I’m writing this blog on a cool Sedona winter’s day in the comfort of my home retaining last night’s flannel pj’s, heavy socks, and a vastly oversized, baggy Vaute Couture pullover sweater with a delicious cup of coffee at my side. My kitty assistant, Maize, has decided to take a nap in her bed next to me. Truly doesn’t get much better than this!
So, on the day that this blog posts to the website, January 22, 2019, I will be officially celebrating reaching the partial retirement age of 62, although I am not at all ready to fully retire.
But, approaching this day has got me really thinking….and reminiscing. My, how quickly the years have gone by. So many periods of my life seem like lifetimes ago.
At the age of 26, I became a lacto-ovo vegetarian and somehow, completely and definitely not intentionally was unaware of the horrors that I was contributing to by continuing to eat dairy, mostly cheese, and eggs; until that is, the infamous day in January, 2008, when I was on the airplane flying from New Jersey to Sedona reading the book, “Skinny Bitches”.
It was one of those ‘Aha’ moments when you know, without a doubt, that your life, in an instant, has been totally and irrevocably changed. From that moment on, I choose to become and remain vegan.
For my entire life, I couldn’t bear to witness or hear about any animal suffering; yet during my lacto-ovo vegetarian phase of my life, I unwaveringly bought the “happy cow from California” marketing. When I finally became aware of the fact that I was a part of the exploitation of other beautiful, intelligent, feeling sentient beings on that fateful airplane, I immediately made the connection that people who have pets don’t love animals, they selectively love their companions. To truthfully be able to say that I love all animals, it is absolutely necessary that I don’t contribute to the abuse of any sentient being.
Being an avid home cook that briefly owned/ran a café, my favorite pastime is cooking. Well, really, it’s anything related to vegan culinary arts. I’ve amassed quite an extensive collection of my own original recipes. One of my greatest joys is to feed others, especially omnivores. It’s such a thrill when I can demonstrate to them how not only nutritious vegan food is but also how hearty and delicious it is as well. To be able to prove to them that they do not have to include any animals on their plates to have an enjoyable meal; but rather to embrace the fact that knowing no animals were harmed to bring you this appetizing and appealing plate of food will truly bring much pleasure to you as you are feasting hopefully helps to plant the seeds that, when watered, will sprout. And let’s not forget about what we choose to adorn our bodies. I do use wear anything that meant another sentient being was harmed. It’s not only the typical leather and other animal skins, silk, and fur, but also pearls. It never fails to prompt questions, which I gleefully, compassionately, and articulately will answer.
Today, when I do my vegan culinary classes, I put out take-home containers and encourage those in attendance to share what they bring home, particularly to an omnivore. I’m not a vegan who preaches and definitely can’t retain all those statistics in my head to spew out on cue; so my way of educating others is through sharing vegan food with them and showing them how easy it is to prepare a show-stopping dish or a simple dish.
So, here I am, soon to be 62 (well, at least I will be the day this blog posts); and I have so very much for which to be grateful. With each step throughout my life, each has helped me to become a better, kinder, more generous version of Me.
I literally hadn’t been to a doctor in years, so I thought it might be interesting to have bloodwork done to see how I’m doing. After speaking with my Nurse Practitioner, we decided to do a myriad of panels to check almost anything we could think of. Now, that being said, I should tell you that on both my maternal and paternal sides of the family, I am pretty much the only one of my generation that isn’t on any of the classic medications (such as cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) that have become so prevalent in my generation as well as my parents’ generation. In fact, some of my cousins have been on some of those maintenance medications since we were in our twenties or early thirties. I also do not load my body up with vitamins and minerals beyond that which I get from the food I choose to eat. Once in a while I’ll take a sub-lingual vegan B-12.
Low and behold, when I went in to review the results with my NP, she came in waving the results over her head, saying that it’s been years since she saw results as perfect as mine. They were not only 100% within the ‘normal’ range, they weren’t even close to being out of range. I am also the only person who has been consuming a vegetarian/vegan diet for 36 of my 62 years. I remain the lone vegan in my entire family. The saying, ‘the proof is in the vegan pudding’ comes to mind here.
Today, my vegan lifestyle’s foundation is based in the practice of Ahimsa. What I choose to put on my plate has become a piece of what makes me vegan; but it has evolved into being such much more than that. Today, it is my spiritual practice. Mindfulness, compassion, heart-centered, staying in the positive polarity….these have become part of my life’s foundation. I’ve made a serious attempt over this past year to remove those sayings such as “kill two birds with one stone” out of my vocabulary as I believe that using them contributes to desensitizing us humans regarding the violence we inflict upon others.
As I sit here reminiscing and at the precipice of retirement-age eligibility, I have so much to look forward to. Life is such an amazing adventure. I am so grateful for the path that I’ve been guided upon and am looking forward to many more years as a contributor to my community, a positive role model not just in the plant-based community but also in doing this walk of life.
In The Spirit of Ahimsa,
Linda Voorhis is a Main Street Vegan Academy Master Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator, a vegan culinary instructor, and founder of Veganification™ and Verde Valley Vegans Meetup group. You can follow Linda on her weekly blog and/or register for her upcoming events at www.veganification.com. Veganification celebrates the journey of becoming and being vegan by providing vegan lifestyle through education, plant-based culinary instruction and coaching that promote self-actualization, community and environmental sustainability in concert with vegan advocacy and activism.