This is my attempt at synopsis on how my “darker side” evolved over the years into development of philanthropic endeavours & eventual (ongoing) illumination.

 
Statement of Disclaimer: 

23VeganYears

This past Sunday marked my 23rd “veganniversary”. With that having been noted, I can neither clearly nor accurately remember a time when my life choices were not ruled by empathy, concern, and the desire to contribute to extension of joy toward all living entities. In fact, after nearly an entire lifetime of dedication to avoidance of harm or cruelty in each and every aspect of my life experience, it’s really quite difficult for me to even remember what existence on this planet was like for me before having become vegan.
This essay is my lowly attempt at summarising my personal evolution of compassionate awareness, from darkness, gradually shifting into light by way of purposeful action. 

 

 

Genuine Reverence for Life

A quintessential love for so many elements of life – music, art, water, air, spirit, fire, diversity in all existence, and the beauty of nature in general – combined with an acute desire to learn about and embrace each living organism as an equally relevant fellow resident of Planet Earth… These have been my truest inspirations for so long as I am possibly able to recall within my present life stage.

It is this early, ardent adoration and respect for life from whence I drew upon for guidance in connecting me with source energy as means to express myself creatively, philosophically, spiritually, and altruistically. It was also what led me to reach a lifelong decision from childhood on to reject consumption of animals, and later to also refuse their secretions as potential ingredients or dietary options.

Formative Generation

Not having come from a vegetarian, vegan, or similarly Ahimsa-minded family (my father having actually been the polar opposite of such), my lifestyle choices have largely been based upon personal preferences, discoveries, and intuitions which began developing in formative years. Having grown up on my family’s privately owned fruit orchard in the Upper Westchester region of New York state (45 minutes North of the city) was a key element in my development of relationships with animal friends of many species, many of whom either shared the land or would often come to visit the grounds. My parents were quite a bit older than most and didn’t care to spend much time dealing with children, so I ended up spending most of my days outside reading books, listening to music, meeting and observing my non-human neighbours. I also learned a great deal about the fruit and veg we had growing around the garden, which was where I managed to locate (& subequently create) most of my daytime meals.

When time came for supper, I would always have loads of questions about items which would appear on plates placed before me at the table. It was difficult for me to palate flesh, and I had a number of valid concerns:

LisaSimpson

Me: “What is this?”
Mum: “It’s roast beef.”
Me: “What is a ‘beef’?”
Dad: “Be quiet and eat your supper!”
Me: “Mother, what is a ‘beef’?!”
Mum: “It’s a cow. Please eat.”
Me: “…”
Dad: “If you don’t finish what’s on your plate, you’ll get no dessert and a witch will come and eat you.”
Me: “Why should I eat a cow? Why would anyone want to eat me?”
Mum: “Just eat.”
Me: “When are we going to eat the cats, or the dog?”
Dad: “We’re not going to eat the cats or dog. Stop asking questions and eat what’s on your plate!”
Me: “Why am I supposed to eat a cow, but not the cats or dog?”
Mum: “Cats and dogs are our friends. We don’t eat our friends. Now please eat.”
Me: “I would like to become friends with a cow. I do not want to eat my cow friends, either…

 

I recall this type of exchange having recurred fairly often, and always ending in my sitting at the table until someone would finally excuse me from the dining room with a declaration from Dad of “No dessert!

 

No dessert? No problem. I was living on a fruit orchard with grapevines and various types of apples, berries, and other lovely fruits at my fingertips most of the time. Dessert for me was as simple as taking a seat under a tree and eating to my heart’s content, and becoming a vegetarian was a simple matter of standing my ground, reading loads of books/articles on nutrition/health (thank goodness for the local library & mum’s keen interest in related sciences) and learning how to prepare and enjoy things on my own. In fact, I ended up spending more and more time outside playing with food I would end up eating in my own time to the point where nobody bothered anymore with include a place setting for me at the dining table. After some time I was gifted with an ongoing subscription to Vegetarian Times magazine, courtesy of my mother (who was concerned about my health, and also the fact that we knew no other herbivorous humans). Victory! =)
As a result, I eventually opted to adhere to an entirely vegan lifestyle (as of Spring 1990), grew reasonably comfortable in my existence as a perpetually self-educating outsider, ended up mastering food preparation with gourmet proficiency, extensively studied nutrition/health, earned multiple certifications in fitness, and worked for some time as a personal trainer/nutrition consultant whilst studying and performing music.

 

Evolutionary Regeneration

After having spent many years working professionally as a musician, copy editor, print/event model, & media presenter for various corporate and business entities (and also freelancing independently as a vocalist, artist/collaborator, & political/social pundit – à la “Dark Stardust“), I eventually shifted focus from dealings with media-inclined masses toward more peaceful and positively fulfilling endeavours in culinary, spiritual, and environmental education. During this shift in consciousness, I also adopted an entirely raw diet and mastered the fine art of preparation, presentation, divine gratitude, and heightened enjoyment for minimally processed plant-derived foods. My lifestyle shifted into what may best be described using the Sanskrit term “Ahimsa” (meaning ‘non-violence or ‘non-harm’), and dietary preferences referred in scriptural terms as “Genesis Diet” or “Eden Diet” (in reference to the Old Testament – Book of Genesis). Essentially, my daily intake of food from 2005 onward has been comprised entirely of whole plant-based nutrients – eschewing anything processed at temperatures above 118ºF (47ºC), the vast majority of pre-packaged food items (bearing barcodes), most grains, roots, and all animal by-products/secretions (naturally). Although raw veganism seems to be interpreted by the masses as little more than a dietary preference, for me it is actually a holistic lifestyle path based upon evolution of ideals and life experiences over time. My decision to be vegan was based on love, respect, and a conscious desire to see all beings treated with equal consideration. My transition to an entirely raw lifestyle was merely an expansion upon that sentiment, based on the “bigger picture” which became staggeringly apparent only after well over a decade of commitment to veganism in all aspects of my existence. As a result of these simple (yet exceptionally profound) changes in my everyday life, I have become more closely connected with many more aspects of the world around me – and am continuously discovering an incredibly heightened ability to find peace & increased knowledge from each experience.

Acceptance, Reassessment, and Reaffirmation of Purpose

After having incurred a rather debilitating injury whilst cycling through the streets of Los Angeles, I found myself facing a situation which would forever change the course of my existence. A shattered knee was the catalyst for a series of life changing events (amongst which were loss of home, vocation, possessions, social ties, a great deal of independence, and the ability to stand or walk on my own) – for many of which I can now sincerely offer heartfelt gratitude. My biggest fear upon having become disabled in a strange place with no true friends was the possibility of accidental dismantling of my own ethically-centred lifestyle:

– Who would look after my non-human friends & clients?
– Where would I stay?
– How long would I be immobilised and stuck in California?
– How would I get back home to New York City?
– How to get around?
– How to find healing foods to eat?
– What about my regular trips to farms and markets?
– What about gardening and wild food foraging?
– Would I be forced to give up my raw lifestyle for awhile?
– Would I ever be able to stand or walk on my own again without surgery?
Are there even any surgical options available which are not in any way linked to vivisection or injuring other species?
– Would I be forced into permitting toxic chemicals/drugs into my system? 
– How to find pure water for drinking, soaking, & food preparation? (municipal water in/around L.A. is atrocious)
– Would I be able to recycle?

So many questions, concerns, and dire uncertainties…
Yet abandoning my staunch dedication to a mindful, compassionate lifestyle and abolitionist ideology was never even remotely an option for me.

Fortuitously, I had connected with some wonderful organic farmers just before the accident, with whom I had set appointments for “field trips” I was to take on behalf of Lorax Community for our food cooperatives. When I rang to cancel/reschedule my appointment to visit a local, non-GMO/pesticide-free family farm in Fallbrook, my contact there was incredibly sympathetic and very kindly offered to help me by delivering fresh produce – not only from his farm, but also from trusted neighbouring farms who also grew organically/transitionally. As a result of such kindness bestowed upon me during my ultimate time of need, I was able to concentrate on healing myself with only raw food/herbs whilst sorting out personal aspects of my life, continuing my work on community-oriented projects, and related studies. After many months of biding time as a stranger in a strange land, I finally found myself in a far better position to offer reciprocation for deliverance and lessons learned in form of devotional service. My very first ordination became official, which led to establishment of solid, sovereign ground on which all philanthropic and educational projects would soon be able to stand.
As such, I am now focused primarily on my role as founding director, educator, and workshop leader for Lorax Community‘s kitchen, veganic garden, and food cooperative projects under the proprietary name The Raw Veganista.

In relation to aforementioned projects, keen emphasis is placed upon growing and wildcrafting and home growing as much of my own food as possible, whilst directly sourcing additional items from regional growers (with preference for local farms and orchards utilising veganic, transitional, & organic growing methods). Great pains are taken to ensure that all food purchases are organically grown, sustainably produced, & obtained through fair labour.

My primary goal is to help others in finding joyful gratitude through successful cultivation, harvesting, and preparation of plant-based food – whilst utilisng basic methods of environmental sustainability, Ahimsa mindfulness, and “Creation Care”.

The main objective behind this particular aspect of my mission is to share simple methods for preparation of wonderful, delicious, healing, & sustainable meals to be recreated by virtually anyone in their own kitchen – without the use of heat, flesh, commercially manufactured or processed ingredients. It can be done, and can indeed be exquisite.

Conclusive Assertion

I have heard numerous excuses over the years, from those ranging from childhood friends who “dabbled” with veganism in adulthood (it was “too hard” for them to do in their parents’ home, then “far too impractical to find options” after awhile as an adult), to so-called “celebrities” following fad diets to manage their weight for roles (then abandoning animals once temporary goals have been achieved) and even spiritual figureheads such as the Dalai Lama (whose “health” advisors supposedly prohibit him from adherence to a truly conscious/compassionate diet). After so many years on the path, it truly hurts my heart to hear others discount veganism as a practical or easily achievable lifestyle, whilst simultaneously expressing some level of desire to better care for our planet and other sentient beings. The following is my position on the subject as a whole:

The seemingly Universally shared desire and Divine right of all Earthlings to live naturally, peacefully and in freedom is of the utmost importance so far as my own place and related role on this planet are concerned. It is my belief that all organisms on Earth are equally valid, and should be allowed to exist in peace by way of Universal law. We all possess a similar mechanism which propels us toward “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, and It is my unwavering conviction that each living being also bears due entitlement to clean food, water, and air – regardless of species.

For those who genuinely care about the so-called “bigger picture” in relation to our planet as an interconnected entity, I earnestly implore you to take heed of the following: Compassion itself may at times seem quite arduous to bear, but living a life in honour of such can be simple, gratifying, and of the utmost importance on nearly every conceivable level. Being true to our higher purpose as caretakers of our siblings on this Spaceship Earth, and the planet herself, can only lead us to evolution of mind, body, and consciousness on every comprehensible (& incomprehensible) level. Be vegan, stay vegan, and to thine own self be true.

Veganism - Existential Ahimsa Evolution
Many thanks for having taken the time to read my personal account, and may your own respective journeys be filled with peace, contentment, meaningful purpose, and joyous discoveries. Ⓥ♡★

For a brief insight into my motivation and eventual transition into raw/living foods, please have a look at my “Why Raw?” composition from 2007.

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