I'm going to sip my third cup of coffee and attempt to write this as clearly as possible. (Perhaps impossible with the coffee involved?)
Mostly when I blog, I have an idea crystal clear in my mind, but then it gets all muddled up between my brain and the keyboard. I'd say 80% of my blogs finish up on a completely different topic than when I started.
I sit down to write about rabbits and end up with an Ode to Porridge.
But, today I have an idea that I REALLY WANT TO GET RIGHT....so here goes....
Basically - I feel very lucky right now. Very lucky indeed and I want to share why.
Sometimes I read stories online or even receive emails from wonderful people, explaining that since giving up animal products they have had no support and feel totally alone. They feel unsupported and alienated from their family and friends, judged, attacked.....whatever it may be.
When we make any big decisons in life, or are going through an emotional change - love and support should never be in short supply. The reactions and opinions of loved ones can even mean the difference between success and failure! You respect these people - if they react badly it's not easy to just shake off.
Becoming vegan can be bloody tough. We live in a society that operates in complete disagreement with every new ideal you're trying to form! You've spent all evening reading how bad milk is on vegan websites, then the next day you wake up and your loved one is sloshing milk all over their cereal and they seem totally fine. It's not an easy journey in the slightest and it certainly won't be if that loved one is ALSO being unsupportive....
AND your friends don't understand why you won't order dessert.....
AND your family think you're judging them.....
It can all feel a bit depressing!
Veganism should be a positive change.
It's an empowering decision that you should be proud of and, in an ideal world, everyone around you would lift you in the air, perch you on their shoulders and say "WOW! YOU ARE A SUPERHERO! CONGRATULATIONS ON DECIDING TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOR THE BETTER AND TRYING TO SAVE ANIMALS AND OUR PLANET!"
Oh, if only.
It is for this reason and after reading some very moving emails that I want to write a very selfish post. A dedication, if you will. A dedication to my mother, my father and my incredible friends.
AKA: the people who made my vegan journey: So. Damn. Easy.
There - I said it.
A small part of me wishes I could relate to these messages. A small part of me wishes I could say "yes, going vegan was so hard, but I got through it. Everyone was mean and nasty and here are all the ways I coped...." But, the truth is....I'm really, bloody, damn lucky.
From day one, my poor mother had to endure all the sad, scary new information as it burst from me, unedited. "Oh God, Mum! Do you know that male chickens get ground up alive by the egg industry?! Oh God!!" I shared everything with her. I whittered on about new recepies, I relayed in horror every new statistic, even forced her to watch a few documentaries. Not for any reason other than NEEDING to share, desperate to talk to someone and not be stuck inside my own mind with this scary new information.
She did these things. She listened, she nodded and she held my hand. Because she loves me. She loves me, she supports me and she understood that I was going through a very serious, emotional change.
I am so, so lucky.
And guess what? Not only did my mother support me wholeheartedly, eat all my vegan meals (whether they were successful or not), but she even stopped eating meat. She stopped eating meat and then eventually stopped eating dairy too. My mother......went vegan.
I also want to say here that my mother is, hands down, the person I respect the most on this entire planet. She is so smart, so inspirational, such a hard-worker, so shiny, glowing and wonderful. She actually is a proper superhero, vegan or not. It just so happens: she is now a vegan superhero! And folks, the vegan movement could not have a better spokesmodel! I'm serious. Bill Clinton, step aside.
The knowledge that my mother goes into work each day with a Soy Flat White and a vegan lunchbox fills me with a joy I cannot put into words. Not just because I'm so happy that she is happy, healthy and setting an amazing example for all the intelligent people she works with.....
But ....also....it's the validation.
The validation for veganism from a woman that I respect so much it hurts. If she hears my rantings and ravings and thinks they make sense...then....maybe they do?
What better support can one possibly ask for? My mother not only SUPPORTED my insane new lifestyle change, she went on her own, personal journey with it. My mother talks with her co-workers about Forks Over Knives, she baked me a vegan birthday cake, she buys the best Organic soy milk and takes it into her local coffee shop to get THEM to step up, too.
And they do!
So, how can I say I "struggled" going vegan? My girlfriends are beyond phenomenal. They accept me without question and I know, respect me even if they don't share my views. They listen to me muse making the shift between 'cool vegan' and 'am I ready to become a mad activist' and still love me. They will, again, eat my vegan food whether it's crap or amazing.
This is why I feel so sad when I read emails like the one I received today. The idea that someone could make such a compassionate choice, something they feel is right and have their loved ones make them feel bad? Or stupid? Or insecure? It makes me so upset for them and I realise how lucky I am.
I have, however, participated in many, many arguments with people since going vegan and struggled to keep my cool. I've debated with people I really respect, I've felt attacked, I've felt stupid....all a natural part of having an unpopular opinion. But how lucky am I that these do not come from my loved ones? And if they ever do: it is a genuine, serious, respectful debate.
Not too long ago, my father informed me that he hasn't eaten meat for a year. I couldn't find words..... Truly? Seriously? Today he even buys non-dairy milk, reads every blog post I've ever done and sends on incredible videos that he has found on YouTube that promote an end to factory farming....
How bloody lucky am I? Again - my father is an incredibly brilliant man. Phenomenally intelligent. If my "crazy" vegan ideas make sense to him - what more validation could anyone ask for?
I opened an email from my Mother a few days ago about the new Free Range laws in Australia and how barbaric they are. She does this to keep me updated, but..... also..... because she cares too. She cares. And when you care, you want to share these horrible things with someone who "gets it". Some vegans do not have anyone who "gets it" in their circle, while I have the immense luck to be able to turn to my own family.
So...*insert selfish post*....thank you Mum. Thank you Dad. Thank you ladies....thank you everyone who didn't make me feel stupid, like a criminal, like a judger, like a moron....
I really am the luckiest person.
Anyone reading who is feeling unsupported - I cannot imagine how hard it must be. Truly. Just try to be strong in the knowledge that, even though we aren't next to you, there are plenty of vegans out there. And, I think we're a pretty cool sort! We totally care about the future and shit.
Also - more and more people are starting to go vegan. Surely the mark of a something's validity is how the numbers INCREASE?
Stay strong, try and be positive and if you are a happy, positive example of what being vegan is and why you WANT to do this, perhaps you will be contagious?
Who knows? It happened to me :)
My divine mother, in red and her best friend (my 2nd mother), Sue, both glowing as always. Two women who inspire me every single day. Sue has been a vegetarian way longer than it's been "cool". I'm not even sure they even had a name for it back then ;)
And on the right...my Jenna. The girl I can rant to about anything Vegan. Why are you all the way in Australia?
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