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My vegan journey so far

Vegan flag

With the Vegan Flag at high noon in Manila, October 26, 2019, just before the second Official Animal Rights March.

As you may have known, I have been vegan since September 21, 2015. Three of those four years I have been living and working in Cambodia while attending major activism events in the Philippines. I was the climate speaker at the very first VegFest Pilipinas in 2016, speaker at the very first National Animal Rights Day in the Philippines in 2018, and also a speaker at the second Official Animal Rights March in the Philippines in October this year.

Earlier on, I even did an online petition to make vegan food accessible in the Philippines which I called #Right2VeganFood. I also joined Save Vigils and Cube of Truths whenever I was in the Philippines. In this blog, I wrote a lot of vegan posts such as when I wrote about how I realized I love animals more than people. I collaborated with another vegan to do the Vegan Philippines flogo, based on the international vegan flag.

Even though I consider myself an animal rights activist, I totally fall short in my engagements in activism in Cambodia. I live in a city and country with very little opportunity to do vegan activism. I did flyering in the province of Mondulkiri before and did a giant chalk art in my own yard for those walking by to see. I have met with vegans and supported in my little way a little restaurant that has now closed.

VVW green

Vegan for the animals, first and foremost. But so many benefits for myself, in terms of my health and happiness, and the Mother Earth as well, from whom I owe everything.

Currently, my initiatives are online. I set up the facebook page Vision Vegan World, the group Vision Vegan Cambodia, and Vegan Philippines Singles. I am also an admin of Vegan Philippines. I have donated to vegan events and activists, but of course, as a social development worker, I could only give so much.

I want to give my best but I do hold a full-time job and do other projects on the side as well, contrary to the popular belief that vegan activists are bums. But if you feel strongly for animal liberation much as I do, you would know that these initiatives are not enough. So I continue to rack my brain to come up with ways on how I could help in the animal liberation movement.

My friend and kumpare Jerry Gracio once called me “lagalag” or wanderer. I guess I am a bit like that. But as a communicator, I have planted my roots in the worldwide web. So I thought it would be perfect to use the internet as a platform to raise awareness on veganism and animal rights.

In November 2019, I did a Learning Call for United Edge on the climate emergency, the call was attended by more than 30 participants from 13 countries. Zoom provided an online platform to share my powerpoint presentation and interact with the participants. My talk was well-received. That gave me an idea to do my aware-raising campaign through a Learning Call.

Initiatives like this entail some costs and take a bit of time to take traction. I have done many initiatives before and there are those that didn’t fly. What I realized in my journey is that I am only a planter of seeds, and I should focus more on how I put myself in the initiative, rather than the immediate and visible results. I just have to do what I’m passionate about, and the universe will sort out everything else.

VVW Learning Call

To know more about the event, please visit the Facebook event page here.

But I am willing to explore where this initiative will take me. I have a lot of ideas for later but also would like to seize the opportunity to engage the vegan-curious who might want to make the shift in the new year. So in only five days before the event itself, I organized the 1st Vision: Vegan World Learning Call on January 4, 2020, at 4:00 pm Philippine Time (UTC+8) Would you like to join me? Here is the Learning Call link. Looking forward to seeing you there!

I really intended to have a deep reflection on my life this New Year. But then I have zeroed in on my vegan journey and it just goes to show how being an animal rights activist is such a huge part of my life. I hope to do more in the coming months and years, in my own little capacity, planting seeds as I go along this path. I hope to meet you along the way. #src


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Every Ekadashi

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Today is Ekadashi, and to me, that means fasting day.  I follow the Ananda Marga fasting calendar which prescribes full, dry fast twice a month. Since 1996, when I became a vegetarian, I’ve struggled to fast, with no success. I couldn’t for the life of me go beyond lunch without food or drink. But it all changed when in 2007, my partner in grime guided me towards fasting using this strategy:

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Welcome to the rest of my life

What’s so special for me about tomorrow, September 21? I can think of a number of things.
First, it’s the birthday of my best friend and imaginal collaborator Jags. He will be leaving for Liwanag Worldfest in Cebu so there will be no celebration.
Second, anniversary of Martial Law. I’m a Martial Law baby. It was simply a fact of my life. Maybe it’s the reason why the moment I went to college, long after Martial Law has been lifted, I immediately became an activist. But that was a long time ago. The country is still trying to heal the wounds it caused, while I have moved to another struggle, that of the environment.
Third, it’s the International Day of Peace, so there will be a global energy collectively ideating for peace.

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Raw food breakfast, lovingly prepared by my soul brother Haresh Tanodra.
There is a fourth and final reason, which to me is the most personal one. I’ve decided to take the leap and become vegan. I’ve been wanting to be one for some years, but I always fall into the trap of giving up what I want most. Or maybe it’s an attachment to the programs that I grew up with, a lack of confidence in myself that I could pull it through, or a fear of getting out of the vegetarian comfort zone that I’ve been in for 17 years (became a vegetarian in 1996 but had a couple of vacillating years). I have become practically vegan for some time, about 95% (found out later this means plant-based). But then one is either vegan or not. And I feel I just have to be one.
I mentioned this desire in passing to a fellow participant in a training I attended in India recently. Her bewildered reply was, “But why?” And I can understand her reaction. I was like that before, and I had to really go deep into myself to realize the whys of it for me. There are so many reasons, but there will be other blog posts for it. I know it won’t be easy, but I’ve been through tougher times. I know that whatever I go through because of this change, my only enemy would be my weakness, my deeply-embedded programs, and my complacency. I’m facing this head-on knowing it will not be perfect. But at least I could tell myself that I did try.
Lunch at the office. Boiled green leaves and okra, fresh tomatoes, fried eggplant, and rice. With thanks to the lovely Lorna Batislaon.
Lunch at the office. Boiled green leaves and okra, fresh tomatoes, fried eggplant, and rice. With thanks to the lovely Lorna Batislaon.
So starting tomorrow, I will be vegan.

But I just have a small request.

Please help me pull it through. Help me become authentic to one of the deepest desires of my heart, and do not allow me to walk away from where I really want to be.
If I falter, please don’t judge me, lift me up.
If I forget, please don’t ridicule me, make me realize.
If I get tired, please don’t condone me, challenge me.
If I give up, please don’t laugh at me, make me remember.
If I am tempted, please don’t side with me, straighten me up.
It’s a terrifying yet exciting journey. Welcome to the rest of my life.