Vowing to make more compassionate choices in life is a good thing, right? After all, who doesn’t want to be a better person? So why is it that making an honest attempt to have a more positive effect on the world around us can often bring about feelings of inadequacy and guilt. It may be because we confuse being a better person with being a perfect person. The “All or Nothing” trap.
I find this especially true in the world of “whole food plant-based” vs vegan. I admit I struggle with what to call myself. It’s often easier to say that I’m vegan, as more people have at least a vague understanding of what that means, but then I open myself up to greater scrutiny from certain people who go out of their way to find fault. You may know the type. You mention that you are vegan and “better” vegans are scanning you from head to toe to make sure you are not wearing any animal products, or critical non-vegans feel the need to point out that if you drive a car you use fossil fuels or they say things like, Hey, you do know plants feel pain, right?
If I profess to eating a Whole Food Plant Based diet, that alleviates the pressure to be the perfect vegan, but when I give in to a craving for kettle chips or pre-packaged cookies I’m suddenly living the life of a fraud. That inner voice taunts, You do know those aren’t good for you right?
Let me say now, I am not perfect, I’m just trying to be a better version of me. If the intent is to be more compassionate, and if compassion begins with the “self” then I allow myself the following truths:
- I almost always make healthy food choices that are good for my body, the environment and the animals. I sometimes eat things that are processed and unhealthy. On rare occasions, I have eaten items that I know contained egg or cheese in order to not make a fuss, or just because I gave in to temptation. It is my goal to be better, and I forgive myself and others for not being perfect.
- Until recently I hadn’t given much thought to the non-food products I have around the house, such as cleaners, make up, grooming products, etc. Moving forward, I am taking steps to buy cruelty free products in place of those items. It is my goal to be better, and I forgive myself and others for not being perfect.
- I own quite a few leather items, from the seats on my dining room chairs to shoes and belts and watch bands. I bought these items years ago. Am I going to throw them all out? No. The damage has already been done. So if you see me wearing a pair of leather shoes, go ahead judge me if you feel the need. But I am just being practical. When those items wear out, I will replace them with non-leather items. In the meantime, since the animal has already made the ultimate sacrifice, it seems more disrespectful to not use them. It is my goal to be better, and I forgive myself and others for not being perfect.
- I sometimes find myself judging others for not making the same choices I am making to be healthier and be a better steward to the environment and the animals. I have to remind myself that I am flawed and it’s not my place to judge, but to try to set a good example with the hopes that others will follow. It is my goal to be better, and I forgive myself and others for not being perfect.
To quote the Dalai Lama…”Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
In what ways are you doing your best to show yourself and the world around you a bit more love and compassion? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.