Now that I’ve publicly declared I am committed to go vegan, I am noticing anxiety coming up. Thinking of my upcoming travels to family and friends in the Netherlands, and not eating slices of bread with Gouda cheese. Not eating pancakes with Jeroen, poffertjes with my mom. Not sneaking out of bed and eating ontbijtkoek with butter. Not now. Not ever.
All those moments of connection are history. And not only that, the easy strategies to comfort myself, when my social anxiety, shame, loneliness, confusion, and sadness come up, are history. No more stuffing myself up, so there is no space for them.
100% Veganism requires me to be more conscious of what and how I’m eating, if I ever want my food choices to bring more compassion and mindfulness into this world. That includes animals. All the workers who brought this food to my table. Do the laborers get decently paid? Do the chauffeurs get enough breaks during their drive? Does the store treat it’s employees with respect? And myself. Am I willing to compassionately embrace all the shitty feelings that hit me once in a while?
Rather I feel happy, clear, energized, calm, self-confident, than all the unpleasantry of feeling shame, upset, loneliness, confusion, you know the drill. And if I have to feel these feelings, because they are too loud to be ignored, I rather eat. Eating is such a perfect strategy to silence these feelings. Whether it is sweets, cheese, chips.
I practice five minutes of mindful eating each morning. I recite the five contemplations as offered by Thich Nhat Hanh, I thank G*d for my enoughness, and I chew consciously. Only recently have I started to bring awareness to how my food lands. And I notice how often I continue eating, even though I am full. I want to eat for the full five minutes. I want to finish my breakfast. I like the taste. And most importantly, I like having a bloated belly. Not the look of it, but the feel of being stuffed. Not feeling too much discomfort, but forcing myself to chunk along. The last two weeks I stop, as soon as I notice that feeling. And I realize how overeating is an easy strategy to silence my uncomfortable, unpleasant feelings. Or at least, stuff them. Just like we do with our animal properties. Stuff them.
Maybe my veganism is actually about deepening awareness. Expanding my willingness to embrace all of my experience. And thàt is something I’m willing to say ‘yes’ to.
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