Today, let’s focus on the often most difficult leadership and transformation issue – to drive change in our own lives, to lead ourselves in a new direction. I decided to share a personal story, rather than to write from a theoretical perspective, on a sensitive topic that’s very close to my heart. May this blog post inspire you to challenge your thinking. The focus is on the individual journey of self-leadership, not on facts and figures. At the end of the article, you will find a few selected links if you are interested to learn more on the specific topic of veganism.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Going vegan – Change happens slowly and then suddenly
July 15, 2012: I will always remember this day, when I made the decision to go vegan. More on that day and what happened in a minute. For which reasons, you may ask. People answer this question very often. My first answer is this one: “Ethics, environment and health – in this sequence.” Depending on the situation some people have already heard enough and others want to know more. If so, I share my thoughts. Here we go:
I grew up consuming meat and dairy, I had a vegetarian phase in my twenties, but I consumed way too much dairy, I didn’t feel well and I changed back. Then, I became a vegetarian again which was then the foundation to go vegan. Over the last ten years, working on myself, learning and educating myself, I came more and more to the conclusion that we are all living beings sharing one planet. I also learned from a spiritual and a science perspective that we are all connected to each other. So, there is no single species that is more important than another one – which is the opposite of speciesism. That’s what I learned. That’s what I feel when I’m in balance with all elements. That’s what I feel in meditation. Now, what does that mean for animals? For me, it simply means that we have no right, no need and no reason to exploit, to abuse and to kill animals. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to love animals, we simply have to respect them as living beings. We don’t need their meat, their skin, their bones and their breast milk to survive. A palate pleasure – that’s no longer a justifiable reason for me. Speciesism is one of the reasons why the animal agriculture industry operates as it operates. People’s willful ignorance or their inability to make a connection to other living beings is what allows this industry to continue their bloody practices.
Often, change happens slowly and then suddenly. The trigger for me was The Real Matrix – 101 Reasons to Go Vegan, which I watched on July 15, 2012. This sixty-eight minutes documentary changed my life from vegetarian to vegan. I didn’t change to veganism because I learned lots of new facts. No, I changed, because this presentation connected so many dots for me on a deeper level, on a conscious level. The Real Matrix outlines the absurdity of the stories about our “food” we have been told over decades and generations, mostly justified with tradition. And that is just an excuse for not challenging the status quo, for continuing to believe the story and the ongoing practice. And these stories about food are different in different cultures. Or why do we pet a dog, while other cultures slaughter dogs and eat them? If it is wrong to slaughter dogs in China, then it is wrong to kill pigs and cows and chicken elsewhere in the world. There is no difference between a cow, a pig, a dog or a cat or any other animal. They are all sentient living beings. They want to avoid pain, and they want to live – their life. Just like us. Putting them in categories of “pets” and “food” is our judgment, it’s the consequence of the stories we have been told. Our diet is based on the cultural story we have been told. Now as this is discovered, it can be changed.
Furthermore, this documentary is very special for another reason. It sheds light on the bloody dairy industry. For many people who are not aware of the details, dairy seems to be “ok” because the animals wouldn’t be killed. This idea is an illusion. It is simply not true. Apart from the fact that these poor animals are exploited from their very first day, they all end up in the same slaughterhouse. Male calves are an unwanted “byproduct” of the industry; they become veal meat and female calves have to become dairy cows. So, the dairy industry is the meat industry. Horrible for cows and their calves – they are often separated immediately after birth or a few days later. If you have ever heard a cow crying because her newborn was taken away from her, you will think differently about dairy. The core question for me is: Why should nature have structured humans in a way that they would need the breast milk of another species?
So, this documentary made me crying for the rest of this Sunday. I opened my fridge, identified all remaining dairy products (some goat and sheep cheese) and trashed it. Eggs were already off the menu for a while. I had to get rid of these things. Immediately.
Going Vegan – The Gifts
Since then, lots of things changed. I educated myself on vegan cuisine. I removed my old cookbooks from the bookshelf and replaced them with many new vegan cookbooks. I tried many new recipes, and I’m still constantly learning new things, which is an amazing experience. Smoothies, most of the time green smoothies are now the favorite breakfast. The high-speed blender and a juicer are the most important tools in the kitchen. I also started to make my nut milks on my own; nut-based cheese in many variations is also on my menu as well as homemade banana-based ice creams. It’s that simple with a great blender at hand. It’s a gift to enjoy the abundance, the wellbeing and the fitness of a vegan diet. I’m feeling deeply grateful for every meal, I prepare – whether that’s a smoothie for breakfast or a quick salad with a nut-based dip or a vegan pasta dish or a moussaka. For me, buying organic food at the farmer’s market, preparing and eating these delicious things is like a peaceful prayer of non-violence and love to Earth. She provides us with so many amazing colorful different fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. It’s pure abundance surrounding us. We just need to recognize it.
And I feel much better, I’m healthier and I was never in a better shape than I currently am. Getting rid of the remaining dairy elements in the body is like a detox program. The body finds a new balance with a much quicker metabolism.
Then, going vegan goes beyond the diet. I started to sell my remaining leather jackets, bags and shoes. I had no idea how many fashionable vegan shoes are available. What a joy!
Going vegan changed my life – literally. I could lead myself in another direction that’s much closer to my heart; it’s much more me, myself and I. I could achieve a new level of inner peace, balance and happiness. And I have even more energy than before – ok, that may sound like a threat for those of you who know me…
I feel every moment that I don’t have any longer the animals’ suffering and the violence they had to experience in my body. It’s a feeling of deep happiness, gratitude and connectedness. The way how deeply I feel this connectedness now, this feeling of being Earth – instead of living on Earth – changed so much for me, also to achieve another level of love. This concept of a conscious and compassionate life has now another, much deeper level for me. It became very solid and grounded because it is manifested on a daily basis.
And… my love is growing, my love is changing to a state of being.
Another beautiful journey, I’m deeply grateful for.
Links for those of you who are interested to learn more:
- The Real Matrix – 101 reasons to go vegan
- Eat like you care
- Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights
- Gentle World