As I was driving up to work today, I was listening to a podcast by my favourite vegan activist, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, on 'Defining Vegan'. Although I would love everyone to check out her work directly, the synopsis is as follows....In essence, she seeks to reposition emphasis on the expansiveness of the vegan lifestyle, rather than upon perceived restrictions. Her basic tenet is that - from the outside - veganism is seen as a way of life that revolves around the word 'No'.
'No' to meat, 'no' to milk, 'no' to eggs...etc etc etc. Whereas those of us who are fortunate enough to be living the vegan life see it as quite the opposite. It's a way to say 'Yes' to everything we believe and everything for which we stand. 'Yes' to compassion; 'yes' to living our own truth in the world; 'yes' to standing up for our principles, and 'yes' to living free from hypocrisy. Plus, of course, saying yes to the myriad new foods that do not center around the mutilated body parts of animals.
And, as I was listening, I reflected on how this manifests daily in my own life. Last night, for dinner for example, we made a risotto. In my pre-vegan days, I would have sauteed off some chicken's breast and grated a ton of cheese into the mix. OK, so there would have been onions and mushrooms in there too, but the main point would have been the chicken, or maybe some shrimp. Last night, however, the feast included leeks, onions, garlic, eggplant, fire-roasted red pepper (which I roasted myself!), sun-dried tomatoes (which I assuredly did not dry myself!!), portabello mushrooms, zuccini and a handful of mixed herbs. The result was a feast for the eyes, the nose and the tastebuds!
And the really incredible thing is how much stronger and more individual these vegetables taste. How I can pick out the salty tang of the tomatoes, the dusky smoke of the eggplant lightly dredged with Hungarian paprika, the basil-scented olive oil...The textures are different too - the still-crisp snap of the zuccini skin, the soft melt of the diced eggplant, the silky ribbons of roasted red pepper, and the pop and chew of the barley I used instead of rice.
Everything felt like it was in a perfect balance with no single element dominating another. Which is, of course, the very definition of harmony.
And, as you see, harmony tastes awfully good!