After much reflection over the past few days on the current Cafe Gratitude and Be Love Farm situation, this will be my final public commentary.
First, I want to say that my viewpoints in this post and on my blog are mine exclusively. I do not speak for anyone else. My blog post last week reflected my own opinion, written from a place of honesty, raw emotion, accountability and personal truth. The intention was to spark a dialogue on life, death, change, and the complex situation at hand. Since then, I’ve received a plethora of messages, texts and emails with many different viewpoints.
I’ve also had an in-depth, open-minded discussion with one of the members of the Cafe Gratitude family. Even though their personal preferences and practices on their farm have changed, they will continue to serve plant-based food at their restaurants as they have done for the past 12 years. To their credit, they have served more vegan meals than any other restaurant chain in existence.
It’s also come to my knowledge that the Engelhart family has been receiving death threats, violent messages and have been subject to a variety of intimidation tactics. I’ve know the Engelhart family for years and they’ve extended a lot of love, support and kindness to me, both personally and professionally. As with many people in my life that I have actively chosen to love, I may disagree with their personal choices, practices and viewpoints, but still choose to extend loving kindness in light of those differences. I’ve chosen to love cigarette smokers, drug abusers, carnivores, gun enthusiasts and people with pro-war viewpoints. I’ve chosen to actively love those people (and consider them family) – even though I disagree with their personal beliefs and practices.
As I write this, my heart is deeply hurting and I’m disappointed for so many reasons. It hurts my heart to know that animal lives have been taken. It hurts my heart that a group of friends that once shared the same ethical viewpoints and practices are now choosing to live from a different set of values and beliefs. It hurts my heart that the Engelhart family has been receiving death threats.
Violence – and threats thereof – do not and cannot create lasting peace, equanimity, understanding or conscious change. Threats, intimidation and blind hatred do not create amicable solutions nor allow anyone to change their current practices or shift their mindset. For the vegan community, there’s a great opportunity to “walk the talk”. To show up to the discussion well-informed and coming from a place of acceptance and to represent the values of compassion, peace, equanimity and love for animals and humans alike.
As an ethical vegan for nearly two decades, I am fully committed to reducing violence, oppression and unnecessary suffering, thereby fostering and creating more compassion, love and understanding on this planet in my relations with ALL beings. This commitment is not just in my career as a vegan chef/educator/author – but through every personal interaction. This is an deep, heart-centered ethos – an ethical commitment – that I have chosen in every facet of my life.
I do not feel in my heart that animals exist for the purposes of mass human consumption, entertainment, clothing, slavery or industrial commerce. In a few rare exceptions where no other alternatives exist (Inuit Eskimos, native/indigenous tribes, etc.) it is, in my opinion, wholly unnecessary for humans to rely on animals for sustenance when science, technology, veganic farming methods and the culinary arts have given us so many alternative options. In modern society, we have a massive wealth of options that are more compassionate, mindful, loving and sustainable than using animals as commodities.
In closing, I want to reiterate my request: stop the death threats, violence and intimidation. The only way to create solutions is to open a space of mutual understanding and respect so that an honest, compassionate and truthful dialogue can take place between Cafe Gratitude/Be Love Farm and the vegan community. That’s why I wrote the open letter on my blog last week and it’s the reason for this new, more introspective and heart-centered request.
The only way to create substantive change is to create an open dialogue; to have an open-minded conversation, to exchange truthful viewpoints and thereby attempt to create mutual understanding with all parties involved.
I believe that humanity is evolving into a more aware, awakened, compassionate, kind-hearted society where ALL beings can be embraced as equals and included in our circles of compassion and reverence. But I feel it’s imperative to set the example for others with our collective thoughts, words, deeds and actions.
With love and light always,