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I’m Not Vegan (and Neither are You)

The one thing that running/jogging does for me is allow me time to think. It is time I can get away from the lure of the computer, cell phone, the responsibilities of keeping a house, maintaining a property or other life’s duties. Running is “me time” and the random things that come to my mind have frequently become posts on our running blog, See Jain Run.

As I ran on the shoulder of the road the one day I came upon a patch of motor oil that I hopped over to avoid. I avoided it mainly not knowing if I might slip in it and my quick reaction made me chuckle. I had acted as though I was avoiding stepping into dog waste or onto a dead animal or something dangerous. My free associating then took me to, “Well you wouldn’t want to step in oil, you are vegan and the dinosaurs died for that you know.”

That really got me thinking; no one in our modern day society is really vegan then. Anyone who uses fossil fuels, directly or indirectly can’t call themselves vegan. I mean I don’t drive, never have but I take the bus. So what if I choose only to ride my bike? What about my bike tires? Running shoes? Sure they might not have leather uppers but what about the plastics they are made out of?

Think about pre-packaged foods. Those seaweed snacks that come on those non-resealable plastic bags with a plastic tie so they don’t get crushed and a desiccant so they don’t dry out can not be good for the environment. I don’t live anywhere near seaweed so they had to be produced and shipped from quite a distance. Many vegans eat Sabra hummus as a staple, even packing the small prepackaged containers in their family’s lunch boxes. A lot of places aren’t set up for recycling those plastics and if they are how many people bring them home to recycle?

I think being a caring role model in life that is mindful and does a greater service to the earth and all living things than being a strict vegan who is obnoxious. Those who lead by sincere examples in their own lives have a stronger positive influence than those who stuff images of brutalized animals into peoples faces (at vegetarian festivals for Goddess-sake). Eat local and don’t shove it in other’s faces. I can think of some thoughtful life-long hunters who are more mindful and have a better impact on this planet than so many of the Johnny-come-lately-vegan-for-a-year individuals who set bad examples and waste so much of the planets resources in pre-packged nibbles.

I can tell you this through my own personal experiences, people have to be open to ideas to accept them so why not share what is important in a thoughtful way. Education is important but having a vegan potluck following movies that “educate” about animal brutality or ill health and gruesome imagery is so unthoughtful. My failures were on a much less graphic scale but they did touch people in negative ways. I sat with factory farming brochures and all I got were arguments. I asked family members not to give our young son hunting or fishing themed toys and clothes as gifts and alienated many of them. A gift is a gift, I didn’t have to be obnoxious.

Nothing about this has a positive impact.

Nothing about this has a positive impact.

Being mindful is key in my opinion. I have had more influence and the positive ripples have gone much farther just by leading a mindful vegan life. I have had people tell me that they had never met such a pleasant vegan before in their lives because I didn’t look down on them nor preach to them about my life choices. They ask me if it ok to order meat in front of me and who am I to tell them not? I was an ominvore – vegetarian once too. Having someone tell me that a head of lettuce might scream when it gets eaten is just as cruel as ranting about the plight of calves raised for veal and de-beaked chickens. All that ever got me was arguments and teasing and changed me from a confidant young woman into an introvert for living what I believed was an ethical way.

Being “tolerant” is also no way to be; live with genuine compassion and acceptance. If there are cruel, harsh or imposing individuals around you, excuse yourself. You don’t need to have your buttons pushed to make you feel like you have to hop on (or off) any bandwagon. You don’t have to defend what is or isn’t on your supper plate and you don’t have to go hug the living animals that were saved from being eaten. Talk about awkward. Just eat your yams and help muck out a stall later. Photos at animal sanctuaries are pure self promotion (why do you think they are called “selfies”).

It’s no wonder so many of the chefs on popular cooking shows “hate vegans.” I am tired of making trouble in other people’s homes or restaurants so I eat before I go usually. Yes, that means that there is dealing with not eating when others are but the only other option is the rude “bring your own” food. Like someone’s cooking won’t be good enough.

The next time you hear of someone leading a one wo/man mission trying to draw attention to raise awareness or money, ask yourself if it is really benefiting the larger cause. Attention seeking brings negative attention too. Live by example, give to your favorite charity, don’t wear animal products and don’t advertise it. Most of all, don’t go for a run.

So, yes, I am still vegan – or not, depending on if you ask the dinosaurs or the bug I swallowed while running.

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