For the creator, Victoria Moran, she knew of her impending academy the moment she was awarded her book title, Main Street Vegan. It was just one of the inspirations that effortlessly flowed in as she stood in her kitchen on the phone having just received the good news. For me, it was in a hotel room in midtown Manhattan as I sat across from Victoria engaged in a conversation for the YogiTriathlete podcast.
The way she described it was a multi-day miracle during which people from all over the world come together to learn how to better spread the message of a vegan lifestyle. From fashion to food, cosmetics to science, the Main Street Vegan Academy (MSVA) promised a comprehensive curriculum that produced, at its conclusion, Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coaches and Educators.
As soon as I heard the word miracle, a part of me lit up.
This meant that if I attended MSVA I would participate in increasing awareness of ahimsa or nonviolence, arguably the most paramount yogic principle upon which all others rest. As a yogi, I live the practice and that’s not to say that it’s an easy path to walk. I have found that it is a warrior path and the further one goes down it, the bigger the challenges become but I like being a warrior. For me, there is no other way to live. Living from an intention of nonviolence is the foundation of my life.
I often joke that if I hadn’t found yoga I would be serving multiple life sentences in a maximum security prison. In other words, consciousness saved my ass. It opened my eyes to awareness and my freedom to choose. It showed me the person I was in comparison to the one I was always meant to be. And it revealed my suffering, the pain I lived alongside for years. It taught me how to heal myself but the best thing that yoga taught me was how to stand in non-judgment as I continue to find my way through life.
“I get it” is what I hear myself saying to my students and clients. I’ve been there. I’ve lived the living hell. I’ve been angry, I’ve been in judgment, I’ve been so stressed I couldn’t sleep at night and so panicked that I passed out. It is difficult for me to embody that girl I used to be but I am so very grateful for her existence because I’ve been there.
And so what does this have to do with becoming a VLCE?
Well, becoming vegan was a striking point in my healing. When I stopped eating the corpses of animals my heart opened. The absence of ingesting the violence, sadness, and fear of animals that were slaughtered for my plate interrupted a cycle in my life. From this, I was able to look a cow in the eye and connect a pig to a pile of bacon. I saw beating hearts in the center of the table at Thanksgiving and I heard the cries of mother cows whose babies were taken from them to feed my cheese addiction. When I stopped eating horror, I felt that I had space to release the horror that was within me. At the same time, I felt a greater capacity to love and forgive.
Despite noticing an oddity of eating flesh from a young age, there were many years that I enjoyed eating animals and believed that it was necessary. I knew that animals had to die for me to eat but like a trap door on the floor of a magicians stage, that window of awareness slammed shut before I even knew it was there. It was a protection mechanism sourced from my hard wiring to remain in comfort and avoid the discord of my actions.
A natural born vegetarian is how I describe myself. On and off I would go years when I ate meat and then years when I would refrain. It was always a very intuitive process for me but I would say I was more vegetarian than not especially as I grew older. I was never vegan because my non-negotiable was dairy. I was categorically addicted to cheese and thanks to research we now know that dairy is highly addictive. This is due to casomorphins, the protein fragments derived from the digestion of casein which is found in dairy. “Morphins” as in morphine, is a highly addictive substance that most of us would stay far, far away from on any given day.
So how did I get off the cheese and become fully vegan?
I thank yoga for that one. Once I started absorbing yoga as a complete science and not just a workout, I realized that the rectangle sold to me as a “yoga mat” was actually a laboratory. Every time I showed up to my laboratory I stepped onto it with a mindset of curiosity and wonder. I noticed how my body moved and articulated deep in my joints. Injuries and soreness were no longer such a mystery, it was as if yoga gave me glimpses into the future and chances to sidestep potential setbacks.
I noticed my mental dialogue and whether it was helpful or harmful. I gained insight into the tendencies of my mind and from this, I saw in truth how I was moving through the world. There were times that I was embarrassed to see myself act, I couldn’t believe it was me. I was lit up and loving on the inside and also shut down and protective of my ego. I thought vulnerability was weakness and power, at any cost, was winning.
I saw that I had one way and it was my way. Furthermore, no other way made sense. It was within this sight that I caught glimpses of freedom. I saw that I had other choices besides the locked and loaded responses and behaviors I had been moving from for so long. I saw opportunities for growth and I became willing to experience the extreme discomfort that goes along with it. This sight transcended the mat and entered into my everyday life.
It was 2011 and I had just started listening to the Rich Roll podcast. I knew about Scott Jurek and other vegan athletes. I knew the girl at the local health food store was vegan and I remember shutting her down just a few months prior on account of my love (ahem, addiction) for cheese. I was 39 and training for my second Ironman. I saw vegan athletes getting fitter, recovering faster and accomplishing great feats on plants. I was curious.
One night, at my favorite restaurant I ordered a salad and I told the server to “hold the goat cheese”. This was a series of words that had never been spoken from my lips. Especially goat cheese, that was my favorite. To sum up my cheese addiction you should know this, every meal included cheese, I snacked on cheese between meals and ate cheese every night as I prepared dinner often ruining my appetite.
So I ate my goat cheeseless salad and much to my surprise, I survived. The next morning I had another cheeseless meal and survived. And another and another and another for about 10 days until the day I woke up feeling like I never had before. I was phlegm free, itch free and allergy free. My energy levels were sustained throughout the day and I had lost weight. That weight loss totaled 10 pounds over the course of a month through nothing other than the removal of dairy from my diet. I have never regained that weight. I have since completed three more Ironman triathlons, an ultra marathon and countless other marathons, half marathons and half Ironmans.
I realized that I had become what I was so curious about, a fit athlete who was accomplishing great feats on plants.
Fitness was my entry but the animals and the environment are why I stay. Granted I have become really good at being vegan and my blood work is pretty impeccable but now that I am outside the ring of blindness, I can see the devastation that eating animals is causing throughout the world.
The earth is out of balance and it is in direct relationship to the imbalance of those living within her home. Animal agriculture is the main contributor to her lack of health but Mother Earth knows that she has nothing to worry about because she will survive. She will do what it takes, even if that means shaking every single of us off to regain her balance. So if not for your health, if not for the animals then do it for the earth that we all rely on for our lives.
Radical protests and shaming are not my game. I’ve been successful in eliciting change by fine-tuning my ability to move from love backed knowledge. This is how I guide my clients to living the ahimsa life. Incorporating the mindfulness practices of yoga in a small-step sustainable way that lead to a healthier existence and one that is for the good of all. Connecting clients back to their food, creating healthy relationships with what is on our plate and not blocking out the process in which it took to get there.
It is a fact that we, as a species are completely disconnected from our food. As I sat in the airport recently waiting for my flight back to San Diego I watched people mindlessly eating meat, eggs, and dairy. I’m not judging, I’m discerning. I know this because their disconnect was obvious. Breakfast sandwich in one hand, phone in the other. Eyes away from their food and taking consecutive bites before chewing and swallowing the previous bite. “Just strapping on the feedbag”, as my dad loves to say. I know in my heart that if they knew the pain that went into that breakfast sandwich there is no way they’d be eating it.
If the young mother feeding her baby milk from a mother cow could see the newborn calf, still wet from afterbirth, being taken from her, I know she would find another solution. If that mother could hear the cries of the calf and the mother cow, yelling out for one another as their essential bond being violated in the worst way possible, I know she would find another way. It is just as heartbreaking now as I write these words as it was the first time I woke up to this reality. I know how much it hurts to see the truth and through my role as an educator, I am here to gently guide my clients back to health, connection, and love in a manner that is for the good of all.
As we wrapped up our interview that day in Midtown and said our goodbyes to our new friend Victoria, I knew that MSVA was in my future. It was not a desire or a wanting but a knowing. I don’t make decisions via lists or mental debate. I am intuitive and my inner voice has spoken to me with clarity since I was a child.
The calling I felt that day in New York never waned and I knew that when the time was right, the opportunity would avail itself to me. That end result is my recent completion of MSVA and my certificate as a Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator. I am available and ready to guide others looking to live more in alignment with their core essence and in a way that is also healthy for the planet and the animals.
We can debate all we want about “butter being back” but I believe there are somethings that we can all agree upon like the fact that our earth is in a state of crisis and it is a direct result of how we are treating it. Animal agriculture has been linked as a direct cause of dead zones in the ocean, species extinction, greenhouse gas emissions and excessive water usage.
I believe with my whole heart that no one aligned with their values and actions would ever hurt an animal in an unnecessary way. Along with that line of thinking, we are all pre-vegan. People are waking up to their misalignment every day and there is no doubt in my mind that I am here to assist them along their journey.
MSVA is more than a nutrition class, it is a lifestyle training that empowers it graduates to deliver the message of health, gratitude, and kindness. It is a precursor to a better world.
Living vegan is not just mock meats and nut milk, it is a pathway to peace.