As I shared in part one of this post, being vegan, for Nicole and I, is about more than food. It’s about living better. That means embracing minimalism, living peacefully, and “doing” more instead of “having” more. We struggle with all that, at times, but we grow closer to living our way with each day. As we know already, it is about the journey and not so much the destination.
I am sharing the value of these three principles in hopes it might help you along your own journey.
This sounds like a lofty “Gandhi” wanna’ be goal, but it is actually a simple, practical tool for us. Nicole knows guns and is quite a marksman. I have a black belt and I’m pretty comfortable with stick-fighting. So Nicole and I are not afraid of conflict and we don’t shy away from trouble. We can handle ourselves in most situations, BUT… we like not fighting with each other (or with other people). It’s just easier to live that way.
It is logical to live peacefully, too. That is why we choose veganism. I love a good Philly steak sub and Shish Kabob hot off the grill but I choose not to eat them. There are plenty of other delicious things I can eat instead and if I can have all my vitamins, minerals, and nutrients without killing or harming another animal… then I’m okay with that. Just because I know martial arts does not mean I have to beat up anybody who irritates me (plus I would die of old age still fighting people). By the same token, just because I like the taste of burgers does not mean I have to eat any that someone sets in front of me.
Living peacefully goes beyond being vegan, though. It also means learning to control the rage inside of us–the stuff we keep bottled up from past wrongs or current troubles. As a culture, we are particularly terrible at dealing with emotional pain. Just think of the advice you get when you break up with someone. “There are plenty of other fish in the sea,” people tell you, “You were too good for him,” or “I never thought she was good for you, anyway”. We are taught over and over to do anything except acknowledge the pain as necessary and heal through it.
Emotional pain works the same as physical pain. It is physical pain. It happens in your body. When you are physically hurt, you know there is no shortcut. You can’t just trade in the cut on your arm for a younger, hotter arm. You have no choice but to let the cut heal, over time, and sometimes there are scars. You live with them and learn powerful lessons. They hurt a lot at first, but over time, you make peace with your bumps and bruises–accept them as part of life–and eventually they get better.
Living peacefully, then, means respecting life. Respecting that other people have their own kinds of pain to deal with, that other animals live in fear of slaughter, that we do not always put our best foot forward… but we can always try. We can try to do what is right. When we fail, we can try to make it right. Most of all, we can acknowledge that if we stop trying, we can never expect to get it right. That means, if we keep trying, then we will eventually get it right.
Whether it is a burger, a conversation, or a car crash, living peacefully means respecting yourself and accepting that you have the power to affect the world around you–and so, respecting the world around you as well.
In my next post, I will share the last of my three principle for living better: “Do More instead of Have More”. Don’t forget to subscribe to A Couple Vegans if you enjoy our blog. Until next time… forget about your inner peace. Find the Outer Peace–the peace you can bring to the world around you–and run with that.