There is a reason why I titled my blog Live. Learn. Love. Eat. I believe that life is constantly teaching us lessons that help us to learn and to grow spiritually and these days I have been going thorough some big ones. I have never felt so confused before, so much in need of needing to get to know who I am and forget all else that I have been taught and ways that I have been living. The lesson continually presented to me (and I believe is presented to us all in different forms) is to let go of all that is not authentically me and to really find myself and walk in that freedom.
I have been focusing so much on diet and questioning my diet so much because of how exhausted I have been feeling for while now, but the truth is that it is not everyday that I have been feeling so badly. I find it ironic too that after writing this post the other day, a message that I could plainly see was the cause of so many people’s “problems” and inability to just be at peace, I fell into this exact trap! I found myself questioning myself and my motives, clinging to fear and searching the web yet again for answers to my perceived “problems”, accepting other people’s thoughts both consciously and unconsciously, and in doing so began, losing my own.
I realized last night that I had been looking so hard for something to blame about how I feel, when really I am in good health. I am a perfectly healthy person, no sore joints, no migranes, no aches or pains, no illness or disease, and yet somehow that isn’t good enough for me. I fell into the trap and was grasping for more and more health, reading information that tells of different deficiencies and problems with the vegan diet. There had to be something wrong with me because I am not a superhuman yet. I still feel tired and stressed and … human!
I called the doctor yesterday and got into an appointment. I wanted to know the results of my blood work and finally know if there was something actually wrong with me because of how I have been eating. At first when I came into the doctor’s I was emotional and explained to him my fears about the fact that I have been tired a lot of the time and was worried it was because of my diet. I told him that I had been vegan for the past 4 years now, something he never knew before because we rarely go to the doctor unless there is something really wrong and so Craig and I have only been two times each, the girls have never had to go. Right away he told me that I can’t be vegan. That there is no way I can live my life on a vegan diet. He explained to me about the food groups and how we need each of the food groups in order to survive and be healthy. I had tears streaming down my face at this point, because I knew that he would of course tell me that and on one hand I was almost feeling as though I should believe him. He looked at me in silence, with a slight smirk on his fact and asked me, “Is it the animals that you care about?” I told him “Yes” and he said with a condescending tone in his voice, “Why do you feel that way? No one else cares about those animals. Those animals are bred for us to eat.” He went on and explained how they breed them and kill them for food so that we can have meat (something I of course all ready know all about and find extremely inhumane and heartbreaking).
I felt so badly at that moment. Here I was being made to feel bad for having compassion and as though I am the only one who cares and who feels this way? I thought of you guys and my blog and all of the people I have crossed paths with who care. There are so many of us who care and want to make better choices and have all beings live in freedom. I knew right then that there was no point to this appointment. He had already diagnosed me the moment I said “vegan” without even asking me anything else about why I could be having these feelings. Nothing about any other aspects of my life, like sleep or stress. He told me that the animals that are bred for food are there for us to eat and that it is sad that they have to die, but it is done in the nicest way possible. I couldn’t believe how textbook he was being and how close-minded he was. There was no basis for saying anything that he was saying and I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.
He then had to ask me about my kids and if they were vegan too. I told him that we all are, my husband and all my kids live off a vegan diet, but have occasionally had some dairy products. He told me that I have to stop feeding my kids that way and to give them meat. They can’t be vegetarian or vegan and be healthy; or to quote him exactly “Bottom line. No question.” I was made to feel so guilty, as though I am harming my children by feeding them the healthiest foods possible. After his big lecture, he then checked my blood test results and they were 100% fine. Blood tests that were done while I was living solely off of a vegan diet for years (before I had just had cheese a handful of times). 100% fine! No B12 deficiencies or iron deficiencies, nothing. How can someone be sitting there telling me that there is no way I can live healthily on a vegan diet when sitting in front of him is a completely physically healthy woman with the blood work to prove it!
I left the doctor’s office still very upset and confused and wondering if I should believe him. Am I harming myself? Am I really harming my children? Am I that terrible of a mother? What have I done? The girls and I walked home together and I told my husband about my appointment a little later on. I told him about my blood test results and all of what the doctor said to me. When I told him the part about how the doctor told me that no one else cares about the animals and how he made me feel so foolish and alien for having compassion, I started crying all over again. But then I noticed something. I stepped back from all of my emotions and I saw my kids there totally vibrant and happy and in good health. My husband was there too, comforting me and explaining to me how none of them have been sick. I haven’t even really been “sick” just tired and maybe that was just a normal part of being human. I do a lot! I am with my kids all the time and I also exercise regularly and try to keep up with homeschooling the girls, making meals and keeping our home nice and clean. I worry all the time and am a huge over-analyzer of things (in case you couldn’t tell) and am probably just way over tired and over stressed. The feelings and fears that I have are probably completely normal human/mothering feelings.
I had been looking so hard for something to cure me or fix me and reading what the causes could be. I even typed in the computer, looking for how a vegan diet could be unhealthy and scared myself really badly the past few days reading other people’s horrific vegan diet failure stories and how they needed to give up their vegan diet. My mind had been swirling with fear that it could be the veganism because it is so much apart of who I am and what I believe. Having to give up my veganism, would be having to live a life that is not in line with my values and my beliefs. It is just something that I do not want to have to let go of, especially if it is not causing me any real health problems.
After a lot of soul-searching and prayer for guidance, what I have realized is this; veganism to me was never about diet. It was never about health or food. Veganism to me is about ethics and compassion. It was a decision that I made to live my life in a way that I can do the least harm. I thought back to that reason and remembered why I took this leap along with my husband four years ago. Somehow over the years and with having this blog, my focus had shifted from that. While I have never totally forgotten my true reasons for choosing to eschew animal products, I had met so many other vegans, read so many other vegan blogs and websites, seen so many videos and focused so much on the food and diet aspect that it has shifted from a spiritual decision to forget about my selfish desires and an otherwise “normal” and easy existence, to a big ego-centered healthy diet.
Through all of these struggles and ups and downs these days, I have found out more about who I am and what I believe. It is what I had been praying about these days, as I have been feeling so lost to the world around me. The truth is that I don’t feel as though I fit in at all. I do feel so alien and so afraid to find myself because other people seem so content to live as they are and never strive for higher consciousness. I wanted something to blame for feeling this way and my dietary choices, my veganism, seemed like an obvious target.
Looking back at my childhood, I never have felt as though I fit in. I could never just accept simple truths and be “normal” I have always been a deep thinker and needed to question everything about my world. I have a very sensitive, spiritual nature and I have always wanted to do good. I love people and I love animals and eating them never has sit right with me. I know that even if I went back to eating animal foods and could be more free to engage in the world and socialize, I still wouldn’t feel a sense of true belonging.
So I am going to stick with my vegan diet, but forget the label. I want to stop identifying myself as a vegan and as though I fit in with some sort or clique or am superior to non-vegans or others just because we have different diets, spiritual beliefs or religious practices, thoughts, approaches to life or choices. I am choosing to live and to eat and in a way that aligns with my beliefs and make love and compassion for all beings my focus. My husband is right there with me too and I am so very thankful for this spiritual, loving man whom I have to be my soul mate and support in life. Even in these moments of confusion and inner struggle, he is always there to help me get my head on right, find my center and get back in touch with my heart.
Aside from all of this diet focus, I have also learned that I have to go back to my initial reasons for making those dietary changes and focus more on my spirituality than my food and my ego, although I know that there will always be lessons for me to learn through it. I have started praying more, doing my ashtanga yoga and breathing and know that I could greatly benefit from meditation. With the approach of fall and winter, comes that pull toward going inside ourselves, slowing down and making time for self-reflection and spiritual growth. I want to shift my focus more to those things and write more about these inner experiences on my blog too because that to me would be living more authentically. I am still afraid to bare much of my spirit and to find out just what is going on inside of myself, but keeping this blog and finding the time to write has been so transformative to me. I also want to really start being more grateful for our food as nourishment for our spirit as well as for our bodies and make sure to teach the girls how to be grateful for all that we have in life and to pray also.