March 29, 2012

A Chronicle of my Vegan Journey


1969 – At 12 years of age I learned ‘meat’ was a dead animal and stopped eating all animal flesh. I had to make my own food; my family ate animals. In 1978, at age 21, after reading a copy of Ahimsa Magazine (now The American Vegan; published by The American Vegan Society) and specifically reading co-founder; Jay Dinshah's convincing essay of the unethical practice of dairy consumption, I became vegan at once. I emptied my closet of leather and began to use vegan cosmetics and toiletries, which were difficult to source in those days. I thought it was challenging to give up ice cream as there were no vegan alternatives then, but I had to follow what I knew was right. I respected that animals had basic rights.


Year 1981 – I purchased a copy of The Cookbook for People Who Love Animals (by Gentle World)
(www.gentleworld.org) in a South Florida health food store. I was compelled to know the authors after reading the book. I went to meet them and care for their (rescued) vegan animals of differing species. Getting to know different nonhuman animals helped me to REALLY LOVE other species. My veganism grew beyond respect to deeply loving animals and making my life’s mission one of being a voice for them. And the classic; The Cookbook for People Who Love Animals sold over 100,000 copies, pre internet days!
Throughout my early adult years, along with the other volunteer members of Gentle World, I participated in creative, non-violent, vegan education. We flew banners over the beach at spring break, had a vegan mail order business, created bumper stickers and plastered them here and there. The volunteer members of Gentle World hosted many events; fairs, free seminars and cooking classes – some televised.  I helped cater one of Gentle World’s two Celebrity Vegan Banquets in Hollywood; with the mission ‘to inspire those who are an inspiration to others.’ We created and operated The Vegan Restaurant on Maui, Hawaii, which we owned for years and where I was a head chef. I co-authored the beautifully presented book that developed from the restaurant:Incredibly Delicious; Recipes for a New Paradigm - with over 500 vegan recipes (both raw and cooked), inspiring quotes, color photos, and information.
In year 2000, Gentle World volunteer members created a Vegan Educational Center in the northlands of New Zealand; where I have spent much of my time. I helped conceive of the concept and to initiate growing our food veganically. Since then, Gentle World has been growing the vegan-organic method; a sustainable and ethical way to produce food. It was a rewarding experience to help plant and care for hundreds of fruit trees of different varieties, as well as flower and vegetable gardens. I literally created eco-systems. We plant Milkweed in the flower gardens to bring Monarch butterflies. I nourish the Milkweed plant so several rounds of caterpillars hatch out, and I protect the newly emerged butterflies from wasps while they are vulnerable; before they can fly or open their wings to shoo the wasps away. Since 2000, we have worked with nature to create this very special haven. The property purchased by Gentle World was previously used for exploiting animals. We worked diligently and took down the animal husbandry sheds and fences and replaced them with fruit trees, flowering trees, flower bouquets and gardens, flowers with scent and those that brought pollinating bees and butterflies. We worked to literally create a gentle world that stemmed from our shared vision of paradise.
Gentle World members were innovators of raising dogs on a supplemented vegan diet. Some years back, I shared my knowledge and experience in an article with photos of (vegan) dogs on my older website ~ veganpoet.com/articles/dogs-can-be-vegan-too.htm ~ This is a more current article on the subject. And another link: good nutrition for healthy vegan dogs

Around the same time, I was the first to organize Gentle World’s booth in the Kohala Country fair, where thousands of people from around the Big Island of Hawaii attend, annually. Gentle World’s booth is the only one serving vegan meals for the day. Free samples are offered and vegan products are displayed for thousands of attendees. I have not been a part of the fair in recent years, but it remained an annual tradition. 
As I get older and expand my mind and consciousness more, I begin to tune into the Great Truth and panacea of the Vegan Ethic. I start to see veganism as humankind’s next evolutionary step and I just so happen to know what others need to learn. I began writing articles and sending them to magazines and on-line sites; feeling compelled to share with others that which had healed me.
In 2008, I published Metamorphosis; Poems to Inspire Transformation by Vegan Poet. The thought-provoking poems and photos speak of animal, environmental, and human rights. I launched the Vegan Poet website – http://veganpoet.com(Interesting to note, I would not publish the same book today, and I won’t be reprinting it. 
In 2008 and 2009, while helping my parents in the summers, I do vegan outreach work by hosting vegan events in South Florida. These events include feasts of vegan food and sharing circles or forums. The first one made front page of the food section in The Sun Sentinel Newspaper. At least 50 people attend these events; the last one was called ‘Living the Vegan Life’. Attendees received literature. Also at that time, I did poetry readings from Metamorphosis.
Later in 2008, I conducted an online worldwide Vegan Relationship Survey - www.veganpoet.com/SurveyResults/Results.html  I learned a lot about what other vegans think and feel. I learned of the many factions within the vegan movement, which I was not aware of prior to that. I learned of the blogging world and of the Abolitionist-Vegans; expanding my point-of-view of the vegan community and movement.
Later in 2009, I am asked by Sienna Blake, editor of The Vegan Voice Magazine in Australia to be a regular contributor/columnist for the magazine. I’ve been contributing articles for years, but not regularly. (Sadly, this exceptional vegan magazine closed their doors and I truly miss writing for VV, though I now contribute articles to various book publishers, online magazines and websites.
October 2009, I took the advice of a prominent activist to create a blog. I saw it as an opportunity for reaching out. I embarked upon Veganism: A Truth Whose Time has ComeOur next evolutionary step! It is written from the perspective of a candid, truth-telling, 3 decade vegan, with no donation button, no ads, and nothing to sell you but The Vegan Truth.  Please come visit and join my blog: http://thevegantruth.blogspot.com  
2011 – Gentle World volunteers hosted a Vegan Education day to the public. What’s so special about that is that we live right in the heart of animal-farming country and 100 people showed up! We offered a FREE banquet of delicious vegan food. We had pamphlets available: (http://www.veganpoet.com/Becoming-Vegan-pamphlet.pdf) Video’s were shown. Angel Flinn, Gentle World’s outreach director and Care2 blogger, gave an incredible speech (link below). The guests were receptive - it was heart-warming. Anywhere you find yourself in the world, there are people interested to awaken to the vegan ideal; the direction we are heading for…the future. Great Vegan Speech
Gentle World accepts guests, helpers and those who want to experience living in a vegan sanctuary with a group of long-time vegans of all ages who chose to live together to manifest our shared dream to live in a non-violent, vegan world. Gentle World’s base is in Hawaii, and I have spent more than a decade at the New Zealand property called Shangri-la. http://gentleworld.org/about/community/
Being known worldwide was never my intention. For decades, I had written essays that were published around the globe, but with the invention of Facebook, myself and many other activists, now have a voice to the world. Ego aside, I think it is a very good thing that English-speaking people around the world - can hear what I have to say. I’m one of those people that came into this world with an innate understanding that other animals have the inherent right to be treated with respect; and this is specifically what society needs to realize. If everyone shared my perception, none of the planet’s inhabitants would be owned and enslaved, oppressed, assaulted, and killed by human animals. This world will come from grassroots vegan activists; pioneers spreading the vegan ideal. Our collective consciousness will reach that tipping point and humanity will awaken to vegan living. The legal systems and laws will reflect this change in consciousness, and everything will follow suit. Animals will be given sanctuary to live out their lives without being bred by humans. I’m on Facebook daily: https://www.facebook.com/ButterfliesVeganAdvocate
I’m sure I missed many activities and precious moments that could have been part of this chronicle. For example, I lived in a national forest with wild deer for 20 consecutive summers. I had the great joy of feeding forest deer, chipmunks and ground squirrels out of my hand. I have befriended a rooster, doves, a goat, a pig, a Shetland pony, many bunny rabbits, and have created seriously close bonds with rescued dogs fed vegan. I have experienced wild baby ducks (and their mother) who ate from my hand and let me pet them. Animals feel our veganism.
We change and grow on our vegan journey. To date, I consider myself an advocate for nonspeciesism, and an advocate for veganism as both a moral imperative for people and a social justice movement. I advocate for complete abolition of humans enslaving and using other animals. The lie inherent in turning ‘a someone’ into ‘a something’ is despicable. Turning a living, feeling, breathing sentient animal into a commodity for human profit is unethical, since we can live vegan; as evidenced by many long-time vegans. My activism focuses on animal “rights” rather than “treatment” and in working towards changing the collective mindset to realize that other animals, exactly equal to human animals, come into this world with the birth-right not to be assaulted, raped, persecuted, and killed by humans. “Humankind” needs to live up to their name and honor the inherent rights of sentient animals. 

2 comments:

David said...

I LOVE reading your blog! It's so entertaining and inspiring. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us :D

Vegan Poet said...

Thanks so much David! Comments like that always help put a smile on my face, so big giant vegan hugs to you!