Q: I wanted to ask you about spirituality and if we can see it?
A: We are just a body in physically time. In reality, nothing exists. But we can make anything appear as a reality if we try hard enough. Spirituality can not be seen, but one may be able to picture something that is spiritual. For example someone who just witnessed a tragedy might still have the tragedy in their mind or maybe they witnessed something of joy or happiness.
Q: What is spirituality to you?
A: Spirituality comes from deep within us, it is everywhere and it is in everything. It is something that has to be experienced and something that can never be explained. The definition of spirituality is different for everybody.
Q: What does spiritual awakening mean to you?
A: Spiritual awakening can not be defined; only experienced. There is a great video that that explains this in details. ‘What is spirituality? The 10 signs of a spiritual awakening’ which can be viewed at http://youtu.be/0guUNkElrII.
Q: Tell us about your spiritual awakening and what it felt to you?
A: I was at home doing the dishes one day in spring 2009 and I looked up at the sky seeing the clouds rolling by, and something struck me. It was my consciousness talking to me. At first I felt scared because I didn’t know what was going on, but then I felt a great deal joy and love. “If I profess to love animals and the planet, how can I be consuming such violence?” As I was being asked this question, I felt shivers and crawling sensations all over my shoulders and body and tingling on my scalp. It was as if weight was being lifted off my shoulders and I was experiencing some sort of divine miracle. It was such an amazing experience! Now I know what my purpose is on this planet. On the outside it may seem like veganism, but it is to share the message of unconditional love to everyone.
I had another awakening in 2011 when I was with Toronto Pig Save on ‘Pig Island’ which I’d like to share. As the slaughter truck got closer to me I felt a lump in my throat. And then it happened. The truck was in front of me. And looking out from within the ventilation holes was something I will never forget. Many faces peering at me, drooling foam, crammed so tightly, some standing on each other, dehydrated, their bodies covered in scratches and bruises, terrified. At that moment I was totally shocked of what I saw. Even though it was just a few moments before the truck would move, it was the most heartbreaking moment of my life. As I was capturing their faces on camera, something caught my attention; it was one pig in particular… I could see the loneliness, the suffering and the sadness in her eyes. Something at that moment changed my life forever. The pain she was feeling was the pain I was also feeling. It was pain I have never felt before.
I started crying lowering my arms [camera in my hands], tears rushing down my face; I felt utter sadness thinking of the poor animal. I felt useless like I could do nothing. And I felt that even one group like Toronto Pig Save could do nothing to save these animals. As I moved closer to the truck there was this most unbearable smell ever. I think it was ammonia that came from the truck that got me gasping for air. I then backed away from the truck not believing what I had witnessed. A few moments later the truck quickly whirled away turning making its way to the slaughterhouse.
Q: Why save the planet when the world will eventually end?
A: I don’t think it’s really about saving this planet. I think it’s about the individual lives that we save or at least try to. The lives of those individuals matter. They are suffering, starving, tortured or being killed. And their life matters to them. If humans just put empathy into play and feel the pain of a starving child, or the pain of the calf being torn apart from their mother, we would understand the suffering. When we look at suffering on a global scale, we can not comprehend the vastness of it. So we have to empathize with the individuals who are in need.
Q: The most important part of veganism is the shift in consciousness that takes place. Is there a connection between our food choices and violence in the world?
A: That is a very good question. I believe violence has everything to do with what we eat, especially the animals we eat. You see, there can not be violence on the planet if we don’t consume violence at our meals. Because the system of killing animals is violent, violence plays a crucial role in our lives and in our culture. When people make a commitment to veganism, it is because of a spiritual awakening. Something in them triggers their mind to think differently about our culture and animals. At first we might go vegan for health or environmental reasons, but eventually we do awaken to the plight of animal suffering.
Q: What is your reaction to activists who hate human beings for what they are doing to animals and the planet?
A: It is very difficult to talk to these people because they have all their anger bottled up inside themselves. They see the videos of factory farmers and slaughterhouse workers abusing and killing animals, and blame humanity for all the atrocities. All this leads to pessimism and eventually to ‘burnout’. Instead of seeing all the beauty on this planet, all they see all the ugliness. It’s really hard to get them to see it the other way when their minds are clouded with ugliness. There is a very good book that talks all about the beauty on the planet called, “Peace to all Beings” by Judy Carman, and I highly recommend it to everyone.
Q: What do you tell people who say it’s of no use, why try saving the planet?
A: I feel it in my heart; I need to do whatever I can to help. And it makes me feel good. If the outcome is positive or negative, I don’t care. I have to do whatever it takes to spread the message of love.
Q: Tell us about your journey since becoming vegan. What have you accomplished?
A: I don’t feel as I’m doing enough for the animals. There are literally hundreds of billions of animals who are killed every year. Does my work save any of them? I don’t know. I try to do the best I can by spreading the message of love. I believe veganism in itself, is a big leap for both me and humanity. Every person that goes vegan and helps spread the message is leading the way to a brighter future.
Q: Some people say, “Bees, they’re only insects.” What do you say to these people?
A: I’d like to quote Thomas Berry when he said, “The time will come for humans and insects to turn towards each other… Such is the way to wisdom, the source of our healing, our guidance into the twenty-first century.” I also like to quote Saint Isaac the Syrian when he said, “What is a charitable heart? It is a heart which is burning with love for the whole creation, for men, for the birds, for the beasts . . . for all creatures. He who has such a heart cannot see or call to mind a creature without his eyes being filled with tears by reason of the immense compassion which seizes his heart; a heart which is softened and can no longer bear to see or learn from others of any suffering, even the smallest pain being inflicted upon a creature. That is why such a man never ceases to pray for the animals . . . moved by the infinite pity which reigns in the hearts of those who are becoming united with God.”
Q: Why did you recently undertake raw veganism?
A: I consider myself a raw vegan fruitarian. I consume more than 95 of my calories from ripe raw fruits. I went fruitarian because I would like to live in an Eden-like paradise, living as simply as possible and doing the least amount of harm. A fruit based diet causes the least harm and is the most environmentally friendly diet of all. And fruits taste so delicious!
Q: People have asked me that I am a hypocrite because I kill insects like ants and bacteria. Do you ever get these justifications pertaining to your diet?
A: Yes of course. I don’t kill these life forms intentionally. It is unavoidable killing. What I do is minimize the suffering as much as possible and avoid what harm I can. Yes there are some people who try to even avoid killing bacteria’s and other such life forms, but I think this is crazy because we can’t avoid harming them. If we were to be totally 100 percent ethical and non-violent, it would mean to kill ourselves. Just by being alive, we are harming and killing microbes and bacteria, therefore, it is not possible to be totally ethical and non-violent.
Q: Can you talk about your involvement with Toronto Pig Save?
A: I have been volunteering with Toronto Pig Save with my good friend and founder Anita Krajnc since the time they started holding vigils at Quality Meat Packers in early 2011. I have done a lot of work bearing witness of the pigs in the slaughter trucks at Pig Island and directly at the slaughterhouse. We’ve distribute tens of thousands of leaflets, talked to many slaughterhouse workers, handed out free vegan food to the public and dressed up in farm animal costumes to try to reach out to the public. We use the Gandhian non-violent approach when talking to people. Our aim is not to scare people, but talk to them as a family. www.torontopigsave.org
Q: Who are your inspirations?
A: Everyone who is a vegan activist. Will Tuttle, all the wonderful activists at Toronto Pig Save, Supreme Master Ching Hai, Dr. Douglas Graham, Judy Carman, Michael Arnstein, Durianrider, Pythagoras, John Sakars and Jesse Krebs. Too many to list here.
Q: Any last words?
A: Look into your heart, look to nature and the universe for the answers. Protect nature, save the humans and the animals. Eat healthy, fruits and vegetables. This is the answer for spiritual growth, peace, love and unity. Love all, be at peace, do not be violent and enjoy life, happiness, etc. And finally live vegan!