Vegan already? Excellent! Then keep calm, vegan on, and scroll down for latest post.
Vegan already? Excellent! Then keep calm, vegan on, and scroll down for latest post.
I'll stop being a feminist when no woman or child is ever sold or murdered. Or raped. Or beaten. Or called a slut. Or brutalized in any of the other seemingly unlimited ways. Or denied access to abortion. Or when there are no longer groups of people who don't believe women have the right to reproductive freedom. Or equality.
I'll stop being a feminist when no one is actually afraid of the word feminist anymore, and all the corrective societal actions that this word entails are complete.
I'll stop being a vegan when no other animal is ever sold or murdered. Or artificially impregnated. Or called a whore. Or kicked, punched, or brutalized in any of the other seemingly unlimited ways. Or denied access to their babies and mothers. Or when there are no longer groups of people who don't believe that animals are sentient beings with the right to live their lives free of human exploitation.
In short, I'll stop being a feminist when International Women's Day becomes as redundant, and as ridiculous sounding as International Men's Day* would be. I will, however, never stop being vegan no matter how deliciously vegan this world becomes.
*Oops, just found out there IS an International Men's Day. Hmmm, and here I thought EVERY day was their day, snort. Okay, I'm likely being a little unfair here. And as long as at least part of IMD focuses on gender equality and improving gender relations, then I suppose they can have their one day. ;)
That, my friends, may be my new elevator pitch. Catchy, don't you think?
I like it because it's brief, non-apologetic, gets to the heart of the matter straight away, encompasses planetary, environmental, animal, and human violence, and invites folk to consider that their values may actually be vegan too, because how many people truly identify violence in general as a good thing? Plus, it's almost alliterative. ;)
But seriously, I think it would illicit reflection and interesting questions (after, perhaps, some initial confusion), and possibly be helpful in spreading the vegan word.
Yesterday in the staff-room, someone said to me, "You're vegan, right?" (She knows my sister-in-law, so I believe she knew this from her rather than hearing about it from someone at work.) I replied yes, and she right away said that she would find being vegan hard. In response, I kind of shrugged my shoulders and said I actually found it quite easy. Then the seemingly obligatory question of But how do you fill in the blank because you know how the rest of this goes followed, to which I rattled off a bunch of items like beans, nuts, pasta and grains.
Then she asked the question that no one in my family has even asked me, Why are you vegan? If you don't mind my asking, she quickly added. Sure, I said. Then, not having been asked this directly before (and not being prepared, plus being more articulate in writing than I am in person), I stated that I felt being vegan was healthier and better for the environment. At this, she sort of nodded. Then I added, But the main reason I'm doing this is for the animals. I looked at her as I said this, and noticed that she had gone blank, and completely still. No expression on her face, no facial or bodily movement, and no hint of recognition in her eyes as to what I was saying.
At this point I panicked a little, and because I work in a Christian retirement home, then said that animals were God's creatures too, and that horrible things happen on factory farms for no good reason because we don't need to eat any animals, and look at me, I've been vegan for over five years and I'm one of the healthiest people I know... all in one breath until the door opened and the awkward conversation came to a halt. By this time, my break was over and I left. But what occurred to me walking back to my floor was that it was the word animals that had seemed to throw her for a loop. As if health and environment made enough sense, but that the role of animals was foreign in the equation. As if she was asking, but what do animals have to do with any of this?
And this is one of the many reasons why I wish we were less euphemistic in our language. We need to be saying "I eat pigs", "I eat cows" and "I drink cow's milk" rather than I eat bacon, beef and drink milk. I don't like the term "meat eater", because it helps to disguise whom you're really eating. If you're still rationalizing eating meat, then you should be comfortable with just saying that you're an animal eater.
I wish now that I had skipped health and environment, and had said something more accurate and to the point. Something like, "I'm vegan because I don't want to participate in animal suffering." (Or even, I'm vegan because it's the Christian thing to do, although that could have made her defensive.) I wish I had been less dismissive and acknowledged that the idea of eating vegan can be daunting when you're used to eating animals. I wish I had reminded her though that she's already eating vegan food whenever she chomps on an apple or slices up a banana. I wish I had actually included fruits and vegetables when talking about my plant-based diet. And I wish I had had more time and not gone a bit blank myself. So, time to work on a more pithy pitch for next time!
Yep, been gone a long time. I last posted on the last day of last year, so I suppose it hasn't been that long, but it sure feels like it. I've been busy with eldercare, my Etsy shop, plus my casual job is now permanent part-time (and as permanent is getting rare these days I guess I can't complain about it too much, snort), so this blog (and commenting on others) was put on the backburner for a bit. But I didn't want anyone to fear I'd completely disappeared, so thought I'd pop in for a spell and talk about cows coming home.
The title of this post is an idiom of course, and it's always struck me as odd that for a species who tries to deny its animalness as strongly as we do, animal references litter our linguistic landscape as often as factory farms dot the physical one. Sadly, while some cows may indeed have come home when the colloquial phrase was first coined, cows haven't been coming home for a long time. Factory farms aren't home by any stretch of the imagination, and you certainly can't talk about "coming home" when you can't even leave in the first place. So I was happy to see, and happy to share, a couple of instances where we CAN talk about genuinely happy cows and cows coming home. Home to safety, warmth, and comfort.
The following cows (in case you haven't seen them yet) are joyful indeed, and remind us of why happy cows (unless living in a sanctuary) are usually found only within scare quotes:
Then, there's Sweety, who truly has come home to not only find warmth and safety, but also genuine friendship:
This, my friends, is what love (rather than the saccharine slop dished up by the media) is really all about. More about actions than words, and never species-specific. So find your true heart this Valentine's Day, and go vegan if you haven't already. :)
If you're like me, your inbox has been overflowing of late with requests for donations. Understandable, given that this is the traditional time of year for charitable giving. But why ask over and over when I've already heard your plea the first time? Again, understandable that you keep prompting me if I haven't already responded, but perhaps I've planned a certain time to attend to donation requests. I also find it a teensy bit annoying when I've already donated at the beginning or in the middle of the year, or worse, am already donating on a monthly basis. Please, don't ask me again I feel like telling certain organizations, or you may be at risk of putting me off entirely.
Long before I went vegan, I tackled the question of what charities to give to by deciding I wouldn't donate to those that many people donate to already. Standard causes like cancer and heart disease had no difficulty gaining sympathy and dollars I figured, so I chose to support causes a bit more off the beaten path. Organizations like Kids Help (they provide telephone counselling for children and teenagers) appealed to me, as did World Society for the Protection of Animals and International Fund for Animal Welfare.
At some point, most of my donation dollars went to organizations focusing on helping non-human animals, but I wanted to be a bit more selective. I want my dollar to have the most bang for the buck, and when I found out that certain animal welfare charities paid their executive directors fairly huge salaries and spent an enormous amount on administration and marketing (you can check this by perusing annual financial reports), their names got crossed off my donation list. I want most of my dollars to go directly to saving animals instead of paying for a human's salary.
But the question remains: Which organizations do you support when you have little to give and there are so many asking? These days I like to donate to organizations that are information focused, whether through pamphlets or undercover investigative videos. Anything that can reach more people and fundamentally change more behaviour that has a direct impact on animal lives is a good investment I believe.
Donating more locally is also appealing, so I was thrilled when Mercy for Animals opened a sister office right here in Canada. I'm also getting interested in supporting more novel ways of helping animals, and want to check out creative projects on places like Kickstarter and Crowdfunding. Finally, sponsoring individual beings in sanctuaries and other rescue operations is something I'm aiming for next year.
But because this year is practically over (eek, a few more hours to go, so Happy New Year's everyone!), I'd better scurry along and respond to those desperate pleas in my inbox already. ;)
That's some (modified) speech, snort. Have to admit that A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of my favourite shows of the season, and the one I make sure not to miss. As relevant now as it was in '65 (though hard to imagine that commercialization was as rampant back then), it offers a great message no matter what your beliefs.
Veganism, for most vegans I hope, is about fighting commodification of sentient beings. We disagree with the notion that other species (including our own) are objects for human animals to use, own or destroy. And at a time of year when consumption as celebration is all around us, it seems even more fitting to remember that consuming other animals in whatever form is wrong no matter what month we happen to be in.
It's always a good time though to put into practice what Linus (reciting the Gospel of Luke Ch2 v14) said at the end: "...and on earth peace and goodwill towards men [sic] [recte ALL]."
May peace and goodwill to all rule all of our hearts and actions.
Merry Christmas everyone! :)
Nope, I'm not referring to What-Does-Killing-Turkeys-Have-To-Do-With-Giving-Thanks Day (although Happy Thanksliving to all American readers!), or even Black Friday, but the pressure to get a flu shot. In my case, it's a mandatory job requirement that I've (mostly) managed to avoid thus far, but this year they've become more stringent. Understandable in a way since the elderly population I work with is more vulnerable, and their weaker immune systems make fighting off the flu more difficult. So I get that while for various reasons I may choose not to get the flu shot myself (do some googling and you'll find plenty of folk debating the pros and cons and efficacy), I still need to protect others. This I try to do by always coughing or sneezing into my uniform sleeve, washing or sanitizing hands frequently, and not going in when sick.
I've only been talked into getting the shot once by my employers (and regretted it almost immediately), and other years they have mercifully either forgotten to ask (sometimes a "don't ask, don't tell" policy can be a good thing) or just haven't pushed it. But this year a sheet was placed in our work slots informing us that we either have to get the flu shot, OR provide a copy of our prescription for Tami flu (also not ideal, and you have to wear a mask while working), OR we will not be allowed to work during an outbreak and won't receive pay for that time. Luckily I'm a casual on-call employee and haven't been asked whether I've gotten the shot yet, but my feeling is that if the issue comes up I'll tell them I won't be working.
Because the real kicker of course is that the flu shot isn't vegan. Besides other nasty ingredients like formaldehyde, neomycin, thimerosal, mercury and aluminum, the vaccine is made using fertilized chicken eggs, or in the case of those allergic to eggs, newer vaccines using animal cells can be made available. Um, yeah.
Obviously, this isn't something I want injected into my body if only because I don't consume animal products, but is this a case where you could argue that what is used to make the vaccine is a trace ingredient? And something not to make a big deal of? On the other hand, I wouldn't get the shot even if I weren't vegan because it isn't always effective (they can only guess at the flu viruses that will dominate any given season), reactions, hospitalizations and casualties do happen, and there are common-sense ways of avoiding getting the flu.
I dunno, but there's something that makes me uneasy about the push to vaccinate everyone under the sun (at least, everyone 6 months of age and older) when it may not even be effective in preventing it, for an illness that may not even happen, and for something that healthy adults are certainly not going to die from. Why don't we focus more on building healthy bodies and strong immune systems to begin with? Or natural ways of either preventing or coping with illness rather than injecting junk?
Unfortunately I can't even make the claim that I didn't realize my work would require me to get an annual flu shot as it was part of the contract I signed when I was hired on. (I just hoped to sneak around the requirement.) So what would you do? Or have done if you're a vegan working in the health care field?
p.s. can't believe a month and a half has gone by so quickly, and I hope to catch up on commenting on other blogs soon!
In other words, odds and ends, snort.
Nope, didn't sign up for this year's VeganMoFo, and regular readers will know that apart from the political implications and real suffering involved, I'm actually not that interested in food per se. But, even I have to feed myself and I DO have some favourites, so in honour of VeganMoFo I thought I'd throw in a few food-oriented posts this month.
Before becoming vegan, macaroni and cheese was one of my favourite meals to make. Not original I know, but hey, comfort food rarely is. Sadly though, I didn't make it for a couple of years because I just didn't like any of the vegan cheeses available. Not a biggie as such, and I didn't have as hard a time giving up cheese as maybe other vegans did, but I WAS a bit nostalgic when it came to mac-and-cheese. Then, Daiya answered the cheese prayer I didn't even know I had, and now my favourite yummy meal has become a staple again. Thanks Daiya! Here's the informal easy peasy recipe (which in my book = 5 ingredients or less, and no more than 15 minutes to make) for the mac-and-cheese dish above made by yours truly:
As you'll have noticed, I'm a rebel when it comes to precise measurements. They annoy me, which is one of the many reasons why I don't like baking. Other than the two cups pasta (my way of ensuring that I don't have to cook again the next day, snort), I tend to just throw in what I think I need. Make this meal a few times and you'll instinctively know how much of the ingredients will make a smooth sauce in the consistency you like. But for now, put "butter" (Earth Balance works well too) in a good-sized pot over low heat and let melt, gradually blend in flour, and then slowly start adding soymilk (or other "milk" product) until it makes a nice sauce. Add cheese (after a while you'll know how much is right for you), and keep stirring until it gets velvety smooth. Oh, I tend to make my sauce after the water has boiled for my pasta. Pasta takes no more than 10 minutes, and that's about the time it takes to make the sauce. Place noodles into the sauce when done and stir. Some folk will get all fancy and pour the sauce over the pasta separately, but why not make it easy and throw it into the sauce pan right away? There, easy peasy macaroni. Cook, eat, nuke the next day. Hmmm, wonder how many cookbooks I could sell if all the recipes were written up this way....
And lastly, any meal ALWAYS tastes better in Pyrex, especially orange or red Pyrex, and no, I'm not making that up ;)
And because I'm embarrassed at having easily reached 13 points, I'll leave it at that. I tried, I did. Really. But sadly, I could not and cannot keep up.
Part of it, I think, is that I already spend an inordinate amount of time online trying to maintain my Etsy shop, and yes, I resent the fact that it's assumed that I will blog, tweet, FB, Instagram and Pinterest all in order to sell more of my vintage collectables. Um, no.
Another part of it is that almost every website lately (including Etsy, eBay, Flickr, FB, and even my bank for Pete's sake) seems hell-bent on making their site look as much like its competitors as possible, and the end result (in my decidedly uncharitable opinion) is an extreme uglification all across the board. None of these sites, apparently, can afford to hire designers who know what design, functionality and aesthetics mean, so I end up visiting them less often.
The biggest part of it probably is that there seems to be even less time to indulge in the very tech know-how that was supposed to free up time. Remember way back (you will if you're a baby boomer like me) when the promise was dangled in front of us that leisure time would increase exponentially with the right widgets and gadgets? Right. We're living in an age when the average number of hours worked by North Americans has only increased, and the number of ways you're expected to be available (sometimes on a 24-hour basis) has multiplied in a way that can only be described as crazy-scary.
How do other people cope? Especially those who work full-time (I'm lucky enough to get away with part-time), have childcare and/or eldercare responsibilities (it's eldercare for me), hobbies, interests, and a myriad number of other things to do (ignoring for the moment the basics of sleeping, eating, and cleaning.) And what about plain relaxing? Reading? Actually connecting with people (and lovely non-people) offline? How do we fit it all in without becoming overwhelmed?
Specifically, how do we as vegans who want to change the world fit it all in? How much time do we spend online? How is our advocacy best directed? How do we have a life while also improving the lives of others? And how do we become vegan social media successes without feeling spread too thin? Please, dear reader, I'm counting on you to fill me in because I'm starting to think that I don't have a clue.
p.s. I'm in love lately with phrases like slow coffee (the way I've been making it for 20+ years but without calling it that), and am begining to believe that a slow media diet may just be my cup of tea. ;)
p.p.s. just read and want to share (ha, guess I'm not that much of a failure, snort) Andrew Kirschner's interesting and thought-provoking The Problem With Veganism.