Crossing the Line from Caring to Acting: Have a Little Faith

Today is one of those days when you know, deep inside you, that you're doing something right; it's when you possess that elusive feeling, not just of certainty but approaching faith.

Faith has been severely maligned in our society. I, too, used to define faith as bone-headed blindness. Then I started to experience it. It is not blindness; instead, it would be more accurately compared to serenity or (if I'm not being conceited here - I don't mean to be) the Buddhist concept of Enlightenment. Faith, the emotion, is an astounding ability to feel happy, calm and tranquil and yet still care.

We don't have enough caring in this society. We really don't - many people I know, my mother for one, care about something, but it's on the periphery of their vision: they're usually too busy living their own lives to bother doing something about someone else not being allowed to live theirs. My mother, again using her as an example, once told me that she didn't buy from Tyson (seller of dead birds, for those unaware of the company) because they locked their employees into a slaughterhouse of theirs and they burned and died. I would disagree that this is their biggest (or only) wrongdoing just by weighing the sheer number of lives - chickens vs. humans in quantity, chickens definitely win out - that they've ended, but the point is this: a few days later, I once more found some Tyson bird bodies in the freezer.

It's a matter of habit, I think. Veganism itself is about habit - if you are completely vegan for three days to a week, doing all-vegan shopping during that time, you will succeed at veganism because the hardest part about veganism is breaking the habit of picking up that package of cow flesh - or what have you. Addiction relies on habit: break the habit, and you can more easily break the addiction. And though it is not well-known, animal products are addictive, too. (Just search 'milk casein' for information on that particular addiction.)

Living your conscience is a hard line to walk, even if veganism comes naturally to you, simply because one of the main goals of any ethical vegan is to make others see the logic and ethics of veganism. (Once you do, you cannot really refuse to go vegan. You'd have massive cognitive dissonance from thinking you were a good person and participating in something horrible.) Sometimes, as I know, it's not so much that other people annoy you as it is you don't know how you could live up to your own standards. That's how vegans become vegans in the first place - we have extremely high standards for ourselves: we demand of ourselves that we live an ethical life, even if it's inconvenient at times.

And sometimes, crossing the line from 'caring' to 'acting' can be a little scary. Acting means that you have to do something about it - and aside from the threats of prison and Gitmo in our present environment (at least in the U.S.), acting also means that you have to confront people, face them down, deal with their questions and handle their ridicule. It can all be a bit overwhelming.

This is where faith comes in. Faith, in and of itself, does not do anything but make you feel good and enable you to act. You have to do the acting. You have to be the one to accept that your actions are your own, and no one else is responsible for them - so you also have to be the one to help make things better. I do not believe in the so-called 'Law of Attraction'; as well-produced as it may be, it is essentially wrong in that it claims 'if you think good thoughts, good things will come to you'. No. Every thought changes you - if you think that you are capable of acting and changing the world, you will simply because you feel capable of it. And vice versa - if you think you are incapable, you will remain quiet and shy and not come out of your shell. The same goes for rawists, too.

And this is where it ends. Have a little faith in yourself - you need it.

The world needs it, too.


Raw Freedom

People who don't know what raw veganism is like would be amazed at how free you become. I don't mean 'free' in the sense of 'sociopathic' or 'free of morals'; it's a different kind of freedom. It is the freedom to follow your ethics; the freedom to stand up for them; the freedom to protect others. Then, also on the raw side, there's the freedom to follow your dreams; the freedom to be 'spiritual' (connected with nature etc.); the freedom to eat without feeling guilty; and the freedom to have confidence in yourself.

Yes, you may have some or all of these things already... as I did. But they were massively enhanced by my going raw where they, or some of them, were created by my veganism.

Freedom is an amazing thing. Most people would think of these things as duties; they're not. If you think of them as duties, there's something screwy with your mindset - probably that you don't really think you have the freedom to do these things and you must struggle against X obstacle (society, food availability, etc.) in order to fulfill them. And there's another very freeing observation: other people can go as they will as long as they don't hurt anybody.

I have met some rawists who think that non-rawists are inferior... of course, the ones who chide them, the 'more-tolerant-than-thou' people, aren't much better. Similarly, some vegans think that nonvegans are inferior. They aren't. They just don't get it yet.

That's it. They just don't get it yet.

There's a very strong feeling, in raw veganism, of having 'gotten it'. You feel like you really understand what humans were meant to be. We don't, of course, but we know that whatever humans were meant to be, it sure as hell wasn't eating the SAD, driving everywhere, getting diseases left and right and hunting animals with rifles. (Actually, hunting animals at all, but I digress again.)

You do start to get it, after a while... just how good you could feel. Just how high you could fly. That's where the freedom comes in: it is the realisation that you, yes, you, can do damn near anything that doesn't break the laws of physics. You may need to get the support of other people, even thousands or millions of other people; you may need to gather your courage. But you can do it.

That's what hope is all about.

And hope, despite what some may say, is freedom if you act on it.


Emotions, Veganism & Raw Food

When I first went vegan, I became extremely angry. It felt like my entire world was crumbling and it was all because of the people around me. Which it was, in a sense - all my preconceptions, all my prejudices against animals were being wiped away day by day, and that's not pleasant for anybody. Even worse, people weren't listening to me - they weren't listening to my passions, to my ethics. Because my ethics are such a strong part of my identity, it felt like they were rejecting me. (And, to an extent, they were - but they weren't the only ones doing the rejecting.)

See, when you come to the conclusion that animals, beyond not inherently deserving to be tortured, inherently deserve to not be tortured, and you see everyone around you participating in that torture... you're gonna get a little pissy. I did this. (Once I threw a block of soy cheese at my mother. But I digress.)

Eventually, I learned to bottle it all up. Social convention requires that you not point out the myriad hypocrisies of others, no matter how blatant they are - but bottling emotions up isn't good for anyone. Yes, even vegans.

People look at vegans as though they must have such self-control, such amazing ability for self-denial... it's not true. Let's get that straight. It's not true that vegans are ascetic. I, for one, am a complete and utter hedonist. I just happen to be one who is particularly driven towards her goals as well as particularly driven towards trying new experiences. I am one of those people who wants to try almost anything once. (But BDSM, been there done that, have the PTSD to show for it.) That doesn't make me special, but it does put me a little out of the ordinary.

Thing is, vegans aren't saints. Vegans are human. (Unless, some day in the future, we learn to communicate our ethics to our nonhuman friends.) Vegans laugh with joy, weep with sorrow, shout with rage, cry in relief. We're just like anyone else, albeit that we tend to go father towards the 'action' end of the 'caring' spectrum. And like anyone else, we get angry when people openly violate ethics that we hold not just about the treatment of ourselves or the Earth, but of others - be they human animal or nonhuman animal.

As you might guess, after being vegan for about two and a half years, I had a lot of rage built up inside me. That's coming out of me now, after about a month being high raw and a week being 100% raw. Everyone knows about the idea of 'detoxing' - about cleansing your body of poisons and toxins and other dangerous substances. What they do not know is the immense amount of emotions we all have built up inside ourselves because it isn't 'proper' to show our emotions.

Keeping in these emotions is easier when you are sedating yourself with cooked food. Yes, I mean that literally - you literally sedate yourself with the chemicals that form when you cook
food. Opiates from wheat, for a vegan example, or the buzz that comes along with sugar. You sedate yourself.

But those emotions have gotta come out sometime. When you are no longer sedating yourself with cooked food, after a while you may begin to have crying spells, or periods of rage and upset. I had all three of these today - some of them more than once. Yes, you can imagine how pleased I was about that.

When you go raw, you're going to have to go through an emotional detoxification. You're going to have to get rid of all that stress, all those negative and painful emotions. Unfortunately, one of the ways that this happens is for you to experience them - fully, unable to choke them down again. You're going to have to learn how to deal with them, too.

That is not a bad thing. That is a very, very good thing - I would attribute a part of the health benefits that raw foodists experience to the fact that they are no longer holding in so much stress. They have, in a sense, cleansed it from their bodies - all the built up years of grime: sadness, rage, uneasiness. Your mind is much like a sink drain - you will have things building up in it and it has to come out or else you'll clog.

Clogging isn't good.

This is a warning. If you are planning going raw, look into breathing exercises (or exercise programs that incorporate them, such as yoga or pilates), look towards your spiritual side (if you have one), look into things that make you feel good where you can express yourself and move parts of your body at the same time. Because if you plan on staying raw - why would you go raw if you didn't? - then you need to be warned that you will have an emotional detoxification, periods in which your emotions just... fall... apart.

Fortunately, it's not the end of the world - it never is. Instead, it's a chance to have a new start: a version of life without all the added weight of built-up and choked-down emotions on your shoulders. Your body is enough to carry around.