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Navigating

Navigating

In mid-May we ventured to the Blue Ridge Mountains to our new home just outside of Asheville, North Carolina. We are settling in and loving our new property and all the nature here. I don’t miss cars driving by my house every day….. We are…

Do vegans wear leather?

Do vegans wear leather?

This is a question that is asked often, and I believe there is more than one answer. Becoming/ being vegan looks different for each individual person, and I feel very strongly that we are to respect where everyone is on their journey. I know that…

How often do we need to use the word “vegan” ?

How often do we need to use the word “vegan” ?

Lately, I’ve heard so many people talk about the word “vegan” and how it is overused. I talk about this with Jonathan Brant in episode 3 of Sanctuary Tour Podcast. The term “go vegan” is said so often by so many people in so many places. What does “go vegan” mean?? In my mind “go vegan” means to live as compassionately as I possibly can, not exploiting animals in any way. This means not eating them, not drinking their fluids, not using them for clothing, not using their feathers in pillows or blankets, not using their fur or feathers to stay warm, not wearing or using products that use animal testing or that have animal products in them. WHY?? because we don’t have to and because there are so many products available on the market without cruelty and harm to animals. Do we really need to say “go vegan” so often though? There are so many ways to promote compassionate living. So many ways to plant seeds…

How did I get here? That’s a long story, but I’ll try to put it in a nutshell. I read a book years ago called “Skinny Bitch.” I read this book to see what all the fuss was about, and how to lose weight (even thought looking back, I didn’t need to lose weight).   After reading this book, which promotes not eating animals, I looked in the back at the resources, and saw links to videos. Of course, I had to watch and was forever changed. I decided then and there that I wouldn’t consume meat anymore. The videos I saw, I could never un-see and they were horrific. What happens to animals before they get to our plate is horrible and I didn’t want to be a part of that torture ever again. HOWEVER, I continued to eat fish, and cheese, and eggs. At the time, I didn’t see fish as animals. I didn’t have a clue about the egg and dairy industry and to be honest didn’t give it much thought because chickens naturally lay eggs, and cows naturally produce milk. Right??? WRONG! It wasn’t until a few years later, when I started doing more research after my friend and acupuncturist Tricia Miller said to me that not eating dairy could help me with some symptoms I was having. I also hugely credit my friend and yoga mentor Kristin Cooper-Goulak for her support and knowledge while I had so many questions. As I began to learn more about the dairy industry and animal agriculture, and what happens to the cows, I was completely shocked at what they go through in the dairy industry. I learned that dairy is directly linked to veal, that all male calves are slaughtered for veal because they are not milk producers, and that ALL babies are taken from the moms so humans can drink their milk. (the babies get a “milk replacer”) I learned that the female cows are slaughtered after they are “spent” and don’t produce milk anymore. I am heartbroken to know that every single day billions of cows are suffering and being killed just so humans can drink milk and eat cheese. :(. I wish I could say I stopped consuming/ using animal products over night. That wasn’t the case though and I have tremendous respect for anyone working toward the goal of making more compassionate choices. I believe that everyone is “pre-vegan” and that by learning about the cruelty that happens in these industries using animals for food, so many people will make the decision to end this torture. You will never hear me bashing someone for “just being vegetarian.” I will however ask questions and hopefully provide them with food for thought that will eventually lead them to completely eliminating any animals from their diet. This is what humane education is all about. But I strongly believe is has to be done in a compassionate and understanding way. Planting seeds is essential.

Anyone who isn’t “vegan” might think to themselves, “I could never do that, there are so many rules” …. or “I don’t know where too start” …. or many other things. At this point, there are unfortunately different groups of vegans who have different guidelines for being in their ‘group’- their ‘vegan club’ – or whatever you want to call it. I’m astounded that people who say they are vegan can be so cruel to people who are not yet vegan. Levels of Veganism, different rules, infighting, judgement of other vegans, negative comments on posts from people who are “just” vegetarian…..and more, are turning people away EVERY day from the idea of Veganism. I am VEGAN! I am not saying don’t use this word, but I do want to question when and how we use it. Is it a club? Do people who aren’t “vegan” feel that way? As a vegan, my sole purpose is to live with compassion, in a way that doesn’t exploit animals, to live in alignment with my moral compass and ethics, in a way that doesn’t cause suffering to animals as much as humanly possible. My answer when people ask me “what DO you eat”…. I say “I don’t eat anyone who has a mom, who has eyes, or who has endured suffering in any way.” This pretty much says it all. I eat SO many amazing foods. It’s truly a myth that vegans don’t have much to choose from. There are so many labels we could put on this way of life. “Compassionate” “ethical” “moral” “plant based” “whole food diet” “healthy living” “health conscious” “for the planet”….etc. Do we really need a label though? This is a big question with a lot of answers. The word Ahimsa best describes my way of life. Ahimsa is respect for all living things and causing no suffering to anyone. (in a nutshell) “Be Love” is my motto.

I recently listened to a podcast episode with Colleen Patrick Goudreau who speaks about this very subject. I agree with so much of what she said. We do not have to label EVERY thing “vegan.” (I’ve done this, by the way). One of my favorite sweatshirts has the words “go vegan” on the back. I have used these words so much, but have definitely become more aware of when and how I use them! My daughters have both said to me, “mom, we know it’s ‘vegan’ cheese, you don’t have to say it’s vegan”….

I’m not in any way saying not to use the word vegan, I am just pondering the idea that we don’t need to say it so much. I want everyone in the entire world to “go vegan” but I also want them to feel included and comfortable and to feel like they can be honest as they are on the journey to veganism. I am here for anyone who has questions or needs support. If you are curious or on the path to compassion/ plant based living/ veganism/ LOVE/ and would like a mentor to talk to, New Leaf Vegan Mentor program is amazing! I am a mentor with this program and there are so many mentors to choose from who will meet your needs. Check it out HERE!

My mantra every single day is “LOKAH SOMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU” which translates to “may all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts words and actions in my own life contribute to that happiness and freedom for all.” I say this 108 times each day.

Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary

Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary

What could be better than hanging out at a farm sanctuary with rescued animals? Not much! Situated in the hills of the Mid-Hudson Valley, Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary, founded by Dr. William (Bill) Crain, and Dr. Ellen Crain is home to over 100 rescued farm…

Hope Spot Hatteras

Hope Spot Hatteras

Hope Spot Hatteras is a sanctuary for marine life. Blog post and podcast coming soon.

JP Farm Animal Sanctuary

JP Farm Animal Sanctuary

Last week I took a trip from the Hudson Valley to Jp Farm Animal Sanctuary in Litchfield, Connecticut to visit Lynn and Oscar, Britt, and Yvonne, and the beautiful Scottish Highland cows who are now living safely and happily ever after at the Sanctuary. Going over the Housatonic River in the town of Kent, through the covered “Bulls Bridge,”  passing waterfalls, and watching the deer on the side of the road as I traveled to their gorgeous 44 acre farm was just a small portion of the beauty awaiting me. Traveling up the path to the sanctuary, passing by a really cool old barn with its very own stone chair in front, winding my way down the driveway to the beautiful home they live in and the barn for the cows was just breathtaking. The work they are doing is incredible and the land is spectacular. (Basically, I want to live there 🙂

I took my harmonium and played music for the cows. Ethan the cow slowly lifted his head from grazing and began sauntering towards me, making direct eye contact and listening intently. I was playing and singing the mantra “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” which translates to “May all beings be happy and free and may the thoughts words and actions in my own life contribute to that happiness and freedom for all.” Eventually some of the other cows started coming out and getting closer to hear and see what was going on in their beautiful, lush, green pasture. It was sheer joy to be able to play music for them and to hang out with them for the day. A memory I will forever hold in my heart.

I don’t want to give too much more away because Oscar and Lynn,(the founders of the sanctuary) will be on the podcast very soon, discussing the farm and how they got started, the animals, and the newest residents coming soon !! It’s a family affair at their farm sanctuary and maybe we will even get to hear from Oscar’s sister Britt, and his mom Yvonne! Stay Tuned for the podcast coming soon~

This is Britt giving Tallulah her daily brushing. All of the cows get brushed daily.
Getting ready to play my harmonium for these beautiful sentient beings.

THAT SMILE!!!
This sanctuary has the perfect stone chair for enjoying the views and for daily meditation!