Like a Threaded Needle

And so it begins…

As I’m writing these words Luminous Beings (Jon Hopkins) is pumping from my laptop. Apropos. I think.

My journey to veganism has been twisty. You might say it really began when as a young child I spied a book in mother’s hand called Animal Liberation, by Peter Singer, and began to question my relationship with animals. You might also say it began when as a child driving past dairy farms with my family my father told us that the smell came from the cows all having diarrhea from the antibiotics. But really it didn’t begin to take hold of me until I met the person who would one day be my partner in life.

We were both NYC dog-walkers at the time and she was vegetarian thinking about going vegan. Around the same time, she started her certification to be a positive-reinforcement canine behaviorist.

“Just as a threaded [sasutra] needle is secure from being lost, in the same way, a person given to self-study [sasutra] cannot be lost.”

Mahavira (Uttaradhyayana, 29/59)

As per the way of things, this set off a chain of thoughts in me. Within a couple of years, I cut meat from my diet to such a degree that I decided I might as well call myself a vegetarian. Somewhere in this time frame I also made brief forays into vegan cuisine that I found quite satisfying, as long as neither my wife nor I attempted them at home. As of a year ago, however, I’d grown increasingly disturbed by the conditions all animals suffer on industrial farms — death being the least of it. Most of all I was appalled, however, by my own passivity and willful blindness. So I decided to give veganism a real shot. And I was largely successful. Probably because I wasn’t too strict with myself.

Like working out at the gym, it’s easy when you ease in with just the weight your body can bear. Truthfully, I really began to enjoy it too. I got away from the faux meats. I started cooking with whole foods and experimenting with spices. Following honest-to-goodness recipes! More than that I discovered that there’s a culture to veganism much deeper than a simple change in diet and that these people I was starting to share my time with are actually pretty great. Vegan culture is definitely not the much meme’d (and rightfully so) angry pedants and mirthless scolds who want to make everyone miserable, most of all themselves. Some of the fantastic people I’ve met have led me to fantastic organizations like the Catskill Animal Sanctuary and Earth Law Center. Both of which I’ve joined because of their openhearted, welcoming policies.

In subsequent blog entries, I’ll share even more of what I’ve discovered so far.

Nevertheless, I’m taking a new turn in my twisty journey. I’m going to keep not just to the spirit of veganism but to the letter of it as well. As of the beginning of this month, my diet is now full vegan. This isn’t to say I haven’t had my fumbles, stumbles, and doubts. I don’t have everything figured out. But that’s okay, I think. That’s why I’ve got my wife. She happily volunteered to take this journey with me. Between the two of us we can hack this out. Besides, isn’t that the point? The process is probably more important than the goal. The key to beating the reported 84% recidivism rate amongst professed vegans is knowledge and a keen, ever broadening awareness. This can be acquired through experience only. The going will be slow and difficult. But that’s just our style.

Vegan Shepherds' Pie

If you’re interested in going vegan yourself, reach out. I’ve got tips, tricks, and links (like that one!) to keep it tasty and healthy without going bankrupt.


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