Whenever my students make mistakes (big like failing my class or small like failing a quiz), I always remind them that failure is a requirement for growth. They usually don’t understand this concept because they’re teenagers and every little thing is the end of the world, but I think it’s important for them to be able to fail, pick up, and move on every once in a while.
Failure is admittedly also difficult for me because I’m such a perfectionist. I’ve been working on “failing” and forgiving myself lately.
I felt a lot of failure this weekend when I didn’t stick to my new vegan diet. I had been so good for about two weeks only to blow it on Saturday and Sunday.
We had a game night at our house on Saturday night, and everyone brought a little something. My husband was sweet enough to buy me some ($10!!!) vegan cheese from the supermarket, and it was delicious. He made a regular cheese plate for everyone else, but that isn’t what tempted me and I didn’t touch it. My friend brought a cream cheese taco dip type thing, and I felt badly about the fact nobody was eating it, so I had some. I know this isn’t such a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but as I said before, I’m a perfectionist and don’t handle failure very well.
On Sunday, we went snowshoeing for a few hours and then decided to go to a local brewery for food and beer afterward. I caved there too when I ordered a veggie sandwich with cheese. I was so hungry from our strenuous activity that I didn’t even stop to think about it. And it almost felt like, well, I already screwed this up so I might as well go for gold.
But I think the all or nothing mindset is one I’ve always had when trying to go strict vegetarian (or make other big lifestyle changes), and it usually backfires in one way or another. If I mess up once, it isn’t worth it anymore. That is obviously a destructive mindset that does little to motivate one to endure adversity. It can also bring down your self worth, which isn’t great, either.
So, instead of beating myself up about it, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and started fresh yesterday. And it wasn’t hard because on the drive home, I passed two livestock trucks carrying pigs, and as I looked over and saw their eyes peering out at me in despair from the darkness, I remembered why I’m doing what I’m doing and why it’s so important.
To keep me from straying, I packed a delicious yet frugal lunch/snacks–cashews (the best!!!), pasta w/marinara, artichokes, and white beans (aka I’m poor right now and can’t spend a ton on groceries), and veggies w/guac.
I also had a great dinner of a Dr. Praeger burger topped with So Delicious shreds, frozen mixed veg, and a yummy salad with Sprouts Lemon Tahini dressing.
Something else really awesome today–I got my copy of The Homemade Vegan Pantry! I am so excited to use it to make staples so I don’t have to buy so many vegan foods in wasteful plastic packaging. I can’t wait to start experimenting with it.
And although I’m a bit late, I’d like to acknowledge MLK for being someone who inspired me to care so much about animal rights. I’ve always respect MLK for his stance and activism on human rights, of course, but I’m always impressed at how progressive his stance on animals rights was at the time. Right now, some quotes of his I’m keeping in mind are: “The time is always right to do what’s right” and “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?'”
I am concerned about animal rights not only because I love and care about animals and the environment upon which our meat and dairy addiction is wreaking havoc, I also care about the people who are forced to work in slaughterhouses and are being exploited by a cruel and inhumane system. These people are often immigrants, paid poorly for soul-crushing and dangerous work, and don’t always have another choice when trying to feed and clothe their families.
I don’t know what it’s like to be in their shoes–I have never been so desperate I’d take any job to support myself. I’ve never been hungry or jobless. I have never had to run from a dangerous situation and immerse myself in a culture completely foreign to me.
And I think it’s really easy for animal rights activists to have zero compassion for those who do work in slaughterhouses or on dairy farms, but I think we must acknowledge a corrupt and unequal socioeconomic system before we chastise those who find work there. If we don’t have compassion and forgiveness for all, we will never make the changes we so wish to see.
I can only imagine a world where there is kindness and equality toward everyone including animals. So, instead of judging those who contribute to the needless suffering of animals, I will do my best to contribute to the goodness of the world by doing what I can and making small changes that will hopefully impact someone, somewhere.