VegSource Interactive, Inc. | M. Joy Katz
Thirty-three years ago, I became a 12-year-old ethical vegetarian. In my early adult years, though, somehow, I found myself still preparing meat for my fiancé. One day, I realized I could not lower my standards for a relationship. I stopped, and he (the man who was to become my first husband) eventually became vegan himself. Veganism marries us to a greater universal truth beyond the marriages of person to person.
At age 21, a magazine entitled Ahimsa was placed in front of my eyes while I was eating. It was written by H. Jay Dinshah, founder of the American Vegan Society. His brilliant writing convinced me instantly. I could no longer rationalize eating ice cream or dairy cheese. And that was that, I was henceforth a vegan. I clearly saw that animals had a right to live free of abuse. I then gained an even loftier overviewing of the rights of animals upon meeting the founders of Gentle World. From them, I learned to actually love animals. The guilt-free reality that comes with being vegan opened the doorway to having real relationships with animals. It was a time of discovering that animals have personalities and unique individuality just like we do. They have proven to be exceptionally loyal friends that I wouldnt trade in for most human friendships! Once the animals had become personal friends, the desire grew stronger in me to help save them. It became a great part of my lifes mission to, as Ella Wheeler Wilcox says, speak the word for beast and bird, till the world shall set things right!
When I first became vegan, it seemed so easy to see the truth of it. And it becomes easier with time. Why couldnt others see what was so obvious? I became a bit of a misanthrope because mankind was so blind to the plight of animals. The resentment I felt towards humanity was easily felt by people and didn't do much to encourage converts. But once again, I evolved my consciousness. I saw, as Light; founder of Gentle World taught, You cannot cure the human race if Loves not in your heart; Loves where you have to start! With this new viewing, I was on the road to inspiring people to become vegan through whatever angle I could reach them. There is an art form in discovering what it will take with each individual for them to become enlightened to veganism. For example, my brother was convinced through the scientific and medical aspects. Later on, the actual reason: compassion came to him. Inevitably, if we dont understand the ethic that it is wrong to cause suffering and pain and then make that a part of our being, our veganism wont as likely endure. Being a vegan because of health benefits makes people more likely to cheat on their commitment. Then comes the understanding that it is not our health that will suffer so much when we fall, but a gentle animals, whose life is in our power to save.
In its early years, my veganism was born of an innocent child not wanting to hurt animals. I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. I never knew another vegan/vegetarian, (except my best friend at the time who joined me.) There were no health food stores that I knew of, and I came from a standard American meat-eating family. The desire not to hurt animals was seen by me as a stroke of enlightened genius, that I only wish I saw other truths of life with such clarity. As the years went on and the animal rights movement developed, I learned that veganism was, in fact, a Truth; something that was right and reasonable no matter from what angle you looked at it. Books like Diet for a New America by John Robbins or Beyond Beef; The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture by Jeremy Rifkin exposed the environmental sanity of a plant-based diet and the humanitarian aspect that, with the halt of meat production, world hunger could be ended. At the same time, medical findings of Michael Klaper, M.D. and Neal Barnard, M.D., and others, proved that plant-based nutrition was the cleanest fuel for our human bodies. (Its worth a mention that when I became vegan, I didnt know it was healthier! Quite the contrary, people were alarmed that my parents allowed me to follow my convictions. They wondered where would I get my protein? She will die, they thought.) Veganism, for me, had now evolved to a great Truth that I shared with some of the great minds of all time. These vegetarians, such as Tolstoy, Gandhi, Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, Shopenhauer, Thoreau, Da Vinci, etc. knew there could be no spiritual advancement while attaining ones nourishment from cruelty, torture and the exploitation of others.
In my evolving veganism, I learned that preparing incredibly delicious food for others was a powerful aid, one of the strongest. So I fed people, lots of people. I fed them food just like what they were used to eating; Lasagna, burgers, shakes, all plant-based and incredibly delicious. Long hours preparing the food at The Vegan Restaurant on Maui in its beginning years, co-authoring Incredibly Delicious; Recipes for a New Paradigm by Gentle World, catering Celebrity Vegetarian banquets in California, food fairs, packaged plant-based foods sold to retailers and free seminars with meals all were ways of spreading the vegan message. Delicious taste was worth a thousand words and tantalized even the average meat-eating truck driver who never before thought of the Vegan concept.
With the desire to be a good example of the rewards of veganism, I evolved my own dietary practices and endeavored to improve my own health. I now grow my own food veganically. I eat fresh from the garden with food full of life-giving vitamins and minerals. (I supplement with B-12 sublingual dots). I pass medical exams with impressive figures. Example is the best teacher. Now my family eats a plant-based diet. Those who have chosen to be a part of my life have become Vegan; even my dogs (and with attention to meeting their nutritional needs, they thrive on it!)
And now I forage through my veganic garden for my dinner, a flower and food-filled garden to nourish the senses. I use both vegan and organic principles in gardening. I dine by the riverside and think to myself, Wow, look where my veganism has taken me thus far! And where will it lead me next?
Being Vegan, I walk the Earth dressed in a confidence that this path is leading me to commune with the higher realms of consciousness and further away from the trivial pursuits of mankind. Being vegan is a peaceful solution to what ails our planet today. We change the world, the course of history even, by changing ourselves; by reprogramming our thoughts; we evolve human consciousness. Being vegan, we become forerunners of a new race of truly human beings. Once we become vegan it doesn't stop there! Veganism is a dependable ally that we use on our spiritual journey, for all of our days.