Over the last few years, I have moved from a Paleo type of diet to Vegan and back again several times. This blog had ‘From Paleo to Vegan in one easy midlife crisis’ as its subtitle at one stage.
The truth is, though, that it hasn’t been ‘one easy midlife crisis’ at all of course, it’s been more like a car with a faulty starter motor, so I lurch from one obsession to the next, and never quite seem to get anywhere.
Every year, it seems, I try to go vegan again.
Even going back to being properly vegetarian seems to be a challenge this time. But I will keep trying.
It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I don’t know either. I know.
I’ve had to block several over-zealous vegans who insist on sending me graphic pictures of animals being brutalised.
I really don’t want to see it.
I really don’t want to eat it.
So why do I keep falling off the vegan ‘wagon’? Why is it so difficult to stay vegan?
I have personally justified it with regard to my own specific health issues, most particularly PCOS which comes along with insulin insensitivity which means that, contrary to the oft-repeated mantra of ill-informed vegans that “carbs are not the problem”, they really can be a serious, even potentially life-threatening problem for people who can’t tolerate them.
Not all carbs are equal, and not all fats are equal, but that discussion is for another post. Suffice to say, though, that even allowing for the insulin insensitivity issue, it’s no real barrier to veganism. Low, or at least lower carb veganism is possible, it’s just more of a challenge.
On an unrelated note, I’m finding it a little bit difficult to stay ‘Christian’, or at least keep up the ‘respectable’ middle class mainstream image version of Christianity that is sometimes confused with authentic Christianity.
I’ve actually been exploring paganism – firstly for general cultural literacy (I had so many misconceptions) and secondly because it is something that has fascinated me for years. I will post again with more details about that exploration and what I’ve found, what I’ve been able to love and embrace, and what I’ve had to reject and draw the line at.
To me (and what was communicated to me by my Dad – what he saw in the Bible and in Christianity), the core of the faith is clearly love, peace, joy, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation and more love.
But sadly it doesn’t seem to be what is commonly offered by the church. Certainly individual believers embody those principles and exude a genuine spirituality. But the church as a whole seems characterised by the very opposite: intolerance, unkindness, judgmentalism.
Why should this be?
In fact, these things are not unrelated at all.
Veganism is supposed to be about compassion, kindness, love for all creatures. And most of the vegans I have met in person do indeed embody the compassion they espouse. But veganism as a whole has without doubt been brought into disrepute by some of its most vocal members.
I completely understand the anger that vegans feel about people blithely and ignorantly allowing animals to be brutalised and killed just so we can have a certain taste and texture on our plate.
We have no excuse.
But those tastes and textures continue to persuade us to ignore what we know, to carry on along the path of least resistance.
But the anger and self-righteousness and judgmentalism of some vegans continues to drive people away.
The anger and self-righteousness and judgmentalism of some Christians continues to drive people away.
(Do you see what I did there?)
I think I know what the essential problem with Christianity is. It is the over-riding emphasis (at least in Western Christianity) on ‘right belief’ over and above ‘right living’ and ‘right feeling’. It is entirely possible to be a Christian in good standing with the church who claims all the ‘right beliefs’ and have absolutely no change of heart, absolutely no true spiritual experience whatsoever. But as long as the beliefs are in line with the doctrines your denomination emphasises, there is no reason to question the heart or the spirit. It is entirely possible to carry hatred in your heart while claiming to follow the God who is Love.
I think the same thing can be true of veganism.
As long as you maintain a vegan diet, and you are able to feel self-satisfied in that, there is no reason to question yourself, search inwardly, become more compassionate.
But I think I’ve said before that there is no ‘upper limit’ for compassion, kindness, love. All of us can always move forward, become kinder, more compassionate, more understanding, more loving.
In the Bible, a ‘righteous’ man is defined not as the one who never falls, never makes a mistake but rather the man who ‘falls seven times and gets up again’. Proverbs 24:16
This year is probably the first time in maybe 15 years when I haven’t really managed to celebrate Passover/ Easter, count the Omer/ Eastertide or keep Pentecost/ Shavuot (the fact that they are all out of sync this year hasn’t helped). There’s a little voice in my head that wants to condemn me, make me feel guilty and miserable. But I’m not listening to it.
I’m not as observant as I’d like to be right now, but it is what it is – this is the season I’m in, and there’s not much I can do about it. The traditional Passover concludes “Next Year in Jerusalem”. This too shall pass, and perhaps next year I will be where I want to be with my religious observance.
I’m not going to kick myself either about repeatedly failing to be faithful to veganism. Honestly, I may never reach 100% total veganism for ever. But that’s ok. I’m moving towards it, I’ll keep trying.
And actually, as much as I can understand the wish that the whole world go 100% vegan today, every little helps. Small steps save lives.
If I fall down again, I’ll just get up again.
Don’t be discouraged.
Do whatever you can and know that it’s good, and don’t let anybody condemn you because you’re ‘not good enough’, ‘not vegan enough’, ‘not Christian enough’, or whatever.
It’s a cliche, but learning to love and accept and forgive yourself is the first and crucial step towards spiritual growth. And it’s probably the hardest.
But it’s never a wasted effort.
Don’t give up. 🙂
From my heart to yours. xx