Cheers to a sentient holiday season

After writing my first column of the semester, “More than just a lifestyle: my path to embracing veganism,” I had no idea how my writing would progress. Though I was elated about having a medium to share my passion for veganism, having to write 14 weeks of content daunted me. There were so many aspects of veganism I planned on covering, yet I had no idea how to appertain one to the other.

Each week posed a new challenge. First came the conceptualization of the topic, which was the hardest part. Aside from choosing something I had genuine interest in, I had to strike a balance between a timely, relevant and interesting article that also maintained the caliber of the previous one. More often than not, I would decide on a topic the day before the writing process.

However, once I sat down to write at my desk, the stress subsided. Comparable to an empty dance studio or music practice room, the white blank page became my endearing creative space where my ideas came to life. Once I put on my Beats headphones (no sponsorship intended, but they are exceptional at blocking out background noise) and got into the groove, my focus could not be diverted. Writing while listening to groovy yet complex music — frequently Hiatus Kaiyote — became a source of meditation.

Once the piece was done after around two to three hours of writing, my soul reached a new height. This elation only multiplied when I received feedback. Countless friends and acquaintances reached out to me asking for help in their decision to transition to a plant-based diet, VegNews featured my seventh-week column on its website and an anonymous person wrote me a three-page letter in cursive.

As we approach winter break, holiday cheer looms in the air. The impending month-long relaxation, piqued by Thanksgiving but not achieved until finals are finished, keeps our engines running on near empty tanks. This evocative holiday season encapsulates love — a time to feast on Tofurky roasts and share joy around your Christmas tree or Hanukkah menorah with your friends, family and loved ones.

Love, a tenet of the holiday season, is a selfless and vulnerable entity. Love opens our hearts and allows us to empathize and connect with one another on a deeper level. As Mahatma Gandhi so eloquently said, “Love fears nothing and no one. It cuts through fear at its very root.” So rather than being afraid of ideological differences and those who possess them, love connects us by reminding us that we’re all (extending to all sentient beings) equal, and therefore deserve equal love and compassion. This doctrine applies to the non-vegan readers of my column who engaged with me in meaningful conversations that challenged both of our beliefs.

Love is the supreme emotion that helps us see each other with caring and kindness. Thus, love is the breeding ground for altruism. While I support the practice of effective altruism, donating large sums of money to one charity that you believe will incite the most change, an easy, implementable way to make a difference this holiday season is to try going vegan.

So Trojans, thank you for helping carve my path to embracing love this semester. As a result of your support, I’ve discovered a vital source of happiness. On that note, I hope you all find happiness that will sustain you long after the new year.

Tessa Nesis is a a sophomore majoring in NGOs and social change.  Her column, “The Sentient Bean,” ran on Thursdays.