Today I will talk about how to deal with sadness as a vegan.
Yesterday I saw an article with a couple of photos of animals in slaughterhouses. The photos showed their last moments; the last cries for help. I broke down in a second. My chest was in so much pain that I swear I could’ve had a heart attack right there and then. The amount of pain I feel as a vegan, whenever I see photos of animals that are hurting, cannot be described.
In those moments of pain, the only thing that I am able to think about is how I would give my life just to save them. Nothing else matters – not my wish to live on Mars, not the money that I want, absolutely nothing. At the core of my being, all I want in this world is for animals to be safe and equal. All I want is for pigs to be able to smile and cows to lie down on the grass and feel the sun on their skin. That’s all I want. Nothing else is important.
It’s easy to let your ego (that is not separate from you, it’s just the other part of who you are) convince you that fame matters and how many friends you have. It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself and to want material things that will not make you happy. It’s easy to forget about others. You see photos of animals that you want to protect, and even though you are vegan, you feel like you are not doing enough. You KNOW you are not doing enough.
In those moments of sadness, when you are broken hearted as you have never been before, I want you to do three things:
- Close your eyes and feel the pain. Feel every single knife that is stabbing you in your chest. Feel every inch of your body crying out loud from how broken you feel. FEEL!
- Look around you and at the things that you’ve got. Sit there and look at all the clothes, purses, Apple products etc. that you have. Look at them and see for the first time for what they really are. Things. Start to feel how insignificant those things are and how they can’t bring anything to the world. Realize that material things don’t mean anything and open your eyes to what really matters – other beings.
- Get up and do ONE thing that you can do in that moment for the animals. One thing. I don’t know what that thing is, only you will know when that happens, but listen to your heart and your instinct and DO ONE THING. I started to write. For you it might be something different. You might just feel the urge to take your dog out for a walk, or the urge to write a letter to an animal organization offering them your help. I don’t know what you will do but I can tell you one thing – whatever you do, it will matter. Every little thing matters.
If you have animals at home, show them how beautiful life can be. Hug them tight, cuddle with them, tell them how much you love them. Show them respect and kindness. Not all of them have the opportunity to experience love and warmth from humans. Start with choosing to eat more plants, buy clothes that were not made from animal skin (wool, leather, fur, silk…), adopt instead of shop, donate money or food to shelters and different animal organizations, boycott movies that use animals for entertainment… there is so much you can do every single day.
Being a happy vegan is the best possible way to inspire others to go vegan as well, but it’s not how we will feel all the time. I have never felt more broken than now when I am a vegan. I’m a human; I feel things when someone is hurting. I don’t see the difference between my niece and our dog; they are the most special two beings in the whole world for me. The love I feel for Naja and Chuck is equal; I love them both with every cell in my body, there is no difference for me between a small child and a dog.
And when I break down and cry, when my world stops because I can’t breathe anymore, when I look around me and all I see is hell on Earth – I do something nice. I hug a little tighter, I cuddle a little longer, I choose more wisely. I do what I can do best – be a nice human being.
I am not god (if it would exist). I don’t pretend to be perfect; I still shop half of my clothes in stores that use sweatshops, I still use products that were probably made by children, I still kill flies if they bite me – but I am trying. I try to shop second hand as much as I can, I try to buy ethically whenever I am able to and I try to leave bugs and insects that attack me alone. I do my best but I am not perfect.
Veganism is not about being perfect, it’s about doing the best that we can. Not eating animals and not buying things that contain animals is not hard. It’s a choice that you make every day. Buying a cruelty free and vegan shampoo may not be always possible for you (I live in a small town, there are almost no CF and vegan brands), but I am sure that it is possible for you to buy potatoes, rice and cucumbers instead of cheese, milk and meat (fish are animals too fyi). It’s a choice to go to the ZOO and support animals in prisons; it’s a choice to go to a circus and watch cows and elephants being used as props for your entertainment; it’s a choice to buy that wool sweater.
Choose wisely. Stop listening to your body so much, it will tell you that it needs dead animals; use your brain and what you know about the cruel industries. Be smart.
p.s. – my eBook that talks about how to be happy and calm when dealing with non vegans (and sadness and anger) is still available. Learn more about it here. It’s called Happy Vegan, Angry Vegan.