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Interview with Will Tuttle - Portland VegFest Presenter

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August 30, 2013

A huge thanks to EVEN for sharing this article with us. We're excited to have Will Tuttle presenting The World Peace Diet: Being Healthy while Saving the Planet at 5pm on Saturday Time to Wake Up!: Veganism and Social Change 3:30pm on Sunday at our upcoming Portland VegFest Sept. 21 & 22!

Dr. Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet is devoted to cultural healing and awakening. Will is a Dharma Master in the Zen tradition, and his PhD degree from Berkeley focused on educating intuition and altruism in adults. Will has been traveling with his spouse, Madeleine, full- time for 16 years in their solar-paneled rolling home, presenting over 150 lectures, retreats, workshops, and concerts annually.

Q: How did veganism become part of your life?
A: Through community. I ate meat and dairy because of the communities I was born and raised in, and I discovered vegetarianism primarily through discovering and living at The Farm in Tennessee back in 1975, where there were about 1,000 people all thriving on a completely plant-based diet. I became a vegan about five years later when people told me of the cruelty of dairy and eggs, and this was sealed in my heart a few years later when I lived in a Zen monastery in South Korea that had been practicing vegan living for 650 years. Through that experience, I came to understand veganism not as a choice but as our true nature as human beings.

Q: Who was an influential person in your life earlier on that led you to veganism?
A: I remember a guy at The Farm when I was just 22 years old, as we were walking through a field, nodding, and saying to me, “And these are vegetarian shoes.” A light bulb and I realized that vegetarianism goes much farther than food.

Q: What advice would you give to a vegan advocate wanting to become more of an activist?
A: My main advice would be to make an effort to live the vegan teaching as deeply as possible throughout the day. Veganism is another word for ahimsa, or non-violence, which is an all-embracing and radical inclusiveness of compassion and kindness for others, both human and non- human animals. This means taking time to meditate and connect with inner silence and inner peace, as well as taking time to connect authentically with the beauty and power of our Earth. Cultivating inner stability and joy is essential to being an effective activist, both in the short and long term. I think that integrating spirituality and activism is the heart of the matter, and this means making a commitment to both inner efforts to purify awareness and align with radical compassion for all, and outer efforts to spread the vegan message to others.

I would also encourage people to make an effort to understand what is going on behind the curtain of our culture, and see the interconnectedness of all exploitation, and also to witness through videos (and visits if possible) the ongoing human violence toward animals. This leads naturally to grief and outrage, but instead of being afraid to witness these relentless and disturbing realities, to open to them, and turn the outrage into concrete actions on behalf of others.

Q: What do you think makes veganism hard for people?
A: There is nothing inherently difficult in veganism – it’s easy, natural, healthy, delicious, and is a win-win for everyone involved. The difficulty is that we’ve been intensively indoctrinated, and that we are creatures of habit, and that we are sensitive to the social pressures around us throughout our lives.

We are all programmed from infancy from every direction to eat animal flesh and other animal foods, and to see beings as mere commodities. It takes a remarkable effort or insight or character to be able to question this deep and essentially toxic programming, because of the enormous power of food in our social lives, and in our self-concept. Considering all this, I think it’s practically a miracle anyone manages to go vegan! There is no more benevolently revolutionary act than seeing” somethings” as “someones,” and bringing our lives into active alignment with this insight.

Read more on EVEN's website.

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