The Power of Knowing

So, I recently had a cookie party for the holidays, where I experimented with four different kinds of cookies- sugar cookies, chocolate clothespin cookies, chocolate krinkles (which had a similar consistency to a fluffy dunkin donut munchkin), and ginger cookies. This proved to be a super fun and quite educational experience, because 1) the cookies were messy and fun to make, and 2) I'm beginning to realize how badly I want a food processor! Mixing cookie dough with your hands for hours is tough work! :)

One of the cookbooks I used recipes from was Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Joy of Vegan Baking. What was so wonderfully surprising was not only the adorable and easy cookie recipes, but a passage she had written at the front of the book called "The Power of Knowing". In it, she writes:

I've heard people say that eating vegan is "limiting" and "restrictive," and I couldn't disagree more. In fact, I find that it's quite the opposite. Your awareness is expanded. You try foods and cuisines you never even noticed before. The compassion you knew as a child is restored- and fully manifested. But even more than that, I find that living in such a way that we cut ourselves off from the truth, from our truth, is what's truly limiting. People tend to avoid knowing about how the animals suffer not just because it's too painful for them but also because they know deep down inside that once they find out this information, they're going to want to make a change, and it's change they're afraid of: afraid of not knowing what it will look like and how it will change their lives. So instead, we choose fear. We create boundaries to our compassion. We choose ignorance over knowledge. We choose complacency over empowerment. To my mind, that's restrictive, that's limiting.

Every time we say "I don't want to know", we limit our potential for growth, change, and making possible everything we want to be and everything we want this world to be. What could be more limiting than cutting ourselves off from our own compassion, our own values? Quite the contrary, being vegan is about knowing, exploring, evolving, participating, and taking responsibility. Being vegan is about removing barriers and embracing what it means to be human- experiencing sorrow as well as joy. To my mind, that's expansive. That's abundance.

See, for Colleen, her choice to become vegan stemmed from having so much compassion as a little girl and the deep desire she held within to continue that compassion on throughout adulthood. The journey has been difficult for her- and I can totally relate to that. We really do put up borders to our compassion, and this is what is truly limiting. Colleen is simply trying to live a life without those borders, and I couldn't agree with her more.

I was out to dinner with some friends yesterday, and as usual, when I begin to ask the waiter about whether my dinner choice has dairy or eggs in it, I feel it. That sense of dread. Uh oh, I'm making things a bit uncomfortable. It's something I am trying to embrace with my newfound desire to eat vegan- there will be many times (maybe even every single time I sit down to eat in public) where I will feel I'm either inconveniencing people and even myself. Sometimes I have doubts- is it worth all this effort? Is it worth the uncomfortable conversations, the challenging moments? And I may not have found a concrete answer yet. And that's okay. Because Colleen has, and I can use her's for now.