AHIMSA: Veganish

Is it fair that my mid-month check in falls one day after my 36th birthday? I know, I know, I said “no excuses” and I’d try my best, no matter what. And I have… sort of.

I started off January with the real life intention of living a vegan lifestyle for the month as one component of my Month of Ahimsa. And I did — for about a week. I threw out all the half eaten dips from New Year’s Eve that had any traces of dairy. I sought out bread made without eggs and didn’t dare go near the seafood counter at the local grocery. I was feeling pretty good, not just for sticking to my vow of nonviolence via veganism, but also in my body. I felt lighter, had plenty of energy, and my digestion was on point. (There is absolutely nothing like a snake poop to boost your confidence.) All was well until two things happened: 1. I got sick and 2. I had a birthday.

Despite my high spirits, I could feel my immune system fighting off something fierce, as it often does when I am preparing for a performance. The day after Ladyfest 2018, I crashed into a snotty, coughing, congested mess, and knew that some major self care was long overdue. I got the hint and made a big pot of miso soup with tofu, mushrooms, celery, onions, and yes… chicken broth. I probably don’t need to tell you about therapeutic benefits of chicken broth, and, fresh out of vegetable broth, I made an exception. Wouldn’t it be less violent of me to nourish my waning body with organic chicken broth that is already in my fridge, rather than venture into the bitter cold and expose others to my common cold for a meager box of veggie broth? I concluded… yes.

So I did, and I felt better (eventually). And then my birthday came and I ate pizza. I ate brussel sprouts sprinkled with parmesan. I’m going to the Melting Pot tonight and will probably eat my weight in cheese fondu. And I’m okay with that. Nonviolence isn’t just about being kind to others, but also not beating yourself up, staying adaptable, and enjoying the delicacy of each moment with recognition and gratitude for the many forms of nourishment that life offers — even a lobster tail.

As for the other part of my nonviolent pact — maintaining kind speech — I’ve gotta say, I’ve done pretty well.  Sure, negative thoughts will pop up, I acknowledge them, and let them go. It’s amazing how much space and time you can free up by resisting the unnecessary urge to complain or judge, no matter how warranted it seems. Life is too short and already violent enough to devote any extra energy to speaking ill of another human being. Even shithole Presidents.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lastly, on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I can’t help but think about the deplorable amount of violence — physically, verbally, and politically — that too many people in our country have endured because of the color of their skin throughout history and in this moment. Most days it feels like we have made great strides towards embodied equality and behavioral kindness… other days not so much. I recognize the privilege I am afforded by my skin and status, even as a person of mixed race. Above eating vegan, above quitting gossip, perhaps the most important way we can practice nonviolence is to remember and combat the unfair, cruel, and inhumane treatment of millions of not only African Americans, but people of color all over the world. Maybe we all do our work (and the work of some others) in breaking the cycle of systemic racism through unrelenting kindness, respect, and compassion. #ahimsa

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