Tuesday, August 11, 2015

My First Veganniversary! (One Year Vegan)

The Mighty Vegan(Halloween 2015)

This past month I marked my one-year Veganniversary! Though technically I was vegan back in 2012 for 6 months, I fell back into old animal based habits like cheese and ice cream, with occasional meat, until July 2014. The relapse was mainly due to lack of integration of the ethical and environmental aspects; the health reasons alone weren't enough to keep me firmly rooted.

I must give credit to Touching Earth sangha for really helping to re-awaken me to the wholesome path of veganism. They are all very adamant, compassionate plant-based folks, who also follow very healthy and sustainable standards, such as avoiding oil, sourcing locally, not buying packaging, rescuing food from dumpsters/markets via Food Not Bombs and more. With the summer being so hot here in Portland, we are actually eating more raw food/not cooking, and it's been great. For Sunday group we've been just having a feast of fruits, followed by a bountiful salad, a tofu block per person garnished with lemon/herbs(basil/cilantro), all drizzled with a tofu-based sauce -very lite and refreshing. They have been crucial in helping me stay the course-joyful solidarity!

A typical Sunday group meal from this past Winter

Over the last year I've also lost more weight and toned up considerably. I used to hover around 205-210ish, but I have stayed consistently below 200lbs, averaging about 190-195lbs, which for my height (5'10'') and stocky, muscular frame, seems to be a healthy equilibrium. I'm not a hardcore exerciser either, I cycle around everywhere, walk occasionally, do some yoga/Qi-Gong, but nothing intensive. My typical daily diet is bowl of oats with fruits/flax/nuts for first meal, then my second meal is usually a grain/bread with salad, or some other leftover from the waste stream, such as Food Not Bombs, Blossoming Lotus donations, occasional Higher Taste etc- it can vary a fair amount.

I've also deepened my understanding of intersectionality, from racism/classicism/speciesism etc and how it pertains to veganism, often an overlooked piece of the puzzle. Back in February of 2015 I attended the NW Regional Animal Liberation Forum, where I met some great people and learned how to be a better animal rights activist. It also sparked my efforts in protesting Skanska USA, a corporation set to build an underground animal lab at the University of Washington, going to several actions at their downtown Portland offices. I've also wanted to get more involved with Portland Animal Welfare Advocates(PAWA), and one my sangha mates is an active member, They do all kinds of outreach and actions, from elephant exhibit awareness at the Oregon Zoo, The Hannah Society, farm sanctuary work parties and more-great group!

My housing situation is also changing for the better. My current location at Casa Tequio is being sold eventually, so we all have to be out by Sept 1st. While my veganism was not really shared by more than one other person(Antonio), I never felt disparaged about this lifestyle. However, in my quest to build synergy, I sometimes felt that lack of passionate resonance with something so near and dear to me. Many folks here are veg-friendly and there wasn't a lot of meat eaten, but we did have chickens, and their daily care and harvesting of eggs was a bit bothersome to me...I feel for the little mini-dinosaur "Egg Prisoners." Luckily, with my clear intention of surrounding myself with other thriving, wholesome vegans, I'm moving into the OmStead, a community house in the Brooklyn neighborhood in SE PDX. I'll be doing the work/trade thing again with partial rent to balance out utilities and someone else will also be assisting with work/trade duties, occupying a cozy basement room with lots of built in storage, and simple bed-another solid basecamp to do good from. It's also connected to another house with similarly held values a few blocks over, uniting in awesome ways.

As far as my non-vegan family and friends go, I hope I have at least planted some seeds to help them move closer to a plant-based lifestyle, even if deeper notions such as the ecological and ethical issues are harder to truly grasp. I still of course feel like the scene from They Live, where the majority of folks just aren't fully aware, and that causes some challenges for myself. Thankfully, I'm very grateful for my fellow vegans fighting the good fight, and the fact we are a growing movement!

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