Balance purpose, relationships, and self-care

Empathy works. It always does.

VegaNVC 2/3

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Food is one of the most primordial ways of connection. It connected us to our moms when we were in her womb. It connected us to our caregivers when we were little babies. And throughout the rest of our lives, eating and sharing food is a simple and direct way to experience connection, community, belonging and acceptance.

No wonder it is hard to change your food pattern to a diet that seems to exclude you, set you apart, and provoke misunderstanding, criticism, and judgment.

That’s why I encourage you to be gentle on yourself when you transition to a vegan diet.

Image courtesy to cidrap.umn.eduI invite you to support all needs on the table: your need to contribute, care, and expand your compassion to all living beings and your needs for acceptance, understanding, and belonging.

Some people shift to a vegan diet cold turkey (haha, forgive me the pun).

I didn’t.

I first stopped eating meat and birds, and continued eating everything else. I even made my vegetarian hamburger in the same pan in which my ex-husband made his steak. I continued eating fish, dairy, and eggs.

This was relatively easy to do. Most people knew how to make a vegetarian dish (or at least, leave the animals out) and it was simple to order something in a restaurant without raising eye brows. This phase also helped me to wean off meat and birds, and get used to my new food choices.

It’s not perfect compassionate eating, and then again, we’re not striving for perfection. We’re striving for growth, one step on the path of expanding compassion and empathy at a time.

Then another, then another. It’s okay to take a break once in a while. It’s even okay to fall back once in a while. We want to develop a habit that is enjoyable to continue, not a punishment and discipline we will finally give up on, because we’re failing our own standards of perfection.

You don’t want to decrease compassion by judging yourself that you’re not good enough. You want to increase compassion by embracing all your needs, feelings, and thoughts.

My path towards a vegan diet has cycled me through the fear of the thought that I am seen as crazy and abnormal, the loss of never using my grand mom’s cook book again or eating herring with my mother, the challenge of not eating all the stuff I ate most of my life. I stayed with all these feelings and worked on figuring out ways to nurture the underlying needs. What other strategies could I think of to support those same needs?

Vegan cook books help. Vegan communities help. Dialogue and expressing my experience help. Accepting and celebrating my choices help. What can you do to support all your needs?

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You want help to make choices that include the needs of all living beings? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping professionals schedule time for relationships and self-care. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

4 thoughts on “VegaNVC 2/3

  1. I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said, “Eat to live,, don’t live to eat.” Gandhi was not oppose to people eating meat, but he was opposed to raising cattle to be splattered. Think of it now.’, throughout time their has always been oppression. When we see it, we stand in judgement of it. From the Romans to Hitler the list goes on. People stand and fight back and say, this is wrong. Killing for the sake of pleasure is just plain wrong. Whether human, alien, animal. No good comes from it. Killing destroys our Soul. Turning vegan will be a challenge for me. But so was quitting smoking. If I’ve learned one thing in life, it is this. In order to grow, you must be able leave the past and move on. You must be able to close one door, in order to open another. You must be able to change, without judging others in the process. In order to help get your message across and help others, your example must be one to want to follow. You can inspire in speech day in and day out, but unless your life reflects the same inspiration, your inspiration will not be seen.

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    • Thanks, Richard, you offer food for thought. I agree with your statement that our example must be something others want to follow. Be an inspiration in speech and in action. For me, this is important. Is the world better off, if I don’t eat any meat, and turning off people by my self-righteousness? There is a point when you write that we “must be able to change, without judging others in the process”. I consider that one of the most fundamental aspects of inspirational leadership. Can we relate to others, accept their experience, and acknowledge that they have their own truth? And still engage in a dialogue in which we share what’s important to us? Without judging, condemning, being self-righteous? I am travelling to the Netherlands the last three weeks of July. None of my family members nor friends are vegetarian, let alone vegan. I plan to bring my vegan cook book, and make my parents a meal every day, with the purpose to honor my choices, support my mom’s sense of ease, and invite them into an experience that vegan food can be yummy. For that reason I am willing to start eating sugar again. I much rather create an imperfect (in health sense) experience that is exciting and inclusive, than go on my rant and alienate people from a vegan diet. Thanks for that reminder!!!

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  2. Hi Elly, thank you for this reminder about compassionately embracing our process of growth and change. While I’m not vegan, your words encouraged me along my path in other areas. Appreciate you! Have a great day!

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    • Hi Dana,

      I’m so happy to connect with you through this post! I feel touched to read that my post encouraged along your path in other areas. That meets my needs for contribution, and also community. I feel thankful to know we are on this path of growth and expanding our heart together, and we can help each other by sharing our experiences, failures and successes. Love you!

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