Lets just cut right to the chase here, traveling is a b!tc# Now that we got that out of the way, let me tell you how I have been able to cope as a vegan-yoga-hippie who is traveling in a meat-loving-fried-food-eating country. Ladies and gentlemen, it is difficult but not impossible! Let's begin...
Before I left the country for Puerto Rico I packed myself a nice healthy travel munch set for the plane ride, I'd called ahead and asked Delta for their vegan options on the plane to which they literally said they had none, and placed it in my carry on for enjoyment later on in the intensely long plane ride. Both planes to be exact. I cant even talk about that right now, its still too fresh. Anyway, I munched away on the planes happily and landed around 2am at the San Juan Airport. Again, I cant even.
That day was Christmas, and it would turn out to be one of the most emotional, partly because I was extremely jet lagged but mostly because I was surrounded by family who just didn't understand why I would be uncomfortable around all the dead animals they were eating. Now folks, my family is accustomed to only seeing me around every couple years for a few days and I have always been a bit strange and different to them, but this visit in particular I had changed drastically. They don't really understand Veganism, or cruelty free, or plant based for that matter. I'm not just a yogi who only eats plants, Im also an activist and being vegan for me is an animal rights issue. My life revolves around making decisions that best benefit the planet and the animals. Veganism is a lifestyle for me, not a diet. I go as far as not eating palm oil, which is technically vegan, because of the incredible damage that the palm industry is causing to the orangutan habitat. Thats how passionate I am!
So needless to say, I was not happy about going into the kitchen to make people my awesome Spaghetti and Neat balls, only to find a dead body in a pan. To them it was just dinner, but to me its a life lost that I fight to keep off their plates on a daily basis. So, that makes me strange and unrelatable.
I pressed on and made my dish, which was indeed delicious because everyone said so, and smiled inside as I mentally plotted to scheme their transition to veganism over the course of the next few years. I was happy to hear some of my cousins sharing with me their vegan dishes they love, even though I was sad it wasn't really their lifestyle and they didn't eat vegan all the time. I was also happy to answer questions, even the most ridiculous ones like "Do you eat fish?". However it became emotionally and mentally draining explaining why I don't eat honey or eggs, and why its important to check the ingredients list on every new item I have never purchased before, and why even my beauty products are vegan. I was so exhausted that when one of my aunts gave me a body lotion and I saw it had goats milk I just smiled and said thank you, I didn't have the strength to go into another conversation on how goats are treated in the dairy and meat industry and why even in a lotion I would never use it.
Toward the end of the day I was starting to feel ok again, I had taken a break from the crowd to get back into a stable mood and was able to go back and play dominos with the men for a little while. Oh but of course, the night wasn't over yet. The real icing on the cake was the late night conversation with my uncle, and his wine filled brain, about his views on animals. This was not expected however not a full surprise. While I won't reveal too much info I will say that I came out of it feeling frustrated and totally at a loss for words. By the time I got to bed, I was in tears. I respect animals so much that it literally hurts me when people speak ignorantly and unkindly about them, it actually breaks my heart. I have been vegan for a full year and I did not want to spend the end of the full year watching others eat meat with no regard as to how they died.
Even though I was in tears and at a loss for words I had to remember that my family are not bad people. They don't really know what they are doing, they just aren't informed, so I cant blame them for their lifestyle. I had to remember that just as I am compassionate toward animals, I must be compassionate toward them as well. They are just doing what society has told them is ok to do. With that thought I was able to pull myself together and go to bed.
I can choose to have a few conversations with some of my family members and let them know why I was uncomfortable around meat and why I couldn't in good conscience sit at a table with meat in front of me. I hope some understand and respect it. It isn't my place to cut them off though, to totally say I would not be around them because they eat meat. I believe the more time people spend around vegans the more people are inclined to change and see first hand how they can thrive. Isolation is never the answer when you are trying to create a revolution, only education and influence can transform.
Before I left on my trip I had a conversation with my mentor and she happened to say "you're more of a purist, you think of life in that way". I had never thought of myself that way, I used to live such a tumultuous and drunk life in my early 20's that I had forgotten how much I had transformed in the last couple years, but she is totally right. I believe that life is pure, and precious and beautiful, but truly needs to be loved in every possible form. I believe what all the great spiritually awakened teachers say about energy and the souls of this planet, they are and we are extensions of the highest and we must treat all beings with respect and compassion.
That is how I try to live my life, with the best of intentions in mind and as kindly as possible. We all are just doing the best that we can, with the tools that we have, and the amount of knowledge we carry. We cannot be expected to be any more evolved than we are in the present moment, we just do what we know how to to do until we learn a higher way. Thus, when we know better we choose to do better, thats all we can ever do.
My lesson has been to be kind, be generous, and be compassionate. One day I might convince the whole world it is in our best interests to leave animals alone, but for right now I start with myself and my plate of Spaghetti.
Have you had a similar experience with being vegan? Leave a comment below