Published September 5, 2023
I’ve had two great passions throughout my life: the prospect of a compassionate world, a Vegan world where all living beings are honored and respected; and the Big Picture, the meaning of life, why we’re here, what’s-it-all-about-Alfie? These two passions have dovetailed time and again. Early on, it was a teenage exploration of yoga that pushed me over the line to vegetarianism. My introduction to Veganism came from the American Vegan Society whose magazine was then called Ahimsa, nonviolence and reverence for life, the first moral precept of yoga. In my case, Vegan spirituality and Veganism came as a package.
Other people, of course, have different stories, but I’m grateful for mine because I believe it is the inclusion of that inner impetus, the spiritual spark, that has consistently renewed and refreshed what I’ve tried to do for animals. And I started trying long ago.
Just for the heck of it, I Googled my maiden name. I became Victoria Moran with my first marriage in 1977, so anything prior to “Moran” is some serious history. But I found things––a couple of articles I wrote for teen magazines back in the late ’60s (irrelevant to this conversation other than to evidence that I was eager to live a spectacular life), and in the early 1970s protests at the American Royal Livestock and Horse Show then held annually in my hometown of Kansas City.
At the time, carrying signs on behalf of farmed animals and vegetarianism was unusual enough that it got media attention. I found little stories about the protests I led in KC picked up by wire services and showing up in the Boston Globe and the LA Times. All this to say: that was over fifty years ago. People get tired. I get tired. Life circumstances shift. I took a couple of years off being an out-there activist when my daughter was an infant and toddler, but by the time she was three, she was out carrying signs, too, because she wanted to.
As the years passed, I moved from more obvious activism to writing, speaking, podcasting, running Main Street Vegan Academy (training Vegan Lifestyle Coaches and Educators), producing the documentary A Prayer for Compassion, and working with two Interfaith ministers (I’m married to one of them) on the Compassion Consortium, an online Interfaith ministry designed t meet the spiritual needs of animal advocates. And I haven’t yet burned out. I haven’t gotten tired of this cause and either moved to another one or given up on causes altogether.
At a 2019 screening of A Prayer for Compassion in Columbus, Ohio, I was introduced to retired engineer and active spiritual teacher Jiten Ruparel, PhD. He has a deep understanding of the philosophical traditions of India and how to apply these teachings to practical life. With that background, he says, “If you’re rooted in activism, it will burn you out. If you’re rooted in spirituality — i.e., nonviolence — you won’t get burned out. Don’t give up on your spiritual centeredness, so whatever energy you expend will come from the Infinite through you. Then it’s not activism; it’s compassion in action.” That’s what I want.
And it leads to gathering with like-minded others. For me, much of this comes through the Compassion Consortium, with our monthly Zoom service that’s interfaith, interspiritual, and interspecies, and the Interfaith Vegan Coalition, headed by Lisa Levinson of In Defense of Animals and Judy Carman, author of Peace to All Beings and Homo Ahimsa. The coalition works with established relgious group on animal rights and animal welfare issues––they’re engaged now with an Episcopalian effort to end lobster boils as church fundraisers––and they have put together faith-specific kits to present the vegan ethic to people and institutions reflecting diverse traditions. Over the next few months, I’ll be learning about the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita from an ecological perspective with Sailesh Rao, PhD, of ClimateHealers.org. It’s an 18-part series which started on September 1 but is still open to all, noon Eastern Time on Fridays: www.climatehealers.org/convergence.
Many folks from these organizations and others were part of the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago last month. It was an incredible gathering of people sincerely committed to peace, justice, inclusion, understanding, and fact that every wisdom tradition has something to offer. There was a gratifying amount of openness to Veganism. We tried hard to present it in an evolutionary sense: This is the time. We’re done what did in the past, but with our current awareness, this is the time to extend our compassion to all beings, our time to live as if that oneness of life on this planet was not only the purview of mystics, but the understanding of all people.
I realize that not everyone is “into spirituality.” We all see the world differently and we can bring to our work for animals and Veganism our specific take on things, making us more effective in reaching others who share our perspective. There is room for everybody. For me, having my spiritual life and my Vegan life operate in tandem make both work better. One infuses––and enthuses––the other. And being Vegan gives me an opportunity to translate what’s come to me via spiritual teachings into something real and palpable right here on earth.
Victoria Moran is an author, speaker, and podcaster — the Main Street Vegan Podcast
returns September 14 (see image) with special guest Colleen PatrickGoudreau. Victoria has a B.A. in comparative religions and has written books include Shelter for the Spirit and Creating a Charmed Life, as well as titles focusing on health and Veganism. She is the founder and director of Main Street Vegan Academy, training Vegan Lifestyle Coaches and Educators, and you can connect with her in Dallas September 30-October 1 at the Best Plant-Based Conference Ever, or in Kansas City October 19-22 for the third annual Whole Planet Spirituality Forum and Retreat, “Let Peace Begin With Me.”