Why Vulnerability and Veganism Go Hand in Hand
I never expected to write an article like this, especially not today.
When I sat down to write this post, I thought I’d write something about honey or protein or global warming.
But today is different.
Today was completely and totally ordinary.
In fact, I sort of felt like I was in an uninspired slump.
So, I popped on Netflix — as most of us do — and distracted myself from the ordinary (which is, in fact, completely ironic).
I decided to watch Dr. Brené Brown’s special The Call to Courage.
In it she speaks about vulnerability, shame, and courage in a world that encourages comfort…the exact space where vulnerability can’t exist.
And while I’m sitting in my comfort zone cry laughing at Brené on Netflix, I realized two tremendous things as they relate to vulnerability, and more specifically to veganism.
The first thing I realized is that right now, in this moment of life, we have to decide if we are people of courage or people of comfort.
Day-to-day we make decisions based on what we know or, more specifically, what we think we know.
We get into routines, schedules, modes, go-to options, and defaults.
I mean, think about when you go grocery shopping.
Do you buy the things you grew up eating?
Do you toss the same 15 things in your cart that you get every time you’re at the shop?
Or, do you grab things haphazardly every time you’re walking down a new aisle?
I can’t assume what you do or don’t do, but I do know that the majority of us on this planet are creatures of habit.
We are more likely to choose things that make us feel comfortable, familiar, and safe.
How about in other areas of your life?
Do you choose the easier option when there are a few things presented to you? Or do you push yourself past what’s comfortable and pick the hard choice?
Do you choose what everyone else is doing? Or, do you challenge the popular decision?
Have you ever made up a story in your head about how things are supposed to go and stick with that narrative because it’s comfortable or is what you think makes the most sense?
How often do you analyze from all angles, taking the various possibilities into account?
We do this “choosing comfort” thing because it’s a natural coping mechanism. It’s an inherent defense to keep us alive.
Changing, going outside of our comfort zone, flipping the narrative on its head is completely against our instincts.
This is because it assumes threat.
What we don’t know might kill us, right? At least that’s what our DNA wants us to believe.
Right now, you and I can choose to give power to those believed threats or we can move past them and see what else there is.
I can tell you right now that most people don’t want to go vegan because it’s totally and completely scary.
Veganism exists outside of most people’s comfort zones.
It’s too big of a risk from what most of society knows.
It means giving up the things you’re most familiar with for a whole new world.
If you know me personally or have read any of my other articles, you’ll know that I say firmly that I started my life when I went vegan.
If I had known what life could be like, I would have done it sooner.
If I had never taken the leap into the unfamiliar, new world or if I had stopped in fear even when it felt paralyzing, I would have never become the person I’m so proud to be today.
The absolute best things happen when we put ourselves out there in a way that completely freaks us out.
Those crap-I’m-on-stage-and-everyone-is-looking moments are what truly make us grow the most. Not because we’re there to perform, because we showed up even when it was the scariest thing to do.
The magic in those uncomfortable moments exists especially when you think everyone is judging you.
Dr. Brené Brown talked about how the words of trolls can sometimes sting her even though she’s a trained professional to combat that type of human interaction.
Even she has to tell herself not to care what the “haters” say behind their keyboards.
She encapsulated it perfectly by saying,
“Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands.”
When you say you’re vegan, to a non-vegan, they almost instantly have an opinion on you…even if they just say it in their head.
You have to continue to show up in the world every single day knowing people will pass judgement on you, they’ll make fun of you, they’ll be rude to you, and they’ll even tell you you’re wrong.
Showing up in the world differently than everyone else…whether it’s veganism or something else…takes vulnerability.
The transformation that Dr. Brown refers to is a shift in her thinking from an outside focus to an inner focus.
If I let it get to me every time someone made fun of me for being vegan, then I probably wouldn’t be vegan anymore.
That means, to date, I wouldn’t have saved:
736,572 gallons of water
13,633 pounds of CO2
30,132 pounds of grain
20,088 square feet of forest
And, over 600 animals would have died because of me.
Daring into that vulnerable space of first going vegan when no one else did was totally terrifying.
I have, however, grown as a person more complexly than I could’ve ever imagined because of it.
So, I decided that I want pitch a tent in the discomfort and be a person of courage.
What about you?
In this moment, which person do you want to be? One of comfort or one of courage?
You don’t have to tell me, but you know inside what you’re capable of. Trust your gut.
The second thing that Dr. Brené Brown made me realize today was that “normal” for me now means questioning everything.
My once guarded-against-veganism self would have never believed how normal it is to be vegan now.
She spoke about how in her work when people lose loved ones, they often fixate on the normal, ordinary moments they wish they could have back.
At the time, they didn’t realize those every-day interactions were anything special, but now, those ordinary moments are what they yearn for the most.
Our “normals” can change.
Our abilities to take an inventory of our “normals" is crucial for being present and self-aware in our own lives.
Walking into a vulnerable space is totally anxiety-provoking at first.
Everything inside says, “Stop. Turn back.”
But the farther into that space we walk, and the more we show up despite the fright, the more that once-feared space becomes normal.
Remember your first day at a job? Or the first time you said, “I love you,” to a partner?
I’m sure they were scary, but then it all started to become your normalized existence.
Same thing with going vegan.
It can be a decision that, at first, makes you want to say, “Stop. Turn back.”
As soon as you consider veganism for real, suddenly you have family meals and eating dinner out with friends flash before your eyes.
“No, I don’t want to give that up,” you think, and start writing a narrative about how hard it would be and what people will think of you.
A change in lifestyle, newness in decision-making, different opinions from people around you.
Woah. It’s big.
It’s because Fear is our biggest enemy.
Fear of big changes often hold us back from reaching our potential and showing up in the world as our absolute best selves.
When we continue to walk into fear knowing the outcome is unpredictable, we are living the life we know we would have wanted ourselves to be living retroactively on a death bed full of regrets and inaction.
Veganism may be scary to you, but, honestly, not considering it is scarier.
The planet, the animals, and your health can’t wait for the fear to go away.
As soon as we decide to be vulnerable, we can grow into the people we’re meant to be come and we can change the world.
Vulnerability is the key to living our best lives, so be fearful, but keep going.
Thank you, Brené, for reminding me of that today.
“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.”
Dr. Brené Brown