“Ooohhhh, Texas! Cowboys, guns, and BBQ right?”
“Yup, that was me.”
These are usually the first few words of exchange when I meet someone new and they ask where I came from. I always say, “I’m from outer space. But I woke up in Texas.”
We are all from outer space, star stuff, a microscopic organism in this vast reality as we know it. I woke up and began my journey somewhere down in Texas and eventually ended up in Hoi An, Vietnam, where I’m writing this today. How I’d describe my current lifestyle is simple, compassionate, energetic and lively.
Texas, is well-known for its historic vaquero culture, livestock and agriculture, rodeos, football and the birth of the oil and gas industry. A place where you can have Chorizo de San Manuel and egg tacos for breakfast and a double-meat, double-cheese and bacon Whataburger after a late night of two stepping at the dancehall. A deeply ingrained culture of BBQ beef ribs and chicken.
I grew up raising pigs, cattle, goats, sheep, horses, dogs cats, bugs, snakes, frogs, etc. We skipped school to go fishing and mudding if the rain poured on the empty cotton fields. I loved the great outdoors and the thrill of shooting sports. I knew long ago that I had a deep connection and love for animals and outdoors (I even dreamt of being a veterinarian some day in order to “save” those animals from dying or suffering) but I still consumed, killed, and wore them.
“You are where you are, today, because of the decisions you made yesterday.”
A few months after a near-death experience in 2014, I began to question my existence.
I knew there was a deeper connection that was hidden in the route I took to study environmental engineering. I was becoming more aware of global environmental issues, my physical body and health, and a growing awareness of the thoughts and actions I was taking to live out my life. I knew I wanted to be more connected to life, people, animals, the Earth. I knew there was some sort of hidden agenda or purpose behind the decisions I had made to bring me to that point and the survival of my accident. I felt that the only way to become more “in-tune” with my intuition and to understand the energy of the Earth, and to regenerate the planet back to its balance is through compassion and by adopting a plant-based diet; to consume pure life energy.
You may be telling yourself, “Oh man, another vegan.”
You are right about the label. However, I feel that when I came to understand the underlying principles and when the labels were removed, all that we are left with is pure love and energy. Love is the force that expands our consciousness. These days we all strive to love and be loved, to become compassionate, connected, open and giving in the same way our Universe acts in its own beautiful way. We are all a part of this experience, not alone, but collectively. Everything is connected and once you connect these dots, it really is a beautiful realization.
I am trying to come up with a way to describe this lifestyle in a more understandable way, without a connotation that makes it seem that being vegan is superiority. I don’t feel superior because I am vegan. I am vegan because I don’t feel superior to others.
The decision I made almost two years ago has brought me to this point in my life.
I had to unlearn what I had learned from the agricultural industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and mainstream media. I found out that my University’s engineering program was being funded by the same companies that are destroying our planet.
I’m not saying that you must change your ways immediately. I knew what I was going to put myself through and was ready for the challenge. I figured that I must grow apart from the things that were inhibiting my spiritual growth which meant losing close contact with friends, and having awkward conversations with family. I received criticism and had guilt-bombs thrown at me because I used to be different. I was doing it for myself, without exceptions, without buying anyone’s opinions or advice. It really was about diving deep into the unknown, scared for my life, and enjoying the journey for bigger and better reasons than I didn’t see at first.
Today, I don’t wear five hundred dollar elephant and ostrich-skin boots anymore. I do not wear leather belts with a cowhide-engrained design. I left those back home in Texas. They do not jive in the concrete jungle in China. Today, I make decisions that I feel are right for me; what my heart desires. I listen to that crazy, little voice in my head, my consciousness, that says, “Do it. I dare you.”
This is what I say to you,
“Be attached to nothing and you’ll have everything to gain.”
This goes for your iPad, your most expensive kicks, your Michael Kors purse, your gold iPhone 7, and yes, even your friends and family. If you can’t lift your own weight, what makes you think you can carry all these things around? I carried my leather belt with me to China. The seven months I was in that country, I only wore it twice. I ended up letting it go to a prominent social enterprise, Second Hand Second Story in Chengdu, China, who are promoting conscious and environmental consumerism.
Now, I don’t mean to say drop everything and run, to stop caring for the things and people you truly love. Love is the highest level of vibrating energy, the most abundant. What I mean is that you should love them enough to let them go at times when you feel like you are stuck; when you feel like you need to grow and sprout out of the seedling shell. They really mean nothing when we are gone but everything to us for as long as we are here. They are a part of our life on Earth.
This past year, I have been traveling Asia, sharing my story and focusing on sharing the widespread benefits of the plant-based lifestyle. I have met Chinese buddhist monks who taught me how to forgive. I have met people from Europe who expanded my perspective on the western influence of the world. I have met vegan cyclists who are riding their bicycles from Northern to Southern South East Asia. I have worked with Japanese and Vietnamese people in the same setting. Our homeland’s history means NOTHING when it comes down to one thing: The Love of Life.
I have said, “Oh look mom, it’s those boats that you see on television!” It’s moments like these, that I live for. I truly think that since I have changed my lifestyle, opened my heart and my mind to the infinite possibilities, I have found abundance.
Make decisions for yourself without the advice or opinions of others. Adopt a healthy regime for your own mind, body and soul. Just remember that it doesn’t always get easier. I am human, I struggle, I fall and scrape my knees too. I thrive off those moments. Now, I am here to help.