Before becoming vegan, I was vegetarian for well over thirty years, and nearly vegan without really recognizing that fact. I did not consume dairy in any form, and very rarely ate eggs.
During those years I was not aware of the deeper ethical considerations which occupy much thought and discussion on many vegan forums. I was blissfully unaware that some white sugar is considered not vegan,
because it is filtered through charred animal bones. Such things as the vegan objection to honey was also outside my consideration, or animal origin of some food dyes, made in fact from crushed Beatles. To name a few things which I simply did not understand as being against core vegan ethics.
As I became more deeply involved in a vegan lifestyle I became increasingly aware of many and varied issues which are in same way exploitative of other species large and small.
Kindness and compassion are cornerstones of being vegan, yet these words alone do not really embrace the full thrust of while I will describe as the vegan ideology, if such a thing actually exists.
I have come to understand that being truly vegan, requires one to adopt a comprehensive world view which is anchored in the concepts of peace, freedom, non-violence, respect for all life, and a total rejection of exploitation in all its forms.
It is an ethical lifestyle which goes well beyond food. It is a lifestyle which is both complex and comprehensive, embracing all aspects of ones thoughts and actions.
To my surprise I discovered that some vegans are so passionate they seem to lose perspective, attacking non-vegans verbally, openly judging, berating, admonishing and criticizing, often with harsh and acidic comments.
Some of these folks simply seem very angry, and let's be honest, being angry is just not very attractive, endearing, or appealing.
I must admit that when I first encountered such behavior by other vegans, I was shocked and dismayed. But I also saw in them much of the outrage I myself had felt and expressed openly. After a period of intense rage, i reconnected to my personal reasons for becoming vegan and recognized that being angry was not one of these.
I became vegan in part because i wanted to live a more kind and compassionate life. Being in a state of rage and disillusion over the social acceptance of death and torture as routine did not bring me peace. it certainly was not a healthy mental or spiritual place to be.
While it sounds rather superior, I can say in all honesty, I also became vegan after undergoing a kind of personal Epiphany. Put another way it might also be called a spiritual awakening, in an almost religious context. I became conscious that my choice of food, and in fact my entire lifestyle rippled out in many directions.
It opened my heart in ways which are to numerous to mention. It perhaps enough to say, I no longer wanted to a party which caused the suffering of another being, of any species, including my fellow humans, vegan and non-vegan alike.
That personal transformation might never have occurred had I been exposed to a vegan who attacked me, criticized me or otherwise judged me.
With that point in view, I really struggle when I find other vegans being anything but kind to those who are not. I find it equally disquieting when vegans judge or attack each other, which seems all to common an occurrence in some places.
Vegans are sometimes characterized as being radical. Regrettably, I find this description to be entirely accurate on occasion. I do understand why, driven by heart felt passion for the suffering of millions of animals slaughtered for food daily, such passions arise.
Having come to understand the suffering animals endure. Having become aware of them as intelligent, feeling sentient beings, I too want so stop the slaughter.
However, I implore all vegans, no matter how committed or impassioned, to consider the teachings of the Buddha. His enlightened wisdom advocated that we follow the middle path. The middle path representsa way ahead which is not extreme.
If we are to help others understand kindness and compassion towards animals and other vegan values, we must first practice kindness and compassion.
Hurling insults is not only a waste of energy, but it does nothing to advance the vegan agenda. It simply makes all vegans seem more radical and anything but peaceful and happy. Not many people want to joint a group where people are angry or insulting.
It is a simply fact that many people will continue to eat meat, eggs and dairy. Not only is this socially acceptable to it is encouraged. Given the amount of food advertising to which everyone is exposed it is little wonder moving people towards a vegan diet can be a challenge.
I encourage all vegans to not lose heart, or courage. Continue to promote the vegan diet, lifestyle and ethics using kindness, compassion and persuasion, and most of all patience. Change is already underway, it just must happen in its own time. It can't come soon enough, it can't come fast enough, but it is coming.