I recently read a book by Tara Brach, a well-known meditation teacher, where she shared a story about hearing cows lowing in a distant field while on a meditation retreat near a dairy farm. It reminded me of my own similar experience, so I thought I would share it during this month of ‘Veganuary.’
A handful of years back I facilitated a Healthy Eating Immersion through my yoga studio, The Yoga Room. Part of the coursework involved taking field trips to places like the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, the vegan Lunch Room (which is now Detroit Street Filling Station), and a local farm. My intention during the farm field trip was to learn about farm life through the eyes of the animals, as I had fairly recently started eating a vegan diet. The farmer showed us her goats, which she used to produce goat milk and cheese with; her pigs, which she said had a good life there until they had just ‘one bad day;’ and a few cows. While we talked, we heard and saw a baby cow mooing constantly off in a distant field. We asked why it was being so vocal. The farmer told us that she had just recently separated the baby from her mother–a common practice in the meat and dairy industry–so that the milk the mother was producing could be collected for human consumption. Knowing that all mammals have a deep mother-child connection, I was devastated for this baby who was forcefully separated from its mother, and who was calling out for her to no avail. When I remarked how sad that made me feel, the farmer’s response was a matter-of-fact, “Farm life is hard.” I knew then and there that I could not in good conscience be a part of that suffering.
In the story Tara Brach shared in her book, she went on to write about how we’re conditioned to value some beings more than others, and how this hierarchy separates us from the web of life. All living beings are made from the same elements, and we all share this Earth together. When we can realize this and make this deeper connection, it can impact how we choose to live our lives. For me personally, becoming aware of the enormous suffering caused by factory farming; understanding the connection between the meat and dairy industries and climate change; and seeing the ongoing research that shows the negative impact that eating animals has on our health has solidified in my mind the decision to continue eating a plant-based diet. I have a deep reverence for the natural world, and through my diet I honor my connection to it and all living things.
If you know that eating a more plant-based diet would be better for you, animals and the planet, but it just feels very daunting, don’t let the idea of thinking that you must be 100% vegan stand in the way of adopting little changes. Making a point to eat even one or two vegan meals a week still has a positive impact. Every little bit counts. Give it a try. What’s the downside? You can do this!
If you are interested in learning more about eating a vegan diet or would like some support, please check out the Nutrition Section of my Wellness Blog for recipes, consider doing a Wellness session with me, and contact me with any questions.