything. It feels like a phase I never grew out of. Somehow I still haven’t learned that that question often doesn’t have an answer. More importantly, that often it doesn’t really matter anyway. If you spend your life fixated on figuring out why we are here, why we are alive, why we exist at all, you will miss out on actually living. Maybe we get to choose what the answer to that question will be. Maybe it’s simply irrelevant. What matters is that we are here. Wouldn’t a better question be “what am I going to do with this life” or “how can I make this life meaningful, enjoyable, etc.?” Maybe it would have actually served me better if my parents hadn’t always been so patient with me and made me stop asking why all of the time.

Why it scares me isn’t what I want to focus on. I love writing. That is what I want to focus on. I even think I’m pretty good at it. It makes me happy. It lets me express myself better than I am able to any other way. It lets me be creative, silly, curious, focused, anything that I want to be. All I have to do is believe in myself enough to start, then I won’t be afraid anymore.

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On Using Drugs

Recently I met yet another person who told me they have never drank alcohol or tried any drugs. It is always so fascinating to me when I am reminded that these people exist. There is just some part of me that cannot understand them. I simply can’t imagine how someone can go their entire life without even trying any of these mind-altering substances. Especially the legal ones. I, myself, can think of at least two very compelling reasons to do so.

The first reason that always comes to mind is plain curiosity. I don’t know how anyone could be told that there was a drink or a plant or a powder that can make you think and feel totally different and not be intrigued. I have always considered myself a very curious person and look for that same curious nature in others. I am especially curious when it comes to the mind. Anything that can completely alter the mind is just too interesting to avoid. I’ve tried basically every drug besides heroin, cocaine, crack, and meth. I’d probably be willing to try cocaine, I’ve just never had the opportunity. Besides from what I’ve heard, it’s not that great anyway. The only reason I wouldn’t try meth, crack, or heroin is because I’d be too afraid to become addicted. On my deathbed, I may give them a go just to see what it’s like. At that point, why not?

Knowing that many of these substances are illegal could be an understandable deterrent for some people. But alcohol, and even marijuana in some places, are legal. How could you not be curious enough to try them at least once? They are obviously very popular habits for a lot of people. Wouldn’t you want to know why that is? There are few experiences in life that are so distinct and unique. How could you not want to know what other states your mind is capable of experiencing?

If sheer curiosity isn’t enough to get you interested, I can think of another reason: suffering. I always knew I would try drugs even when I was fairly young, just so I could know what they were like. However, I didn’t actually venture down that road until I was in high school. A time rife with turmoil, when emotions are running high, high school seems to be the time when a lot of people begin to experiment with drugs and alcohol. While for the most part, drugs have been a fun, social experience, there have been times when I’ve used them as a crutch.

I’d imagine there are times in everyone’s life when they feel so terribly that they would do anything to feel better, or even to feel nothing at all. If I hadn’t already tried drugs at these points in my life, I certainly would have then. When someone tells me that they have never even had a drink, it makes me question if they have ever truly suffered. Maybe this is an awful thing to say, but it’s what I wonder about. There are certainly people I’ve met in my life that seem to have somehow escaped any encounters with that deep sadness that so many of us know well. Nothing seems to touch them. They have never been broken. In some ways I envy these people. Yet, in other ways, I almost pity them. Although it’s been painful to feel things as deeply as I have in the past, to suffer within the prison of my own mind, it has made me a fuller person. It has given me a bitter-sweet depth to life that I would not have found otherwise.

So I may be a jerk, totally misjudging people and creating false perceptions, but these are the things I can’t help but ponder when I meet someone who has managed to stay inside the bubble of sobriety all of their life. Naturally it makes me reflect on the reasons that hasn’t been the case for me. I am too curious. I have also at times been too desperate to try to relieve my suffering at any cost. Therefore, I end up questioning if these other people somehow lack those qualities/experiences. Or perhaps I am just lacking something. Maybe they simply have a stronger will, better coping mechanisms, a strong social supports. I’ll probably never know. Regardless of the reasons behind it, I do know that I will never be able to feel fully understood by these types of people. Whatever it may be, we have a fundamental difference that divides our worlds.

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Questions

One of the reasons I suspect I may be on the autistic spectrum is my inability to comprehend and/or engage in small talk. Ever since I was a child, it has always seemed boring and nonsensical to me. I didn’t (and still don’t) get the point of saying: “How are you?” “I’m fine.” “Nice weather, today!” Or just asking random, vanilla questions for seemingly no other purpose than to fill silences. I do hate awkward silences, but I seem incapable of generating these space fillers that come so easily to most people.

Part of the reason it seems to be so difficult is because I am not really interested in having those types of conversations. I feel like I’m being phony. Asking people questions I don’t really care about the answers to. It’s like putting on a show. It’s a lot of work for me. It’s tiring. And maybe I sound cold. Do other people genuinely care about the answers to all those generic questions? I’ve just never had any interest in talking for the sake of talking. The silence is only awkward to me because I feel like other people are expecting me to talk. I supposed I quickly got tired of hearing people say “you’re so quiet!”

There are questions I’d like to ask people I don’t know yet. I realize that each of us has our own universe within our head. I am fascinated by the different things people think and their perspectives of the world. I like to know about people’s pasts too and how that has influenced who they became. The problem is, I don’t really know when the appropriate time is for learning those things about a person. I guess that stuff is usually divulged organically through other conversation. But often if I just wait for that to happen I find myself stuck in a limbo of surface level interactions.

I have a hard time remembering to ask questions, because the questions I’d like to ask are too random and possibly inappropriate, offensive, or insensitive. And as I’ve said I feel weird trying to make small talk. So instead I usually end up talking about myself a lot. Sometimes I wish other people would do this too. That way I could know what interests them, what is important to them, get a good idea of who they are. I always get along best with extroverted people that easily fall into talking about all sorts of topics and branching out from there. I’m absolutely hopeless at carrying on a conversation with someone who is quiet and reserved. It’s almost palpably painful for us both. I find myself wishing social etiquette would allow me to just remain silent. I guess that is rude though…

I want to make a list of some of the questions I’d really like to ask of people I don’t know yet. Maybe someone reading this could tell me if they’d be okay to ask or what context I could give them to make them okay. Here are just a few that come to mind:

  1. What is the last dream you can remember?
  2. What is your first memory?
  3. Do you believe in God?
    • Why or why not?
    • How has that impacted your life?
  4. Have you ever done any recreational drugs?
    • What have you tried?
    • What was your favorite and why?
    • Why did you try them initially?
  5. Are you afraid of dying?
  6. What was your childhood like?
    • What is one impactful moment from childhood you remember?
    • How do you think it’s affected you?
  7. How do you see yourself?
  8. How do you think other people see you?
  9. How would you like people to see you?
  10. What is something you’re passionate about?
  11. What was the most difficult time period in your life?
  12. What was the best time period in your life?

These are just the first questions that came to mind. Some seem more appropriate than others, but I wouldn’t know how to sprinkle any into conversation naturally. Maybe you could suggest some more interesting, yet normal questions to help me chat with a new person. Can any of you relate to this type of discomfort? How do you handle it? I’ve definitely gotten better at faking it with time and practice, but I still don’t think I’m a very good conversationalist. I’m not sure that’s really something you can learn.

Asking the Wrong Questions

As a vegan, I am endlessly asked questions about my lifestyle. Even though I find them aggravating and tedious to answer over and over again, I always try to stay friendly and informative. After all, while I’ve answered these questions a million times, it may be the first time the person I’m talking to has had the chance to ask anyone.

For example, a coworker asked me roughly, “Isn’t it difficult to be vegan?” Frankly, the answer is no. It might be somewhat challenging to adjust to at first, as any lifestyle change would be. But after a few months it is ridiculously easy. It’s not even something I have to think about. Especially now when there are so very many vegan options available. Even without those “fake” meats and replacement foods, you simply learn about all the naturally vegan dishes other cultures have been enjoying without even thinking to label them “vegan.” It’s just food. People seem to forget that the majority of everyone’s diet, vegan or not, should be mainly fruits, grains, and vegetables anyway.

After getting flustered and anxiously trying to express all of this in a clear concise way, it dawned on my just how irrelevant this question and it’s answer really are. Whether the answer is yes or no ultimately does not matter. The right question is whether or not it’s worth it. No one ever asks that.

I think from now on I am going to start redirecting those who question me toward the more important questions rather than directly answering the ones they ask. Even if veganism was hard, I’d still choose to be vegan. I mean, like I said, it was hard in the beginning and I wasn’t aware back then that it’d get easier. Whether or not it’d be easy had no bearing on my decision to change my life. I changed because it was the right thing to do. It was the only way for me to live in accordance with my morals and core beliefs. It was the only peaceful, compassionate path forward.

How ludicrous it seems to imagine justifying the continued abuse and slaughter of animals because it’s just easier that way. Human beings are always so focused on themselves. It is hard for most non-vegans to wrap their heads around the idea that I would happily “inconvenience” myself, completely change myself and my way of life, in order to save the life of another or even just relieve some their suffering. That’s an easy choice. I’d be vegan even if it only helped a single animal.

Some people even falsely assert, “Those animals are already dead. It won’t change anything whether I order a burger or not.” This also baffles me. Besides being disingenuous (most people understand supply and demand), it simply doesn’t matter if it truly changes the world or not. For instance, just because you don’t abuse children, doesn’t make child abuse disappear. Does that make it okay for me to abuse a child? Even if that particular child will be abused by someone else anyway? Of course not! There are many horrors that exist in our society and in our world. That does not make those horrors acceptable or morally okay.

I could go on to dissect all of the common questions we vegans know so well. In the end, we get so distracted by answering the question, trying to defend our beliefs, making veganism look appealing, and dispelling misconceptions, that we don’t even realize how irrelevant the question and it’s answer really are. In the future I am going to try my hardest to remember this when asked these questions. Rather than rattling off facts and figures that, let’s be honest, are pretty much ignored, I am going to ask my own questions in return.

I hope by doing this, I’ll actually be able to spark some genuine contemplation on the topic. I know my past responses haven’t been making the impact I have hoped. Besides, it’ll be much more interesting for me than repeating the same facts, which fall on deaf ears, again and again.

I’ve never been able to understand why knowing that animals suffer and die isn’t enough for people to be inspired to end that, to stop participating in such cruelty, such violence. It’s really that simple. Suffering, violence, and death are awful. Producing meat and dairy requires violence, suffering, and death. We do not need to consume these things to live or be healthy. That should be all anyone needs to know. That’s all that truly matters.

Cycles

The older I get, the more I realize that everything in life is cyclical. Especially my thoughts. One of the cycles my mind goes through is particularly frustrating to me and I don’t know how to break out of it. Here I am writing about him once again. I don’t expect anyone to really follow what I’m saying since I’m always so vague about who this person is. These posts are just me talking to myself to try to come to some kind of conclusion.

After our last encounter a few months ago, I was ready to finally be done with him for good. Again. I really felt a firm resolve this time, at least at first. But then somehow he always weasels his way back into my daily thoughts. It makes me feel so pathetic. And I hate feeling this way. Maybe I’m just one of those crazy obsessive people. But I’ve never experienced anything close to this with anyone besides him. And that always makes me feel like it means something, that I should listen to these feelings.

I’ve started thinking that maybe I overreacted to his decision that he’d rather be friends than anything romantic. It still truly stings me to the quick to know that he feels that way. However, isn’t friends better than nothing at all if I truly do love him? Real love should be humble and expect nothing in return. It should be enough just to love him and have him in my life. Even though those feelings aren’t reciprocated.

It is difficult for me to refuse the chance to know him. I don’t know why, but nobody ever makes me really feel anything. There are very few instances when I am actually excited to talk to someone. But even thinking about him makes me feel instantly more alive. I feel engaged and present and happy. I just truly feel.

Maybe I am being selfish for wanting more than he’s willing to give me. I should be grateful he’d even want to be my friend. I’ve just never really had guy friends and I don’t understand how to do that exactly. I am so afraid that if I invite him back in I will only be setting myself up for more heartbreak. Yet at the same time I feel such a strong connection to him, and even if it isn’t the same for him, I cherish that feeling. It is one of the most real things I’ve ever experienced.

I guess in the end it comes down to what I am willing to risk. Is it worth it to risk intense pain for a soft, but deep pleasure? Will that pain slowly outweigh any happiness I could obtain? I don’t know the answers to these questions. I never do. And maybe that’s the point. I can’t know. But I still have to make a choice.

And that is the cycle I am currently trapped within. I hurt. I’m angry. I hate him. I’m done with him. I miss him. I love him. I should be grateful for whatever I’m given. I am able to choose something over nothing. I feel like that makes me a pathetic, desperate person. I’ll look like a fool. It will only cause me more pain I feel sorry for myself. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I move past this? I hurt. I’m angry. I hate him… And so it goes. Round and round in my head. I hope that one day it will stop and this devoted heart of mine will set me free. As for now I guess I’ll just keep letting it spin.

Helpful Vegan Handout

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If you are vegan, then I am sure you are tired of the idiotic questions we are asked on a daily basis by family, friends, and even strangers. Granted, some are questions that I had myself before reading more about the lifestyle and experiencing it for myself. Nonetheless, they are extremely annoying and tiresome to have to go over countless times with people who seem to think their “clever” questions will show you that you need meat or other animal products in your diet. It is quite frustrating, so I wanted this post to be  a quick Q&A sheet that you may hand out to the non-vegans in your life so you will no longer have to deal with that hum of irritating questions. Here we go.

1. Q: Where do you get your protein? 

A: As the chart below shows, vegans and vegetarians have no problem with protein. In fact you may want to worry a little bit more about if you are getting enough protein. Oh, and also did you know that cooking meat cuts the amount of protein your body can use from it in half? Yeah. Seems like vegans are getting more protein now, doesn’t it?

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2. Q: Where do you get your calcium?

A: There are plenty of vegan calcium options. The foods listed in the image below along with many other sources provide more calcium for far less calories. And once again, if you are worried about the strength of our bones, maybe you should be more concerned about your own. Dairy products aren’t natural, so our bodies struggle to digest them, hence why there are so many people who are lactose intolerant. In order for our bodies to break these things down they must use the calcium we already have in our bodies. In the end, we have less calcium then before we drank that milk. I guess vegans get more calcium than meat-eaters too.

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3.  Q: Humans are omnivores though, right?

A: In fact, no. No, we are not. The oh, so common childish excuse that we have canine teeth isn’t going to cut it anymore. Despite the fact that this doesn’t matter because even if we were it wouldn’t justify us massacring and torturing others species with no physical need, are canines are actually meant for protection. They are far different than the canines of carnivores and omnivores. If you tried to bite into the hide of a cow, (surprise, surprise) you would not be able to. Not only that, other parts of our bodies say otherwise as well. The structure of our jaws, facial muscles, and intestines do not match those of omnivores either.  We are classified as frugivores. This means we are meant to eat fruits, vegetables, and nuts as the chart below demonstrates. Try arguing with those facts. (I’m sure you will.)

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4. Q: Why not just be vegetarian?

A: Well, apart from all of the other evidence that we are not intended to eat any type of animal product and they are detrimental to our health, vegetarianism just doesn’t cut it. It is nice to think you are saving animals by not devouring their flesh, but contributing to the dairy industry is just as cruel. Cows and chickens experience unimaginable suffering for their milk and eggs. In order to acquire a cows milk, a farm must get rid of its intended recipient, the baby cow. This is a horribly painful experience for the new mother and her child and happens countless times within the cows lifespan before she too is killed for her meat. As for chickens, they are packed into tiny cages sometimes with multiple chickens in one cage. They have their claws and beaks clipped off so that they cannot peck one another to death in response to such close conditions. Even in “free-range” farms, chickens are only given up to three feet of space each. And once again, once a chicken can no longer lay eggs, it will be killed. We must protect animals from not only their demise, but their torture and abuse as well.

5. Q: How do you go out to restaurants?

A: It’s easy. If you are lucky, there may be vegan restaurant options in the area. If not, there is always something on the menu that is vegan or can be made vegan, even if it has to be a salad. If eating a fancy, high-calorie meal that will last 20min. is more important to you than the entire life of another being, then you may have some issues. Self-control is an important part of life, get used to it.

6. Q: How are you helping the environment?

A: The meat and dairy industry is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock are also responsible for 64% of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain and the acidification of ecosystems. Factory farming also is responsible for the largest sectoral source of water pollution, contributing to eutrophication, “dead” zones in coastal areas, the degradation of coral reefs, human health problems, the emergence of antibiotic resistance and many others. Also, the need for pasture and feed-crop land is resulting in more and more deforestation. 70% of previously forested land in the Amazon is now occupied by pastures. This is an unreasonable amount of harm being caused to our environment by something that is so unnecessary for our health or survival and is even detrimental to both. Veganism could also aid in ending world hunger as less farm animals would allow large amounts of grain to be used to feed the starving people of the world.

 “[T]hose who claim to care about the well-being of human beings and the preservation of our environment should become vegetarians for that reason alone. They would thereby increase the amount of grain available to feed people elsewhere, reduce pollution, save water and energy, and cease contributing to the clearing of forests.…[W]hen non-vegetarians say that ‘human problems come first’ I cannot help wondering what exactly it is that they are doing for human beings that compels them to continue to support the wasteful, ruthless exploitation of farm animals.” — Peter Singer, Animal Liberation, 1990

7. Q: What if you are an athlete?

A: Veganism does not hinder your physical abilities in any way. In fact, veganism has helped improve the performance of many professional athletes and bodybuilders. The man in the photo below is vegan. He won the German log lift title for the fourth time in a row in 2012, and set a keg lift world record (115kg). He took the European Powerlifting title in Finland, and set a world record for fronthold by holding a 20kg weight for 86 seconds. A vegan diet has also helped ultramarathon runner Scott Jurek do better than he ever had previously in his 100-mile races, soaring above and beyond his competitors. If you are an athlete, maybe you should do yourself a favor.

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8. Q: But what about bacon?

A: Such an infuriating question. What about it? There are endless vegan versions of bacon that are just as delicious. You can buy them or you can even make them yourself. Also, bacon is horrible for you. I recommend developing some sense of self-control instead of killing pigs so that you can kill yourself for one moment of flavor.

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9. Q: Isn’t being vegan expensive?

A: It certainly doesn’t have to be. There are many pricey vegan alternative food options on the market, but they are not a staple for most vegans. All you need to do is buy fruits, vegetables, pastas, tofu, and grains. Once you figure our some recipes and what you need to have around the house, it can be even more affordable than a non-vegan diet. Milk and “fresh” meats are raising in price. Save yourself some money. Go vegan!

10. Q: Isn’t being vegan inconvenient? 

A: It can seem that way at first if you are in an area without many vegan outlets. However, once you get used to it, not at all. Knowing what you can and can’t eat becomes second-nature. You become exposed to the many others options there are around you besides meat and dairy, and trust me, there are a lot.

 

Well, I hope this will help all of you out there to better understand veganism and why it is the right choice for the animals, the planet, and your body. I also hope it can aid my fellow vegans in answering these mind-numbing questions again and again. So read up and pass it on! And don’t froget to stay peaceful. ❤