How Sobriety Led Me To Veganism

com·pas·sion

kəmˈpaSHən
noun
 sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
 “the victims should be treated with compassion”
donna compassion
Prior to getting sober, I truly didn’t understand the meaning of compassion.  I thought I did, but in sobriety I have learned otherwise.  I always considered myself a “good person.”  A person who puts other people before myself, and who takes other people’s feelings into consideration.  This might be true, but I generally had intentions in line with my kind behavior that weren’t in sync with the definition of compassion and service, as I know it today.
It is true that I always have taken other people’s feelings into consideration.  I am not one who is capable of being verbally vicious towards another person, simply to make them feel bad.  That type of pure meanness is not in my DNA makeup.  I think it is because I was very verbally abused as a child by other children, and some adults.  I was considered a “fat kid” and the other kids never let me forget that.  The pain of their harsh words affected me on a very deep level, and I therefore grew up unable to be verbally vicious to others…because I know how painful it is to be on the other end of the striking tongue.  That is a kind of compassion I do understand.  And always have.
But after getting sober I became more aware of the world around me.  I became aware of the way others treat not only their fellow humans, but all of earths living and sentient beings.  From pigeons to pigs to cows to cats to dogs.  Because I wasn’t comfortable with what I was seeing and hearing, I decided to look further into our society, and it’s views on animals.
What I found was horrifying.  Society’s views on animals are so skewed.  So barbaric.  Since I was now sober, I was able to feel for all sentient beings, not just humans.  And not just for myself.  And I felt deeply saddened after learning how people treat other living, breathing, feeling beings…like pigs, chickens, cows, etc.  Farm animals, to simplify it.  Factory farming is a horrifying operation.  During my research, I watched a 15 minute film called Farm to Fridge, which showed how food goes from the farm, to your plate.  It was during this video that I learned the true definition of compassion.  The sympathetic concern for the suffering of these poor animals.  Because I felt such compassion, it was that moment that I decided I would forever be a vegan.  No more meat or dairy for me.  I was in no way going to support such a cruel industry.
I have sobriety to thank for this transformation in my life.  Becoming vegan and finding the true meaning of compassion has changed me on a cellular level.  I am a better human being because of it, and therefore a better sober example in life.  In sobriety I have learned to be compassionate and be of service.  For me that is not only defined as service and compassion towards other people….my service and compassion extends much further…to ALL sentient beings.  I am of service to my fellow humans as best as I can be, and I am of service to the earths animals as best as I can be.  Being vegan is one of the most effective ways I can do that.  However, I also contribute by speaking to others about my experience as a vegan,  and my feelings and knowledge about factory farming.  Donating to organizations that help fight against animals abuse.  And simply being an advocate for the voiceless animals in the world.
Prior to sobriety I thought I had strong beliefs, but it was a lot of talk and little action.  Today I have strong beliefs and opinions, and because I am sober I can’t sit back and do nothing about it.  Instead I speak up.  Or I take action, as the 12 steps have taught me to do.  As I am taught, I “practice these principles in all my affairs.”  I can’t be of service and be kind and act with love while eating meat and supporting such cruelty.
Today I generally wake up feeling good about myself and my behavior, because most of the time, I react with compassion.  I live a compassionate life that extends to all living beings, and I feel confident when I put my head on my pillow at night, that I did not cause harm to any person or animals in order to survive that day.
I have sobriety to thank for that.
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