(If any of these don't tickle your fancy, there are sanctuaries, rescue groups and animal shelters in your own area that would be delighted to receive some help.)
Don't know what to do with your time?
Ha, as if! again, right? And truthfully, I don't know of anyone complaining that they have too many hours in their day, and you certainly won't hear that coming from me. Just the opposite, in fact. It's been over a month that I've blogged, and I've missed it terribly. Even though my words probably don't reach that many, or make any kind of dent in the animal use and abuse industries that I despise, the writing of those words is one of the most satisfying things I do, something that puts me in the flow more than anything else.
So why haven't I been flowing more of late? In part because taking care of elderly animals (human and nonhuman) is both time-consuming and tiring, and because I have the bad habit of tackling chores before I do anything else. It's almost as if I'm trying to clear the way of obstacles before I do what I love most. Silly of course, because that means that what matters most gets left to the end and often undone. Obviously, I should tackle what's important to me first!
The elderly animals I mentioned often throw a wrench into my plans as well. My dad (my parents divorced nearly forty years ago) has recently moved into long-term care, but is still experiencing confusion, e.g., dressing himself at 2:00am. He lives about two hours away and I can't visit him often, but a trip is planned for this weekend. My mom is increasingly forgetting the names of things and is resorting to describing them instead, e.g., that place beside the big drugstore, instead of Tim Hortons and Shoppers Drug Mart. As a retired nurse who used to take care of patients with dementia, she is angrily in denial of any symptoms in herself. She has fallen about ten times since her hip replacement, but only remembers falling once. My cat is experiencing "senior moments" herself more frequently, and is taking the expression outside the box a little too litterally, snort. Plus working in a retirement home whose residents are aging can sometimes make me feel that I'm surrounded by beings who are all falling apart. Sad, and frustrating too.
The point of what I'm saying is that time is not on our side, and we have to do what makes us happy, and what we feel to be worthwhile, NOW instead of tomorrow. To that end, I need to be kind to myself and blog, even when I feel guilty for not keeping up enough with other blogs. Another source of guilt I've been wrestling with is that I've neglected my Etsy shop -- my heart just isn't in it anymore. But I've got all this stuff in my overstocked house that I want to get rid of, so luckily, inspiration struck the other day. Since I can't seem to get motivated for myself, why not for my favourite pink pig? Maybe by donating any net proceeds to the Esther campaign for the rest of this month, my enthusiasm will come back. To sum up, time and money are finite, so use wisely. Oink! ;)
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now. -- Chinese proverb
Throw out all the rules above except for #1 and #10
So, why did I make you read and then discard these lovely rules? Well, essentially, rules schmules! With the exception of rule #10, which I think is helpful enough that maybe it should be required reading for all vegans, I don't normally like articles that feature 7 Steps or 13 Rules or 16 Days or 22 Ways because they tend to be gimmicky, or promise easy solutions to things that are probably fairly complex.
Fourthly (why start with first, second or third?), while all of the above do-and-don't rules are perfectly fine (I try to follow most of them), I know that readers are smart, capable, and more than equipped to come up with their own guidelines for living the vegan life. As long as you stick to the principle of not consuming other sentient beings (rule #1), I trust you'll be able to figure out on your own the best way for you (uniquely wonderful you!) to be the most fabulous vegan you can possibly be. Yes? No?
At least, it took only one to change the world for guardians Steve and Derek, and in the process, Esther the Wonder Pig is continuing to change the worlds of numerous folk who follow her adventure. Not surprising, not only because Esther is just so darn cute, but because human animals seem hardwired to like a) stories, and b) specifics.
Yes, data and facts are important, but throw in a great narrative and we're much more likely to remember and respond to the material. Make the subject of the story a hero (especially animals defying human injustice) and you've got your audience's attention. Finally, make the story about a living being we can relate to (wouldn't each of us try to escape slaughter?) instead of an object that the ag death squads keep trying to turn animals into, and we're really hooked. We like stories, and why not?
As for numbers, even though billions of sentient beings suffer and die, the word billions doesn't seem to give us puny humans enough details. And that makes sense actually. Isn't $549.36 easier to comprehend than $1,000,000? Even in a mere million all those zeroes give us exactly nothing to grasp onto, which is why telling the story of one individual is often more effective than talking about billions of beings. We can't see the faces of that many, can't know the names, and can't follow a heartbreaking or heartwarming tale when too many are included. No wonder that even meat-eating omnivores may cheer on an individual pig or cow or chicken who has managed to escape the clutches of their otherwise familiar fate. We can and do relate to individuals and individual stories of chutzpah.
So on to the story of Esther, the 450lb "mini-pig" who's changing the world. She's become a celebrity, and you've probably heard of her already, but the exciting part is that the couple who adopted her, the couple whose world changed completely, is now trying to change more lives and more worlds by starting a sanctuary. Right here in Ontario -- yes! So let's just have Steve and Derek tell their tale, while I continue to tell you why I'm so pleased. First, a sanctuary. Always a good thing because the more rescued animals who can live out their lives in peace and safety, the better. Restitution, as I believe veganelder would call it. Second, in my province, woot. There are lots of famous sanctuaries and rescues south of the border, but I'll never step across, so it would be fabulous to have more places closer to home. Third, the guardians of Esther are a gay couple, so not only will they show that animal beings are part of the larger Family, they'll demonstrate that all kinds of human families make the world go round and that love and devotion are what counts, not blind allegiance to more traditional models of family. They're a world-changing couple in more ways than one. Finally, and most importantly, Esther the Wonder Pig!
So check out the campaign. Spread the story, and if you're able, please contribute financially. You could do it for yourself, or as a gift on behalf of a favourite mother for Mother's Day. Just think, if 100 readers donated $10, that would be a grand already. Now wouldn't that be just grand! :)
Because I've got far more time on my hands than I know what to do with (um, NOT), and because I tend to procrastinate when I've said what I'll be writing about next (I hate being told what to do even if I'm the one doing the telling, snort), I thought it'd be fun (not sure why but let's go with it) to compile a list of all the names and adjectives used to describe vegans that are supposed to be insulting. I'm sure I've missed a bunch, so please add yours in the comments. Ready, set, go!
annoying (okay, maybe, sometimes, LOL)
animal worshipper (not making that one up)
guilty of anthropomorphism
guilty of acting morally superior
guilty of not being at least 110% vegan
brainwashed (what was that about a black kettle and pot? )
Ha, I knew I'd missed a few! From the comments below, here are some more:
sissy (contributed by veganelder)
agenda-driven (Bea) -- as if the meat industries don't have one!
sad, hungry, angry (Tom)
which reminded me of preachy -- thanks everyone! :)
But in their defense, many folk are genuinely baffled when it comes to vegans. Why do we consider animals to be as or more important than people? Why are we not fighting as hard for the unborn? (Some vegans are pro-life by the way.) Those are two questions I see asked a fair bit. And I'm sure they're just as frustrated by us as we are by them. Both vegans and nonvegans genuinely believe that they have the right take on things, and that if only the "other" side would use their heads/open their hearts/see clearly then the question of animal use would be resolved. I have no answer of course, but I do find it interesting that some of the complaints we have about each other are not always all that different. And what did I just do in this paragraph? I us/we'd them, tsk, tsk. ;)
p.s. now how in the hell did I forget humourless? Snort.
Odd, isn't it, how scientists, a secular bunch for the most part, seem to play an almost God-like role when it comes to deciding who shall live and who shall die, who is good and who is bad, who is worthy and who is pre-destined for a life of experimental hell.
Strange too, with all the emphasis on science being rational, logical and objective, that most scientists have no idea how subjective their work really is, and how blind they are to their own biases. Even the very question you ask is bathed in bias and automatically influences or even taints whatever results you get, and as someone who once dabbled a bit in statistics in a previous occupational career, I can tell you that you can skew or present numbers in ways that will reflect whatever it is you want.
You know my thoughts already on the hideous practice of vivisection including less invasive types of experimentation. What you wouldn't do to a human, you shouldn't do to any sentient being. No day, week or even year can ameliorate this abomination until scientists wake up and become more honest about what it is they're doing and why, both to themselves and to the general public. But we sure can pressure them, and do our bit to inform that public of what's really going on. Hell yeah!
Well! As some of you may have noticed, Typepad had a few hiccups of late. Actually, it got hacked, and blogs with their own domain name such as havegonevegan, were looking abandoned. If you tried to comment, or even read, you probably got the message "domain unknown." Unfortunate, and I'm sorry for any inconvenience. It looks like it's been fixed now, but you never know, and I can't swear it won't happen again. But please DO know that I would never ditch this blog without giving you fair warning, or leaving some kind of farewell message, as that just ain't my style.
So, back to regular programming. You all know what day it is today, right? :)
The Earth is what we all have in common. --WENDELL BERRY
Indeed. And all includes all humans (not just those living in North America), all members of Kingdom Animalia (yes, that includes insects), and members of the plant kingdom. We all call this place home, use her resources without always giving back, and leave our collective footprints for better or worse, so let's start sharing this planet nicely and wisely already.
As you may have noticed, snort, I wasn't in the best of moods the other day. It was a bummer of a post, I'll admit, and afterwards I felt bad and wondered if I should have just kept it to myself. On the other hand, every vegan is familiar with the inevitable mix of hope and despair that's part of the journey when you're in it for the long haul, so why not be more transparent about it? Because I sometimes wonder if part of the problem with ex-vegans is that they didn't share their doubts and frustrations along the way. Instead, they seem to keep whatever is going on with them so close to the chest that when they do renounce veganism (which I still think in part is due to compassion fatigue and burnout for at least some of them) it comes as a complete shock to us. Maybe if they had been more forthcoming about their struggle, others could have helped before it was too late.
Today I'm definitely in better spirits. Ended up trying the Tofurky Vegetarian Feast for the first time yesterday, and even shared some with my huge-eater-of-meat mom who declared it delicious. And while I don't expect her to change food choices at her age, it's nice to see her be more accepting of the choices that I make.
But the main reason of this post is that I wanted to share some quotes I've read of late that may help inspire other vegans if they happen to be on the downturn of the roller coaster ride. And in honour of Spring, renewal, and the adventure of being vegan. :)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
An activist is someone who cannot help but fight for something. That person is not usually motivated by a need for power, or money, or fame but in fact driven slightly mad by some injustice, some cruelty, some unfairness. So much so that he or she is compelled by some internal moral engine to act to make it better. --EVE ENSLER
Warriors must always focus on the action rather than the result. We do what we do because we cannot imagine not doing it. I never think about winning or losing… What matters is that all of your energy be directed towards achieving your goals… What matters is what you do today. --PAUL WATSON
In this struggle, there is no room for self-pity and we cannot afford the luxury of pessimism. Courageous, imaginative and passionate people can turn the impossible into the possible. Those people are you, me and anyone who has the desire to change things. --PAUL WATSON
When I look out into the world, I see the forces that would bring us disaster. I see the deep night of unthinkable cruelty and blindness. But I also look within the human heart and find something of love there, something that cares and shines out into the dark universe like a bright beacon. And in the shining of that light, I feel the dreams and prayers of all beings. In the shining of that beacon I feel all of our hopes for a better future, and the strength to do what we are here to do. --JOHN ROBBINS
Actually, that's putting it politely, but I didn't want to start by swearing. And while I don't want to feel hatred towards fellow human animals, I ain't feelin' much love today either. In fact, I'm sick and tired. Sick of people, who, for instance:
find trapping fun
consider hunting a sport (dismayed by the increase in women who hunt)
see nothing wrong with keeping other animals in captivity
get off on having sex with animals
hurt or kill family pets as part of domestic abuse
expose children to the hurting of family pets as part of domestic abuse
raise animals for others to eat
eat animals while identifying themselves as animal lovers
calmly mention the LD50 test as if there's nothing wrong with it
experiment on animals because they're not like us, and because they are like us (talk about having it both ways)
call themselves scientists yet ignorant of their own bias and subjectivity
stage dogfights, cockfights, bear fights, horse fights, chimpanzee fights (is there any other animal humans won't use to do their fighting for them?)
call themselves Christian while engaging in all manner of animal abuse
I'm also fed up with:
any organized religion that promotes human supremacy
all societal institutions that profit off of animal use and abuse
all political and economic systems that promote and help keep animal exploitation in place
extreme human-centricity not regarded as eccentric when other animal lives are at stake
being accused of shoving veganism down someone's throat while animal use and abuse gets shoved down MY throat every time I read a grocery flyer, turn on the TV, or even walk out the door
and on and on and on and on...
Plus I'm tired of the excuses. Oh, but they just don't know. Oh, but we were ignorant once too. It's habit. Tradition. Culture. Religion. Common practice. Deeply ingrained and part of our social fabric. All true perhaps, but people aren't stupid. Just how much information do they need? How many millions of pamphlets do we have to distribute already? And how many billions more animals will be sacrificed before humans finally get their shit together?
Bah, I'm sick of it! Because truth be told many people DO know, but don't give a crap. People as top of the food chain? Bottom of the moral chain is more like it. I'm tired of the ignorance, stupidity and apathy. The willful disregard and callous contempt. The human animal is indeed the cruelest beast of all, and we're really not that civilized or advanced. I'm also tired of being polite about it. Or patient. And for what? What is THAT accomplishing?
Nope, not feeling particularly friendly toward humans today. Jesus died for our sins? Please. The way we treat other species is the biggest sin of all, and no human or deity can wash that away. I WAS going to work on my "why aren't more Christians vegan" post this weekend, but I'm not in the mood. But if you want to read something, and perhaps something a little less ranty and more nuanced, you can always read my past thoughts about Good Friday and Easter Sunday until my mood improves. Or not, snort.
Well, back in my I-wish-I-were-a-hippie days (late 80s if I remember correctly), I often wore cotton skirts way below my knees but not quite long enough to hide my hairy legs, and while I wasn't surprised by people being surprised, I was taken aback by the amount of anger it generated. The hair on my legs not only grossed some people out, it really upset them. And while it never bothered anyone that I was in a personal relationship with, I can't tell you the number of strangers (men, women, of all ages) who would approach me and angrily demand to know why I didn't shave. My legs were a personal affront to them, and they sure let me know it. Although it was annoying at the time (and I soon gave up skirts altogether), I was also quite fascinated by the response and tried to figure out what was going on.
What I had done, of course, was breach public convention and upset the status quo. I had tampered with the notion of what a woman's body should look like and how she should present herself. In short, I had made people uncomfortable. It gave me a taste though of what it might be like to be pregnant and have strangers make remarks about something that is none of their business, or what it would be like to have a visible disability. But while folk don't usually get mad at expectant mothers or people in wheelchairs, choosing to flaunt convention sometimes made me feel I should get ready for a public flogging.
But what specifically does this have to do with veganism? Well, as you already know, daring to be different comes with a price. Seeing someone who doesn't look or eat the way you expect others to look and eat can be upsetting. And if something as innocuous and impersonal as a woman not shaving can send someone right out of their comfort zone (and forget their manners), then you can imagine how charged a topic food can be. While someone can easily dismiss a hairy faux pas, tee hee (after all, if every decent woman knows enough to shave then I don't have to think of this as an issue), eating is a bit too close to home. Most omnivores probably don't think too much about food beyond financial and health implications, and likely rarely consider that there may be political, environmental and animal-welfare consequences of their food choices until they encounter vegans. Seeing or hearing about someone who eats very differently but who belongs to a similar group can be jarring, especially if they do so because they don't want to consume animals. Because what does that imply or say about your own food choices? Not as easy to dismiss anymore.
And remember the popular slogan of the women's movement the personal is political? It was and still is, but the culinary is political too, and perhaps even more so.
In many ways, femininity really is a social construction. Men, for the most part, are thought of as male without having to do too much extra. Get up, get dressed, get out the door, and you're not likely to be accused of not being masculine enough. Women on the other hand are required to take additional, and I would argue artificial, steps before showing up in public. Remove all body hair except for what grows on your head. Sorry, but if it wasn't natural for hair to grow in certain places, it wouldn't grow there. Head hair needs inordinate amounts of attention to be considered presentable: washed, dried, styled, gelled, sprayed, coloured, tinted, trimmed, and if female, not cut too short. But you're not done yet. Jewelry, accessories, shoes and clothes need to be picked out carefully. Ever notice how fashion shows and magazines are obsessed with women's clothes being feminine enough? But when was the last time you heard men's shirts being referred to as masculine, or that "masculinity" is the trend for this season? And staying away from the topic of cosmetic surgery to "improve" women (a whole post unto itself), what is natural about putting man-made colour onto nails, cheeks, lips and eyelids in order to be thought of as suitably feminine?
Now I'm not arguing here that women shouldn't shave, or pay attention to their hair, or wear makeup, but to just be aware that these are artificial constraints. And that what is considered feminine has been commodified, because sadly, appearance is still viewed as one of the most important aspects of being a woman. When was the last time you saw a female newscaster who wasn't attractive? Who wasn't wearing makeup? Just saying.
Gosh, haven't had a feminist rant like this in a long time. I feel quite refreshed, snort. Thanks for listening. ;)