Because I'm a lazy? busy? tired? vegan believer of recycling, and because I quite liked the post I wrote for Father's Day last year, feel free to check it out or re-read it again! :)
Because I'm a lazy? busy? tired? vegan believer of recycling, and because I quite liked the post I wrote for Father's Day last year, feel free to check it out or re-read it again! :)
This cartoon amused me greatly as I happened to be finishing my sociology degree a little over a quarter century ago (why does that sound a lot longer than 25 years?), and it has graced more than one refrigerator. At the time I didn't give much thought to the quite literal prison sentences served by sentient beings in zoos, circuses, laboratories (I hadn't even heard of the term factory farms yet) and all other manner of places, although I could relate to questioning the usefulness of this particular degree. And to be fair, I haven't reaped the economic benefits that post-secondary education usually confers, although that was totally through my own doing.
But I like to think that my relatively useless degree HAS contributed greatly to my "I'm in here for life" vegan journey. I initially wanted to major in psychology as I was interested in what made people tick (although to be honest I bet most psych majors, myself included, enter the field trying to figure out what the hell makes them tick, snort), but soon realized that examining why groups of people behave as they do is even more interesting. My education and on-again off-again career in non-profit community research helped me to develop critical thinking skills (I hope), a healthy disdain of academic jargon, life-long impatience with committees and meetings, an awareness that statistics can be manipulated any which way you like, and if nothing else, shaped how I view pretty much every issue, including veganism. In other words, I'm hopelessly sociologically bent. ;)
p.s. Don't forget that my vegan giveaway contest ends tonight. I'm working tomorrow, so plan to draw and post the results late afternoon or early evening. See you then!
p.p.s. In order to make it easier for drawing purposes I did not respond to any comments in the giveaway post, but would like to thank everyone for participating. Good luck to all! :)
And no, I don't mean that you'll have fewer years to endure the mind-boggling and nerve-curdling animal cruelty that passes for normal on most parts of the planet. By the way, if all that crap is getting you down big time and sometimes (on darker days) having you think that the predicted demise of our fair earth in 2012 might not be such a bad thing, may I suggest a refreshing dose of CarpeVegan? Even if you don't agree with their viewpoints of purposeful vegan baby breeding or thrift store leather purchases, these dudes can be seriously funny and laughter-induced endorphins are good for everyone's health. Especially vegans. And those who have to live with them. Kidding! About the last part. But you knew that.
Where was I again? Oh yeah, the advantages of being wrinkled. Sure, most of the materials distributed by places like Vegan Outreach are aimed at younger brains and hearts and that certainly makes sense, but let's not forget that there are distinct advantages to going vegan when you're older. First, no one will pat you on the head and inform you that you're going through a "phase" if you announce your vegan intentions at the ripe old/middle age of 46. Had I gone vegan when I was 16 I'm sure my head would have gotten tired of all those patronizing hands. People expect college-age students to try on different philosophies and identities whereas we more seasoned folk have pretty much figured out who we are by now. And we've certainly been around the block enough times to be fairly serious about our goals (and more immune) when we agree to be maligned by the majority of meat-loving cohorts around us.
Another distinct advantage of most older vegans is that they tend to be established in their careers and finances (not myself personally, snort, but MOST), which means they have more money to donate to vegan causes and a wider sphere of influence. Who has more clout? Somebody in a boardroom or a schoolroom? Bill Clinton, or the girl on Glee?
So while I understand the impetus to recruit the young as they'll have more years to save more animals, let's not underestimate the importance of reaching out to the not-so-young. Like the quantity versus quality argument, young isn't always better and doesn't mean they'll influence more folk to go vegan than we older fogies will.
Um, I know there are other advantages too, but I'm gonna go take a wee nap now...
p.s. accuse me of being ageist in this post and I'll make sure your funny bone STAYS missing ;)
p.p.s. I MEANT to link to this informal poll, but forgot. Blame old age if you like. Or not.
Note: the paradoxes of being vegan that I discuss in this and subsequent posts are my own personal observations, and not necessarily universally applicable to all vegans
And if you haven't read paradoxes 1 or 2 yet (or have forgotten already because I wrote them so long ago), I'll link to them below.
When I say that being vegan has changed me completely I don't just mean what I eat, wear, enjoy for entertainment and consume in other ways (although it includes all of that), but more that it has changed my mindset, my worldview, and my values. It has opened my heart (significant for someone who prefers logic and thinking) in a way that nothing else has, and it's increased my ability to feel compassion and empathy. And in an odd way, caring more about all living animals has allowed me to care more about human animals too. I'm a better person for being vegan and I'm thankful that I took the leap.
At the same time though, being vegan hasn't changed me one iota. In fact, it's probably just reinforced who I really am. Being vegan hasn't made me more patient, hasn't eradicated my quick temper, hasn't made me less reactive, and hasn't smoothed out the rough edges. I'm still quick to judge, am prone to snarkiness, love to come up with new ideas but am not great on follow-up (case in point being all the post topics I have thought up and promised but have yet to deliver, e.g., paradoxes 3, 4, and 5 were conceptualized eons ago), and I still feel like smacking people in the face for being such jackasses half the time even though I usually endorse a gentler approach.
What I think veganism does is magnify who you really are. It brings out your best and worst traits, illuminates whatever charming or not so charming personality quirks you possess, and brings to the fore your true values. In a sense, being vegan is a litmus test. Or maybe I'm just full of it? At any rate, being vegan gives you the wonderful opportunity to use your skills, interests and the unique qualities that make you YOU for the betterment of all, and that my friend, is quite cool.
Need to catch up with the other paradoxes? Here you go:
Paradox #2: as a vegan I've never been more at peace/more pissed off
Paradox #1: being vegan is easy/being vegan is hard
But first I thought I'd help you cool down with the help of the photo above. Taken a few years ago when I still lived in Hamilton, I sure would love to jump into that snow today! The oppressive heat has finally reached Southern Ontario (although I'm not complaining because I realize how lucky we've been up until now), and I feel bad for anyone who doesn't have air conditioning. I feel worse though for all the companion animals who are suffering in this heat, farmed/harmed animals who have no refuge from the blistering sun (1500+ cattle in South Dakota died), and all my neighbours to the south who have had to put up with this heat dome for so long already. Hope relief comes soon!
As for the title of this post, being vegan actually entered my dreams last night. And since my dreams tend to be of the mundane mix-everything-that-happened-today variety, this snippet amused me. Apparently, I was in a restaurant hotly disputing a bill and saying indignantly: "This bill is wrong because I never would have ordered that [that being a plate of meat-based appetizers I believe]. I'm vegan you know." So there you go. My identity as a vegan is firmly entrenched even in my dreams, woot! :)
And by successful I mean it's gotten the most attention from strangers. Wore it into town on Saturday and two people actually read it out loud! Cool. One exchange went like this:
Store owner filling in at cash register: "Food is to eat, animals are to love. Pause.
So I guess that means you don't eat meat?"
Me: "Yeah, I don't touch the stuff."
Owner: "And you love pigs?"
Me: "Yes, and chickens and cows too!"
Unfortunately at that point another customer needed serving and the conversation ended, but I like to think that a seed was planted. Or at least, that the owner has now met (if he hadn't before) someone who doesn't think other sentient beings should be thought of as food. And I wonder too if a gentle message like the one above is more effective in challenging typical assumptions then a more aggressive "meat is murder" motto. I mean, while I have no problem with thinking of meat as murder, it's the kind of slogan that is more likely to make people want to defend their habits methinks. It raises walls, instead of helping to tear them down.
As I may have mentioned in the previous post, the beauty of t-shirt activism too is that it puts a human face on what may be stereotypical notions of who's vegan. In my case, that face belongs to a forty-something female who has given her laugh lines an honest-to-goodness workout, and who isn't bothered by prematurely grey hair. Also, while in some ways it's a real pain to be living in a small rural-based town; maybe it's even more important here than in big cities to demonstrate who vegans actually are.
p.s. more positive response from another clerk: "I couldn't help but notice your t-shirt: eat, eat, kiss, kiss -- that's SO cute!"
Did you remember to wear one of your vegan tees yesterday to help celebrate Vegan T-shirt Day? Held every first Saturday of the month this is a great way to spread the vegan message by wearing your heart AND politics on your sleeve. The beauty too of this method of advocacy is that if you're a people-can-be-draining introvert like me, you can get your point across without even having to say a word. Of course, if someone notices your shirt and wants to strike up a conversation, well, that's cool too. If more vegans participate in the event it will let people know how many of us are around, and how increasingly diverse a population we're becoming. So do your part every first Saturday (and any other day you want) and show the world your vegan pride. Do it! :)
* I got the tee in the pic above from AnimalRightStuff.com
If you're the father of kids who have been weaned off their mother's breast, isn't it time that you grew up and weaned yourself off cow udders? And shouldn't your whole family follow suit? On a day celebrating what fatherhood is all about, this is an excellent opportunity to rethink what kind of example you're setting and what sort of role model you want to be. Your children (if young enough) look up to you and take direction as to what men and fathers ought to be like, so take your role seriously.
Here's your chance to show that real men, for example, are secure enough in their sexuality that someone else's isn't going to threaten their own. Real men are not homophobic. Real men don't need to prove their masculinity by controlling and oppressing women. Real men aren't afraid if another person's skin isn't the same colour as their own. A real man doesn't condone cruelty and violence to any other living being. Real men don't, among other things, hunt, take part in dogfights, experiment on animals or think animals performing stupid tricks is cute, barbecue pigs or (as is now a growing trend) whole cattle, and most certainly real men don't drink milk (directly or indirectly) from a cow.
Real fathers think deeply about the maternal AND paternal bonds between various species and their offspring. While it's true that more attention is paid to the cruelty of denying mothers access to their young, real men realize that males of all species may want to grow up to be fathers. Or at least, grow up. Real feeling and thinking males want to make this world a better place for all. So start by reflecting on what values you're illustrating for your own offspring this Father's Day, and whether your kids deserve to inherit a different kind of planet and future. Be a real dad -- go vegan!
p.s. if you don't have kids yet then please read veganelder's Unfather's Day post first :)
Woohoo! Received Nick Cooney's Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change in the mail Friday and after only one chapter I already think it'll be invaluable. Not only is it interesting reading (although I'm biased towards the social sciences), but I feel it will help us to become more effective activists. I like how the title is Change of Heart as opposed to Change of Mind because while facts, logic and reasoning are certainly part of the activist's arsenal, facts by themselves are not enough. Compassion is more a matter of the heart, and hearts have to be opened before information can settle in.
Chapter One is called Looking Inward and it deals partly with the relationship between self-identity and activism. Cooney reminds us that because we're so strongly and emotionally invested in our cause, we tend to believe that our own advocacy methods are the right ones and that any criticism of them can feel like criticism of us. That in turn can make it hard to abandon them if it's shown they're flawed.
He also suggests that negative aspects of self-identity (like ego, jealousy and insecurity) need to be kept in reign if we want to be effective, and asks the following:
Are we as activists willing to keep our anger and passion in check so that we're directing them rather than they directing us? Are we willing to put those we hope to help ahead of our desires for self-expression, for standing up for ourselves, and for loudly proclaiming what we believe regardless of how others will respond? Are we willing to go beyond the comfortable boundaries of our current self-identity in order to be as effective as possible? (p.15)
All good questions. (And it makes me wonder what HE thinks of the VegNews scandal, snort. My own take on it is expressed in a comment I left at The Discerning Brute, but check out the excellent post Vegan Feminist Agitator has written on the matter.)
So I'm looking forward to the next chapters, and if any of you are interested I may share bits in the future that resonate with me. Or, if you don't want to wait, you can read a complete interview posted by Vegan Outreach to get a sense of what's in store.
Better yet, buy the book! :)
There are of course no right questions, just as there are no right answers, but are there other (and probably better) questions that YOU ask yourself?
Actually, I've had it for a few months now, but hadn't gotten around to taking a pic. And I have two backpacks! (Or knapsacks as I also call them.) This is my lighter summer edition, and I have a darker heavier one for lugging groceries. I love the material (yay for cruelty-free!), and as an orange-aholic, the great colours. Some of you may remember my dilemma from one of my first blog posts, but as you can see, I was ready to pass the backpack on. What I also did was get myself some nifty vegan buttons (below is a close-up of my favourite quote) to put on both bags as I figured that this way I could promote the cause without even having to say a word, snort. And really, in a small town like the one I live in, just announcing your presence as a vegan could be as liberating as saying, "I'm queer, I'm here, get used to it." ;)
I know I haven't posted in what seems like forever (how can nearly two months go by so quickly?), but I haven't given up on this blog, so I hope you won't either. Being vegan in a non-vegan world (am I an abolitionist failure for thinking that all the wanting in the world* won't make it so?) can be daunting, and for me one of the challenges is trying to figure out how to be an effective advocate without being angry and pissed off all the time. And that's just at other vegans! Kidding. Well, mostly, snort.
Besides continuing to explore vegan identity (yes that includes the stats I promised) and the process of veganism (because I believe being vegan is a journey and not a destination), I want to tell you about some new vegan products, and show off my veganalia. Yep, that's my new vegan word of the day! I've gotten some cool buttons, a stamp, and am planning to get vegan-themed T-shirts and I'll post them all soon. Also, expect more posts centered around questions, because for me, thinking out loud is the best way to process.
* in reference to the abolitionist slogan "THE WORLD IS VEGAN! If you want it."
I know; I almost feel like a traitor just for saying it! Snort. And it's not as if I hate them per se, but they just don't do anything for me. They don't make me squeal with delight, don't make me go ooh and aah, and they don't (unlike a certain cookbook would like) take over my world in any way. Now before you go thinking I'm the grumpiest vegan ever, I've never really liked regular-sized cakes either. The icing, especially, is usually too sweet for my taste.
And that, at the risk of you viewing me as ultra grumpy, brings me to the commonly held assumption that a vegan diet is healthier. Well it can be, but not always. All those cupcakes and other admittedly yummy vegan desserts can be high in both sugar and fat. I myself gained weight after turning vegan in part because I felt I deserved more treats. Using a generous amount of olive oil when sautéing onion and garlic didn't help either. In some ways, I find eating healthy even more of a challenge these days because I've never liked vegetables much, am not keen on most faux products, and find that beans will only take you so far!
Now another perfectly reasonable explanation for my cupcake aversion could be that I'm not only grumpy but also lazy, and not having easy access to vegan sweets in a small town means that I would have to bake them myself. And baking is NOT something I'm good at, or enjoy. Or maybe my appetite is so large that those little cakes are too darn small for me?
So, do you like cupcakes? Is it unveganly not to? Should there be a support group for cupcake-challenged vegans like me? ;)
Two simple yet powerful words.
Twice last week I ended up using them (with a telemarketer trying to sell me delivery of beef, and a clerk wanting to give me a food sample) and it struck me how effective those words really are. Right away the other person understood what I was saying, and there was no attempt to continue their campaign. And it made me realize that this declaration of who you are and what you stand for is probably better than any type of slogan we could come up with. Although fun, maybe slogans aren't even necessary because as the number of people who utter these two words continues to grow, the more exposure our cause gets. Our message is getting out there people! Before long everyone will know at least one person who is vegan (kind of like how everyone knows at least one person who is gay), which means that the whole movement will become more mainstream. And that, I like to think, will translate into more people becoming vegan. So maybe I'm vegan is actually the best un-slogan of all!
To prove he wasn't chicken.
Ha ha! Alright, maybe that was kinda lame, but it DID make me laugh. And this one's not bad either:
Q: Did you hear about the vegan devil worshipper?
A: He sold his soul to seitan!
Snort. These two vegan nuggets live at the Happy Cow website, but that made me Google vegan humour to see what else is online. Well! First, I was happy to see 519,000 results, and that Happy Cow was on top. And I laughed when I saw my own humble little blog at the bottom of page 1, but laughed even harder when I saw the following book title: Friend or Faux: A Guide to Fussy Vegans, Crazy Cat Ladies, Creepy Clingers, Undercover Sluts, and Other Girls Who Will Quietly Destroy Your Life. Now I'm not gonna link to it, but the fact that I laughed out loud (in a decidedly, um, unladylike manner) just proves that vegans DO have a sense of humour, and that "vegan humour" is NOT an oxymoron. Right? Although, if you spell humour humor, you get 2,150,000 Google results, so does that mean that Canadian or British vegans are three-quarters less likely to enjoy a good guffaw? I doubt that. I bet we just like our humour a tad drier. :)
Darn! Apparently there was a segment on CBC radio exploring vegan humour (appropriately called Why Did The Vegan Cross The Road), but that was back in 2008, so the clip won't play anymore. Hmmm, let's see what else I can find. Okay, here's a page of veggie jokes that are kinda lame as well, but it's a start. And this list of reasons for not going vegan is more interesting than funny per se, but it counts, no? Oh dear, maybe I can find some funny-bone-friendly vegan books instead. Yay, I found one! And it's gotten great reviews, so you'll definitely want to check out The Vegan Monologues.
Well, I'm not going to lie. I'm a little disappointed with the results thus far, so I guess that means that you and I are going to have to prove to the rest of the non-vegan world that vegans are by no means grim, angry, bitter, sour, or humour-challenged. At least, not all of the time. ;)
Having been vegan for over a year I decided I wanted to know more about veganism and animal rights, so I gingerly dipped my toe into the pool of knowledge that's on the Internet, and boy the learning experience has been a humbling one! Here is what I've gleaned so far, but please keep in mind that my observations (in no particular order) are subjective, and may change over time. I will probably also expand on some or most of the points below in future posts.
All I think I know for sure in this moment is that:
Finally, what I really know for sure (depite my tone), is that I have no answers, and definitely not even all of the questions.
A comment to my last post made me realize I'm not quite done yet with addressing TV. First, I goofed, as there are currently two minor bisexual characters in mainstream TV today (House and Grey's Anatomy). Wow--two! And I also remember bisexuality being dealt with on Sex and the City, but was shocked because for a show that supposedly dealt with sexuality in such a frank manner, they perpetuated almost every single stereotype of bisexuality still out there; bisexuals are fence-sitters, and bisexuality is a brief experimental phase before coming out as gay, to name just two. Mind you, I thought the gay male characters on that show were treated as practically just another accessory for the female characters anyway, so I suppose I shouldn't have been too surprised.
But back to vegans! I forgot to mention I heard somewhere that if you haven't been spoofed on SNL, The Simpsons, or South Park, then you haven't quite made it yet. South Park was never my cup of tea, and I haven't watched SNL for years (although watching clips of Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin was priceless), but The Simpsons I always liked. Unfortunately, without cable (and now TV) I haven't been able to watch them either, so I Googled, and what do you know--Lisa went vegetarian way back in 1995! Where was I? Oh, and Apu is vegan. Still, not enough spoofing going on yet, snort.
Another part of the comment suggested that it would be interesting to see what influence things like orientation, gender, marital status, religion, education, race, and travel have on becoming vegan. I completely agree, especially because unlike some of the above factors, becoming vegan is usually a choice, and that makes me wonder if being a member of one minority group affects a person's decision to become part of another. But even the other variables would be fascinating to look at, so I'm going to see if I can find any statistics out there. A sociology of veganism and vegan identity, hmmm, makes me want to go back to school!
I've been thinking a lot about this lately, especially as I'm learning more about the various ideological positions within the animal rights movement. So what DOES it mean to be vegan? It's a label obviously, a shorthand way of identifying certain objections and practices, a personal choice, a political statement, a group identity, a philosophy, and I suppose, a lifestyle. The last term I'm actually a bit uncomfortable with as it reminds me too much of its negative use as a way of defending homophobia, but in this case, it seems fitting.
But does being vegan mean that you're an animal rights activist? In a way, I think it does, even though there may be some vegans who are vegan more for health or environmental reasons. The result though, regardless of motivation, is that fewer animals are being consumed. But I want to explore this topic more fully over time by writing a series of posts on the angry vegan, the self-righteous vegan, the militant vegan, the reluctant or invisible vegan, the discouraged vegan, the hopeful vegan, the compassionate vegan, and the effective vegan. I also want to comment on the state of the animal rights movement as it is today (if the two major camps were a couple, they would be in major need of marital counselling indeed!), and what I think my own position is shaping up to be. So stay tuned.
Veganism denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude--as far as possible and practical--all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals, and the environment.*
Welcome to So I'm Thinking Of Going Vegan!
I think the emphasis of this blog has slowly been changing, and I find that I've become fascinated with questions like what it means to be vegan, how a vegan identity is formed and maintained, how vegans are perceived by others, whether the vegan population is growing, and the influence of the different factions of the animal rights movement. At any rate, while there will still be posts that are food-related, expect more of the posts to be about exploring vegan identity, vegan books, vegan humour (yes, vegans CAN be funny) and of course more serious entries on vegan activism.
* from The Vegan Society in England
And provide an update of sorts. Have chucked the leather sandals (one of the soles had worn out anyway), so the only non-vegan item I still wear is my knapsack. In a way I feel about it as I do the pictures of meat and other animal products on my Flickr site: it's a representation of my former non-vegan life that I'm not yet ready to discard. I've had my knapsack for over five years and liked it precisely because it was leather. Leather meant that it would last forever, age beautifully, and be waterproof. Once or twice I've had food spill inside that might have wrecked other bags, but because it was leather I simply cleaned it up and moved along. I'm reluctant to part with it not because it cost a lot of money (it was only $10 at a flea market), but it has history (I use it almost every day) and I value its beauty and functionality. While I have made a commitment to not purchase any new items that are of animal origin, and may one day be ready to pass this bag along to someone else (I do recognize and appreciate the sacrifice that was made), I'm not quite there yet.
I think what I may do instead is take a cue from what authors Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer say on page 19 in their introduction to their cookbook (highly recommended by the way) How it all Vegan!:
Becoming vegan doesn't mean you are suddenly the vegan police, so don't judge others or try to catch them doing something un-vegan. Pay attention to your own life. What kind of vegan do you want to be? Will you subscribe only to the belief that our animal friends shouldn't be eaten? Will you remove all things from your life that contain animal products? Will you reduce, reuse, and recycle everything you can so that this planet is a clean, healthy place for animals and people? We both wear leather shoes. That's because we're not just pro-animal, we're also pro-Earth. It's our belief that nothing should be wasted. We will never buy new leather products again, but will continue to use the ones we bought before we went vegan. Sarah has had the same leather belt for over eight years, and it will probably last another eight. She wants to use up her possessions rather than litter the garbage dump with discarded leather so that she can buy an animal-friendly replacement. When the time comes for a new belt, she'll opt for the vegan one. That's our personal choice. Our decision to make. What's yours?
Yes, I think I agree with them. Plus, my knapsack could also lead to an interesting discussion should people ask why I still use leather if I'm a vegan. And I do refer to myself as vegan these days, even though there are those who feel that the term vegetarian would be more accurate.
So there you have it. I think I'm finally ready to launch this baby, and will be posting weekly rather than monthly. Stay tuned for photos of food, food, and more food!