The birth of my first child changed my entire world; parenthood pushed me towards some critical lifestyle changes. Since my son was born, I've become increasingly aware of the long term ramifications of my actions, not only on my child, but on the world in which he will grow up. I want to reconcile an increasing concern for the environment and animals with the very immediate demands of mothering, a tightened budget, and limited time, and veganism gives me the comprehensive balance I need.
So what does “vegan balance” mean? Well, for me it implies the fine art of negotiating a peaceful coexistence between vegan ethical values and a largely omnivorous country. The challenge lies in juggling two seemingly opposing ways of being alive: finding ways to simplify despite being continually encouraged to drift along the easy eddy of mass-produced convenience in our more-better-faster dot com society.
I believe each person's choices have an impact beyond him- or herself and I believe that my choices will affect the quality of life for my children and grandchildren. Because I feel the truth of this in every part of my being, I'm extremely motivated to live in such a way that is as harmless and beneficial as possible. Veganism helps focus and shape that determination in such a way that balances with the current circumstances in my life.
I'm a 33-year-old stay-at-home vegan mom. I have a workaholic omni husband whom I adore, a wildly brilliant two year old (okay, so I'm biased), three very splendid companion animals, and the ever-growing, never finished Mt. Everest of laundry piles. My commitment to a vegan lifestyle is what grounds and balances me in the midst of this rich, chaotic existence. Veganism provides an umbrella under which my interests in organic gardening, natural parenting, animal and human rights, and simple living gain meaning, direction, and a cohesive purpose.
Some days I feel my entire life has been a steady progression along the path towards veganism. There have been certain moments of clarity -- epiphanies -- that have propelled me towards going vegan: Driving past miles and miles of penned cattle outside of El Paso, Texas. Standing in line at a fast food restaurant and being suddenly struck by the sheer volume of take-out bags and cups used and discarded during a typical lunch rush. Idling in rush-hour traffic and looking ahead at rows upon rows of vehicles emitting exhaust and going nowhere. Spraying my rose bushes with pesticide and making a sudden mental shift from dying aphids to dying butterflies to a dying ecosystem. The first reading of A Silent Spring. Bringing home my newborn son from the hospital and, upon entering my house, feeling us both assaulted by the heavy odors of carpet cleaner and commercial laundry detergent and bleach.
For me, vegan balance means being aware, being patient, and doing what I can. It's easy to become incredibly enthusiastic and inspired, and just as easy to burn out once the going gets rough. It can be frustrating having only small chunks of time to devote to learning about veganism, to experiment with new dishes, or to volunteer for worthy environmental organizations. But I've come to realize the futility of trying to do everything at once and the wisdom inherent in the phrases "Everything in due time" and "Do what you can, when you can do it." I choose to consciously educate myself and my family and reach out where and when I can. The vegan journey is one filled with joy, growth, and peaceful satisfaction with a life well lived.
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