We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. — Plato
As I turn the pages of the health and spiritual magazines, I always notice a theme: Everyone wants to ascend from the place they are in now, to a better place — a healthier place, a more peaceful place, a quieter place, a soft place to land while enduring the exhaustion of life’s continuous marathon.
I’ve searched for that higher place many times in my life. It appeared as I was learning to be really comfortable on my own before expecting a deeper relationship with someone else. It came to me as I realized that the only way to fulfillment was to conquer fear and work at what I loved. It was revealed with the self-discovery and ahimsa I uncovered in my yoga practice. And it was crystal clear that I had reached a higher place when I broke free from a life of indoctrination into an authentic life of compassion, when I discovered what veganism was all about.
I can understand why many are afraid to change the life they’ve become so accustomed to living. We are, after all, creatures of habit — humans and animals alike. Change is so hard, even when we know the outcome will be better for us. The fear of change or changing things is called metathesiophobia, from the Greek word “meta” meaning change and “phobos,” meaning fear.
There are scores of people (and perhaps you are one of them) who want to be more compassionate to animals, who may come to realize that a baby pig, chicken, cow, lamb or fish has the capacity to feel pain, fear and also joy and comfort. Many of us call ourselves animal lovers – but how in the world can we love animals while we pay someone to slaughter them, cut them to pieces so that we can eat them? It may be all we’ve known, and to think or act otherwise requires change. Change can be frightening, but that change is one beautiful ascent to the light — to knowing that every day we live, we do not contribute to the suffering of animals.
Most people want to feel good — free of disease and chronic sickness. When study after study after study reveals that a plant-based diet can prevent and reverse some of the most egregious illness that humans suffer from, why are we still so resistant to change our eating habits? Is it because we just like a certain taste too much or are we literally addicted? (http://freefromharm.org/health-nutrition/addicted-to-cheese-and-ice-cream-the-opiate-qualities-of-dairy)
Are we just used to doing things the way they’ve always been done? Is it just too convenient to eat this way? Will it be too difficult to socialize with our friends and family? Do we think there isn’t enough protein in a plant-based diet (spoiler alert — there is!) Or is the change just too much for us to conquer, even though we may actually feel better, reverse our medical conditions, have more energy and be more comfortable in our own skin?
To say that our environment is in peril would be an understatement. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of environmental destruction, land degradation, water attenuation and pollution and, yes, global warming. Don’t take my word for it – here’s an essay from the Environmental Law Review Syndicate, a multi-school online forum run by student editors from the nation’s leading environmental law reviews: https://journals.law.stanford.edu/stanford-environmental-law-journal-elj/blog/leading-cause-everything-one-industry-destroying-our-planet-and-our-ability-thrive-it
Transition to a vegan lifestyle means making a change. For me, compassion was the impetus to make this change. I could no longer justify the cruelty I was supporting. I could not un-see the things I saw nor could I justify them in order to keep things the way they had always been. Why would I want to be willfully ignorant? Once that kicked in for me, the change was easy. The change was exhilarating. The life-giving delicious foods, fashionable vegan clothes and shoes, the cruelty-free cosmetics and cleaning products I found were abundant and healthy and sustainable and compassionate, and filled with a sense of right action. I knew I was heading toward the light — and after a lifetime of metathesiophobia, I was no longer afraid. The only thing I regret about this life-altering change is that I didn’t do it sooner.
Once our personal connection to what is wrong becomes clear, then we have to choose: we can go on as before, recognizing our dishonesty and living with it the best we can, or we can begin the effort to change the way we think and live. — Wendell Berry
Sande Nosonowitz is a certified vegan lifestyle coach and educator as well as a certified yoga and meditation teacher. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.sundarajewel.com