This Is How Compassion Works. This Is Why I’m Vegan.

Last year, I read about an author — a devout Christian — who’d spent a year pretending to be gay. Last week, I stumbled across his TEDx talk.

Timothy Kurek’s one-man social experiment has nothing to do with being vegan, per se, but everything to do with being compassionate. This clip provides a rare opportunity to hear someone describe a profound moment of understanding and conversion. It’s joyous to watch and painful, too, and very, very special.

Kurek’s new-found compassion is something that I try to find in my own life every day, though I’m not as good at describing it. In his case, it fosters empathy for LGBT friends and neighbors. In my case, I use it to keep others — humans and non-human animals — at the forefront of my thoughts.

It isn’t easy. In fact, it can be deeply, deeply challenging, especially when dealing with people who aren’t very kind or animals that are a little creepy (cockroaches come to mind). But for Kurek and for me, and probably for you, too, those challenges are opportunities for reflection and self-awareness. Which, not to be all hippy-dippy about it, is kind of cool.

And yeah, I know this is longish for a YouTube clip, but it’s so worth the 18 minutes of your time.

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