Fear and veganism

Fear is being afraid of what’s gonna happen in the future. Fear is never about this moment. Jack Kornfield tells a beautiful story (at least I like it) in The Roots of Buddhist Psychology. A man goes camping. He sees footprints of a bear. He gets scared, because he is afraid he’ll be eaten by the bear. He starts worrying, even though he is fine in the moment. Then he sees the bear and starts running, scared of the anticipated pain he’ll feel, if the bear starts eating him. The bear runs after him, and indeed bites him. What the man feels in that moment is pain, hurt like hell, not fear. There is fear, but that  is not about the bite, it is about being eaten alive and dying. Something that might happen in the future. Fear is about an anticipated moment you dread in the future. Pain and hurt are what you feel as you experience this moment.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/60/Vegan_patties_with_potatoes_and_salad.jpgI dreaded holding on to my vegan diet when I went to the Netherlands. I feared non-belonging, critical questions, ridicule as I was eating differently than everyone else. I was afraid I would roll over into eating cheese, butter-filled cookies, and anything else that might contain eggs or dairy, as I soon as I thought my sense of acceptance, belonging, and understanding would not be met.

None of it happened.

My family and friends easily offered me vegan food or accepted me bringing my own dish so I had enough yummy food to eat. To my big surprise my aunt, who I don’t think ever considered veganism, even made a separate dish that completely supported my choices. My family ate my vegan dishes with joy and delight, even though some of it didn’t turn out as yummy as I had hoped. I felt joyful, enthusiastic and excited to offer my compassionate alternative as an invitation to understand how our own happiness and suffering are not separate from the happiness and suffering of animals. I felt proud to water the seeds of compassion and interbeing in each of my family and friends, and they received it for the acceptance I have for their meat-eating choices.

I have learned that eating vegan isn’t synonymous for exclusion, loneliness, and ridicule. It equals inspiration, integrity, and connection.



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6 Replies to “Fear and veganism”

  1. miss elly, good that you are back. sounds strange, for you left us, your motherland, but you are back writing your blogs! i admire most of your choices and one of m is that you became a veganist. it is especially inspiring for you are willing to share your vision without judging our choices. that is the most inspiring way of living that you can show us!!! i am rereading the book “the mindful way through depression: freeing yourself from chronic unhappiness”, New York, The Guilford Press, 2007, by Jon Kabat-Zinn and three other authors. a very helpfull book to stay calm, open, full of acceptance of yourself and the others. too bad i have to read the newspapers and the newsbulletins on tv – as being a journalist – for I am longing so much to stay away from all the wars, international conflicts, disasters, murders, sexual abuse and so on and so on. I am longing so much to a simple life without all those negative influences. Perhaps I am gradually growing to another way of living…
    x Hanneke

    1. Thank you, beloved sister, for reading my post and commenting on it. I read that you appreciate the fact that I offer my choices (amongs them my veganism) without judging others about theirs. The truth is that I don’t have The Truth. Who am I to say that animals shouldn’t be killed? I strongly believe so, and the more I read about how we keep animals, the more horrified I am, and I am not absolutely sure.
      I also read your searching for a simple way of life that doesn’t nurture the seeds of sadness, despair, anger, and fear about all the suffering in the world. That you want to be mindful and joyful in the present moment. Did I get that? If so, I resonate with it. Even though I don’t want to close my eyes to all the suffering in the world, I also want to protect myself from being overwhelmed by it. That is one of the reasons that I am not actively following the news. A friend of mine reminded me the other day “Think globally, act locally”. That helped me: I can be aware of all the suffering in the world, and start my transformation to happiness first within myself, than around me, in my marriage, my family, my friendships, and only then on a wider scale. I felt relieved with that option.

  2. It’s an inspiring story. To me it’s more a story about making your own choices and when your choice comes entirely from the heart there’s no fear at all and acceptance is a bonus and not a must. I think your choice is also based on the mind and on pain. Trying to achieve perfectness and to fullfill a need. The mind is a source of fear. Love Jeroen

    1. Dear Jeroen, thank you so much for reading my post and responding. I enjoy your remark that when our choices are based in the heart, we don’t need acceptance. It is only a bonus. I guess, because when our choices are based in our delight we have given ourselves enough self-acceptance. We are grounded in our own truth, where there is no right or wrong, just our own truth. At least, that was my experience in the Netherlands.
      I also like your second point, that you imagine some of my choice is stems from fear and my longing to be perfect. That got me thinking. As much as I recognize an underlying current within myself of striving to be perfect, in order to be loved, accepted, and belong, I don’t recognize this choice as such. I am reading by Will tuttle, and I can’t read without getting tears in my eyes about the horror cows, chickens, pigs, and other enslaved animals must experience in their captivity while we take their flesh, milk, and eggs for our consumption. I have no joy in eating animal products anymore, and am refraining buying shoes till I found a vegan alternative. I don’t want to be among those, of whom future generations will ask “How could they have done that?”, just like we look back in bewilderment on the Gestapo and slave holders. If that is trying to be perfect, I am perfectly happy with it! (hahaha, for the pun at the end). Love, love, love, Elly.

  3. Wow, that’s awesome. Fear is man-made. I’ve learned to try to live in the moment and see what may fall. I spent a life time of “What if’s” and most of the time, I was dead wrong. So good to see you back on line and writing. You are inspiring, love your blogs. Keep it up young lady. Peace

    1. Thank you, Richard, for reading again and sharing your insights. I agree that what our fear is telling us, is usually not what happens. When I heard Jack Kornfield talk that we are not our possessions, I felt such a weight lifted of my shoulders. Even if we have to move out of our house, it is of no consequence to who I am. I can show up in whatever way I chose. Open, loving, compassionate, or fearful, constricted, defensive. Good to have you back again, too!

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