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How to be yourself – when no one wants you to?

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Visuals by Stanka / written by Alen Mischael Vukelić

illustration of woman making her way through water by putting stones in front of her, how to be yourself

 

How to be yourself – when no one wants you to?

 

Whatever you say as a vegan, whatever you do as a vegan, is closely monitored by others for one simple reason: will this ‘experiment’ work, or will it fail? You are in breach of the standard, so everything you do puts in a little extra weight to your possible failure.

Every sneeze, every spot, every smallest skin irritation, might be a clear sign to others that your health is deteriorating rapidly, and that you are irresponsibly digging your own grave.

Don’t be surprised to hear that from people who are obviously heavily overweight, who are having a small diabetes issue combined with high blood pressure and skin rashes all over the place, or from people who just got back from hospital to have their bladder stones removed.

Or this story, where somebody’s aunt, who’s been fighting cancer for seven years now, is deeply concerned about her nephew’s ‘unnatural’ eating habits. You might laugh at this; however, this is a pretty common observation when you are on a ‘crazy’ diet.

 

Recently, I’ve been confronted with some really strange comments from people who are advocating eating a standard diet. They told me that they knew vegans who died in their 30s and 40s from cancer and other diseases, and they blame their deaths on their way of eating.

One guy even went so far to say that vegans die a miserable death. Sometimes, it’s really not easy for me to talk to these ‘critics’, but I’m doing my best to develop an understanding to what they are trying to say.

 

Where is the connection to veganism?

illustration of people walking down the steps except one walking opposite, how to be yourselfAs far as I can tell, the discussion is not about veganism, it is about someone deviating from »normal standards«, which have been set by the society and our ancestors, and anyone who dares to change these rules – although just for himself – will have to deal with a whole load of criticism.

It is possible that there might be some real concern, but probably only from those who have lost someone close to them while that someone was probably a vegan.

However, interesting is, that when a vegan dies, the connection is instantly drawn to his or her diet, and when a meat eater dies, the connection is never drawn, then the cause of the sickness is never the diet, no; the cause is the sickness itself. Strange. I mean just by looking at this comparison, you can clearly see, that it makes no sense.

Let me repeat this to make it really clear: if a vegan dies from cancer, then the cause of his death is – veganism. However, if a meat eater dies from cancer, then the cause of his death is – cancer. This equation just makes no sense.

 

Dead-end conversation

I can tell you one thing for sure, that many vegans do deal with a lot of doubts, whether it is right or not what they are doing. No wonder, whenever someone does something against the norm, it’s considered a bit awkward, strange, suicidal, or just stupid.

But the fun part is, that no one is asking those critics for their reviews on our life and health, but they are doing it anyway – completely for free. In this world – so it seems – this is the only thing you get for free – criticism.

It is not really a problem if that criticism went in both directions in the form of a conversation – but it is not. It is a judge talking to the accused; all moral power is in the hands of the judge, and it is your job to figure out how to defend your ‘estranged’ position.

 

Can I eat what I want?

The thing is that I don’t want to defend anything; this is my choice, my life, and I can do whatever I want with it – as long as I’m not hurting others. I guess, I’m not hurting anyone; on the contrary, many lives of animals get spared because of me not eating meat; so that I’m, in fact, reducing the amount of suffering on this planet, yet it is me who is strange and who has a problem?

ten burned matches and one unlitten, how to be yourselfPeople are obviously obsessed with the idea of judging other people, simply because they think, that they are setting the standards of normality. But what is normal? Something what is normal to you in the western world is sometimes very unnormal in the far east. Then what does this mean? That whole nations are stupid, suicidal, crazy, or lost, because in their tradition is no meat?

I’ve never understood why the state or other people have to decide what is good or bad for me, especially if my doings have no repercussions for anyone – then where is the sense of letting others decide such things?

 

What is a standard?

However, the most important fact to me is, that all significant changes in human history have been made by small groups of people with a strong will and determination. The vast majority just accepts the new rules »as is«, and they start defending them, like they defended the ones before.

Like in political systems: First they have feudalism, and they defend that, then they have communism, and they defend that, afterwards they have capitalism, no problem – they defend that as well. Standards get set, but they also change and have changed numerous times.

And this is the main reason why there should always be an open ear for people who do things differently, because – maybe – in this innocent-looking »new thing« – there might be, in fact, hidden the new – standard.

Every norm is part of the evolutionary process, and yet people are surprised to hear of new things. They want things to stay eternal, so that they wouldn’t have to adapt to new circumstances.

 

Everything changes constantly

The only problem is, that things are destined to change – this is their nature. For eternity and stability, they will have to look elsewhere. If there is such a thing as ‘certainty’ then it is the ever-changing process itself.

Things get born, and they die. They arise, and then they disappear. The same with rules and regulations, traditions and other fictions – they might stay for a while, but sooner or later they die. After all – what is normal? A straight guy eating his burger at McDonald’s? The half-naked Indian eating his rice meal on the ground in the middle of Bombay?

The about 2 billion people on this planet who are eating insects? Where does normality start and where does it end? In your bedroom? In your kitchen? In your wardrobe?

 

Just my imagination – running away with me

Are Renaissance and Baroque clothes outrages, and 70s clothes funny? What would Romans say to you for believing in the existence of just one God? You might look funny, even – sometimes – disgusting to other people, because you are different.

But is there one rule that we should all stick to? I believe yes – let others be themselves, and mind your own business. I think that most of the time we despise other people’s beliefs, because we could not imagine doing something like they do.

woman decorated with veggies, how to be yourselfOr maybe a hidden wish for something which we are not allowed to do, because we know we’d be ridiculed. However, the biggest thing is fear. Fear of drug addicts, fear of gay people, fear of sects, fear of veganism – because imagination is what drives people nuts.

They imagine a world of bald-headed, transcended drug addicts who are eating vegan cookies, abusing our children, and converting the whole planet into a mess. Or if not the planet, but my life or town – for sure!

As I said, most of this stuff is just happening in our heads – not in reality. In reality, nobody is asking you anything; you are asking yourself stupid and unnecessary questions like – what would I do? You do what you are doing, and others are doing what they are doing – that’s all.

 

Breathing my own air

Does that mean that we stop caring for others? No, we start caring for them by letting them live their lives as they want to. Recently, someone wrote in a comment: “If everybody did what they wanted, then also rapists and murderers would do what they wanted – this is impossible!”

I mean is this a joke or what? As you can see, human imagination is just inexhaustible. We are putting together these absurd hyperlinks, mixing it all together into a complete nonsense and call that common sense.

illustration of two man approaching on a stone bridge each carrying a stone which fit to finalize the bridge, how to be yourselfI’m begging you people, can this be put together into the same category? See, this is where common sense kicks in for me – if you see the difference between what I’ve said and this lady’s comment, then we communicate.

Of course I can defend myself and even punish someone who wants to physically attack me, but what does this has to do with me eating vegan food? Or you being gay or a pothead?

‘Caring’ also means to have confidence that not everybody is stupid who isn’t necessarily flowing down the mainstream. Where do you think discoveries come from? Maybe from conformity – from orthodoxy? Come on, be serious.

I think we should be grateful to all those people who dared to do their thing, who many times risked (and lost) their lives, their reputations, and have been ridiculed for eventually becoming heroes and national icons, with parks and avenues named after them. Crazy what someone has to do, to be himself.

 

So why do some vegans get sick or even die like meat eaters do?

Good question. However, the answer is not that easy, because there isn’t just one plain answer to it. First of all, there are many different types of vegans who eat completely different from one another. Yes, none of them is eating meat, but there are vegans who live from soda drinks and potato chips, and call that a vegan diet.

Well, technically true, since there are no animal products involved, but healthy and nutritious? No. As far as I’m concerned, a vegan has to be well prepared, informed, and organized before going on this adventure.

Not because it’s dangerous – certainly not any more than eating animal products – but to learn how to eat a nutritious and balanced diet without risking major health issues demands a certain degree of responsibility. But as I said, a meat eater should do that as well, but he isn’t, because of his inherited belief that he is doing something average, something approved and overlooked by our society.

If this were true, we probably wouldn’t have this epidemic and diversity of endless sicknesses spreading across the globe in outrageous numbers. Although I know that no one will blame it on food – because it is too obvious. It must be something ‘hidden’, complicated, and beyond our control.

 

We should decide what to eat – not others

grocery store, how to be yourselfWe have changed our eating habits so significantly in the past 100-200 years, with all this processed and artificial food, and we don’t question any of this, but are leaving it up to the state and corporations to decide for us what to eat and what not to eat.

We look at food, like on a bunch of chemicals instead of vibrant, living fruits and vegetables, which were designed to feed the inhabitants of this planet. Sometimes I have this analogy in my head, where it seems to me that users are – by mistake – eating users – instead of food. I wouldn’t call that first class nutrition.

However, I don’t condemn anyone, because I know how hard it is to pull your head out of the sand. You believe in this reality that was taught to you as good and right, and now everything is supposed to be wrong? Matrix style?

 

The right food can change your life

My food awakening was exactly like that – shocking. And yeah, it changes you and your life completely. This is probably the reason why we are so cautious about this information, because we sense that there is something out there, something dangerous, which might change us forever – and you are right – except for the part that it’s dangerous.

Perhaps to your ego, but not essentially dangerous to your existence. On the contrary, it will enhance your life – dramatically. The question is: Can you handle that? Can you look at things from a different perspective? From an angle that you didn’t even know that it existed? This is the magic of life, when you think you know something, you get another mountain to climb.

plate with smile made from fruits and veggies, how to be yourselfThat was the scary part, and now comes the fun part! Eating the right food is not that complicated. Try different things, be adventurous, but don’t be stupid. The information is out there; you just have to look at it; investigate as much as you can, and be surprised what you will find, because what you will find is not just food; it is a life-changing event, which might bring along exactly the things you’ve always dreamed of.

 

Do you criticize someone because he/she is vegan? Have you been confronted by someone for being vegan? We believe this is an important issue. Leave a comment and tell us about your experience, and don’t forget to follow more of our work on Google+, Twitter, or via RSS feed, or by subscribing to our newsletter at the end of this page. Thank you for being with us!

 

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4 Comments

  1. Very well said. Regarding the health of vegans (and anyone else), food is only part of the equation. I think that stress is even more important, not to mention genes. You can eat extremely healthy food but if you are all stressed out, it won’t make that much of a difference.

  2. It is a complex thing – that’s right. But it shouldn’t serve as an excuse for not changing one’s diet – to a healthier one. I’ve noticed that by eating a better diet – stress goes down, so it might be that much of the stress is connected to bad food. But as you said it – a holistic approach is key.

  3. I read your article… then I thought about the Universe.

    What struck me is that a scientist sees it as dead entity expressed by a string of scientifically perceived laws.

    The mystic sees it as a living organism. And philosopher doesn’t see it at all; because nothing exists.

    Each one could successfully argue their own point in their own context. The question is; is there any value in their argument? Or is this argument even possible (apples and pears)? Maybe?

    I say experience is the determining factor. Experience has no dogma, no context, and cannot perceive or lie. And most importantly it cannot be brainwashed.

    …Lo and behold; another thought hit me like a bolt of lightning.

    The writing is on the wall!

    …And it made me sad.

    • A really wonderful thought of yours. It is exactly what interests me: Experience is the only thing which cannot be compartmentalized. Thank you Mike.

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