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Diet Is Not a Personal Choice: an invitation


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The concept of Choice is at the center of the Michael Teachings, but one thing that is often overlooked is the impact of our choices that go well beyond ourselves in ways that we are taught to ignore. One of those daily choices is our diet. It is the single most powerful choice that we make every day that has a cascading effect across the planet.

 

Many believe that one's diet is a "personal choice," because why should anyone have any say in what you eat, right?

 

But here's the difference: A Personal Choice has little to no effect on others. A Personal Choice does little to no harm to anyone or anything beyond yourself. This is the difference between your "personal choice" to scream FIRE! vs the choice to scream FIRE! in a crowded theater. It's the difference between the personal choice to drive your car vs driving your car on a sidewalk full of pedestrians. It's the difference between choosing a religion and imposing that religion. It's the difference between wanting something and stealing something.

 

Because our dietary choices create supply and demand chains, the world adapts to this and creates a chain of cruelty and destruction or a chain of sustainability and compassion. Our diet impacts everyone and everything on the planet long after we enjoy a flavor.

 

We are in a critical time that asks of us to re-evaluate our relationship to this daily choice. We have nearly total control over our dietary choices and it comes with a vast range of possibilities that can move us away from a destructive relationship with the planet into a healthy, sustainable, and compassionate relationship. 

 

Once you Make The Connection, it changes how you see, feel, and experience the world, your body, and your confidence in your part in the equation of our shared life on this planet.

 

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I'am almost vegan, still refusing to quit on honey (and with the state environment we seem to need beekeepers and they should have something for their effort ?) the only different to pre-vegan is that vegetables and fruits become much more delicious, I'am not sure that it helps with health and meditation but I hope so...

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11 minutes ago, estoy said:

I'am almost vegan, still refusing to quit on honey (and with the state environment we seem to need beekeepers and they should have something for their effort 1f61f.png)

 

Just yesterday I saw someone compare what we take from bees to aliens breeding us humans so they can steal our earwax. It made me laugh...

 

I try to be vegan as much as I can. Honey has sneaked into my diet a few times, and I've had to take medications that weren't 100% vegan (though I aim for 100% vegan whenever possible). There's just so much imprinting in our world when it comes to eating meat and dairy. It seems that the immediate assumption from others whenever something goes wrong with my health is that I'm deficient in animal products. (Never mind that I've been dealing with similar issues my whole life, and I was not raised vegan.)

 

I wonder if there are any future realities where humans have given up exploiting animals, and where we just live with them in harmony. (Pets are a sticky issue, especially when it comes to obligate carnivores like cats. But I've nearly gotten myself kicked out of online vegan groups for even bringing that up, so it's obviously a touchy subject.)

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26 minutes ago, Sarah said:

 

 But I've nearly gotten myself kicked out of online vegan groups for even bringing that up, so it's obviously a touchy subject.)

 

yeah I must say I don't like that kind of passion, I find it also more important that you buy local, pay a fair price and avoid big corporations (whenever possible).

 

I will never understand people claming to be vegan and going to McD. for a veggie burger, but thats just me...

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I'm currently Vegetarian and have absolutely no qualms about going Vegan.

It would be rather easy for me.

 

Two things stand in the way of that, figuratively.

One, I need to change my lifestyle and eat more often and be more food savvy. I have relied on my parents for my life for food, and I have no qualms about this or feel much shame. They have provided for me, and I've eaten in return what they've given me.

But I do need to start preparing and choosing for myself a little more.

I am aware it is healthier to eat less, but I actually don't eat enough. I tend to keep fixed in doing things and never bother getting up to eat, unless it's to grab a snack or made for me.

So I'm aware those things must change, and they will and I am changing them.

 

The bigger issue is what's not as much in my control. People have a surprisingly ingrained imprinting about meat and dairy.

I don't. I couldn't care less. Heck the only food I miss even remotely is popcorn shrimp. And I don't really even care about it much to begin with.

I've cut down on cheese, eggy, dairy of course, but I can't actually avoid it because others cook it into the food they make not even thinking twice. And I don't want to deny their food all the time because they use those ingredients.

It"s bad enough some people label my lack of having muscle and meat on my bones, or my state of health as being the cause of not eating meat.

Some people I know don't even think seafood and fish and poultry are meat and insist I eat more of it. I just have to smile and "nod".

 

Luckily I seem to have exemplified a step in the vegetarian direction for others, and a coworker, my grandma and my aunt and parents are moving more and more away from meats in general.

 

Still, the imprinting around means I have to continue to at least be nice about rejecting meat, but not dairy and eggs because they're in pretty much everything made for me or that I buy.

I'll look into alternative methods of eliminating them.

My plan is to really cut it all out when I'm out on my own. So I'll hold on for now.

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8 hours ago, Sarah said:

 

It seems that the immediate assumption from others whenever something goes wrong with my health is that I'm deficient in animal products. (Never mind that I've been dealing with similar issues my whole life, and I was not raised vegan.)

 

I belong to a few plant-based diet groups, and one person commented that when she ate meat and had health problems, nobody ever, ever said she should be eating more meat. But once she went plant-based, her health problems were attributed to lack of meat...and suddenly everyone was a nutrition expert. 

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Having been vegan for the past forty years or so,  I think I've heard by now every excuse in the book  for  disapproving  denying  or refusing to acknowledge the simple fact that their hamburger and milkshake are loaded with sorrow  and agony. And they do so I find because it is an effort to change , so the dainty but oh so illogical excuse is health.  I rarely make a topic of my eating habits . My kind of veganism includes trying to get people off their horses. In that case there is no tiptoeing around the subject of compassion, by which people become uneasy at once.  It's not pleasant to realize your own cruelty.    

Kurtis, I became vegan at about you age, and I found macrobiotic diet the easiest to follow, and considered healthy.

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21 hours ago, estoy said:

I will never understand people claming to be vegan and going to McD. for a veggie burger, but thats just me...

2

 

We don't have any McD vegan burger options, but if we did, I would likely support anyone who chose to eat there because every purchase is a vote, and if the demand is great enough, it changes priorities. Corporations aren't inherently evil, but because they cater to demand and supply, and the majority demands mindlessly, it's reflected in the corporation. But if we begin to show that alternative and healthier options are our priority, the corporations will align very quickly to that.

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13 hours ago, DianeHB said:

 

I belong to a few plant-based diet groups, and one person commented that when she ate meat and had health problems, nobody ever, ever said she should be eating more meat. But once she went plant-based, her health problems were attributed to lack of meat...and suddenly everyone was a nutrition expert. 

 

EXACTLY. And it's bullshit.

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1 hour ago, Matt said:

i wish i liked vegetables, i really do.  I have tried eating them all different ways and different kinds.  I just can't stomach most of them.  The taste is awful to me.  It's just not realistic for me to ever be a vegetarian or vegan.  I would resent that i had to eat stuff i don't like the taste of. I don't look at that as an excuse, that is a fact that i don't like the taste of most vegetables.  At this point for my health, i try to eat fruit, nuts, and i try to limit portions. Maybee in the next life, ill be a vegan, but it probably won't happen in this one. I want to enjoy the food i eat, and i think that is healthy to be enjoying what you eat.  I limit how much meat i am eating through portion control, and that is the best i am willing to do at this point.  

 

13

Thank you for the effort that you did make. I wish you could try my cooking and see if you survived. lol It sounds like you've made the choice not to try anymore, so I'm not replying to this to convince you of anything, but if it inspires an open mind, then woo hoo!

 

Anyway, I just have to say that with the thousands and thousands of variations of vegetables and their preparation, as well as the hundreds and hundreds (maybe thousands) of cruelty-free flesh alternatives that satisfy the carnivorous pallet, you probably just haven't found the satisfying options.

 

For me, leaving cheese behind was difficult because it is so addictive (literally) and there were no alternatives for a long time that could satisfy my craving. But I think the well-being of animals, our planet, and our fellow humans is worth redirecting our temporary cravings and our need for addictive flavors for the common good. It's not my right to take the life of another creature just to satisfy conveniences and cravings. My craving for temporary pleasure and indulgence is something I had to face as a very real addiction. We are so inculcated with entitlement to take whatever we want just because it temporarily stimulates us. We get addicted to both the conveniences and the brief satisfaction of our taste buds at the expense of so many things. We are taught to indulge in such harmful choices because we are protected from ever having to see or face the consequences.

 

I just wanted to say that you have a whole life ahead for you and your beautiful family, so it's far from too late to consider alternatives. It might be worth continuing an open mind, experimentation, curiosity. I'm 100% vegan and will never finish trying all of the various foods on the planet that are satisfying and cruelty-free, so I have to assume you have that same world of choice open to you, too. Just some food for thought... hee hee

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I know this will sound like a tone argument, but this video has a sort of 'Love the sinner, hate the sin" feel to it that I find offputting. I also don't really feel like this will help persuade people as effectively as accepting where they are, but encouraging more experimentation/plant based dishes. I say this having gone vegan myself back in May ( with the occasional slip up when restaurants weren't up front about their ingredients and some meds I haven't been able to find vegan versions of) and not really looked back. There has to be a middle ground.
It reminds me a bit of how a lot of people stopped eating veg in the 80s and 90s because the diet people started coming down like a ton of bricks on butter when the emphasis should have been on encouraging those eating any veg at all, butter or no.
One of my favourite things to do is take people who are sure all veg is gross and meat is the Grail to a vegan restaurant. Most vegan food I've had is insanely decadent and rich, and people just have no idea what can be done with vegan ingredients these days. I like to think I've gotten a few people to rethink their assumptions at the least.

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@Matt There are different ways to be vegan. If eating a ton of veggies is too "crunchy" for you, there are other ways to do it. They may not be as healthy for your body, but they're probably still a better choice than not being vegan at all. (There is such a thing as being a "junk food vegan", and while it's not recommended, you can incorporate some of those foods into your diet if it makes the transition easier.)

 

I can't eat many of the things that are supposedly good for me (kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic) because of sulfur issues. My body just can't deal with them. So I don't worry about those foods and I just eat what I can. Carrots, squash, celery, sweet potatoes, potatoes, green and red peppers, and zucchini make up the bulk of my "veggie" intake. I eat more fruit in the summer, because the variety is better (so right now I'm not really eating any). I eat beans (I love chickpeas) and lentils and nuts for protein, and starches for me are the aforementioned potatoes, quinoa, rice, and gluten-free pasta. (I'm gluten intolerant, which puts another layer of obstruction in my way, but I still find more than enough to eat, even without bread.) I eat things like pizza, Thai-inspired noodle bowls, minestrone soup, zucchini biscuits smothered in "cheese", celery sticks filled with yet another type of "cheese" spread, granola with almond or coconut milk, roasted vegetables with vegan tzatziki, peanut butter curry with veggies on rice, macaroni and "cheese"... and no animals were harmed in the process.

 

If you're ever interested, there are plenty of blogs out there with lots of free vegan recipes, many of which don't contain a single vegetable at all. All you have to do is Google. ?

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1 hour ago, Juni said:

I know this will sound like a tone argument, but this video has a sort of 'Love the sinner, hate the sin" feel to it that I find offputting. I also don't really feel like this will help persuade people as effectively as accepting where they are, but encouraging more experimentation/plant based dishes.

1

 

I'm an abolitionist, so I didn't mind the tone because he was being playful but educational and addressing a very serious issue that is far more off-putting than any concerns for tone. I know that tone is important, but if we constantly cater to the defensiveness and sensitivity of meat-eaters, we will never get the point across. We keep giving people room for excuses, a way out, and sometimes you really have to be clear that, no... this is a life-threatening and time-sensitive issue that doesn't have room for patience. We are at the point of no return, or maybe even beyond the point of return, and fixing what we've done to destroy each other, the animals, and the planet is going to take some tough love. We don't have time to wait for people to shuffle their feet and evade the issues.

 

Trying to help the animals, our planet, and all the starving and sick people while others don't do anything would be one thing, but what we face is the equivalent of our gigantic shared house on fire where we are trying to put out the fire for everyone while most people aren't just sitting on the sidelines and watching, but they are pushing a constant stream of gasoline onto the fire and asking us to ignore and excuse that they are doing this. So... sometimes, yeah, there will be a tone.

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1 minute ago, Troy said:

 

I'm an abolitionist, so I didn't mind the tone because he was being playful but educational and addressing a very serious issue that is far more off-putting than any concerns for tone. I know that tone is important, but if we constantly cater to the defensiveness and sensitivity of meat-eaters, we will never get the point across. We keep giving people room for excuses, a way out, and sometimes you really have to be clear that, no... this is a life-threatening and time-sensitive issue that doesn't have room for patience. We are at the point of no return, or maybe even beyond the point of return, and fixing what we've done to destroy each other, the animals, and the planet is going to take some tough love. We don't have time to wait for people to shuffle their feet and evade the issues.

It really didn't feel playful to me. I don't get my back up easily, either. I just don't think it's necessarily a choice between catering or condescension. I'm already vegan, so I'm not even whom he's addressing.  Must be my own reaction to this guy-he just comes off as judgmental, and I even agree with him. I think this is reminding me of this guy, when I was much younger telling me that he thought being bi was sinful and I was going to hell, but he still respected me and had no specific problem with me personally. Something about how this guy is saying what he is,is hooking up to that in my memory center, I guess.
So, never mind. Carry on.

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3 minutes ago, Juni said:

It really didn't feel playful to me. I don't get my back up easily, either. I just don't think it's necessarily a choice between catering or condescension. I'm already vegan, so I'm not even whom he's addressing.  Must be my own reaction to this guy-he just comes off as judgmental, and I even agree with him. I think this is reminding me of this guy, when I was much younger telling me that he thought being bi was sinful and I was going to hell, but he still respected me and had no specific problem with me personally. Something about how this guy is saying what he is,is hooking up to that in my memory center, I guess.
So, never mind. Carry on.

 

LOL, yeah, I guess we all have our triggers. I do understand your reaction now, but I would say that the biggest difference is that the person from your past was judging you based on superficial standards of behavior that have NO effect on his life whatsoever. THAT is judgemental in the negative sense and very annoying and even hurtful. But if we are judgmental of someone who is pro-slavery, for example, it is a very different world of judgment that is valid and important. The passive or active act of exploiting animals for personal pleasure while leaving a wake of cruelty and destruction for others to clean up is worth judging. It's important that we not conflate superficial and selfish judgments of others with judgments about serious and consequential behaviors that harm others in very real ways.

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32 minutes ago, Troy said:

 

LOL, yeah, I guess we all have our triggers. I do understand your reaction now, but I would say that the biggest difference is that the person from your past was judging you based on superficial standards of behavior that have NO effect on his life whatsoever. THAT is judgemental in the negative sense and very annoying and even hurtful. But if we are judgmental of someone who is pro-slavery, for example, it is a very different world of judgment that is valid and important. The passive or active act of exploiting animals for personal pleasure while leaving a wake of cruelty and destruction for others to clean up is worth judging. It's important that we not conflate superficial and selfish judgments of others with judgments about serious and consequential behaviors that harm others in very real ways.

I mentioned I agree with the message. Already vegan, been vegetarian for most of my life since I was 15. I didn't own a car until I was 30. I grew up recycling and 90% of my clothing is secondhand. I live within 2 miles almost everything I need on a regular basis, including work.
I think I just personally don't like this particular guy.

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21 hours ago, Stickyflames said:

Yes , part of being vegan is being constantly on trial.

I get sick once in two years and it is attributed to veganism. Basically veganism explains everything you are and do. If you are not muscley it has nothing to do with the fact you do not lift weights, it has everything to do with the fact that you are a vegan. Nevermind the billions of examples of skinny or obese meat eaters...no they are that way for other reasons. meat and dairy has nothing to do with that. The same rules apply to vegans as everyone else. You still can get sick, you still can be skinny, you still can be large. You still have to take care of yourself in all the same ways like eating whole foods and exercising. It boggles my mind, it really does. At work the other employees are ALWAYs sick and nearly always bemoan about headaches and other health symptoms. At lunch they, nearly every single employee, eat chicken fingers and a chocolate milk and maybe an energy drink along with that. They will blame every single other thing in the universe before questioning that maybe a constant intake of an 8 year old childs diet maybe is not working for them. 

 

 

I actually don't remember friends or family telling me or Tex that we need to eat meat or try to claim some health issue was caused by lack of meat. But then again we are well-read on nutrition research and any such claim becomes an invitation to talk about why that's not true and what the latest science says. Maybe that's why I don't remember being told such things, because we end up turning the conversation around. The issue with you and people you know is that you're still young, and eating healthy doesn't have obvious benefits. Tex frequently has customers who have health problems, and he's not shy about telling them to get on a whole foods, plant-based diet (for anyone who doesn't know, Tex has a masters degree in urology. He keeps running into people who need healing...and drives an old ambulance as his work truck). Some people listen and some don't, but a handful have followed through and turned their health around. He is his own best testimonial, because he's still running around cutting concrete when many people his age can't do heavy physical work because of arthritis and other health issues. He also occasionally gets contractors who haven't seen him in 20 years, and they tell him he looks better than he did 20 years ago. 

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5 hours ago, Juni said:

I think I just personally don't like this particular guy.

 

 

It's so fascinating to see how we judge people so quickly and based on so little... and then say we don't like someone because they sound judgmental. LOL It's so easy to project onto others without even realizing it. And I'm not teasing. I just mean to affectionately point out the irony that all of us have probably experienced from both directions. We are a strange and wonderful species. I don't want this thread to be about the likability of the guy in the video, so let's get back to the message that we all agree is important.

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13 hours ago, Stickyflames said:

My personal input is...i think he is wonderful and i want him as my man lover. I have found in my life that it is far more important to listen to what is being said than the tone saying it. The tone may reflect his own frusterations , judgements, woundings etc. It is fucking tough caring about something that you hardly ever see reflected around you in the world. The wounding will be there. That will be in the tone sometimes. Underlying that though is a man who cares deeply about animal rights. That is the message. Meat eaters do not become vegans through nicety , they also do not become vegans through force. They become vegans when they empathize with  animals. When the message is heard. I remember being in college, my roommate being furious at me because i was white and he wanted to make sure i was not racist, because i represented a white man to him. His tone was harsh and cruel but it did not " turn me off"  from listenin, i heard him. I heard how much he cared. I found it inspiring and questioned lots about myself due to that conversation.

14

 

I really am starting to feel that I'm not being heard here, after I've already said repeatedly  I agree with what he's saying,  Why is it being assumed I cannot separate the messenger from the message? Because that's how it's coming across. Apologies if that's not  what 's meant, text is an imperfect medium for these conversations.

I've found with my own personal experience that shaming people into better diets doesn't tend to work. Applauding every step they take toward plant based meals does. YMMV.   Also, it's my experience that people also become vegan for health reasons and because they hate the taste of meat and dairy, or have allergies. Empathy for animals IME isn't the only driving force. It's nice if it is, but that's not universal, from what I've seen. I had a vegan friend who was thus simply because she was trying to get her genetically high cholesterol down without meds. It didn't work, but does that undo all the good she did because it wasn't  primarily to help animals? I'm a utilitarian in these things, and why for me in this case is less important than that change happens.
  
Maybe he and I have abrading overleaves . Maybe he owes me Karma.  I've done some self-reflection and found the root of my initial reaction and it still hasn't faded.  Frankly, all this is conversation is doing at this point is making me want to dig in my heels and I really wish I had just not commented in the first place, now.

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11 hours ago, Troy said:

 

It's so fascinating to see how we judge people so quickly and based on so little... and then say we don't like someone because they sound judgmental. LOL It's so easy to project onto others without even realizing it. And I'm not teasing. I just mean to affectionately point out the irony that all of us have probably experienced from both directions. We are a strange and wonderful species. I don't want this thread to be about the likability of the guy in the video, so let's get back to the message that we all agree is important.
 

1

I haven't discounted that possibility that he is reflecting back to me something I dislike in myself, but I'm really getting upset  and stressed now, so I'm stepping away. I really wish I'd not said anything at all.

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I took up your suggestion Troy on encouraging awareness in diet.

So today I looked into the effects of something on a smaller scale first- the Microwave. I was surprised on some of the effects it has on the human body, and through reading numerous articles I'm totally committed to not using one whenever I can. Not that I use it much anyways but I know many who do.

 

So I took it upon myself to share this info with my sister, parents and friends.

In the matter of an hour this is what happened and was said:

 

Sister- Only half-listened, not totally interested but enough to show she cared about the motive behind my intentions. She brought up beforehand she isn't going to use a microwave when she moves out anymore.

I shared some on how I don't like microwaved food to begin with and some effects of it on the body. She found it semi-interesting.

 

Dad- Before I came to read on more info, I shared with him I wasn't going to use a microwave when I moved out. He gave me the weird raised eyebrow look and I tried sharing effects it has on the food and his response was "That's not true. There's no proof."

So I shared a partic.article on it through email.

 

Mom and Friend 1 haven't seen said email yet.

 

Friend 2/Acquaintance- Basically joked around and ended up saying "Eat what you want."

 

Friend 3- I ended up finding out they feel like they live a shitty life and food/diet is the only part they feel they don't have to control. So didn't really listen and thought my claims were too credulous.

I tried to contradict their claims a bit and one of my fav. Phrases said was "You don't have to hate yourself to change the way you eat."

 

Overall I feel vulnerable and exposed, slightly under appreciated and sad but this is basically like a round one of my efforts to move from pushing/proselytizing to simply encouraging more AWARENESS in one's diet.

From this point on that will be my goal, so long as the other comes to learn about being more aware. Besides that seeing how everyone reacted was enlightening in a way to how many excuses we give.

That's the insight I've gained.

 

Since for now I'm encouraging awareness about small things, I just want people to know diet isn't about hitting a wall over and over it's about learning.

I came to find through just 5 people that the most common excyses for one's eating habits are "Everything is supposedly "bad" for you, so that justifies me eating whatever I want to eat."

I've also found out "Eat in moderation." Can be used as an excuse too. Whatever doesn't encourage awareness/learning, to me is an excuse.

 

I wonder if the core of what I shared was heard or not. :/

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6 hours ago, KurtisM said:

I took up your suggestion Troy on encouraging awareness in diet.

1

 

Just living your truth can be enough of an example and invitation for others. If you feel the strength and confidence to then teach others, that's up to you, but bringing awareness doesn't mean seeking people out and unexpectedly presenting them with information. I don't know the circumstances, but if you are just trying to wedge all of that conversation in under an hour with all of those people, that could be part of the problem with your first attempt. Educating people in your personal circle about choices they could make that help the world tend to need an organic, natural flow that happens to come up when asking you about your own choices. The greater pronouncements and attempts work well with a bigger audience when you have a bigger platform, but they can just take people by surprise when one-on-one.

 

Also, educating people about choices that mostly only harm themselves (like the microwave) can be tough because you really have to just let them make the choice for their own well-being or not.  But for something like animal rights and the impact of choices that have cascading effects of cruelty and destruction that affect everyone, it's fair to ask them to reconsider and be held accountable for the impact.

 

I wouldn't take this "first round" as anything personal. It was an experiment. You learned. You will find the best ways as you go. Until then, live your truth. Don't wait for others to legitimize it.

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@Juni I thought you made your point perfectly clear. You don't like the guy for personal reasons and you don't like the way he delivered the message, but you agree with the message. If I have that wrong, let me know.

 

We are all on the same side but looking from different points, so it's all good.

 

As for shaming people, let's not confuse accountability and urgency with shaming. There is a big difference between shaming and just feeling ashamed.

 

Shaming seeks only to make people feel bad, but when we are asked to be accountable for actions we didn't know caused so much harm, we will naturally feel ashamed. Some people will experience any conversation about animal rights and the impact of our dietary choices as shaming because they immediately focus on "defend myself from being wrong" when the focus can easily shift to "what can I do to help?"

 

I agree that shaming doesn't work, but people fighting for the freedom, rights, and quality of life for everyone aren't seeking to shame people. It's just that there is no way around our feeling shame when we realize that our innocent actions are causing so much destruction. We will naturally feel guilt and embarrassment, but then we have to rise above our immature reflexes and move directly to exploring accountability.

 

This video does no shaming, but it can naturally trigger our shame. It's important to ask if the shame comes from someone seeking only to make us feel bad about ourselves, or does the shame come as a distraction from accountability.

 

 

 

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@Troy

Yes I agree with you, it was just an experiment.

I wasn't rushing anything, there were no time constraints. I just got excited what others would say about it.

It just so happened to take place in the span of an hour or a little more.

 

Since some of the convos took place on the internet, tone might have been hard to properly convey and words can be used too much.

 

Overall it was an exhausting sharing. I'm not sure if I got across what I tried to convey. Some of the people I shared with are just internet friends who cannot actually see me. Their "excuses" are perfectly understandable.

People would be less likely to be so confrontational if they know you up close and personal.

For now I'll take a break. I'm actually fairly tired.

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2 hours ago, KurtisM said:

Overall it was an exhausting sharing.

 

 

Exhausting, indeed. I've been fighting this fight since 8th Grade. Every year it gets easier because people are really starting to listen and care, and that gives me great heart.

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