I am sitting here in the studio with Nahko on Shawn’s Birthday, and I was remembering that the last time I ate my friends. Tomorrow is my five year veganversary! It was March 9th 2014 and My mom made my brothers favorite meal…my mom made her famous enchiladas. My last non-vegan meal was my moms ground beef enchiladas, smothered in cheese. My brothers birthday meal was my very last non-vegan meal. Five years ago something shifted for me and I want to write about that this afternoon. I didn’t stop eating animals because I didn’t fancy the taste of those enchiladas. If you ever had my moms enchiladas, you know what I am saying. They were the best enchiladas I have EVER eaten! And her birthday cakes…I didn’t stop eating those because I didn’t like how they tasted. I have to tell you that I stopped eating animals because I finally realized that I was eating animals.
My name is Coral and I am vegan. This is my story and I hope it teaches you a thing or two, as my life has taught me, a thing or two. I was so fucking disassociated that I truthfully had not made the connection, that I was eating a once living, breathing sentient being. Ground beef enchiladas did not equal our beautiful cows, Karuna or Ahimsa to me. We didn’t have Karuna or Ahimsa back then. Chicken fajitas weren’t Piñon. Lisa and Janet and Negro weren’t chicken tacos. Bacon wasn’t Sidney. The pork chops that I ate were not named Jenny Sue or Brixen. Namaste wasn’t a slab of ham on my plate and I wasn’t eating the ovulation of Lisa and calling it my breakfast. I wasn’t waiting to slaughter Samuel and Duncan for Thanksgiving dinner. I wasn’t stroking my lucky rabbits foot and making a wish. I wasn’t eating goat cheese on my crackers. I hadn’t made the correlation that all lives matter. I didn’t get that the lives of the sentient beings on my plate mattered at all. I thought they came here for me. I was so fucking ignorant that I believed that these beings came here for my gratification…to satisfy my tastes and my hunger. Five years ago I did not know that my food was actually the Caracas of my dead friends. I was eating dead flesh. I was drinking the bodily secretions meant for baby cows. I was eating the period of a fucking chicken for breakfast every day, with a side of crispy Tombstone. I was fucking asleep! And the worst part was that I had absolutely no idea that I was asleep. Only a couple of months sober from alcohol, I was definitely a hot fucking mess back then. I was so asleep and tuned out that I was about to be on an adventure like no other. I was beginning the journey of waking up…becoming conscious and aware and concerned. I had no fucking idea then…I was about to be transformed! I had no idea that I was so asleep. I could not have known how disconnected I truly was.
Five years later and I will tell you this, I will never not be vegan. I will never eat my friends again. I will never not know what I have come to know. I have come to know that their lives matter. Every single one of their lives matter. There are more carcinogens in the food that many of you eat than there are in the cigarettes that some of you smoke. Did you know that? Cigarettes have warning labels. The 40 pounds of raw chicken that you just bought is going to kill you quicker than the cigarettes are going to kill the Marlboro man next door, peering at you over his oxygen tank. Don’t believe me? Do your research. And now that we are outsourcing our food supply, so you really think what you are eating is safe? The disconnect is real. That 40 pound tray of chicken that you just bought…those chickens were someone. They were someone. All hacked up on a slab of styrofoam and shrink wrapped, slapped with a price per pound sticker and thrown in your cart. We are so disconnected.
We are raising children. We are teaching classes. We are in leadership roles and in animal rescue. We stand in pulpits and we preach peace. How can we rescue dogs and cats and eat cows, pigs and chickens? Your fucking bologna did have a first name. How do we preach peace when we eat the slaughtered remains of sentient beings? We are disconnected my friends. We are so disconnected.
Five years ago, I began to connect the dots. I began to question things that seemed wrong to me. I began to give a shit about someone other than myself. I set down my carne adovada burrito and I ate my last poached egg. I stopped buying leather and I made different choices. I started to give a shit and I mean really give a shit about other beings on this planet. Five years ago I stopped eating animals because I came to know that they are not mine to eat or to wear or to exploit.
As my brothers birthday lunch came to a close five years ago, I could never have foreseen how drastically our lives would shift. I could not have known that I would never eat another animal again. I could not have known that my mom would get cancer in a few months and die. I could not have known that our dining room would occupy another family that they wouldn’t welcome us. We don’t sit at that table as a family anymore. We are not a family anymore. I could not have known that I would be giving up some things and others would be taken from me. I gave up eating my friends. I lost my mom to cancer and my dad to someone and someplace far, far away from me. As I cleared those dirty dishes and washed the carcass of my friends into the trash, one last time…I could not possibly have known how my life was about to change. As I kissed my mom goodbye and hugged my dad under the garage door…as I hugged Shawn and JiSan “goodbye” and I drove away on that day…I could not have known all that would come to be of my life. We never truly do know what life has in store for us. We do run out of time. We do. People feel better somehow if we don’t run out of time…and so they say that we don’t. I am here to tell you that we actually do run out of time. So, make it count. Your time…your decisions…make them count. Be mindful of what you put into your body. If it shits, don’t eat it. Truly. For me, that was an easy gauge. I hope the simplicity of this helps you also, because it is that simple. If it has a face and it shits, it’s not yours to eat.
I am blessed to have learned that animals have just as much right to be here as I do. I am grateful to live in Sanctuary with so many beautiful and sentient beings. You may be astounded to know that I can eat whatever you eat and I can eat it vegan. If it’s not vegan, I won’t eat it at all.
My depression fucks with me a lot lately. I am struggling to stay afloat. Being vegan beings me some peace, as I know I have changed the world for some of them. I will spend the rest of my life fighting for the rest of them. For you see, we are all someone, not something. We each have every right to be here. If my depression takes me, at least it wasn’t someone else deciding that I was food, not friend. Truly, when did we decide that we got to decide for everyone, how things are? We have dominion over…we do not have control or reign or power over those without voices. Who told us that we had the right to crucify species after species after species for our own consumption and convenience? We did. We decided that we have no rules and they have no economic value…so fuck it…we decide. Look at us, deciding and shit. Egotistical, ignorant, insensitive and greedy as fuck…is the mentality that my appetite is more important than your life, isn’t it? I mean truly…that is some entitled and ignorant and ass backwards thinking and we are wrong. Plain and simple. We are wrong to slaughter millions of sentient beings for our own gratification…for sport…for our hunger and our taste in clothing and furniture. We cannot make this right…we just can’t. Excuses abound and generations pile, one on top of the other…doing it the way we have always fucking done it. Let me ask you something…How is the way we’ve always done it actually working for us? How is this entitlement and this superiority working out for us and our human counterparts? All you have to do is look around you to see that this isn’t working at all.
You will never catch me competing with you. Every single day though, you will see me fight like hell to be better than I was yesterday. From whom much is given, much is expected. I owe a great debt to the powers that be for my existence here, for my place and my peace and my work here. The debt can only ever be payed forward and it cannot ever be paid with the life of someone else. We each get what we get when we get it. Five years ago, I got it and I am forever changed. Go vegan. Truly…for yourself, for your health, for the planet…for each other…for your kids. I was pretty ignorant and naive…fuck, I still am…I would like to think that I have made a difference though, for someone, by being here.
Living a compassionate lifestyle includes more than eating a vegan diet, just as being sober means more than abstaining from drinking alcohol. When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. Friends, not food. Five years not eating my friends has softened my heart and I am so thankful. Five years of learning about the sentient beings in my life and cohabiting them…I cannot imagine how I was ever so thoughtless and reckless and careless. Being more connected now, I shudder at my own disconnect, for I knew not then what I have come to know now.
My life is blessed. I am blessed. I hurt, a lot. Depression keeps me struggling, until it doesn’t. I miss my mom. I miss my dad. Sometimes, I wish I were riding my bike around the block with my little brother, for hours and days on end…going everywhere and nowhere at all. Some days I really do miss my little family so, so much that it throws me into the abyss that swallows me for days. Depression seems to be the one thing I can’t just fucking quit…and every single day, until the day I don’t, I will battle it out. Being vegan has given me a lot of someone’s to fight for and so as best as I can, I stay. As much as I am able, when the calls come and I am needed, I answer. Getting out of me is the only thing that seems to save me at all, in times where I can’t get myself out of the abyss.
Five years ago, I started speaking for them and fighting for them and loving them like a verb. With the love and compassion and guidance of the most amazing vegan I know, I have learned so much. Thank you Tamara for loving me into compassionate space and for helping me to make more compassionate choices. Five years ago my life changed forever. My name is Coral and I am five years vegan tomorrow! For your soul, I encourage you to think about being vegan too. You will not know why you waited so long to assume a lifestyle that does not harm others. Your body will look and feel better. Your heart will open up. You will be better able to look in the mirror…I mean to really look in the mirror. Best of all, no one gets hurt for your appetite. Anyway, that’s all I’ve got today on being vegan. Inspired by my five year veganversary tomorrow…A post for us all to wake up and soften our hearts. Don’t trust me. Go out and try it for yourself! I love you! Have a beautiful day!