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From 21 September 2003 Issue

Vegan Evolution
By M. Katz - gentle@alohal.net
Co-author of: Incredibly Delicious;
Recipes for a New Paradigm by Gentle World
www.gentleworld.org

Our understanding of the importance of being a vegan is only the first step in our climb upward. With veganism firmly planted in our souls, we learn to spiritually walk, then run, and then fly. We can heighten and expand our understanding of being vegan.

Thirty-three years ago, I became a 12-year-old ethical vegetarian. In my early adult years as an ethical vegetarian, somehow, I was still preparing meat for my fiancé. One day, I realized I could not lower my standards for a man, any man. I stopped, and he (the man who was to become my first husband) eventually became vegan himself. Veganism marries us to a greater universal Truth beyond the marriages we contrive in the soap operas of our lives.

At age 21, a magazine entitled "Ahimsa" was placed in front of my face while I was eating. It was written by H. Jay Dinshah, founder of the American Vegan Society. His brilliant writing instantly convinced me to be a vegan. I could no longer rationalize eating ice cream or dairy cheese. That was that, I was henceforth a vegan. I clearly saw that animals had a right to live free of abuse. I then gained an even loftier "overviewing" of the rights of animals upon meeting the founders of Gentle World. From them, I learned to actually love animals. The guilt-free reality that comes with being vegan opened the doorway to having relationships with animals and discovering that they have personalities and unique individuality just like we do. They have proven to be exceptionally loyal friends that I wouldn't trade in for human friendships, for the most part! Once the animals had become personal friends, the desire grew strong in me to save them. It became a great part of my life's mission to "speak the word for beast and bird, 'till the world shall set things right!" (Ella Wheeler Wilcox)

When I first became vegan, it seemed so easy to see (and still does for that matter!) the truth of it. Why couldn't others see what was so obvious? I became a bit of a misanthrope because mankind was so blind to the plight of animals. The resentment I felt towards humanity was easily felt by people and didn't do much to encourage converts. But once again, I evolved. I saw: "You cannot cure the human race if Loves not in your heart; Loves where you have to start!" (Light) With this new viewing, I was on the road to making vegans through whatever angle I could reach them. There is an art form in discovering what it will take with each individual for them to become enlightened to veganism. For example, my brother was convinced through the scientific and medical aspects. Later on, the true reason: compassion came to him. Inevitably, if we donut understand the ethics that it is wrong to cause suffering and pain and make that a part of our being, our veganism wont endure. Being a vegan because of health benefits, most likely, is not a strong enough pull to carry us through all life's temptations forevermore.

In its early years, my veganism was born of an innocent child's not wanting to hurt animals. I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. I never knew another vegan/vegetarian, (except my best friend at the time who joined in and did it with me.) There were no health food stores (that I knew of), and I came from a standard American meat-eating family. The desire "not to hurt animals" was seen like a stroke of enlightened genius, that I only wish I saw other truths of life with such clarity. As the years went on and the animal rights movement developed, I learned that veganism was, in fact, a Truth; something that was right and reasonable no matter from what angle you looked at it.

Books like Diet for a New America by John Robbins or Beyond Beef; The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture by Jeremy Rifkin exposed the environmental sanity of a plant-based diet and the humanitarian aspect that world hunger could be put to a halt. At the same time, medical findings of Michael Klaper, M.D. and Neal Barnard, M.D., and others, were proving that plant-based nutrition was the cleanest fuel for our human bodies. (It's worth a mention that when I became vegan, I didn't know it was healthier! Quite the contrary, people were alarmed that my parents allowed me to follow my convictions. They wondered where would I get my protein? "She will die," they thought.) Veganism for me had now evolved to a great Truth that I share with some of the great minds of all time that knew there is no spiritual advancement while living off cruelty, torture and the subjugation of others.

In my evolving veganism, I learned that preparing incredibly delicious food for others was a powerful aid, one of the strongest. So I fed people, lots of people. I fed them food just like what they were used to eating; Lasagna, burgers, shakes, all plant-based and incredibly delicious. Long hours preparing the food at The Vegan Restaurant on Maui, in its beginning years, co-authoring Incredibly Delicious; Recipes for a New Paradigm by Gentle World, catering Celebrity Vegetarian banquets in California, food fairs, free seminars with meals and packaged plant-based foods sold to retailers, all embellished on this mode of spreading the vegan message. Thrilled taste buds was worth a thousand words and tantalized even the average truck driver who never before thought of the Vegan concept.

With the desire to be a good example of a vegan, I evolved my own dietary practices and endeavor to improve my own health. I now grow my own food "veganically." I eat fresh from the garden with food full of life-giving vitamins and minerals. (I take B-12 sublingual dots). I pass medical exams with impressive figures in comparison to the norm. Example is the best teacher. Now my family eats a plant-based diet. Those who have chosen to be a part of my life have become vegan, even the dogs (and they thrive on it!)

And now I forage through my "veganic" garden for my dinner; a flower and food-filled garden to nourish the senses. The garden uses both vegan and organic principles. I dine by the riverside and think to myself, "Wow, look where my veganism has taken me thus far! And where will it lead me next?"

Being Vegan, I walk the Earth dressed in a confidence that this path is leading me to commune with the higher realms of consciousness and further away from the trivial pursuits of mankind. Being vegan is a peaceful revolution to what ails our planet today. A peaceful revolution is synonymous with "Evolution." We change the world, the course of history even, by changing ourselves; by reprogramming our thoughts. Being Vegan, we become forerunners of a new race of truly human beings. Once we become Vegans it doesn't stop there! Veganism is a count-on-able ally that we use as a tool of evolution for all of our days.

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