Six Things I Learned in Six Months
Both me and my brother are of mixed race and adopted, although from different biological parents. My parents are both of white descent, raised in somewhat religious households and once married a part of the Lutheran church.
I never cracked a bible,
I never had the sex talk,
and I was never served anything but meat for dinner.
As you can see, I do not come from the most stereotypical American family. The above is not to explain why I currently think the way I do, but to explain how a person’s comprehension of the world can be constructed for them subconsciously. While certain conversations never happened in my household, I was brought up on certain values that created standardization for my life.
I never really questioned anything. I knew I did not look like my parents, I knew I had different hair, I knew I was attracted to the male gender. But when I think about these statements now I realize they are statements I believed to be true based on what I had learned from the world. This includes my parents, peers, media outlets, and religious practices. They are not things I personally believed to be true, but things that I had been taught to believe were true.
Spending time in Australia allowed me to realize the significance of myself as a human being. For once, I was not an adopted mixed-race female with a list of characteristics defining my status, but simply, a human. I am a human that thought in a very particular way because of what her surroundings and country defined as the basis of truth. I started exploring the boundary between the painting of myself on the wall and the blank canvas in my hand. In other words, I began to question things and obtain answers for myself, by myself.
The first question I began to ask was about animals. Anyone that knows me, knows that I have always had the biggest heart for non-human species. The difference, however, was that I separated my compassion for this specific category between domesticated and wild. I would sit and eat a BBQ pulled pork sandwich without a flinch, but if someone came near my dog with any aggression, I would suddenly grow the courage and strength of a comic book character, ready to defend them.
Crazily enough, within my first month in Sydney, a couple of food and lifestyle bloggers from Southern California were visiting Australia as part of their conquest to spread good energy and conversation about healthy living.
That is when it all started…
First off, I was already obsessed with the two girls heading the meet-up. Initially, it was more of a celebrity sighting for me than an educational gathering. As we introduced ourselves, one by one, I realized I was one of two girls among the group that ate meat. I was nervous, not because I ate meat, but because of the reaction to others knowing that I ate meat. I was surprised with how welcoming and compassionate they were about my reasoning behind eating animals, even when I did not necessarily have a reason.
Following that day I started to think. I started to think about the difference between the animals I was putting in my mouth and the ones I would treat like royalty. They were living things, they all had sensory organs and they all had a functioning brain. I started to think about why I ate meat. I started to think about why I ate dairy products. I knew I never desperately loved meat and I liked creamy desserts and cheese, but never really gave the ingredients much thought. I was merely eating animal product because that was how I was accustomed to receiving nutrients and satisfaction from my food.
But there are other ways to be satisfied from what you are eating…
Today, March 15, marks about seven months since cutting meat out of my life. It took a long and hard discussion with myself to decide if I was 100 percent committed to turning towards a plant based lifestyle. I think the most amazing concept throughout this whole journey has been realizing that while there are many body benefits from not eating meat and dairy, there are SO many more ethical, mental, emotional, moral and life benefits. I did not become pescetarian, vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, and now vegan to diet or lose weight. I stopped eating animal product because I was making a decision based on my own accord. I stopped accepting everything I had been told and started questioning, researching and educating myself solely in response to my own feelings – the sole factor separating humans from all other mammals.
This journey has led me to start paying more attention to the world. I think and question about a lot of standardized concepts many others do not. I wonder why the police supposedly play such a significant role in the well-being of society, yet evoke more fear than peace. I wonder why drugs can be sold over the counter in forms of cold medicine and alcohol, but hold positive prevalence over recreational ‘drugs’. I have stopped holding others accountable as educators, and instead educate myself for the bettering of my own life and thought-process. I am continually striving to practice what I preach, but am also learning in the process. Eyes open, heart open, mind open.