Being a Joyful Vegan in a Non-vegan World
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge
Day 30 is the end of the book and the end of the challenge. The key message is to keep going. But how do you stay the course in a non-vegan world?
Personally, I am not worried about staying the course. I cannot now imagine myself not living vegan. As it is, I have 46 years of unintentional indifference and conditioned ignorance to make up for.
Sometimes I still find myself suspended in this strange in-between space where older thought patterns compete with new ones; moments when I hold two equally coherent but contradictory thoughts or impressions at once.
The other day I watched someone eating an omelette at a cafe in the sunshine. It held itself there this relaxing, happy Sunday brunch kinda feeling, as I lazily wondered what to do with the day and how the kitchen had got the eggs so light. Yet, right beside it sat this sad anger, a memory of images of birds broken, sick, locked in cages, bodies failing as eggs after eggs after eggs pushed out of their bodies for a few miserable weeks in sheds without grass or sunlight, the stench of ammonia always strong in the air.
The woman eats her eggs enjoying how they taste oblivious to what that pleasure rests upon. The volume of entitlement we feel to use another, to bend and break their bodies for our pleasure, to shorten and take life on a whim for breakfast. Dead birds, dead pigs, dead calves, substances made from breast milk intended for slaughtered babies.
I cannot unlearn what I now know of the sentience of others. This goes way beyond mere kindness or compassion and into the realms of morality. What we do to other animals I am starting to understand is immoral. If someone has a central nervous system and can feel pain it is wrong to physically hurt them without a very good reason. If someone is capable of valuing their life or freedom it is wrong to take it from them without a very good reason.
For me the question is how do I live in a non-vegan world with genuine happiness? How do I continue to find pleasure in the everyday rituals of life, work and community when so much of it rests of the exploitation of others? How do I, as Colleen puts it, be a joyful vegan in a non-vegan world?
The advice Colleen gives is valid, but for now I cannot really feel it. I hope this is just part of the process. Maybe I need to create a deliberate practice of being joyful even when I don’t fully feel it. The reason I have hope this can happen is Colleen herself. She inspires me to find that balance, to hold as she does a full awareness of what is going on, to keep pushing for change against almost overwhelming odds and yet, at least it appears this way to me, to live a genuinely happy, fulfilling life.