I just had a conversation with Elina on IG live and we talked about being female, Muslim and vegan.
Experiencing my life in the first-person point of view, I had never really given much thought about how being those three identities in one body may affect someone else’s perception.
Now that I’m at the stage where I’m more sure of each of my identities, I can discuss my view and also put myself in a third person’s point of view.
I’ve never considered myself oppressed or lacking in opportunities because I’ve been lucky enough that my parents were able to afford my full education and that we live in a fairly open-minded (or perhaps not so outspoken but nearly equal) society.
Unlike a century or so ago, women nowadays (at least in Malaysia) are allowed to get an education and express themselves.
No one stopped me from doing anything and in retrospect, it was me who stopped myself from possibly achieving greater success.
But I know not all females are lucky in that sense.
And some of us might seem to be living in a ‘free’ society but trapped within cultural norms that impedes women’s freedom of opinion.
I guess my comfort was probably the reason I’ve never really got involved in feminism.
Heck, I had never really gotten myself into any political ideologies. So I never really knew where I stood on certain situation.
Since Elina brought this up, I think it’s a sign for me to get more involved in this issue and decide where I stand.
For now, I do believe that everyone deserves justice.
I grew up in a Muslim family and had an Islamic education in school.
I enjoyed learning about the history, not so much the rules.
And I find it a missed opportunity that we (or at least me) weren’t taught the Arabic language (unless you went to an Islamic after-school program). Instead, we were taught to read the Quran but not understand it.
Not having the understanding as to why the rules and practice were imposed, and not understanding the lessons, I felt that I didn’t really have a deep connection with my religion growing up.
But having only grown up with one faith made me go back to it when I was not at my best.
And because I did learn about its history and teaching, I did eventually see the beauty and became more attracted to it.
I’m still building on my relationship with my faith.
But I’m also learning about other faiths and perspectives to hopefully have a better view of life.
I had never really been vocal about any identity, not even as a Muslim, until I decided to embrace the vegan lifestyle.
Before being vegan, I didn’t give a hoot about any environmental or ethical issues.
But university changed my perspective as I began learning about plants, food production and personal health.
I guess in retrospect, my life was set to be on this course one way or another.
Growing up, I had experienced sickness in many forms.
It didn’t occur to me the first time that I needed to eat healthier. But then I learnt that “food is thy medicine” and so I began to educate myself on what’s best for my body.
So with my compulsory education and my quest for eating better, I eventually came across veganism.
And it all clicked.
The way our food is produced is unhealthy and unethical.
The animals bred for meat are treated with a load of antibiotics and they are bred in a very unhygienic and limited space. Even the vegetables are grown in a monoculture method with fertilisers. Such depressing and unhealthy conditions are then being fed to us and we absorb all the anxiety, antibiotics and fertilisers.
No wonder we’re all sick.
So one way to prevent my body from consuming such negativity is by adopting the vegan diet.
And when I learnt more about it, I understood that it has to be more than a diet.
I needed to take a stance, a political stance, against such exploitation and injustice to the animals and the land.
So I embraced the vegan lifestyle.
It seems that I had acquired those 3 identities at different stages of my life.
I was born a female, I was taught to be Muslim, and I learnt about veganism.
At this point in my life, those identities have merged as one.
I’m definitely more aware of how each one of them contributes to the other and what impact it may give.
And it’s interesting to discover other people’s perception of my overall identity.
I wish to discover more of myself. I think I’m only scratching the surface.
Whatever it is, I’m keen to see what my position can contribute to society, what opinions I may form that’s different from others with a similar identity, and what discussions or debates I might have with people.
Here’s to discovery and embracing your identity!