A couple weeks ago I recorded a podcast with ultrarunners Jamil Coury and Kelly Wolf. It was a great chat and one point that Kelly made, one we continued to discuss, was connection and kindness in relation to your body. As vegans we mused that being kind to your body and eating plants fuels you as an athlete and as a person. That pure kindness creates a sense of joy, compassion, and gratitude that is extraordinarily beneficial for everyone from endurance athletes to office workers.
Beyond the podcast I began to think. I realized that Earth Day was soon after the podcast on Friday, April 22nd and it made me remember a few key pillars of being vegan that I have learned over the years and that not only relate to our bodies, but to the earth as a whole.
1.) Be Kind.
As a vegan you learn the ethical and dietary side of veganism. While there are differences, one is more personal while the other is more universally caring, they both fall under an important idea, kindness. In our society feeding our body with greasy, fattening, disgusting food is "ok," it's "right." We learn as we grow that this beautiful machine we were born to live in won't work without protein, manly foods, big meals, and everything related to our food-obsessed culture. But that's false, as proven by me and so many countless others, it is possible, it is right, to be fueled by plants and accomplish amazing things by that.
As I strive to be kind to my body I also strive to be kind to the earth that gives me what I eat and the trails I live on. And around the time of Earth Day, especially in a year and time where we can be so easily distracted, it becomes even more vitally important that we show the kindness this rock floating through endless space deserves.
I know this may sound hippyish or "out there" but it is an essential part of our lives that we seem to not incorporate. We live in a state of blissful unawareness that leads us to peace in ill-hearted actions. Actions like littering, destroying natural lands, the rampant use of finite resources, or contempt of this earth. Leading a life of hate and constant mistake is detrimental, even though you clearly see this in health as it leads to disease, do we see it in the world around us? We should. We are only here for a very short time and in that time we tend to forget the long term consequences of our actions. Just like a dog who cannot see that tearing up the couch will bring repercussions, because he is willfully lost in the moment, we are the dog. We don't see past the couch, past our lives, because we ignore it. We live in the idea that "more for me" is better than "more for all."
And so I make the space around me a peaceful one. One that I can look around and smile at, one that makes me truly happy. If we can all include a little kindness, a little happiness in our space we can make a difference. A little one sure, but one that is multiplied by 7 billion and we can make positive lasting change.
How can we incorporate this into our lives?
- Incorporate it into every aspect. Begin with kindness to others, showing compassion and understanding.
- Show compassion to your surroundings. Trash on the ground? Pick it up. Don't think somebody else can do it. Don't wait...act. The little moments that easily pass us by are the ones that add up to change. We can be better, we just need to commit to it.
- Be the example. Be the person that picks up the trash that others thought someone else would pick up. Build connections and relationships on an accepting, honest level so that you can learn from others and instill change within them.
- The earth is finite and vital, treat it as such. Do not think that you're insignificant, work to better our environment and world. Pick up that trash, ride that bike, breathe that fresh air, write those articles, say what you need, and express the love we should have for the planet that gives us our life.
2.) Be honest.
As the famous motherly saying goes, honesty is the best policy. And it is. It opens up a intra-personal discussion over whether or not you should do x.
For example, you wake up in the morning and you're late for work. So you rush out of the door and grab a donut and coffee for breakfast. And you continue this trend everyday. However, if you were HONEST with yourself you would find that this is in no way a beneficial way to be living. You're probably asking yourself why you can't get the weight off, but you still do this morning ritual. If honesty factored in, as it should, you can find that it is detrimental and that to become the person you truly want to be, this ritual needs to stop.
This is just one example and if this sounds like you or in any way close to it what does it say about the rest of your day and how you live it? We need to analyze our day and itemize with honesty what is beneficial and what is negative, what needs to be changed.
If you're honest with yourself you can be honest with others and with the world we live in. We can all be honest if we can find the conviction that it really is the best policy.
How can we incorporate this into our lives?
- Don' lie to yourself, open your mind to the truth of the negative and positive that is in your life.
- Once you open your mind, be able to be aware of the inconsistencies.
- The things that you need to fix...fix them. Don't be afraid. Jump in fully and push hard.
3.) Live Essentially.
When I look around me at school, around the city, and in the media I see megalomania, egocentricity, the rampant rush for wealth, and the materialism of this 21st century. In this time it is even more especially important that we as a people relearn the idea of living simply.
Happiness can be found in the essentials. And I have written and talked extensively about this and so you can read an entire article I wrote on minimalism here.
In conclusion, I think we can all learn a little something from our Earth and from the world we live in. These are just 3 principles that I have learned as a vegan. They are only 3 out of so many more. Kindness, honesty, and simplicity are broad ranging and we can all learn infinitely more from them. It is a constant journey that we are on and one that allows for success and failure. So add a little discomfort, add a little education, and add a little reimagination of our principles and values as a society to better the beautiful earth we live on!