Oftentimes when people make a lifestyle change, whether it be to eat healthier, exercise more, or to be more environmentally friendly, they become overenthusiastic and aggressive; while I advocate leading a passionate and meaningful life, it may not always be the best way to win over your peers. I know I have met many an aggressive vegan or environmental activist who makes you want to do exactly the opposite of what they practice.
As a vegan I try to structure my life around principles of nonaggression and non-violence, and I have found much happiness in this. It has changed my life drastically for the better, and all I can hope for is that other people will make similar positive changes in their life. Some people are so aggressive about their standpoints that they forget their own journey to the point at which they are at now. A small percentage of the population is born to vegan, vegetarian or environmentally-friendly households. For the first fifteen years of my life I lived on steak, pasta, cheese and bread. The only fruits and vegetables I ate were corn, watermelon and green apples–ONLY green apples. I didn’t become a vegan until three years later. Who am I to judge others who may be at a different point on their journey of discovering the benefits of healthy eating? I had no idea about the concept of healthy or the harm my diet choice had on myself, animals, the environment and other people.
As a general rule I try not to talk about my lifestyle unless people ask. Even then I am very reluctant to share my viewpoint because I really encourage people to do their own research and draw their own conclusions. Most importantly I try to live in a way that I enjoy and hopefully that is appealing to others who want to make a change in the direction of being a vegan or just healthier in general.
I feel like I’ve seen a shift since being here at Kalu Yala of people being more interested in healthy eating habits. Lately the fridge has been overflowing with half watermelons being eaten “juice style*” This makes me happy not because I want people to be healthy or eat more fruit but because I want people to want to be healthy. I think leading by example is a simple age-old concept, but it is also a powerful tool. If you want to enact change in the world, you have to be someone who others want to be like, and you have to be consistent with your values. It’s not enough to think a vegan diet is best or that you should take steps to green your life. Knowledge is nothing without practice.
*Juice was the name given to me upon a mountain top in San Miguel, Panama