Is Vipassana meditation recommended for vegans? Definitely! I personally think meditation can be beneficial to many people. It might even be a good idea to start teaching it to kids (at school) around the world. But next to this it can definitely be a life-changer for vegans, especially those that are frustrated with the world as we see it today, this was a bit who I was before joining the course.
In the previous post I wrote about Vipassana meditation and my personal experience in general. If this post did not yet make you run to a center because you got doubts as a vegan, please read along. Here I’ll share my vegan perspective. And don’t worry, you will be able to stay with two feet on the ground and you won’t become too enlightened. So you can still function in the real world ;)
VEGAN FOOD: VIPASSANA
Let me first start with the food you’ll get at a 10-day course. Although which food you’ll receive is important, the biggest potential benefits would be offered by the course itself, which I will write about further down below.
Vipassana centers around the world only offer lacto-vegetarian food, a “simple but wholesome and healthy vegetarian menu”. I told the management I’m a vegan and they gave me a list which showed all the non-vegan food items per day and which animals product they contained. Eggs were never used but dairy was unfortunately still prevailing in their menu. But I must admit that I could eat varied and definitely delicious every single day. Although the menu might differ around the world, big chance it’s tasty and vegan-friendly!
Though, a motto you’ll hear a lot is “May all beings be happy” and the first of the five moral precepts you’ll have to follow is “to abstain from killing any being”. Some of you might already see the fault in this; how can a Lacto-vegetarian menu comply with these two lines? I was wondering the same thing. But this shouldn’t withhold you from doing a 10-day course.
VEGANS, GO AND DO VIPASSANA!
Although which food you’ll get is important, the meditation technique should be the reason why you go and do Vipassana. And although suffering is universal and everyone can have big benefits from this course, some vegans might find it an extra helpful experience. Especially when you are, like I was, constantly frustrated with the world and (non vegan) people around you.
Before arriving, and even until day 8, I couldn’t get why people seemed so ignorant or heartless, which in turn frustrated me. “Why can’t people go vegan when I provide them all the facts and figures?” or “why do these Vipassana students don’t link their moral precept to the dairy they consume?” etc. Maybe some of you might recognize questions and frustrations like these.
CRAVINGS AND AVERSION: EVIL DOESN’T EXIST
I just really couldn’t get why people were holding on so tightly to their ignorance or immoral habits. Are all of them evil people? This first year being a vegan I found out that bashing on people was mostly giving anti-results and sharing facts wasn’t enough to convert them into conscious vegans.
Vipassana showed me clearly what I have seen glimpses off but couldn’t grasp. All ‘evil’-(physical)actions arise from “mental impurities”; murder is a result of anger and hatred, theft from greed, rape from craving and lust etc. With these knowledge the actions aren’t justified but instead of seeing people as evil I started seeing them as people in need, people suffering from their ignorance of these impurities. “Generate love and compassion, especially for those who do not understand Dhamma and are living an unhappy life.”
Vegans that became vegan after just being given some facts are strong minds, they are people that are able to (partially) overcome mental obstacles such as craving (for the taste/texture of meat) and aversion such as fear (for being an outcast or becoming unhealthy), all for the sake of ethical behavior. But this percentage of strong minds is unfortunately a very small one. For this reason I think our main focus with campaigning of veganism should be on the mental obstacles and not so much on informing. Many people already know that their behavior is immoral but they are too attached to their obstacles, mostly without their own awareness.
So let’s show our craving friends and family that you can get similar or better tasting vegan food, maybe even focus on these new techy burgers that taste and feel like real meat, if this would finally help our craving friends switch to plant based food. Show the fearful that they can still enjoy social activities such as BBQ’s, parties and keep on enjoying life fully.
See this image I made to clearify this story. Hopefully it makes any sense!
POSITIVE AND STILL AN ACTIVE VEGAN
With “seeing things as they are” and learning to be forgiving and compassionate, I had a fear of loosing my will to save and veganize the world, loosing my ‘drive’. With this fear spinning through my head I went to my teacher and he told me that “I would still be able to better the world, actually with an even clearer view and more peaceful and focused mental state.” And after finishing the entire course I can assure you he was right, I am filled with (positive) energy and see where potential change lies. Several (local) mini-campaigns are in development and I am looking forward to further life as a vegan and integrating Vipassana. I will try to no longer hold on to anger and sadness as an energizer for veganizing our planet.
This positive attitude might not be the way in which you want to spread veganism. But I think by doing so, responses in return might be more positive and you are helping yourself by feeling mentally fine and being filled with good energy. I do believe that facts should remain to be spread, cages being opened and shocking footage shared, but a big chunk of society won’t change because of this. Their attachment to their obstacles might be too firm.
BACK TO VIPASSANA
This post drifted a little bit so I’ll return to the core message to conclude; please go and do Vipassana! Vipassana was very beneficial because of multiple reasons. The insight of “mental impurities” gained during the course might be an obvious one for some but the course helped me to truly see this and let go of the anger and grief I held onto. I don’t want to inspire people to go to Vipassana solely for this insight, you could go for many (suffering) reasons :) And everyone will and should experience something different, “one has to walk his own path”. I just hope you guys become happy and suffer less in life!
“May all beings be happy” – S. N. Goenka
Hopefully this extended and personal post makes any sense to others. If you have any question feel free to email me at veganbackpacking[at]gmail(d0t)com