I tried being vegetarian a number of times but it never stuck. I realize now that while intellectually I was drawn to it, my heart wasn’t really in it.
Then about 2.5 years ago I was going through a divorce (a nice kick in the butt causing me to reevaluate pretty much everything) and got connected with a Buddhist group based on Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings. The first mindfulness training is: Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I vow to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to condone any act of killing in the world, in my thinking and in my way of life.
There are so many different ways and levels to read and understand that…and over time it started to sink deeper and deeper into my heart. I realized before long I would be vegetarian.
First however, I was moving towards a life without alcohol as I began to see how it wasn’t serving me or supporting my life’s journey. This was a real challenging one though because a significant part of my job involves entertaining clients (which inevitably revolves around drinking). Also, when I would connect with friends from college, it was the same thing. So while I had a lot of resistance around giving it up, there was a strong sense I needed to to be true to myself. Then…a lyric from a song called Western South by Kate Callahan pierced me. The song was about her struggle with alcohol and the line was:
it’s not the drink I think I need
it’s the illusion that i’d be so much happier free
from the sound, and the weight, and the history
that comes from saying “no” all the time
It was like my own heart talking to me. And shortly afterward, I was done with it without any struggle at all. Amazing.
A few months later, I went on retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh and the movement towards being a vegetarian became permanent…and again it very easy because my heart had opened even wider. I knew my only remaining resistance was the same as it had been with alcohol…the perceived weight of explaining my choice again and again to people who didn’t understand it.
But I had no choice. My heart had already decided for me 🙂
In the following year I slowly learned more and more about the suffering and killing involved in cheese and egg production and my resistance/fear to living vegan quickly became untenable. Last fall, following my heart I made the switch, again without struggle. I’m learning to cook 🙂 and am loving the exploration of all the new foods I never new existed! Physically, my body feels great. And best of all, I’m living in greater harmony with my heart and soul. What more can I ask for?
That’s my story in a nutshell. I found your podcast a few months ago and am so grateful. Thank You for shining your Light in the world!
~David in Colchester, CT