Then, out of the blue, the mother of one of my friends emailed me a Care2 story about “Veganic Gardening” and said I should check out Gentle World’s Vegan Education Center and Intentional Community, while I was in New Zealand. I thought, “what the heck, why not WWOOF for a week and learn a new way of farming?” When I made my decision, my mother, who was traveling around New Zealand with me at the time, asked: “Do you think you’ll become a vegan?” I replied, mouth full of grilled cheese sandwich, “You never know, but probably not.”
Yet….. the second I walked onto Gentle World’s property, my idea of what a vegan was started to crumble. These were not the skinny, wimpy, slightly grubby hippies I had gone to college with. (No offense intended, but many young vegans subsisting on french-fries and cigarettes do veganism as a whole a great disservice.) The Gentle World community members’ faces glowed. I watched in amazement as one of the senior members walked by carrying a twelve-foot ladder in one hand, over his head, like it was nothing. The food was AMAZING and there were NO animal products on site.
Suddenly my excuses seemed flimsy, the “inconveniences” trivial in comparison to the lives and pain vegan choices would save. After a couple of days, one of my fellow WWOOFers asked to watch Earthlings – a powerful documentary on the abuse animals receive on this planet, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix – and I stayed to watch it with her. I finished the video in tears, nauseated, convinced that there was no such thing as a non-vegan animal lover, and 100 percent vegan. Well, maybe 100 percent vegan in diet choices and 60 percent vegan in philosophy and action.
Veganism is in many ways an evolution; not merely a diet choice, but a complete shift in perspective. As one of my favorite Gentle World volunteers said, “you can’t be vegan on and off — you’re either vegan or you’re not.”
As I look back over the last 27 years of my life, I wonder how it is that it took me so long to stop being lazy and live my life the way I’ve always said I wanted to: with love, kindness and honesty.
If you’ve asked the same questions I have, claimed to be an animal lover, an environmentalist, a health nut, or if you gently remove bumblebees from your house instead of squashing them flat, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself why you’re not vegan and what excuses are left.