The other day I got the opportunity to ponder some great questions from a friend who just started her vegan journey. I would like to share these questions and the answers I gave with you:
Question: A lot of vegans have pets, which i find strange because of participating in the breeding industry and i often feel they humanize animals (dress them up for example). How do you see that?
Answer: I do agree that the way some vegans keep pets might not be they way I feel I would like to. On the other hand some vegans seems to have an amazing capacity to heal and help animals which has been hurt or traumatized. So it is perhaps more important to think over what the purpose of the relationship with the animal is, and if it is loving and trusting, in comparison to needy and restricting? Then the dressing up is secondary, it can be just as when you help dress anyone in a loving and caring way.
It can be useful to remember that vegan is a word, a label and only that. There can be a danger in identifying to closely with word or even a certain set of beliefs. Especially if one loses track of deeper positive values such as compassion, love, patience and so on. When a person says the are vegan, THEY as a whole are not the word vegan and the beliefs they or others put in it. They are much more. And the same goes of course for the people that are not vegan. As humans, we need to seek a common ground in order to have a dialogue, which then can lead to understanding and improvement of ourselves and others.
Q: When you’re on a travel, and you don’t know if something is vegan, how do you deal with that?
A: When travelling, I think it is good to do research beforehand to know the culinary traditions, what the most common dishes are called, and what they usually contain. Many places around the world DO have a lot of vegetarian or vegan food, and it is often possible to get a non-vegan ingredient removed or replaced before the dish is prepared when asking at a restaurant. If you have friends in the area you travel to, ask them for advice!
Here in the north of Spain, vegetarians are quite uncommon and vegans even more rare, although I feel that might be starting to change. I have often asked to not have tuna fish added to the salad when eating out, and it has never been a problem. If you explain that you are vegan or vegetarian and ask nicely, restaurant staff often go out of their way to prepare you something special outside of the usual menu. It can be a treat!
If you buy and prepare the food yourself it should be easier. You can buy fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, tubers, vegetables, cereals, algae, mushrooms, herbs from local markets and stores or even directly from cultivators.
Q: How do you react to this common reaction of “do you really know if your salad
doesn’t have feelings?”
A: I think plants feel, but in a completely different way from humans. I think plants are conscious, but not self-conscious. They feel and are intelligent in the way of reacting to temperature, sunlight, nutrients in the ground and so on. But perhaps the question is more often given in context of the moral issue of causing suffering to plants by harvesting and eating them? I do not think plants fear or suffer when dying. Instead I think they just feel a sense of fading away from existence.
I have a personal anecdote to share with you. While picking tomatoes and peppers, I noticed how my own state of mind and intention while picking them makes the process either hard or easy. With an attentive mind, benevolent, cautious, relaxed and gentle in its movements, the plants ‘give’ their fruits to you, they fall into your hand with the slightest touch. It is a beautiful experience!