WOW! I cannot believe that it has been over 3 months since my last blog!! Time flies and it never ceases to amaze me how big of a lazy procrastinator I am. It's not that I haven't thought about blogging. It isn't that I haven't wanted to blog. The problem is that it is SUMMER!! I almost completely check out in summer.
I live in Chicago, we are covered in snow and ice for half of the year. I pack in as much as humanly possible in the few short months we have. I would love to tell you that I am out doing everything and anything under the sun, from hiking and biking, to rafting and playing volleyball on the beach, but I am largely a one track mind...GOLF. I don't know what happened. I had resisted golf all my life, not really seeing the point or really finding that much interesting in golf. My dad and oldest brother had always lived for golf. My dad golfed almost every weekend when I was a kid. I ignored it.
Then, almost 6 years ago, I switched employers and everyone I worked with at my new company was a golfer. Not only that, but all of my clients golfed, also. So, I gave in and I started to golf and I was absolutely embarrassing. The only thing worse than not golfing with a client, is golfing with a client and you are so bad, you drag the whole group down.
Me being me, I decided to be good at golf and put everything into it. I started taking lessons and practicing and focusing on the game. It is like crack. I can't describe it. You can go out and shoot the most miserable round of golf in your life, but that one shot, that one shot that made all of your friends gasp in awe, that shot that sent that tiny little ball 225 yards down the fairway and roll up onto the green close to the hole, is the shot that keeps bringing you back.
I have spent over 5 years, countless hours, and $$ on lessons and rounds of golf and I still stink to high heaven. Golf is the most frustrating sport you can imagine. It is also the most addictive. My best advice to you non-golfers is to stay completely away. Do not let yourself get dragged into it. Go to the beach, go hiking, biking, running, or whatever, but do not pick up that club.
So, in 3+ months, what has happened? Aside from golf, a lot has happened!
As I have always said, especially to the veganer-than-thou's and/or those being targeted by the veganer-than-thous's, veg*nism is an evolution. It is a path that someone must travel at their own pace and they must deal with the trips and falls, which go along with traveling this path, mostly on their own.
It is great to have great support and encouragement, such as the incredible level of support, encouragement, and information that I have enjoyed here at VegSource over the many years that I have been visiting this site, but the individual needs to evolve their level of veg*nism internally. Not externally through coercion and judgment. Not because, if they don't do it this way or that way, they can't wear the club logo or learn the secret handshake. They will get there because they have truly evolved to a more compassionate way of thinking and being.
I often come into contact with former vegetarians and vegans and I always wonder what it was that caused them to go back to meat eating and/or dairy eating. As I talk with them, I largely find that they were never really vegetarian or vegan in their mind, in their soul, but they were that way because it was the "in" thing to do when they were in college or they dated someone that was vegetarian or vegan. They succumbed to outside pressures and became veg*n, possibly badgered into it, but never really accepted it deep within themselves. They had not evolved internally.
Over the past three months, I have gone diving in the Maldives, a group of islands south of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, and witnessed the true beauty of a largely unspoiled reef system, where commercial net fishing and long lining is banned. I was able to witness with my own eyes what a reef really looks like without people dropping nets on it and scooping away the inhabitants.
As I was eating my meals in the cabana, where the resort would put out a large buffet each breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I passed the many selections of seafood, beef, chicken, and dairy items, I felt a very strong sense of peace and tranquility knowing that my dietary choices were having a very minimal impact on the local ecosystem. Not a feeling of superiority and self righteousness over those whose diet was not as minimally impacting as mine, but just an internal feeling of peace. That stuck with me.
My wife got SCUBA certified in the Maldives and her very first dive was on a reef teaming with black tip reef sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, and millions (no exaggeration) of fish! For the very first time, I believe, it sunk in to her what the true beauty of the ocean really is. It is overwhelming and something that words, pictures, or even videos cannot capture. We have not discussed it, but I can tell that the experience she had on the reefs in Maldives has moved her along the evolutionary path. If you have trouble sleeping, you are welcome to check out some short videos that I took on some of the dives: http://s175.photobucket.com/albums/w128/jpglackin/Maldives%202010/
Another thing that has happened over the last three months was "An Evening with John Robbins" (http://www.mealsforhealth.org/).
Everything about this event was evolutionary for me. From getting to spend quality time with the Nelson's and getting schooled by their teenage children on being vegan, eating vegan, and living vegan, to being around people like John Robbins, Chef Tanya, Julieanna Hever, Chef AJ, Rip Esselstyn, and many others, and for the event to be held in Beverly Hills at a multi-million dollar estate, for which the gracious owner, Ellen Lavinthal, has largely dedicated to using for dog and cat rescue. I don't think it possible to be around these wonderful people and not walk away feeling changed in some positive form or another.
So, here I am, living my life, feeling fine, but with a heightened sense of consciousness towards my veg*nism and in walks a new vegan friend who starts working me over. Not pushing and prying. Not judging and coercing, but just being sneaky. I call it "vegan sneaky", a phrase I coined years ago to describe Sabrina Nelson's culinary activities.
I also consider the VS, for VegSource, to also mean Vegan Sneaky, because, I believe that VegSource has drawn in and converted more meat eaters and/or cheese eaters to veg*nism than any other resource on the net, simply by being warm, friendly, and "vegan sneaky."
Anyway, I digress. So, here I am, feeling good after my trip to Maldives, enlightened after being at the EarthSave event, and keeping in mind my last blog post and the exchange we all had afterwards, and here she comes, being vegan sneaky. I can't really point to anything significant that happened or to anything significantly clever she pulled on me, but before I knew it, I was buying vegan shoes, vegan suits, vegan ties, and vegan belts. I have gone from the excuses of "I can't wear plastic shoes" and "I can't wear polyester suits and ties in business" to a closet full of non-wool suits, non silk ties, and non leather belts and shoes in the blink of an eye.
Shortly after getting my new wardrobe, I had some sanctimonious meat muncher attempt to embarrass me in a group of people by pointing out that "the hypocrite still wears leather and wool." I honestly think the guy almost puked on himself when I undid my belt and showed him the "Vegan Collection" label stamped on my belt and pointed out that my suit, tie, belt and shoes were all vegan. I enjoyed doing that so much, I went and bought more suits and ties. (I got several really nice non wool suits at Overstock.com. A side benefit: my wool suits would cost me $300 to $400 each. These vegan suits, very nice suits, cost me $80 each. I got the shoes and belts from Alternative Outfitters. The ties I got from Jaan J. Very nice ties. Check them out.)
So, my use of animal products and wearing of animal products has changed significantly over the last 3+ months.
Do I still cheat on my diet? No. I have been completely vegan for months, except for maybe some honey consumption. I can't recall because I don't think about it (call the vegan police!!!!).
Will I cheat? I hope not, but I am human.
Am I perfect in my veganism? Hardly. I am still "passive" in my diet. For instance, just yesterday, at a golf course (of course), while my friends were munching on critter parts on a bun, I got just the bun and loaded it up with veggies and condiments. Did I make them go get me the ingredients list on that bun? Nope. It might not have been vegan. I'd give it better than 75/25 it was vegan, but you never know until you check the ingredients. Anything 50/50, if I don't know, I will skip it. I can't say that all of my soaps and cleaners are vegan, but I am sure that I will be cycling the non vegan stuff out as I buy replacements and read the labels.
I have evolved, helped along in a large part by friends and influencers, but internally in my thoughts and mental state. Not through the screams of the "MEAT IS MURDER!!!!!" crowd or the "You aren't vegan" label police, but through the education, patience, and the example provided by some very good people. I would like to think that all of you that participated in our last exchange are very much a part of that influence. Thank you.
And thank you, Julieanna, you sneaky vegan, you.