How Sobriety Led Me To Veganism
sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
“the victims should be treated with 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.
Very well said xo
Sent from my iPhone please pardon the autocorrect hilarity
Thank you 🙂
First let me say how very sad it made me to read that you were made fun of as a child because of what others perceived as a weight problem. I personally don’t see it in that photo you posted, but even when things aren’t true, the stigma they can so easily create is often long-lasting; even permanent. It’s terrible that you had to deal with that at such a young age. As I’m sure you know, though, words and actions can be hurtful at any age.
For instance, as a kid and young adult, I had no weight issues. Then in 1988 I suffered an injury that kept me in physical therapy and treatment for about 5 years. Obviously I was not as mobile during that time as I normally had been. As luck would have it, I later was involved in a series of additional accidents (glad to say none were my fault, but I was just in the wrong place and the wrong time, I guess). That only exacerbated previous injuries, in addition to causing new ones. Long story short, over the years I have lost a lot of mobility and at the same time gained more and more weight. And of course, the more weight you put on, the less mobile you can be, too. And ’round and ’round we go. (‘Course I could probably eat a little more healthy, too.) In addition, doctors recently discovered a female issue that may be somewhat contributing to my weight problem. I am having surgery for that in a week. Additionally, I have had two orthopedic surgeries already and another one coming up in December after I’ve fully recovered from next week’s operation. All this should help long-term to be able to get my mobility back and then I can work on dropping the weight.
I say all this because people don’t usually stop to think before making crude, nasty comments, that there could be medical reasons for a person’s situation. If they understood that, they may not be so cruel, but the mouth often works faster than the brain. And nasty, unkind words sting, no matter one’s age or position in life. I am glad you’ve been able to put these people and their comments in the right perspective, as I’ve tried to do also. If they only understood that a person is more than just what they look like. Oprah Winfrey is a classic example of that: Overweight and yet one of the most successful people in the world, and one of the most compassionate, giving individuals to boot.
I am also glad you’ve turned your sobriety into compassion for all living things. It speaks volumes about you and the character you have. My partner and I have a deep love for animals and I do a lot of volunteer work with rescue groups, etc. At the moment we are vegan or vegetarian wannabes. We are reading more about it and trying to learn what we can, while starting out slow. Our dogs’ vet is a vegan and has told us it’s a journey and a process. So if we can do one or two meals a week where we’re eliminating meat, that’s at least a start. Eventually I think we will completely adopt a more compassionate way of eating, but taking baby steps is better than doing nothing. I think it may also help when you have someone else as a constant in your life who can help with motivation. From that standpoint I think you and Jane are very fortunate: You have each other to work on your programs of sobriety and you have each other to share and enjoy your vegan lifestyle with. I think Tracy and I will eventually get there, but as they say – slow and steady wins the race. Plus, there are other things I have to focus on right now. I do know, however, that eating more vegan-like would also help with my weight loss goal.
Anyway, thanks for sharing your very personal story and giving me a chance to do the same. Continued best wishes on your journey and sobriety. Don’t ever change, and I hope you two will keep fighting the fight for animals and keep on serving as good examples and motivators from afar for the rest of us. Peace, hugs and love to you both (and the fur-kids, too).
Cheryl…thank you for openly sharing you’re story and keep working towards the vegan lifestyle as you are. It’s healing… Both spiritually and physically. Start with two meals a week. Then move to three… Then four… Etc. I have faith you two will get there. It’s much easier to be vegan these days as it’s more known and has a growing popularity and the food is remarkably delicious! Sending you healing wishes towards your upcoming surgeries. Be strong.
I find it difficult to acknowledge the pain in the world and the brutality to animals. Yes, I’m guilty of sticking my head in the sand. I help out at an animal rescue and have 4 awesome dogs and wish I could save more but I can’t. Not being able to do more makes me feel guilty and hurts me at the core of my being.
How do you deal with doing the best you can yet you still see the barbaric acts committed against animals with no end in sight?
Thanks Donna. Please let my Boricua sister know I’m glad she is still doing her thing after HLN.
Hi Sandra. Thanks for your comment. That is a good question. I guess my answer would be this….being vegan, I feel, is one of the best ways to help animals (and our planet). I am able to lay my head down on my pillow at night knowing, that NO sentient beings were harmed or killed for my survival that day. That brings me at least some peace. It is difficult knowing the amount of suffering that is happening moment to moment…I understand what you mean. I guess I feel like God (or some higher power) did not put us here on this planet to suffer amongst the suffering due to our feelings of powerlessness. I like to believe we are here to spread the movement towards compassion, to learn a thing or two ourselves along the way, and to help others make the connection…. that compassion doesn’t begin or end with humans. It is species wide. And once the human race gets that, the world will finally feel like home. I pray one day it happens, worldwide. There was a time not long ago that I had yet to make the connection. But since I had the revelation, I try and share it with others in the ways I know how. It is a process, not an event. Sometimes a slow process. But I have faith that change is happening, and will continue to at a faster pace.
Jane and donna you are the best . Miss you jane on HLN. It’s a shame they took you off there is nobody out there like you helping these animals that it hits home . Try and start a new program just for the animals you would be great if any producers are watching hire jane
Donna I give you a lot of credit for being a strong woman . God bless you and jane . Together forever
Andrea, thank you for your kind comments. And thanks for checking out my blog. Follow http://www.janeunchained.com and check out http://www.connectpal.com/jane and you too can become the media for animals. They need us all. Hope to see you here again soon!
Good read, I hope you’re still both 🙂