Justine de Jonge writes for Vegan Life about why she compares the journey to being vegan to the journey of travelling the world.
Living as a vegan in this world is a journey in itself. We are all travelling along a path, and that path doesn’t always lead us to one destination. Being in the world as a vegan is a gift, in the sense we can travel the road we think is right, and then make a detour into a new direction once the well-paved road needs a new bump; is not serving us as effectively as it should. Remaining static in one direction we become stagnant or stuck, not willing or not wanting to find a way to grow and make a difference.
After travelling across 13 countries so far — some as an omnivore and others as a vegan — I’ve become to realise that travel is a lot like being vegan. Much of my purpose in becoming vegan six years ago stemmed from much of my purpose in being a traveller which accentuated my decision to travel the vegan road. Some fundamental basics are clear as long as we have the foresight to identify they exist. Either way you look at these basics, it’s adamant that the ability to travel or the ability to be vegan lie in all of us. They just need to be ignited, or rather ignite the fire in our being to decide whether we want to travel and we want to travel the vegan road.
There is rarely one road on which to travel and the world becomes smaller as each country is explored. What is fascinating is that (in my experience) each country always welcomes travellers with open arms. Locals are proudly willing to show the unlearned traveller what their country is about, cherished traditions and culture, and life routines that may be vastly different to our own back home. What does it mean when we wish to travel to a new, unexplored country? It means we are yearning for an education into the unknown, and what that unknown can teach us about ourselves, where we can be discerning in our current existence and what we want to eliminate from it when we arrive home. For me, vegan started with the road of food and that’s an ever-ongoing adventure playground in itself. Throughout the last few years I’ve learned to explore or understand new roads that stem from what it means to be vegan – animal activism, environmental issues, feminism, health issues, ethical choices, minimalism to name a few. Each in itself is just like touching down on a runway somewhere in the world, clearing customs and let that country guide me to a new way of living and thriving.
Data from the United Nations estimates that there are seven billion humans living on this planet, and Australia (my country of origin) lies at 53 on their list of countries in the world by population with a count of 24,641,662 people. What this says is that we share this planet with so many humans without even taking into consideration all the animals we share it with. No matter where I travel, it’s always obvious that in the end, we are all beings who want to live and thrive on the planet. We all may have differences in culture, language or traditions, but there are basic characteristics that remain constant wherever the destination may be – the need for food, water, shelter, good health, air from which to breathe and the sentience needed to source these basics. We all, whether it be human or not, share the same basic traits in order to live and thrive. The questions we then need to ask ourselves is to what extent do we allow all beings to thrive unconditionally? What can we do to maximise this? Through travel, our ability to understand and empathise grow, and so too, through being vegan. It’s at this point in our own journeys will we ever able to answer these questions with a clear conscience.