Plant-Based & NOT Vegan! I have a few conflicting thoughts on veganism after witnessing just how political and polarizing it can get. Someone wished me, my pets, my entire family to die of cancer, and my business to fail, over a discussion about cashew cheese the individual (and later all her Facebook Friends) misunderstood as dairy. I will be 58 in November. I had never before encountered that much hate and from a fellow vegan and I was just starting this journey. To my knowledge, nobody on earth before had wished me and my entire clan dead by slow-acting cancer. This was in late 2016 and I still carry all that hatred. I feel sorry for any vegetarian that crosses her (their) path. I wonder about some person who decides to help animals and the planet and their own health by cutting out meat…or perhaps just cutting back. And then they get an earful of hate from this ‘lady’. Boom, they are back to eating meat and whatever else, screw it! I want nothing to do with the crazy people, right? This is exactly how I was feeling at any rate. The person spewed so many insults I had to block FB and shut down. And then I just wanted to spite eat meat and cheese. This movement is never about one individual, but about the end goals. When we get so angry at a person we don’t even know because they had a bite of something, and we make the adult decision to act out that rage, then we become accountable for that ripple effect.
We must come to this table with logic not just ‘I love animals.’ I have clients who still eat meat, greatly reduced, but still, it is a part of their life. I must acknowledge it may always be so as I suggest healthier and kinder ways. In short, if my job is to help spread the reasons to go plant-based, (health, planet and animal kindness) then I must place myself in some trenches to do this work. My husband is an omnivore by choice and he loves his local honey. On this plane of existence, none of us are perfect and there will be a compromise at some juncture in everyone’s life. Thankfully I had great training at Hippocrates and this greatly helped when encountering the death threats, the unrelenting hate and refusal to acknowledge logic. I endeavor to read labels, do and know my research, think before speaking and act in compassion. This would be compassion for human animals as well as the rest of them we share the planet with. We are overrun as a species, so I made the choice not to bear children. This also saves the planet. Hippocrates Health Institute trained on the avoidance of all sugar. Eggs contain a protein our bodies do not process well. We were also instructed to avoid any processed foods, bread, alcohol, caffeine, and do good food combining and aim for 80%+ raw food.
While many of us espouse an all-or-nothing approach, and that is absolutely fine, it is compassionate to realize not all of us will be 100% all-in. I want also to reach these people. If I can get a daily meat eater to go all organic, to know the farm where the meat comes from, reduce his dependence upon fast food and consider some plant-based or vegetarian meals with no meat at all, that is progress. When a client has a kindness meal, then more, then an entire day of kindness, then several, I consider this a win. This individual has grown in awareness, has developed a foothold on the logic that his current way of eating is not planet sustainable, isn’t healthy long-term, and is cruel to the fellow souls he is ingesting and is incorporating change. Rather than turn people off and alienate them with judgment, it should be about sharing facts and options, with the compassion I was never offered when discussing cashew cheeses.
Veganism is a passionate endeavor but we all must realize that the individuals who come to this lifestyle do so for various reasons. Some are focused just on animals while others want to save the planet and still others are riddled with Chronic disease and want to reverse those ills, lower their blood pressure and risk of diabetes or more stints in their arteries and live resiliently. For me it’s about all 3. What the evil vegan wishing me and mine dead didn’t know is that I had already lost my entire family to cancer and yes, the slow way. Breast for my mother, bone for one brother, Prostate for another, colon for a cousin and breast for an aunt and kidney for my father. Two of these people died within 12 months of each other right on the heels of me losing my job of 26 years. It was after losing my employment that I took a year of studies with Hippocrates.
When working with a client, I follow the Hippocrates guidelines and then tweak that towards what my client is willing to do. I am there to help educate and coach. I make a lousy judge, I am imperfect myself.
Recently a company I rep for discussed a body butter that had beeswax in it. I was adoring this product and now realize it isn’t vegan. This term can mean many things but essentially espouses to act daily with the purpose and intention of causing no harm to animals, from what we eat, drink, sleep on, wear, use or ride. But veganism also delves into what can be considered exploitation. This issue can get very tricky.
Exploitation is wrong and all of us encounter it by our fellow humans, such as at work. Big corporations, such as those who sell honey to Costco, kill the bees in the process of stealing the honey. Below is a great article on honey bees. I have always espoused supporting local beekeepers because they truly care about the bees and as bees are in decline, somebody should be supporting these folks. Our neighbors are the Zip Code Honey people and run the Texas Honeybee Guild. They take very good care of their bees and while I don’t eat honey, my husband does and buys from them. BlendItUp Bee Free Honey makes a great substitute.
Exploitation can be so many things. One is eggs. I am actually happy to see more families raising hens in their backyard and I once had a harem of hens myself. I took great care of them and learned so much having them. I was told growing up that chickens were stupid. Nope, not at all true. So if you have hens, are feeding them organic feed, augmenting with calcium and allowing them to live out their days in enjoyment and love even when they stop producing eggs for you, I am not sure that I have a right to complain about that. One of my vegan friends will on very rare occasions, once a year perhaps, enjoy such an egg. I would far better prefer to see this than my neighbors buying eggs from hens that suffered at the hands of factory farming methods. I know from raising my own, the hens were happy and were not, as someone insisted they were, ‘forced’ to produce eggs. As a plant-based lifestyle has taken over, I no longer raise them but have compassion for those that make this choice.
What about horseback riding? Or vegetarianism? There’s so much backlash with the vegan society towards vegetarians when in reality, they are making a huge dent in the cruelty and planet sustainability. True, there is a big difference between being vegan and being vegetarian but can we not be a bit more kind? People change given the right support and motivation. I have known several vegetarians go vegan. And meat eaters go plant-based, on a weekly basis, across the planet. Is the horse being exploited if he is well cared for and loves being ridden? My horse loving friend, Laura, told me the story of how her horse Dovey spawned Little Dove, who actually never went through any coaching or training to be ridden. No, she just lined up at the post and waited for her bit and saddle and off she trotted with her tribe, not one buck. Wherever human animals and the rest of them cross paths, animals are and should be in a partnership with us; an acknowledgment of respect and kindness. We learn from them and they from us.
I use the term human animals because I believe so much of the time we humans forget we are just mammals. Sure, biblically we were called to watch over them and wow we are doing an abysmal job for the most part now, but this really doesn’t make us ‘better’. What it makes us is an animal having an assigned task directed by our maker that we are epically failing at, in spite of every advantage to do the job with aplomb. Am I exploiting my dog expecting him to guard my home? It’s his job and it goes with his natural instincts but would this be exploitation? I also adore him, keep him company and we go for walks and play together. He is living a great life and eating homemade meals with every need catered to. What is exploitation?
Expand the mind – If our ways were that of the 50’s or 60’s, from the way we cared for our livestock and also the amounts ingested on an annual basis, I don’t believe our vegan movement would be so passionate or so large looming. There would be far less of us. This cause exists and is growing because our lives, as a species, are out of balance with nature. We have allowed cruelty, conceit, greed, and arrogance to rule us rather than compassion and wisdom. Wisdom sits at the seat of compassion. Nothing else matters without it. So when I hear someone say they cannot condone horseback riding that a fellow plant-based individual does with their horse because that is exploitation or goes on the attack with local beekeepers, my heart aches. We have far larger tofu fish to fry, with the big corporations that are the cause of at least 95% of the pain rather than fight amongst ourselves or nitpick everything in a less than educational and loving way. In a world where nothing will ever be 100% plant-basesd, let’s focus on bringing awareness with kindness and celebrating the wins. I used to joke that where it says in the bible the meek shall inherit the earth, that we would end up overrun by cockroaches. Could it possibly be that the meek discussed would be us human animals becoming more like gentle lambs, not eating each other literally, emotionally or spiritually?