Article # 8 - I Think, Therefore, I am: VEGETABLE SOUP FOR THE SOUL (A Vegan Way of Life)


Billie Touchstone Signer

My father had a unique understanding of the human mind.  He wasn’t a psychologist or formerly trained in any similar fields. But he was a listener and an observer, he listened when people spoke and watched their mannerisms.  He was able to determine a lot about a person this way.  He didn’t feel comfortable around someone who wouldn’t make eye contact while speaking with him; his contention was they either had a low esteem of themselves or they had something to hide.  A bit much maybe, but his thoughts anyway.  I’ve unconsciously used the same gage at times and have to quickly dismiss it and search out for other reasons.

He definitely believed in one’s ability to send and receive “mental messages” as he called them.  I suppose it was somewhat like mental telepathy.  He taught us that the mind is master of the will and that one could do whatever he wished if he used this mental process.  I certainly believe this up to a point.

I can hear him now telling one of us to “think of a number, or a color or a make of automobile.”  We did and he would tell us what we were thinking every time.  Unless we chose to trick him and think of more than one thing at the time.  We played the mind game with each other and our mother.  Well, we had to do something for entertainment!  There was no television or computers then.  But we more or less did it just for fun and still do.

Auto-suggestion, and mental suggestion were terms he often used.  He believed that if one suggests something to themselves, either negative or positive, a seed is planted and germinated either at once or at some future time.  He strictly believed in “mind over matter.”  Later in life, I would read the same theory by Dr. Norman Vincent Peal, the father of positive thinking.

Example: A friend dearly loved cake, any kind of cake, and she ate lots of it and had a weight problem.  She decided she’d attack one bad eating habit at the time.  She suggested strongly to herself that she didn’t like cake, actually hated it.  She’d say when offered cake, “I don’t like cake.“  She imagined becoming ill if she ate cake or that it contained something unclean in it.  She was quite a believer of her own thoughts and the master of them.  Finally, she actually hated cake for real and to this day has not eaten it.

So what does all this have to do with veganism?  When I first decided back in l975 that I would not eat the flesh of animals nor anything connected with animals, I had to convince myself that I was doing the right thing.  Oh, I knew in my heart it was the right thing insofar as cruelty, violence to other creatures, to the environment and to my health.  BUT, what I had to work on the most was the fear of being shunned by family and friends and being considered weird or eccentric.

But right away, I looked in the mirror and remembered, that this was not all about me.  I reminded (and still do) myself of the importance of my decision regardless of fear of ridicule.

As my father’s scholar, I knew I had to have nothing but positive vibrations.  I knew I would definitely be happy and pleased that I was doing something good for the suffering animals, the environment and my health.  And most importantly, I knew that God would be happy with my efforts.  I felt thrilled when I thought of how He must be smiling because I was doing my very best to work against injustices of all kinds.

Ultimately, God is Who matters most of all.  I also knew He wanted me to be kind and patient with those who did not agree with my lifestyle; He wants me to show compassion for ALL His creatures, human and non-human.  And so I knew with much prayer, determined effort and positive thinking, I could do it and would do it with all my might.

After all, veganism is not just about diet; a vegan must consider every aspect of working to live in a totally harmless way with all his or her fellow creatures as well as the environment.

So at the beginning, I worked on thinking, more thinking, and much suggesting.  I demanded my mind to be utterly appalled at the very idea of putting animal flesh into my mouth and body.  The mere thought of chewing on a body part of one of God’s creatures soon gave me chills and nausea.  When I saw others chomping down on body parts of animals, I had to turn my head or block out the sight mentally.

But the old suggestive technique worked, still works and will always work for anyone who has the slightest bit of imagination and determination.  Someone said, to think is to see.  That very well describes imagination.  We think and then we see with the mind’s eye what we think.  I can think of a piece of lemon and my mouth actually waters; does yours?

I think of myself as never, ever hurting or paying others to hurt God’s sentient creatures.  I’ve heard others say they wouldn’t kill or hurt an animal.  But they pay others to do so when they eat or use animal products.  In a court of law, an accessory is also considered equally guilty.

I think of the word instigator as one who urges, promotes, or incites an action.  So in a sense, a meat eater, whether deliberate or unaware, is a “passive aggressive” instigator to the suffering, exploiting and killing of innocent beings who cannot speak for themselves.

Strong words?  Yes, but there’s a great need for them.  We have become so attuned to hurting and violence of animals and each other that strong words need to be spoken and spoken with strong conviction.

There’s a silly little poem from literature of long ago:

I always voted at my party’s call; and I never thought of thinking for myself at all.

So true of so many.  Just follow the crowd, go with the flow, birds of a feather, don’t rock the boat, and all those sayings that defy thinking for oneself.

But in every generation a few begin to think for themselves and convince others to do the same.  Their numbers swell as they actually like themselves for their individualistic thinking and then we have the beginning of a kind of revolution.  History is filled with such revolutions that began with a thought of one person, then a group, then a multitude.  To name a few: abolition of slavery, civil rights, woman suffrage, and prohibition.  And one day in the not too distant future, abortion will be abolished altogether.  Too many good, valiant souls are fighting for this cause for it not to happen.

And now it’s long overdue for another revolt.  That of stopping the needless pain and suffering of God’s sentient beings; stopping the destruction of the rain forest, poisoning the water supplies, using up the land to grow food for cattle when it should be used for human food.  And last but not least, stopping the many diseases caused from eating flesh and drinking of cow’s milk by putting warning labels with deadly cross bones no less, on all such commodities.

There’s a beautiful hymn titled, “Here I am, Lord“ Each time I sing it, tears well up as it has such profound meaning to me.

The chorus goes like this:

Here I am, Lord, is it I Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if you lead me, I will hold your people in my heart.

My prayer is that all who read this will join the “revolution” and do whatever you can: Speak up whenever and to whomever, bumper stickers, write letters to congress, to animal laboratories, wear shirts and slogan buttons objecting to the violence and horror of cruelties and waste involved.  Anything and everything helps the cause and is a vital part of being a good steward of the earth.  We were put on this earth for much more than just taking up air and space.  Someone asked me why I speak out on animal rights and the need for a plant based diet.  All I can think of to say is, “I’d like to make a difference.”

Together we can make a difference, it’s just a matter of thinking we can. When my daughter was young, I paid her a quarter (then a quarter was a lot of money to a kid) to memorize the following poem.  That was many years ago and today, she can still recite it Fact is, she lives by it, too.


If you think you’re beaten, you are.

If you think you dare not, you don’t.

If you’d like to win but think you can’t,

It’s almost certain you won’t.

If you think you will lose, you’ve lost,

For out of the world we find

Success begins with a fella’s will,

It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are,

You’ve got to think high to rise.

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man.

But soon or later the man who wins

Is the man who thinks he can.

---C.W. Longencker

I’ve made a few “thinking” pledges.  Hope you’ll join me.

I think, therefore I am never going to deliberately harm another creature, human or nonhuman.

I think, therefore I am not going to look the other way when I know animals are tested in laboratories.  I will speak out and object.  I will not use any products that have been tested on animals or which contain any animal derivatives.

I think, therefore I am going to be a crusader for the truth that IT IS WRONG to cause pain and suffering to another.

I think, therefore I am going to work diligently and pray to be God’s instrument in promoting a plant based diet for all the world so that in all the world, there will be no hunger.

I think, therefore I am never going to forget that animals and humans are morally equal and deserve dignity as intended by the Creator.

Copyrighted as a collection by Billie Touchstone Signer

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