I was a five-year vegan, with a few slips in the middle, and a few months completely raw. I was an activist for animal rights, and a promoter of the lifestyle.
I related a decrease in mental health issues to a decrease in inflammation that a plant-based diet provides.
I visualized a plant-based life, alongside a vegan and compassionate family.
I desired to be an advocate for pre- and post-natal mothers to choose compassion.
Then I became pregnant, and all my thoughts were focused on juicy, red meat. I dreamt about meat. I could taste it in my mouth. It was all I desired, and I was so ashamed.
How many times had my vegan community shamed others for reverting to meat? How many times had this community told someone struggling to maintain the lifestyle that they were “doing it wrong,” and needed to try harder?
My solution was to add a whey protein powder, cod liver oil and raw honey into my diet. Maybe with a few animal products, I could still manage to thrive without meat during my pregnancy. But even with my formal education in holistic nutrition, the added supplements and my effort, all my body longed for was meat.
Eventually, I snuck into a local, grass-fed burger joint, shamefully ordered a patty-less burger, took it home and consumed in it privacy. I was terrified that someone would know I was a vegan breaking her moral beliefs.
The following days I felt relieved. I felt healthy, happy and satisfied. With a lot of positive self-talk and support from truly compassionate vegan friends, I made the decision to put my morals on hold.
Wait a minute; putting morals on hold, is that really a thing? Is it a legitimate thing?
While knowing that morally I rejected the notion of factory farms, high meat consumption and animal abuse, saving these morals on a shelf allowed me to find health in my pregnancy. Combating the shame, the “vegan who knew better than my body” and my animal rights beliefs was hard.
But t was worth the health I was providing my baby—who was telling me what I needed to thrive.
I pride myself on listening to my body, and this time I had to swallow my pride to hear it.
My morals remain unmoving. I am still breastfeeding, and only produce milk with sporadic meat consumption. I consume the most ethical meat possible, but don’t believe true ethical meat will ever exist.
Choosing to eat meat taught me that regardless of circumstances my morals can remain the same, but may not always find space to be practiced. I have to trust that I will have space and time to practice my morals when the Universe allows, because in the end it is not my will that has control. I donated my body to carry, birth, breastfeed and mother a child.
I no longer claim control; my body serves a greater purpose.
My gratitude is endless for the animals who have served this purpose alongside me, with greater sacrifice.
My morals don’t have to be yelled at protests; my morals don’t have to be on display; my morals don’t have to be louder than your morals.
My morals are humble.
Finding humility and acceptance among my morals has strengthened my ethics and solidified the way in which I choose to walk through life.
I am hopeful that life will present me with another healthy opportunity to practice my morals in the future. I am accepting that for today, I must practice my values of compassion elsewhere. My morals of consuming animal products may be waiting for me on my inner shelf, but my value of compassion is exemplified through self-love and kindness to others (most days).
In finding a space for morals, meat and trust, I am expanding my understanding and practice of compassion.
By recognizing a lesson in everything that is presented to us, acceptance and growth is possible, regardless of circumstance.
Eating meat taught me that my morals are not ego-based, but humility-based, molding with the will of the Universe.
Author: Amy Mungham
Editor: Toby Israel