Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Utopia

The first thing that occurred to me when I began to consider the concept of utopia was the famous work of that name written in 1516 by Sir Thomas More. Much to my surprise, my encyclopedia states that it was a satire. I had always been under the impression that it was a sincerely visionary work, designed to raise the consciousness of his peers and improve the quality of human life. That made me stop and consider: is the idea of utopia just a satire on life? Or, is it a valuable concept to inspire us towards increasing the quality of life?

I've concluded that it is both. I figure the reality of human beings ever fully achieving an ongoing, en masse utopia, a blissful society of perfect abundance and social harmony, is likely beyond our grasp. However, by reaching for it we achieve much more than if we wallow in the status quo.

The next thing that came to my mind was, "Where do we humans get a sense of utopia?" I think a very tangible source may be from subconscious patterning laid down at the beginning of life. For most of us, being carried within our mother's body for the first 40 weeks of our lives imprints us with feelings of ongoing abundance, comfort, and harmony. Then we are thrust or hauled into a world in which we have to learn to deal with varying degrees of hunger, cold, loneliness, pain, and fear. It's a harsh exchange! From the sublime we are born into the ridiculous, too often into the horrendous. For all of us there are challenges. For many poor souls there is overwhelming abuse and crushing obstacles. So we dream of a better world, one that more closely resembles the feelings we first knew of being embraced warmly and supplied with all our needs 24/7.

Another possible source of utopian concept may come from near-death experiences. Those who report having passed from this reality and returned have usually reported a perfect joyfulness and aliveness that seems to exceed even the beneficence of the womb. This is why I think we seek to build utopia on earth -- because we know in some deep part of ourselves that better IS possible! Moreover, we want it now! I think this is quite natural and serves a useful purpose to inspire our efforts towards improvement. As long as we remember that there are limits on what we will achieve in this life so as to avoid becoming derailed by disappointment or frustration, we CAN have better now! We CAN do a great deal of good! We CAN create improvements of a utopian nature. By doing so, we touch the pure joyfulness and harmony to which we aspire; we bring a little more of it into this life, here and now.

While I have doubts about humans ever being able to create a true utopian society, I have every confidence that it can be achieved within ourselves. The more of us that achieve inner peace and harmony, the greater the chance of it becoming a social trend. So, as with most things, change begins with the Self, and I think Utopia does too.

In Sir Thomas More's Utopia the people ate meat. It probably had never occurred to him that humans could survive, much less thrive, without it! However, we've learned a thing or two since then, and naturally, in MY concept of utopia, veganism is the universal diet.

Considering that brings me to question what it would take to get us there. Primarily, I think we must keep on sharing our visionary notions that inspire and increase interest in seeking a better way. The next step is education -- how we can get to the dream. I've heard that the higher the educational level of a person, the more likely they are to choose a vegetarian diet. Even the ultra-conservative American Dietetic Association supports it now, so clearly, we are making progress. The other day, I saw a couple of ads on TV from the American Cancer Society urging us to eat fruits and vegetables. They didn't say to eat them "as part of a balanced diet," JUST to "eat 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day." I thought the ads were a tremendous step in the right direction and a sign of our times.

The amount of change to the functioning of society would be enormous. Whole industries now based on use of animals would have to be collapsed and replaced by those based on plant and mineral resources. It may seem like an enormous, maybe even overwhelming change, but I believe it can happen! I received a tremendous boost to my faith the other day when I heard that a gourmet chef in Paris had decided to go vegetarian with his haute cuisine restaurant. I figure, if he feels he can pull that off, we are farther along in the process of veganizing the western world than we thought!

On a much deeper level, we would have to find an effective sublimation for the drive evident in many people who seem to fulfill themselves in some way by raising or hunting animals for human use and consumption. What's that about anyway? Is it primal? I think it could be, because some primates have been known to hunt. Does that mean it has to be continued? I say no. There are many primal urges we learn to work with as we mature into law-abiding adults. Hunting and dominating animals can simply be one of them. As long as people have the appropriate education and a satisfactory means to support themselves, I believe society CAN learn to stop thinking of non-human animals as a commodity, a means to an end.

I think it all starts with each individual. If we want peace, harmony, and abundance for all, it is up to each of us to be expressions of peace, respectfulness, and harmony.

Deborah P.
British Columbia, Canada

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