Sunday, December 5, 2010

One stop on the journey to giving a damn.

Just how do we wind up being the person we are today?

I grew up Catholic, lying in bed at night, scared of dying and going to hell. Those were the days! I honestly thought that if I stopped thinking, my brain would stop, and then I would die, and that original sin and my boredom in church cast me straight to hell. What a gory imagination fueled by fear of god. Thankfully, I realized over the years that I wouldn't drop dead by spacing out and that lightening wouldn't strike me down if is said the word shit.

But so much of that Catholicism has stuck with me, in the form of what I like to think are some good qualities in my personality. Things to make my mom proud, hopefully. For example, I am compassionate and don't always put myself first. I shelve my ability to have a cow burger or a chicken wing because I know how much suffering and pain it causes the animal for me to consume them. More difficult for many to understand, I also say no to cheese, eggs, and all those hidden dairy ingredients, and things like gelatin, etc.,  because I also know the much better disguised pain those animal foods cause. Just because I might want it, because it tastes good, because it's easy, because it's tradition or because everyone else eats it, doesn't make it right.

Church helped me learn right from wrong, too. It's right to listen to people and let them speak their thoughts and feelings, it's right to keep an open mind, it's right to give time and money to do and create good in this world. It's right to simply be kind! It's wrong to yell, it's wrong to hit your dog or your kid, and it's wrong to be selfish. It's wrong to be greedy. Knowing these things, it's easy for me to say no to foods that have animals in them, because it would be my own selfish desire to eat it winning over if I do. If I can cause less suffering and create more kindness by not eating eggs, I will. It's so easy! It's not like I have to actually do hard work, or sweat, or spend a lot of money to do it. Right?

There are lots of phrases that I learned in Catholic school or at mass, too. One of my favorites is, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." That is one powerful combination of words, and though I do make fun of Sarah Palin, I do my best to live by these words. They perfectly describe the thought process I have when I think about eating animals. If the tables were turned, I sure would hope the cow would choose compassion. I wouldn't want to be kept pregnant my whole life, never allowed to be a mom to my babies, helpless as I watch them be taken away to live their own sad, lonely, and painful lives. I don't want to force that on anyone or anything! Even Sarah Palin!

Another phrase is "make me an instrument of your peace," it's from the prayer of St. Francis, who is the patron saint of animals. Just the fact that there IS a patron saint to animals, and he's as popular as St. Francis, is pretty amazing. Then again, there are patron saints of just about everything.... but, what is sad is the connection to those words is completely severed when it comes to what people consume. Doesn't matter if you're Catholic or Buddhist or Muslim, you can sow love, pardon injury, give hope instead of despair, instead of eating bacon for brunch after you worship your god of choice. Somehow, that simple action of choosing compassion becomes a crazy loony concept on the drive between the holy house and the pancake house.

I don't practice any religion now except compassion and being kind. It's in everything I do, every choice I make. Where I shop, how I get there, how I speak to people, and yes, what I eat. It's giving a damn at every single turn. I'm no saint, that is for damn sure. I know I can do better. But I try to lessen suffering wherever I can, for animals, people, places, and myself.

The book that I'm working on, Eat Like You Give a Damn, will hopefully show people how easy it is to make more caring choices about what to eat. I'm talking basic vegan recipes for those new to plant based eating and the vegan curious. But I also want to expand the average person's pantry to include some super delicious foods they might not currently consume. Ultimately, this is to save animals and to make life better for people. I mean, caring about others, whether human animal or not, simply giving a damn - is just about the coolest thing there is.

Here are two reasons to Give A Damn. A lifetime of health for my little person & the love of a very bad dog.


1 comment:

  1. I can relate with so many things you have mentioned in this entry: being raised Catholic, the Catholic Guilt, practicing only compassion now, being vegan for that very reason... I just nodded my head along with everything you've mentioned.