“A lot of people think about veganism like a religion, which is totally wrong. It’s not that you have to live by certain rules, it’s about minimizing suffering. It’s not about being perfect.” -Vegucated Documentary
That quote from the movie, Vegucated, really stuck out to me, and has been settiling into my heart for that past few days. It came at a point in the film, where one of the participants was struggling to determine whether she could keep this lifestyle up in the family culture that she lives in. What struck me was about the goal of moving toward a place of minimizing suffering rather than being perfect.
As someone who tends to jump on social-experiment bandwagons and tries to figure out EVERYTHING about how to live a lifestyle perfectly, it was refreshing to have those words hit inside of me and come to rest. The last week has been filled with conversation after conversation with Boof about my choices, our choices, and how they will impact the planet, our marriage, Potamus, our finances, etc. The point I realized that I had begun going “too far” (for right now), was looking at ordering a 1/2 a cow sourced locally, raised humanely and butchered on the farm. While that may be a direction to go in an ethical omnivore way, I realized that by buying that cow I would actually be obligating myself to eat more meat than I currently do now. It was sort of shocking to my system. While I’m not going be really happy or excited about buying or eating a steak from the grocery store, for the suffering that it caused, I also know that just adding random meat to my diet simply to avoid the occassional (I’m talking, 1-2 times a year, maybe) steak. Does that make sense?
So while I am still dairy-free, and wrestling with all sorts of interesting detox symptoms (FYI pregnancy gas has NOTHING on dairy det0x gas), I am feeling like more of an internal heart-shift has happened. Like, the walls and screens I have built over the past few years (in thanks to the nature of crisis work) to avoid or block-out or not be numbed or overwhelmed by the sheer amount of suffering in the world. My heart has begun to feel softer, more empathetic, more like I am able to make steps forward, but also just SEE the suffering. Even today, as I read through an article about a woman fostering orphaned elephants, I had the initial ‘jump-on-the-bandwagon’ feeling of wanting to DO something, but realized that I am doing things, and seeing things for the pain and suffering that they are, can sometimes be enough.
But looking forward into the future is daunting. I have this little person in my life, and I want him to see the world through his eyes and his heart. I want him to be kind and gentle and loving, but fierce and determined and strong, too. I think forward too far and I get overwhelmed, like how can I raise a conscious kid if I’m screwing up so much? How can I have my child not contribute to factory farming dairy if all he will eat is yogurt? How can I help my child see that animals are valuable when I yell at my dog for being an a-hole and shitting on the floor again?
Tips? Tricks? Advice? How have your personal philosophies shaped your child-rearing? Have you ever had a change of heart and changed things mid-stream? How has it affected your family?