Awakening to the horrors of animal slaughter and slavery is only the first step. If you’re vegan already, you know the emotions and conflicts that can go through your head when you realize what has been going on for so long. The way that human beings can be compassionate towards one species of animal (dogs or cats) and completely disregard the thoughts and feelings of another species (chickens or pigs), while justifying it is baffling and heart breaking.
However, seeing behind the curtain is a necessary first step for real education and empowerment- and that is where healing begins. Learning that, perhaps supporting the killing of other living things isn’t quick and “humane” like we were told all this time. That these creatures feel pain and love, sadness and joy, just like us.
While we would like to stop the cruelty overnight (it’s still possible!), we know that our society needs to shift and people need to become really uncomfortable with the thought of killing for taste. Realistically, this may take longer than we would like. As a result, we may lash out towards the people around us, trying to change their minds through fear and anger. But, you cannot achieve peace through violent communication. With shining examples of love, compassion, and alternate food choices we can help make this shift more comfortable for everyone involved, in non-violent ways.
This is step two, what I like to call the shining light stage. Not pushing, not lecturing, but simply leading by example. Showing others that you can enjoy life without the meat, the eggs, and the cheese. Showing them that there is another way. Creating the same things we used to love (ice cream) into vegan versions that taste just as good, if not, better (coconut ice cream!). Because you can’t go vegan for health alone. The sweet and the salty will always rule, and people (including vegans) can fall off the health wagon, because nobody is perfect.
This brings me to step 3, which is feeling compassion beyond the animals- feeling for humans too.
Your purpose of being vegan may have started with disgust ( I cant eat that!), transformed into excitement (look what I made!), but really, needs to flow towards complete acceptance, of not just who you have now become, but how your friends and family choose to live. Forgiving them for not shifting, because they aren’t on that path *yet*, and it may take some time before they are comfortable in doing so.
Because this is a choice. Yes, sadly, the animals don’t have a choice…but we do, and it is only through personal desire that things will change for good. This is a choice to heal as one. We can do our part, by being active, by being that shining light, or educating through love, but we cannot force. We can hope and pray that one day, the veggies will outweigh the meaties, but for now, we have to practice forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we approve of hurtful actions, just that we are making a choice to not hold toxic feelings about these people anymore. This is when our healing can begin on a global scale.
The vegan journey is more than just food and morals. It is a spiritual journey, that can help you be compassionate for all forms. For animals. For humans. And for yourself.