Veganniversary

Nine years ago today, on my eighteenth Easter, I began the transition to a vegan diet. It’s always tough for me to know what to say when people ask me about when I became vegan. I probably wasn’t actually fully vegan until a couple of years later. More like a vegetarian, trying to make it to vegan. But I still want to give myself credit for those years I spent figuring things out. I’m not sure if other vegans count that transitional period as part of their vegan life or their pre-vegan life. I suppose some people might not have stumbled so much in the beginning like I did either.

My point is that I think intentions matter. I’m not trying to justify the support I gave to a monstrous industry out of personal weakness. I’m just saying that as an online community, vegans can be pretty ruthless to one another. I use to be one of these more ruthless vegans. I couldn’t help but lash out at vegetarians or vegans with “cheat days.” When it comes to such a serious and heart-rending issue as the lives and wellbeing of billions of animals, it’s only natural to get a little heated. However, it is also easy to turn a blind eye to our own past failings.

This post isn’t about calling out other vegans or myself. It’s about reminding myself and other long-time vegans out there not to forget where we came from. After nearly a decade adapting to this lifestyle, it can be easy to forget how impossible the change once seemed. Even though now it can be frustrating to hear people asking you the same ridiculous questions that they always have, keep answering them kindly. Keep being patient, even when you’d rather scream. A kind, thoughtful answer may not make the questioner go vegan, but a harsh response is guaranteed to turn them away from the idea entirely.

If you’ve read my other posts you may wonder why I even bother to care anymore. After all, I’ve said many times that I believe it’s too late to save the planet and life on earth as we know it. So why continue being vegan? Why do I care if other people go vegan or not? The simple answer to that question is suffering. I have always been sensitive to the idea of suffering. The mere existence of it is what caused me to lose my faith in a loving, all powerful god. And if there is no god to protect the innocent, I will. Or at the very least, I’ll do my best not to contribute to their suffering.

The crazy thing is that it doesn’t even feel like a conscious effort any more. I think one of the hard parts about going vegan is making that mental connection each time you decide what you’re going to eat or buy at the store. In the beginning making the right choice causes you pain because it makes you reflect on your impact in the world and the immense suffering and injustice that exists all around us. It is tempting to turn away, fall back into old habits, avoid thinking about it entirely. However, once veganism has become that comfortable, familiar habit, these painful feelings are reversed. The other day someone asked me if I would ever eat meat again. The idea alone left a bad taste in my mouth. I can’t even bring myself to look at the meat section in the grocery store. Those “foods” are a painful reminder of the atrocities humanity perpetrates on our innocent brethren. To eat a piece of meat is to eat a piece of flesh. It would be a willful decision to cast aside everything that I believe in in a way that it never was before going vegan. It would be simply impossible for me, painful even.

This drastic shift of consciousness that a vegan lifestyle elicits can make it hard for us to relate to the meat-eating masses. It’s tempting to try to forget that I was once one of them. When people ask me, I want to tell them that veganism was never a difficult choice to make, that it was always easy. But I am always honest instead. I tell them that it was hard for a long time. I tell them that I initially transitioned for selfish reasons, not out of a moral obligation to the animals I was eating. I tell them about the foods I miss eating and haven’t been able to replace. I let them know all of this. But I also let them know that despite all of that, becoming vegan was worth it. Becoming vegan was the best decision I ever made in my life. I would say I’m proud of that decision, but it just seems ridiculous to take pride in not harming others when that should be the default.

So if you are reading this post and you are not vegan, know that I don’t harbor any hatred or resentment towards you. I certainly don’t consider myself better than you, like a lot of people assume vegans do. What I hope you take with you from reading this is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Choosing a salad instead of a steak at a single meal is a reason to rejoice. Deciding not to add cheese or a creamy dip or adding a non-dairy creamer to your coffee or switching to a plant based milk at home, these are all wonderful, meaningful steps to take that make a difference. And I don’t mean make a difference for the world necessarily, I mean they make a difference for the animals. It may seem like an abstract statistic when we think about meat and dairy sales, simple facts and figures. An output two digits smaller than the year before may seem utterly insignificant, but just remember that those numbers are lives, sweet, precious babies, like the pets your have at home. And these small choices make a difference to them. So just do your best. Do whatever you can, no matter how small. If a mentally ill, eighteen-year-old can go vegan on Easter and still being going strong nine years later, anyone can do it.

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

Solidarity Among Women

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For some strange reason, all of my life I have felt this unspoken tension between myself and other women. As I grew older, I realized that a lot of women felt animosity and resentment toward one another. Women in today’s society always seem to be pitted against one another. We tend to always be more critical of women then we are of men. We sometimes even find ourselves believing the very same stereotypes about other women that we ourselves take offense to.

I often catch myself having these thoughts, and I am angry with myself. So recently I have been making a conscious decision to be more forgiving and open minded when it comes to the women I encounter from day to day. Now instead of looking at other women harshly, I allow myself to see them for who they are. I view them as my comrades instead of my competition. I have been reading more women authors and poets such as Ayn Rand and Sylvia Path. It has really been a refreshing experience allowing my heart to open in this way.

When I was growing up, the women in my life always seemed to value a relationship with a man as being more important than their friendships. However, this frame of mind has always left me feeling desperate and insecure. I’ve learned that each relationship in your life, whether it be intimate or platonic, is a wonderful thing to be cherished and nurtured. As human beings it is important for us to have a network of loved ones on whom we can rely.

So my advice to my fellow women out there is to open your hearts to everyone in your life. There are so many beautiful souls and minds in the world to be discovered in the bodies of men and women alike.

Keep your hearts and minds open, my loves. ❤

Let Yourself Blossom

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It is so easy for us to get caught up in endlessly critiquing and criticizing who we are. Many grow to hate or resent themselves from constant comparison and obsession over past failures. We tell ourselves that we are not good enough and hide ourselves away because of it. But each of us has limitless potential. It seems that really the only key to unlocking that potential is realizing that you have it. We are each the god of a universe all our own, ourselves.

The human brain is one of the most complex systems in existence. Don’t allow yours to focus so much energy on negative or wasteful thoughts. The neural pathways in our brains that are most often used become stronger over time, as the disused ones weaken. If you want to be more compassionate, for instance, all you need to do is focus on doing so. Make an active decision to strengthen those pathways in your brain and as time goes on it will become easier and easier for you to think and behave compassionately. However, the same rule applies for the time you spend exercising less beneficial pathways. Never forget that you are in control of who you are. Stop waiting for fate. Stop saying “if only I was smarter,” “if only I was more artistic.” You can be anything that you wish to be. Never be afraid to try to improve. That is really all that we can do in this life. Thanks to the world wide web, a large portion of the world now has vast amounts of information and opportunity, literally at the tips of their fingers. Use this to your advantage. Be your own teacher. A greater understanding of yourself and the world around you can only lead to a happier and more satisfying existence.

There is no reason for so many young people today to have such low self-esteem and for so many children and adolescents to genuinely not like themselves. It is important that we all understand that we our in control of the people we become to a significant degree. Never give up hope on becoming the best version of yourself. But we must also remember to be kind and gentle with ourselves along the way.

I seem to have forgotten this lesson in the past few months. I felt hopeless and trapped in my own life. But now I remember that I am all that I will ever have and although my mind and heart may be tired, my body needs me. It needs me to live and to live as fully as I am able during my time here. Even if I do not achieve my dreams I don’t ever want to be an old woman looking back on her life wondering how it could have been different if she had only tired and given herself the chance she wanted to receive from others.

I’m sorry I have been gone so long, my dears. ❤

One Week Down

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Overall, I would have to say that my first week back at college this semester went pretty well. I made some new friends and managed to break out of my shell more than I ever had in my past years on campus. I hope that the rest of the year continues to go this smoothly. I know that I haven’t posted much this week, but I will try to manage my time better in the weeks to come so I will be able to post more. Hope you all had a good week as well. ^_^

Stay positive, dears.

The Stress of College

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I am now more than half way through my first week back at West Liberty University. I am now only taking classes corresponding to my major or minor. I thought that this would give me some sense of relief from the overwhelming stress that I usually experience during the school year. However, I have had no such luck. I have barely been given any assignments thus far and already I am feeling myself caught in the undertow.

I think for many people, college is merely a mental challenge. I, on the other hand, have no problem keeping up with the material or scoring good grades on exams. The thing that makes college a challenge for me is the futility of it all. Luckily, I have been able to receive a full scholarship, but nonetheless, I still sit idly by year after year and watch hundreds of dollars disappear along with countless hours of my life. I just cannot seem to justify this to myself. Yet, I allow it to continue for lack of a better alternative.

I believe for truly intelligent students college can be emotionally exhausting. It is quite difficult to keep yourself interested in something that you feel is a scam and is not really aiding your development. There is no guarantee that a college degree will get me a job and certainly no guarantee that I will be happy with a job in my field even if I do get one. I mean, how are we supposed to know what type of job that we want to have for the rest of our lives straight out of high school? I don’t even know all of the jobs that are available, let alone what it would be like to work at any of them. Even in the best case scenario, college will hand me straight into the working world where I will toil the majority of my life away for just a bit more money than it takes to merely survive. I don’t want that. It is a devastating idea.

But what else am I supposed to do? I don’t have enough faith in my ability in anything else to give up a full scholarship to pursue. I don’t even have time to consider any alternatives because my college classes take up most of my time and energy. I feel as though I am trapped in a raging river heading toward a future that I cannot bear. There must be something better I could be doing with my precious youth. I don’t want to wake up one day full of regret, but what can I do?

Somedays I drown in the thought that I have nothing left to look forward to in my life and that my best days are now behind me. I wish that this country’s education system would have given me more of a chance. I have always felt as though I had something special to offer the world, but maybe I will never discover what that is.

Let me know what your college experience was/is like. How do you deal with such hopeless thoughts? I would gladly accept any ideas or advice.

Stay strong, sweet ones. ❤ 

Branch Out

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Hello dears! Today was my first day back at college for the fall semester. So, as I usually seem to do, I set some new goals for myself this year in West Liberty. I want to make new friends. This may seem like something that wouldn’t need to be a goal, but as I have stated in one of my previous posts, until recently I suffered from a lot of social anxiety. Getting to know people was a terrifyingly and taxing affair.

However, I have been taking the anti-anxiety medication Paxil for almost a year now and am feeling very differently about things. I had been noticing myself getting bored with my life for the past few years, but only after quieting my anxieties have I been able to figure out why that is. I miss knowing people. All of this time I have been getting lost inside my own head. I forgot the joy of the moments like the one pictured above. This is a photo my closest friend for over twelve years took the other night of us talking. This photo really represents to me all of the wonderful and heartfelt conversations that we have had in those twelve years.

I feel the warmth and significance of those encounters and the way we have helped and watched each other grow. I realize now that these moments with other people are one of the most precious things in this life. To discuss abstract concepts and ideologies and really consider and discover the way another person sees the world is a magnificent thing.

Now that I am no longer so nervous around people, I would really like to work on forming more close relationships and seeing the world from some new perspectives. I am tired of living inside my own head and I am curios. I am curious to see if there are any other minds out there as beautiful as my dear friend Valarie’s. 

So let’s all try to be a little more open to new people and new encounters this year. Who knows who you will meet?

Stay peaceful, friends. 

A Daily Dose of Play

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Most people understand that for their animals to remain healthy and happy that they must make sure they get enough exercise. Whether it be going for a walk, playing fetch, or chasing a string, animals need physical exertion to be a part of their day to day routine.

What many people don’t seem to understand though, is that we are also animals. I believe that this means we also need to get a fair amount of exercise. For the past few years I have been running close to nine miles everyday. Granted, that may be a bit excessive for most people, but it has completely transformed my life. 

I feel more alert, stronger, and happier. Daily exercise is almost a form of meditation in a way. The hours I spend at the gym, listening to my favorite music, helps me to clear my mind and burn off all of the stresses of my day. My body and mind feel refreshed and renewed. Now instead of a lethargic and tired, my body feels awake. It is a high-functioning, synchronized machine. Daily exercise has allowed me to be more positive and optimistic than ever before. Also, after 20 years, I can finally say that I love my body.

So, let your inner animal out! Give yourself at least an hour of some type of physical activity every day. I promise you will not regret it!

Stay active, dear ones.

 

The Affiliation Affliction

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In the past few years I have been noticing more and more cars on the road with some type of coal mining pride sticker. They say something along the lines of “proud/girlfriend wife of a coal miner” or some such nonsense. Now, this may seem offensive to some people, but I just cannot understand why you would be proud of that. Coal mining is not a difficult job to acquire. You don’t need a degree or any certain set of special skills. Anyone can become a coal miner. It is a highly dangerous, time-consuming career. Not only that, but it is also destroying our environment. I could understand having a “proud wife/girlfriend of a doctor”, but not a coal miner.

After contemplating this baffling concept for months, I think that I have finally come to a realization. It seems to me that a lot of people think that if they are affiliated with something, then that makes it the best. This irrational point of view can be seen in many aspects of life such as thinking America is the best country simply because you are an American or the undying loyalty to a favorite sports team even after many consecutive losses and change of players/coaches.

This mindset, I believe, is part of the reason why our species cannot seem to move forward towards a more clean and efficient future. I think that these people are feeling threatened by the changes that we so desperately need. They view these things, such as eating meat, as part of who they are. If they admit that any of those things are less than ideal, then they feel that they are a bad person or less than they were. So, thanks to cognitive dissonance, they hold firm to their old ways of thinking and acting.

I just wanted to bring this theory I have been mulling over to light, and to let everyone out there that feels this way know that they are mistaken. No one is perfect. We all tend to be affiliated with something that we later discover was wrong from time to time. This does not make you a bad person. We all have been blessed with beautiful minds that are capable of reason and contemplation. Don’t feel personally threatened by new ways of thinking or new developments in our industries. Some things that we feel a part of (such as coal mining) must collapse in order for us to build a better world. What would our world be today if Thomas Edison had not forsaken his candle making business in order to create the light bulb? Let us all move forward together. There is room for all of us to grow.

Grow with me, my darlings. ❤ 

Vegan on the Go

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Sometimes, when you are on the go or in a hurry, veganism is not the most convenient diet. It is hard enough to find vegan options in a restaurant, let alone a fast food place. There is always the option of ordering a salad without meat or cheese, but in my experience, a good percentage of the time you will be thoroughly ignored and receive the salad with no alterations whatsoever. Then there are some who may consider just an order of french fries. However, many fast food restaurants fry these in meat greases. Also, french fries are not very nutritious or filling. Even the veggie burgers that are served by Burger King contain egg ingredients.

The struggle to find vegan options from fast food restaurants can be a blessing and a curse. It does prevent you from eating poorly when you could be eating something a little better for you. However, sometimes a quick bite of food is necessary. So, after years of irritation, I have finally found an option that has worked for me, and it is my hope that it can work for all of you other vegans out there as well. 

When I need a cheap morsel of food in a hurry, I will occasionally go to Taco Bell. For merely two dollars you can get a delicious and moderately healthy little meal! On their menu they offer a very yummy black bean burrito. It does come with cheese on it, but you can ask them to exclude that part. (I have yet to get one that still had cheese as I have with salads.) I also ask them to add guacamole, which is a wonderful replacement. 

Mexican fast food can be a delightful option for vegans trying to get a quick meal. There are only Taco Bell’s near my hometown, but I am sure any such fast food restaurant would have similar options. I hope that this can help some of you out. Now instead of greasy fries or a limp, unappetizing fast food salad, you can get a delicious, nutritious bean burrito!

Enjoy, my vegan darlings. ❤ 

Take Yourself on a Date

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A year or so ago, I read a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The purpose of this book is to help you to get in touch with your creative side and become a better writer/artist/musician etc. While I am not sure if I have really gained any ground with my creativity, many exercises from this book have helped me to find peace and comfort from myself. One particular exercise is a weekly self-date. I don’t often find the time for this every week, but when I do it is always extremely uplifting and rejuvenating. 

It can be hard to get up and go do something by yourself, at least it is for me. However, learning to love the time you spend with yourself can be very beneficial. Get to know yourself. Make yourself feel special by going and doing something just for your own pleasure. I can honestly say, the first date I took myself on was the best date I have ever been on. I generally go somewhere out in nature, because that is where I would enjoy being taken on a date, but you can take yourself shopping or even to a concert. Maybe there is a restaurant that you have always wanted to try out.

One of the most wonderful parts of these self-dates for me is that I always seem to find something wonderful. On the first few, I stumbled upon beautiful chunks of glass and a snail shell. (I have always loved snails.) On the more recent one, I took myself to a gorgeous field near my gym to pick some flowers to press as a decoration for my apartment. In the middle of the path, I found the charming little yellow and white daisy you see in my hand. It was the only one like that that I saw all day. These silly little things always make me feel like I am headed in the right direction.

It is important to know that you can have wonderful experiences even if you are all alone. Spending time with yourself is a wonderful treat that everyone should find the time for every now and again. So take yourself on a date, my friend. Let me know how it goes and follow my blog for more positivity and veganism.

Stay peaceful, little dears. ❤