The old saying “ignorance is bliss” stems from a poem by Thomas Gray and suggests that if you are happiest being ignorant, then just stay ignorant.

I beg to differ. There is a lot of pain and effort involved in ignoring information that might challenge our habits and behaviours. If you have ever walked with a little prick in your shoe, ignoring the discomfort, you know what I am talking about. Soon, the only thing you can think about is the discomfort you feel. Once you take off your shoe, remove the prick and continue walking, you feel a great sense of relief.

I felt a similar sense of relief, when I stopped eating animal products. I could finally be at peace with my diet. I don’t agree with the conditions under which animals are kept for the mass production of meat, eggs and dairy products. I disagree with the environmental degradation that factory farming is causing. I see the connection between the amount of resources needed per food calorie of animal products and the starvation of so many people. I don’t agree with the separation we create between human beings and all the other beings by treating animals as commodities.

However, for many years I ignored my part in the cycle of suffering. I ignored that every time I bought and ate animal products, I was actively supporting this culture. I kept ignoring this fact out of convenience “it is easier to eat animal products, especially when eating out," politeness, “I don’t want to offend my friend, who has prepared this meal," for health reasons “my doctor recommends eating more meat to provide my body with the essential nutrition” and sometimes even for taste “I crave a piece of salmon right now.”

When I lived together with John who has been vegan for over 20 years, I felt inspired to give “being vegan” an honest try. I wanted to share meals with John and saw it as an opportunity to explore if I could be healthy, maybe even healthier with a vegan diet. I discovered and created many yummy recipes and found nutritional supplements such as vitamin B12 to support and improve my health.

Most importantly I now sit down for dinner with a clear conscience. I can connect with the origin of the food I am eating and the work that was involved in getting it to my table and feel the gratitude for the nourishment.

When I was still eating animal products, I couldn’t quite bare to connect with the food I was eating all the way to its source. It was too painful to imagine the confined dark space the chicken must have lived in and the brutal slaughtering of this helpless bird. Whenever I ate animal products, I spent a lot of energy ignoring this connection, just as if I was walking with a prick in my shoe.

With my choice of becoming vegan and treating animals as spiritual beings just like people, I feel aligned with my core values of love, compassion and respect. By removing the prick from my shoe, I walk much lighter.

What’s the prick in your shoe? What would it take for you to pause, sit down, take off your shoe and shake out the prick? How much energy would you free up by aligning closer with your core values? How much lighter would you feel?

Author's Bio: 

Julia James, CPCC, PCC, M.Sc. is a multi-lingual certified life coach, award-winning author and international speaker. She helps busy professionals around the world achieve balance in their lives through individual life coaching and workshops. Author of the book, The Mini-Retreat Solution and the audio CD series, Guided Mini-Retreats for Busy People, she provides tools to manage stress effectively and to relax and re-energize quickly. Julia has been featured on Joy TV, CBC News, as well as in The Globe & Mail, Glow Magazine, BC Business Magazine and The Vancouver Observer.