One of the most valuable lessons I may have ever learned in training and practicing yoga was about motivations. We work from two primary places: Fear and Love. Sometimes we work from one, sometimes both. I’ve come to realize that one is not necessarily better than the other in the general sense; but they do take on different characteristics when applied specifically (For example: You would sharply warn a child not to touch fire out of fear that they could hurt themselves).
The more conscious I become of these motivations, the more easily I’m able to assess the integrity of any given intention and/or corresponding action. When I first tried to become vegan, my motivation was fear. Due to my doshic nature, gaining and losing weight was something that happened early and often in my life. I was rarely one steady size for longer than the period of a year, and the slightest change in my routine or environment would affect my weight and overall health. I have always been pretty sturdy in terms of general body strength, but my skin and digestion (see: farts) would swing from decent to bad to ohmygodIcan’tgooutinpublic worse.
So I went on a quest to stay ‘skinny’ and flatulence free, and stand proud with the anti-animal cruelty standard-bearers of the world. My stance was false simply because I couldn’t relate… and at my very core, I didn’t believe in it. I’d never consumed mass-produced or mass-marketed meat (I’ve been locavore halal and/or kosher my entire life), so I didn’t relate to all the reactive videos and stories and insistence from vegans about my life choices. I feel like this is why stereotypically vegans get a bad rap; many meat eaters feel harassed by sanctimonious types who resort to outright bullying to get their message across. This behavior, incidentally, is borne of fear.
I joined the fearful on this quest to change my life, and failed miserably. Being vegan initially made me irritable and gave me terrible insomnia… and it was so freakin’ expensive and ended up consuming a very large portion of my daily life. I gave up after two weeks. The difference between then and now is motivation… specifically motivation borne of love. Where in the beginning I moved from a place of detriment (I CAN’T eat this because…), I now move from a place of abundance (Look at all the choices I have…). I don’t consider the animal-cruelty position simply because for me it’s the no-brainer benefit. It also allows me to be chill and empathetic to meat-eaters because you cannot dictate someone’s journey. You can only experience your own.
Shaming has never worked for anyone, whether it’s directed back at your self or projected onto others. Shaming is born of acute fear and the illusion of control. I refuse to participate in it. So if you go out with me (and I don’t care what restaurant you pick because I can always find my way around a menu), order what you want because I’m sharing time with you because of YOU, not what you eat.