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A Joyful Vegan

Joyful Vegan

I stole the term “joyful vegan” from JL, but other than that tiny little detail I have really come to own the term. To make it mine. To live and breath it.

I had started to let things bother me. From angry omnivores (and rude party guests) to the mundane stresses of daily life, I was letting things get under my skin. Then I had a total meltdown on a new neighbor who didn’t deserve it. A woman who, as I later found out, has much bigger problems than I, and who – of the two of us – was the only one with the right to a meltdown! I’ll spare you the details because I’m not proud of them, but the silver lining is that it gave me a wake up call. A few days later my father passed away, which also taught me a few lessons.

As I thought about it, I knew I didn’t want to be the person who got angry when someone took her parking spot, when someone cut her off in traffic, when things just plain didn’t go her way. I want to be the person who takes a deep breath and rises above it all with a smile. I don’t want to judge those who make different choices than I do, I want to be kind to everyone and have more than enough love to go around. I don’t want to snap at the people I love just because they can’t read my mind. I don’t want to be angry at myself for falling short of expectations and goals that don’t really matter. And I don’t want to be weighed down by disappointment, regret or frustration.

I want to be a joyful vegan!

I’ve learned a few things in my 30-something years on this earth, and one of those is that the best way to make changes in your life is to, for lack of better phrasing, pretend you’ve already made them. Sort of like… ‘fake it till you make it’, I guess. Want to eat healthier? Pretend (to yourself) that you’re someone who eats healthier! Then, when faced with the old cookie vs. apple dilemma, you know which choice to make because you’re already thinking like the healthy eater. Want to start going to the gym more often? You gotta get yourself into the mindset that you are that person who goes to the gym, even when she’s sleepy/lazy/doesn’t feel like it. See?

In my case, I’ve decided that I am a joyful vegan. And when I start to see behavior or emotions that run counter to that fact, I simply whisper to myself “Joyful Vegan”, and I’m reminded of who I am and who I want to be.

A joyful vegan.

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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Laura May 13, 2013, 8:35 am

    Your reminder came at just the right time for me … thank you!

    • Barb May 13, 2013, 11:13 am

      You’re welcome, and I’m glad to hear there are other vegans out there who need the reminders just like I do!

  • Jamie May 13, 2013, 11:06 am

    I, too, am a joyful vegan – in progress, and I believe your life philosophy is spot-on. I love this line: “I want to be kind to everyone and have more than enough love to go around.” I do, too. What an awesome, inspiring post!

    I do have a question for you…The other day, a vegan said, “How can you be a joyful vegan when you see stuff like this (a photo of a veal farm followed). What is your advice to people struggling with the violence of the factory farm industry? How do you believe we should approach these things and remain full of love?

    • Barb May 13, 2013, 11:20 am

      That’s a really good question!

      When I see pictures like the one you describe (or any reminder of the horrible treatment so many animals have to endure), my gut reaction is usually repulsion, followed by heartache for the animals, finished up with anger towards the people who cause it (both those doing the torturing and those subsidizing it through their grocery bills). But the thing is, anger isn’t going to change the world. I feel like we, as joyful vegans, need to focus on our love for the animals and the planet and make a difference for them. And it has always been my opinion that we’re never going change this industry by (somehow) convincing the people who make money off of it that they need to be different. I think the change will come on the demand end of the spectrum. When we focus on our love of animals we can spread the word about their plight, we can engage in all levels of activism (from protesting at the circus to baking vegan cupcakes for skeptical co-workers). And the more hearts and minds we open, the fewer people there are out there buying animal products.

      I believe that by being a joyful vegan you can affect so much more change than you can by being an angry vegan!

  • Jamie May 13, 2013, 4:48 pm

    Thank you for that succinct reply πŸ™‚ yes, i too believe love is the answer. You had me thinking all day today, “I am a confident, joyful vegan who likes to exercise.” lol πŸ™‚

  • luminousvegans May 13, 2013, 6:50 pm

    Thank you for this post which has a great message. I am a joyful vegan most of the time, but I definitely could improve πŸ™‚

  • JL May 14, 2013, 6:10 am

    I can’t take credit – I learned to be a joyful vegan from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau!

    I love this post, Barb. I think in ANYTHING in life it’s always easier to focus on the negative or the obstacles. It takes a lot more strength and conviction to feel positive and optimistic in the midst of so much that’s not right. But when we do, others want to join us and that’s when a movement of change happens.

    Negative people do not win over hearts and minds. Victim-mode rarely does either. Happy, joyful, successful people engender hope and action. They want what we have! πŸ˜‰

    Thank you for such a thought-provoking post!

  • Angie May 14, 2013, 11:17 am

    Great post. It is so difficult, but admirable to be this honest with ourselves.

  • Heather May 20, 2013, 12:21 pm

    What a great reminder for us all Barb- thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

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