Many years ago, I was a vegan; I ran 16 miles several times a week along the canals in Phoenix Arizona. This was the healthiest time in my life. In the years since that time, I have experienced many life changes and challenges just like most of you. I find myself moving closer to becoming a vegan again even though I occasionally have other cravings. I now juice frequently, use a pressure cooker to steam vegetables and eat more salads. Sometimes when I have a craving for fast food I use a strategy that seems to be a benefit as well as compassionate.
I will order as healthy and natural a hamburger as I can find and place the bag on the passenger seat of my vehicle. For a number of reasons, this seems to satisfy my craving. I then look for individuals or families who I believe could use a meal. Unfortunately, I do not need to look far to find someone holding up a sign or sitting near a fast food restaurant.
I will drive up to these people, get out of my car and connect with them in conversation. I ask them if I may share the meal that I purchased. If they inquire, I will explain why I am offering them the meal. I chat with them a little longer and then drive away. I feel that I have accomplished keeping to my preferred diet while serving others a meal that they certainly can use.
Occasionally, an acquaintance or to a lesser degree a friend may ask me if I am considering the consequences of giving them an unhealthy meal. I respond by saying that I understand the importance of what they are asking. I explained that I have given this great deliberation. I purchase the best quality of natural foods that I can find that satisfies my cravings and believing the value of the meal to a hungry person is meaningful. Of course, as I did this last Christmas, I also look for nonfat food meals to give to individuals and families that are more in keeping with my preferred diet and are certainly much healthier. As I become more vegan and lose my cravings for fast food, I imagine I will focus more on healthy natural meals to share with others.
I know that some people do not approve of giving free meals this way to individuals and families who live in our community. I completely understand their reference and decisions not to provide meals in this manner. Perhaps, they give a tithing to their church who helps their parishioners or they give to charities including food banks. I support anything that each of us can do to help other humans who temporarily share space on this planet.
Meals, housing, and clothing are some of the primary necessities and not everyone has these. I have heard many arguments both pro and con for helping others through governmental policies or individual service. I can see both sides and I do understand the intensity created by this discussion. Each of us can make our own decisions about how we want to serve others.
For example, I do not give cash to every person I come across on the street. I establish a personal and respectful connection honoring their humanity and this helps me decide what I will do. Frequently, simply honoring their humanity is priceless and so meaningful that this is all that I share.
I must admit that I like perhaps others do have some preferences. For instance, as a Vietnam Veteran, I tend to share more of what I can with other veterans. I make no apologies for this decision and I am certain that many other veterans completely understand given our shared experiences.
My focus in my professional and personal life is more in the perspective of individuals rather than groups. For me, this human perspective allows me to come from a heartfelt understanding of the human traumas, dramas, and successes that each of us experiences. I think language can desensitize us. Recently, I again heard a television spokesperson state that we need to have more boots on the ground in a foreign country providing combat support. For me, it is not an argument about whether we need to fight a war to keep the world safe. The language of ‘boots on the ground’ creating an illusion that does not adequately describe the real men and women sent in harm’s way is my focus. Perhaps, like using terms including poultry, or beef or pork rather than chickens, cows or pigs in terms of food.
Thanks for sharing Stephen. You have so much insight.