Ecology: Compassionate Consumption

Waking up this morning, I smile,
Twenty four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment
and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

It took twenty-eight years for me to adopt a vegan lifestyle. The first vegetarian I met was Elisha in 1983. When her daughter came down with chicken-pox I defended her diet to the naysayers at her preschool who predicted she would likely die from the disease because she didn’t eat meat. She recovered just fine, of course. I encountered other vegetarians and a few vegans since then and I pondered the possibility, but my friend Tera had the greatest impact on my path.

I met Tera in 2007. A vegan for many years, I admired her integrity and her commitment to her ethical values, choosing clothing, accessories, and food that are free of animal products of any kind. In our ethics class, where we explored our ethical relationship with the earth through texts by Sally McFague and Mark Wallace, Tera shared her vegan philosophy to not consume anything that exploited animals, and especially female animals. She did not guilt me towards a vegan life, but she inspired me to think very seriously about my choices. 

Finally, in December 2011, after watching “Forks Over Knives” I made the commitment to create what I believe is a healthy ecological relationship with all beings, and healthier for me personally, and I took the vegan plunge.

A vegan lifestyle may not be feasible for everyone, and I try to follow Tera’s lead by modeling and educating — no guilt. I promote “Meatless Mondays” as an act of compassionate consumption that can make a real difference. Reducing our dependence on animal protein by just one day a week has a significant effect on the overall health of our Earth. On Meatless Mondays, I invite you to arise with a smile, vow to live fully in each moment, look at all beings with eyes of compassion, and say, “Pass the beans, please!”

Jan Taddeo

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