Archives for posts with tag: Vegan Ethics

On Living with Compassion | Starter Guide | Vegan Outreach.


(I’m linking to a page which I think gives a good account of Vegan Compassion, from an organisation in the U.S. called ‘Vegan Outreach’. I don’t know anything about these people, but I like this page.)

They say that choosing a Vegan way of life is a compassionate choice. If you bring your consciousness to the food you put into your body every day (and other aspects of your lifestyle) and start to become aware of what has gone into producing the things you take for granted – the death of animals, the pain and suffering of animals, bodies subjected to industrialized processes, people’s labour in less than humane conditions – you will become a more compassionate person. The act of physically placing your awareness in food is what heightens this. Apparently the transformation of consciousness can be quite remarkable.

Well, I’m a politically active person, and like to think of myself as an environmentally aware person. I spend quite a lot of time and energy doing ‘good things’, BUT, I know deep down I’m not actually that compassionate. I feel incredibly frustrated sometimes about what I perceive to be the state of the world, and I know that, when I express my opinions, that frustration often comes across sounding quite harsh and judgemental. I’m also not too good at being compassionate with myself, and can easily suppress emotions, be passive-aggressive, and get myself into a state because I’m not communicating clearly (and compassionately) with others. (I used to not be aware of this at all, but life-experience and some work in therapy have helped me to see things in a different way.)

It’s not easy to write about this side of me, but I’m thinking about it because of something that’s happened this morning. I have a housemate whom I’m not naturally at ease with. I find her manner loud and insensitive, and I often feel quite annoyed by things she does around the house (spontaneous re-arranging, throwing things out, hiding the back door key as an anti-burglar measure) and would prefer to be consulted about these in advance. It’s fair to say I’ve swallowed quite a lot of my feelings in order to not have deal with them, and have been doing this over a period of time. This week however, two such incidents have happened in quick succession which have left me grinding my teeth. I’ve felt really aware of how frustrated I’m feeling. This morning, just as my housemate was leaving the house she said, “Don’t forget to shut the window”, and I suddenly found myself turning around and snapping and telling her I didn’t need to be told and would she just stop trying to tell me how to keep house.

What surprised me about this was that I was actually expressing what I was feeling as I was feeling it, which, believe me, is not something I normally do, but it just came bursting out, and I was so glad to be telling the truth instead of biting my tongue.

Now, it came out with a lot of force, leaving me feeling shaky and probably leaving her feeling hurt and surprised at my aggression. I shall have to apologise to her later. I shall also have to make sure that I honour my feelings in future, because that’s going to be what stops the frustration building up. That’s seems pretty scary, but I can see that being compassionate to animals is not going to help that much if I can’t be compassionate with others and myself.

Feelings seem very close to the surface at the moment. Maybe it’s mood changes caused by food changes. Everything feels a bit new and ‘clunky’. I feel more sensitive, in good, and less good ways. I suppose if you clear stuff out of your system, other stuff will rise to the surface.


Reasons: The Vegan Evolution

Ethical Choice

 I used to be a Vegetarian, a long time ago, in my teenage years.  I abandoned eating meat with great passion and self-righteousness off the back of a few months of having a junior membership to the RSPCA, and being enrolled in Greenpeace by my Granny.  My bedroom floor was littered with magazines and campaign leaflets depicting the many atrocities inflicted upon animals.  I would write letters to MPs, poems for the campaign magazines, and wear with pride the stickers organisations sent to me.  My traditional English, and omnivorous, family did their best to adapt to the circumstances, my mum bearing the brunt of it as I refused the home-prepared meals she’d been serving up for years: Shepherd’s Pie, Beef Stew, Sunday Roast…  It didn’t last long.  At the age of 18, on a cycling and camping holiday around the coast of Cornwall with a boyfriend, I lapsed over butcher’s own sausages cooked over a camping stove.  After a hard day’s cycling my small tin of Heinz Spaghetti Hoops in Tomato Sauce just didn’t hit the spot.  Ravenous with the outdoors, it was easy to fling conscience to the winds and feast on animal flesh again.  By the time I returned from that holiday I was a born-again meat-eater and didn’t look back.

In recent years, I’ve eaten less and less meat, as public health campaigns, food scares, and friends’ lifestyle choices have persuaded me in new food directions.  The substitution for meat and fish has more often than not turned out to be cheese, and dairy products have figured large on the shopping list as I seek to gratify the craving for foods which are smooth and creamy.  From time to time it has crossed my mind to take up the ‘Vegetarian’ banner again, but I’ve been held back by both laziness and the growing realisation that it’s not just meat and fish that are the problem.  My present feeling is, if I’m going to make an ethical choice, the thing to do is avoid using animals altogether, and that means avoiding all foods produced by animals.  I feel disturbed by the industrialisation of the bodies of other creatures (and humans for that matter).  The dairy industry is just one example.  Once I started reading more about this, the ethical arguments became harder to ignore.  A friend sent me a link to a Vegan educational organisation called ‘Gentle World’ and their monthly updates have been dropping into my inbox for over a year now.  The momentum has been growing, as I’ve met more people who wholeheartedly live by this philosophy, and drop by drop experiences seem to be showing me that this might be something important.


I’ve always been a sneezy, wheezy person.  If I get ill, it’s usually with a cold.  If I go into a house I’ve not been into before, I’ll often as not start sneezing within 30 minutes of arriving.  I easily get ‘bunged up’, out of breath, snore in my sleep, struggle to breathe.   I’ve read that cutting dairy products out of the diet can help significantly with these kinds of issues and, believe me, after living with myself in this condition for so many years, I’m ready to make sacrifices if they’ll bring about positive change.  Recently, I’ve been receiving Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture treatments, and these have only served to strengthen the suggestion that changing my diet would help my overall health.  In TCM, many of the things I suffer from can be explained by the idea of “Damp”, both a physical and emotional condition that contributes a general feeling of ‘bogginess’ in the body and the psyche, and which underlies most of the prevalent health pathologies which affect people in developed countries: cancer, obesity, and heart disease being just a few examples.    There are many other health reasons for increasing the nutrition from vegetables in your diet.  Yesterday, when a friend heard what I was planning to do, I was sent this BBC News article by way of encouragement ( – thanks Toby).

There’s something very holistic about this choice.  It could be good for me, and good for the planet overall.  In an age of increasing struggle over global resources, moving to a plant-based diet makes sense.  It’s a logical step, which I think is why Gentle World’s writer has chosen the word “evolution” rather than “revolution”.  If chosen, however, this way of life has the potential to be revolutionary on many levels.

I’m here trying it to see what evolves.

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