Over the last two years I have made a lot of changes in my lifestyle. On the outside looking in, it seems that I have progressively become more and more “extreme” and “crazy” as some have put it. I started as a vegetarian, than became a vegan, then I started buying organic whenever possible, and most of the time when not possible, choosing to not buy those types of vegetables at all… then I became a whole-food vegan… then I started to drink only on rare occasions and go out sober most of the time…then I started trying to eat gluten free and have for a few months now… then I started caring more and more about plastic, garbage, materialism, fair trade, and the list goes on. Many people would think that I am complicating my life. That I should just enjoy what’s given to me, and stop worrying. So many people have judged my lifestyle that at times I have started to believe all the thinking I was doing daily about my choices, all the efforts I was going to to keep up with my choices, or all the sadness I felt in my heart when I started to really see all the plastic, all the meat, and all the dairy products in the grocery store, were taking away from my life, not creating gain. I went from being happy pretty well all the time, to now feeling sad just walking through the grocery store. So maybe that sadness will kill me sooner than the meat will, but I will have lived a meaningful life, to me. I can understand that different things make different people happy, and I don’t judge the lifestyle others choose to live. Even if a lifestyle is harmful to people or the environment, most of the time I can understand why someone would choose it. Yet somehow, living a life that’s focused on not harming this planet, receives so many judgements. I want to go into depth about my “extreme” lifestyle in hopes to receive more understanding of what drives me to live this way. A lot of my decisions are stemmed from what makes me feel most optimal, and from my compassion and caring.
What makes me feel most optimal creates happiness within me that I never knew existed two years ago. It makes me happier to say no to alcohol, say no to meat, say no to dairy, say no to oil, say no to refined sugars than it does to say yes to all of these things, have my life be so much simpler and have no one cast judgement on me. Just as growing up, it made me happier to say no to marijuana a million times, or say no to sex, than it did to just “live in the moment”. I learned the lesson of momentary happiness and long-term happiness a long time ago. I could say yes to all these things and in the moment of drinking, of eating delicious refined goodness, of eating tasty chicken with extra mayo, I would definitely be some kind of happy. But the moment there is no more food, or the morning I wake up with a brutal hangover, a lot of the time that happiness is gone. I often fell into food comas, or I just lacked energy a lot of the time. If I choose to not eat the meat, or to not drink, I have a happiness that lasts more than the present moment. And I have found sooo much happiness not doing those things. I have found things that make me happier in the moment than those things ever did. Like exploring nature, yoga, travelling, prepping healthy food, educating myself..
Don’t get me wrong, when it’s not harming humanity or the planet I still indulge from time to time in things that are purely momentary enjoyment, such as maple syrup, or intoxicated nights that are worth the hangover.
“If we are aware, we can do something to change the course of things”
My second motive for the “extreme” choices I make is that I care. I care about people and their suffering/happiness. I care about the environment and all of its beautiful biodiversity. Doing research into the products I buy, and trying to choose local whenever I can is easy and worth the extra expense. Probably the hardest choice I have made is choosing to try to eliminate plastic from my life. It makes choices that used to be easy and convenient, very difficult. The other day I brought home 6 bags of frozen blueberries in biodegradable packaging from whole foods because I didn’t know we had that type of option in Whistler (I found out they sell them at olives in function junction! Woo!!). Before finding them I thought I was going to have to wait until summer to eat blueberries! If I want organic carrots, organic spinach, quinoa, and many other things that are only provided in plastic in whistler, I have to go to whole foods in Vancouver. It’s a bit frustrating and definitely saddening to me that everything is wrapped in plastic, but it makes me happy to go all the way to Vancouver to reduce my plastic consumption. I didn’t choose to try to eliminate plastic from my life to make me happy though. I chose to do this after a friend showed me a documentary on plastic in our oceans and feeling so upset. I always tried to avoid plastic bags, I have carried my groceries in my jacket on a cold winter night when I forgot my reusable bags… but I had no idea of the depth of the issue. Half way through the documentary I knew my conscience wouldn’t allow me to just give up plastic grocery bags anymore. It had to be a conscious effort in everything in my life.
I feel lucky that my choices that stem from caring and compassion also make me happy. I feel so incredibly lucky that helping someone, trying to have a minimal environmental footprint, saving animals and working towards living a sustainable life makes me happy. What a bonus! Most of the choices I have made in my life don’t come without sacrifice. But the sacrifice is always worth the good that comes from my choices. Is it “easier” to stay naïve about the major issues humans, animals and the environment are facing? Yes… Is it “easier” to have everything provided to me at the grocery store and then I just throw away the package? Yes… But I genuinely believe, the best things are hard. They take hard work, patience, dedication, and passion. It’s the things that take these qualities that make me the happiest and the most fulfilled. Convenience doesn’t make me ultimately happy, especially when convenience comes at the hand of the destruction of our environment, the unethical sweat of a child or under paid worker, and the gap between rich and poor widening, to name a few. What makes me ultimately happy is being healthy; being active; being in and exploring nature; making choices that are compassionate and environmentally friendly; Supporting small farms, and maybe one day creating my own!
Many may view it as my life is becoming more and more complicated as time goes on, but I view it as quite the opposite. My life feels so much more simplistic than it ever did before. I have no explanation for why.
Words spoken by Rich Roll could not be more true to me: Today I enjoy the satisfaction knowing that on a daily basis I strive to invest absolutely everything I have in what makes my heart beat hardest. Looking back, it seems to all make perfect sense how events unfolded to take me from where I was to where I am today.
I couldn’t be more grateful for those around me who support me and who enjoy my company even with my “extreme” restrictions. Meaghan, Rachael, Maria, Roger, Matt, Brett, Casey, Amy, Allyson and Joe are a few people I appreciate having in my life so much! Thank you for inspiring me to be a better person, encouraging me to be a better person, and for also being so entertaining. You, my passion for a healthy lifestyle, my care for the environment and all living beings on it are what make my heart truly beat. I love you!