30.6.2015 | 15:04

Rainbow-DragonDispatches from the Divine Dragon

Compassion vs. Cruelty

A few days ago, I saw a post come through my Facebook feed, comparing the epic victory for marriage equality to the struggle against “speciesism.”

I still haven’t quite figured out the logical connection between the two causes. But I digress….

As A) a lesbian and B) a former vegan, I find this extraordinarily offensive. My immediate reaction was one of anger.

The post included the “share” of a vegan diatribe – not my FB friend’s personal thoughts, but ones with which I can only assume she more or less agreed, or she wouldn’t have included it in her own post.

That shared poster said that asking a vegan to respect a meat eater was akin to asking a homosexual to respect a homophobe.

As a person who struggles to find compassion for every living being, even those who commit deplorable, “unforgivable” acts, I can’t begin to comprehend this way of thinking.

According to statistics in an email I received from the founder of the Vegetarian Health Institute, a mere 2% of Americans identify as vegetarian. Vegetarian, mind you, not vegan – that number is surely even smaller. 6% identify as “former vegetarians.”

Okay. So…you can’t respect 98+% of the population – whom you compare to racists, sexists and homophobes – and you expect to convert others to your system of “ethics”?

After a day’s reflection, I found myself feeling deeply saddened for anyone who feels that way: How narrow, how small, must your social circle be if you can’t even “respect” 98+% of the population?

But I was also distressed by the astonishing lack of compassion for fellow human beings….

Just within the past month or so, I was confronted with the stark reality of my (former) diet:

Even though I incorporated sea vegetables (iodine) and Brazil nuts (selenium) into my diet, my thyroid numbers were abysmal.

My gut doesn’t tolerate grains, beans cruciferous vegetables, fermented vegetables, certain nuts and fruits, or large amounts of leafy greens.

(My neurological function has been somewhat compromised also.  And yes, before anyone asks, I was supplementing with vitamin B12.  Although how much was actually being absorbed is questionable….)

When I was raw vegan, I ended up with $2K worth of dental work, probably from the large amounts of nuts and dried fruit.

When I switched to a low-fat raw vegan diet, the results were even worse: near constant hunger and cravings, and unstable blood sugar.

So I finally gave up the raw food lifestyle and re-incorporated cooked plant foods. And now I’m faced with healing my leaky gut. I don’t think my vegan diet caused that condition, but I do believe it made it exponentially worse.

When I did a green smoothie cleanse, I felt worse afterward instead of better….

My diet before the cleanse?

Soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, GMO-free, low-glycemic. Pretty much the pre-cleanse “prep phase” diet.

When my Functional Medicine doctor – not mainstream physician – recommended a low FODMAPS type of diet to heal my digestion, I asked if I could do it as a vegan. There was deep, honest compassion in his eyes when he answered in the negative.

I was close to tears there in his office. And when I went home, I was facing a struggle between my health and my ethical beliefs.

I have since received a great deal of compassion and support from several other vegan and vegetarian friends, for which I am more grateful than they could ever know.

I’ve also discovered a vast community of others, like myself, who’ve had to re-introduce animal products into their diets to regain their health. Most of them also shared the emotional struggle.

So here are my questions for any vegans out there who feel unable to “respect” meat eaters:

  • What, exactly, am I supposed to eat on a vegan diet?
  • Should I be expected to sacrifice my health, maybe even my life, for the sake of other species?

I wholeheartedly commend and respect the vegan commitment to expanding compassion to include other sentient beings – although I would argue that plants are sentient also, an idea espoused by wiser hearts and minds than mine – but where is the compassion for those who are genuinely struggling with real health problems cause, or at least exacerbated, by their vegan diet? Why is it considered acceptable to speak cruelly about an entire group – the vast majority! – of people, while denouncing cruelty to animals?

I simply cannot fathom this attitude. When I did follow a vegan diet, I never judged my friends and acquaintances by what they ate, or refused to share meals with them. Whether I “approved” or not, it wasn’t my business to criticize their choices.

I truly and sincerely wish I could understand why a total stranger would feel that it’s okay to pass judgment on my choices without any knowledge or comprehension of my personal situation and health challenges….

I think I’ve come full circle – I’m feeling a little bit angry again…. Still sad too, though. With all my heart, I hope you never have to face the same dilemma. Because “eating crow” might be harder than eating chicken, and swallowing your pride might choke you more than steak. And I would take no pleasure in that, for I am compassionate, not cruel.


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