Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Why I have omnivore friends

How can I be friends with people who are OK with this? 
Vegan friends, please be understanding of your omnivore friends. It's understandable that omnivores wish to spare themselves the sight of slaughtered animals, like those in this picture. Because admitting that they contribute to this travesty is a hard bite to swallow. It's easier for them to believe that the animals they consume are humanely raised. The truth is, there is no such thing and much suffering and death in animal “production” regardless of how humane a farm claims to be.

As vegans, we live every day knowing that our choices do the least harm possible to the planet, humans and other animals as well. Omnivores have no such comfort. No wonder they choose to close their eyes to the pain and suffering. The truth is just too disconcerting. I feel badly for them, don't you?

Do you remember how you felt the first time you watched Earthlings? Or Veducated? Or any other film that tells the truth about the meat and dairy industry and it's overwhelmingly huge connection to corporate brainwashing? Remember the first time it really hit home for you that 99% of the population has no idea any of this is going on? It was overwhelmingly enlightening, but terrifying at the same time.

Remember the absolute horror of truly, deeply realizing that every single time someone consumes an animal product, a beautiful creature dies? Remember the shock of seeing first hand, babies taken from wailing, desperate mothers just minutes after birth? Cows slaughtered with calves still inside them falling to the slaughterhouse floor, only to be killed themselves? Remember feeling their pain?

Remember how you vowed instantly to go vegan and spread the word so this massive cruelty and inconsideration of other beings, the destruction of the planet and the threat of extinction to humanity itself could end?

Remember when you learned that veganism has the most positive impact on all the major threats to human existence when compared to any other human behavior?

I have to believe my omnivore friends don't know any of this, because if they did and they still consumed meat and dairy, that would make them some pretty scary people, wouldn't it?

But still, I'm kind to them. Yes, I do plead for the innocent animals to be saved. Yes, I do promote my beliefs. And yes, sometimes I even post a picture like the one above or stand up when a fellow vegan is being raked through the coals.

Because, like I said, I can't imagine how any of the people I call friends could continue being omnivores if they knew the overwhelmingly negative consequences of omnivorous lifestyles to our very existence. So, I tell them.

Because if no one speaks up, how could they possibly know?

However, like my omnivore friends, there is also something I am hiding from. I'm hiding from the fact that my omnivore friends indirectly participate in the very horrors that shock me to the core. I have to, so I can remain their friend. I'm hoping they will someday see the full consequences of their actions. I'm also hoping that, since they are inherently good people, if I remain their friend, maybe there is a small chance that they will follow my lead in finding their way to a kinder way of living.

But mostly, it's because I love them. That's why I have omnivore friends.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Shock value vegan Facebook posts – Are they necessary?

Scary, but true, routine meat inspection
What's up with those shocking vegan Facebook posts? We've all seen them. Some of us are even guilty of posting them. (Jaipi points at self.) Are they necessary? What do they accomplish that kind words and a soft spoken manner can't? Why do our vegan friends keep showing us bloody images of abused animals and footage of baby chicks being ground alive?

Well, mainly it's because someone's not listening or unaware.

I don't mean to be rude here. That's just how it is. Sometimes it takes a bit of shock and awe to get your point across.

People know that animals must die if humans continue eating meat.

*What they don't know is how horrible it can be.

*What they don't know is that it's not a humane death.

*What they don't know (or think about) is that no death is humane.

*What they don't know is, it's not just about the non-human animals.
It's about the environment and our general health too.

Vegans post shocking images because you have a right to know.

You have a right to know exactly where your food comes from. Sometimes that information is unpleasant. Sometimes it's downright disgusting. That doesn't mean it should be shoved under the rug. In fact, the ugly truths are often the most important to be brought to light. Why? Because they inspire change.

Why are vegans so unrelenting?

We care about what's happening to our planet, our health and to our fellow animals as a result of eating a meat based diet. We know that the dairy industry is every bit as brutal as the meat industry. We want to spread the word so that everyone can make a more informed choice. We care about everyone, not just ourselves.

Believe it or not, we're trying to help you.

Please don't take offense. We're not trying to say we're better than you. We don't believe in that type of thought process. It goes against everything we do believe in. Veganism is about kindness and empathy, not cruelty. Unfortunately, in order to have our message heard, we have to expose the cruelty of others.

That's really all there is to it.

So, are shock value vegan Facebook posts really necessary?

They are if change is going to happen. Think about what it would take for you to stop driving your car. Wouldn't there be some pretty serious stuff going on for you to give that up? Of course there would. In fact, some people still cause plenty of pollution, even though they know what it does to the planet.

The same goes for giving up meat, eggs and dairy. The omnivore diet, although hazardous to the entire ecosystem, is ingrained in our culture and everything we do, isn't it? That's why shock and awe is necessary to remove it. We humans are stubborn animals. Often we care more about our creature comforts than our future. Maybe those shocking Facebook posts are just the thing needed to jolt us out of our comfort zone. That's why they're necessary. Like it or not.

Portions of this post were previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.



Common misconceptions about vegans

Veganism is about equality, not superiority.
There are some common misconceptions about vegans that I've come across frequently in my journey toward a kinder life. Of course, not all non-vegans have misconceptions about vegans. Some see their vegan friends as kind, caring, well-intended individuals. Some are indifferent about vegans. They live and let live. Thank goodness I can list most of my non-vegan friends in those categories. There are, however, a few individuals who see vegans in a not so positive light. So, to clear things up, here are those misconceptions and the truth behind them.

"Vegans hate non-vegans."

Vegans can be very vocal about their life choices. They may post funny or sarcastic memes on Facebook to get their point across. They might even post a few shocking videos or get upset when friends post or display photos of their hunting excursions. That doesn't mean vegans harbor hatred toward non-vegans. Most vegans, myself included, hate the non-vegan lifestyle, not the person living it.

"Vegans know nothing about nutrition. They are malnourished."

Over the years many beliefs about nutrition have been virtually “set in stone” either by tradition, hearsay, or conventional medicinal education. Conventional medical doctors receive little nutritional education at all. Traditions are often based on outdated concepts. On the other hand, before beginning a vegan diet, most vegans do extensive nutritional research. They study both conventional and non-conventional diets and lifestyles. Conventional medicine is largely built around sick care, rather than prevention. Therefore, vegans turn to factual nutritional data to base their diets on.

Note: Speaking solely for myself, I have been a student of nutrition for over 40 years, beginning when I became vegetarian at the ripe old age of 12. I didn't make the choice to go vegan lightly. It was based on many years of research.

"Veganism is a religion."

Vegans come in all shapes, sizes and beliefs. Veganism is not a religion. It is, however, a way of living that embraces the idea of doing no harm. That makes it a spiritual, as well as a dietary choice. For that reason, it may appear to non-vegans that veganism is a religious conviction. In actuality, vegans have a wide variety of religious beliefs, just as non-vegans do.

"Vegans expect everyone to become vegan."

Pardon my bluntness, but that would be pretty unrealistic, wouldn't it? Vegans are not clueless when it comes to the ways of the world. The world is made up of all kinds of people who differ in lifestyle, diet and more. Expecting every single person on the face of the earth to go vegan would be ridiculous. However, there is no harm in trying to show people the benefits of healthy nutrition and kind living, is there?

"Vegans feel they are superior to non-vegans."

This is perhaps the most common misconception about vegans. We have found a way to increase our longevity, improve our health and protect the earth all rolled up into one diet. We know it's the best choice for us, due to our research and personal convictions. We do not, however, feel that non-vegans are inferior, simply because they have not made the same discoveries or come to the same conclusions.

We do become angry when we see people continuing behaviors that are destructive and cruel. It pains us to see animals suffer needlessly and the people we love, or even people we've never met, dying of illnesses a proper diet could have prevented. It bothers us that animal "production" is so prevalent and so destructive to the environment.  

Obviously, in our opinion, Veganism is a superior diet/lifestyle choice or we wouldn't have chosen it, just as non-vegans feel their diet is the right choice for them. That doesn't mean we feel that we ourselves are personally superior to anyone. In fact, veganism is all about the fact that we are all equals, human or otherwise and should treat each other with equal respect. That's the whole point.

Portions of this post were previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.

If a pig and a vegan....

Pig swimming
Folks, sometimes I get a bit tired of writing serious vegan posts and articles. Sometimes, I feel like nobody's listening anyway. Some people are just too set in their ways or too busy living to think very deeply. Others simply disagree. Some are even quite rude about it. When that happens, I throw a little humor in with the facts, to make things more lighthearted. This is one of those times. I often have non-vegans confront me with hypothetical situations like the ones here. I don't answer, because I find hypothetical situations ridiculous. But maybe I should. If I did, here's how it would go.

If you (a vegan) and a pig were on a desert island....

Would you eat the pig?

The grammar police in me says, “First of all, don't you mean a deserted island?” Are there desert islands? I see most islands as dense and tropical with a bit of beach. Maybe that's because it's what I've always been told. Kind of like we've all always been told that meat and dairy are natural foods for us. They're not. They're particularly not natural for me.

You see, before I became a vegan, I was a vegetarian for well over thirty years. Before that, my folks had to force me to eat other animals. Finally, they just gave up. You should too. Because there is no way in H. E. double hockey sticks that you're going to convince me to eat another sentient being. Nope. Not even if I'm on a “desert” island with a pig.

So, maybe I'll just eat whatever the pig has been eating. After all, I'm assuming the pig was on the island before I got there. He or she must have been eating something. In the wild, pigs are mainly foragers, right? So, there you go. I'm all set. No need to eat the pig. I'll just join him for dinner. Maybe we'll even make use of the dishes and vegan food that washed ashore with the boat I was on.

After all, this is a hypothetical situation. It's a work of fiction. Therefore, I can add food and dishes to it if I want. They do always wash ashore in those books about people stranded on “desert” islands, right? Plus, there will likely be barrels of seeds, floating on the tides. They were meant to plant, in order to feed the not so lucky other people on the boat in future years. Yay! A garden. I love gardening.

Or maybe this was a tour boat. Is Gilligan here? I love that guy. And the professor too. Maybe he can make me and the pig a boat out of coconuts. We could float away into the sunset and hey, is that Wilson from Castaway bobbing on the water? It's OK. Pigs can swim. My faithful companion can rescue him. Hey, wait a minute. Pigs can swim? Then, explain this next hypothetical situation, would you please?

If a pig and a baby were drowning....

Who would you save?

Well, I'd save the baby, of course. I just told you pigs can swim. The pig is not drowning. In fact, maybe the pig could save both me and the baby, because, guess what? I'm a crappy swimmer. If it were up to me to save someone who was drowning, I'd probably die right along with them. Trust me, that baby is better off with the pig.

So, you better stop eating pigs. You might save a life someday in some other crazy, made up, hypothetical situation. Who knows? Ya, that was me, turning your table.

On a serious note:

Folks, I love all animals, even the human kind, vegan or not. That's why I write articles like this. I care deeply about everyone. I may use humor or shock to get my point across. But at the core of that is caring. My intent with these articles is not to ridicule, but to inform and to help. The humor and the shock are just there to grab your attention.

You see, unfortunately, the reality is that our planet, you know, the one we depend on for life itself? Well, it's dying. We're killing it. And what's more, the human behavior that is having the biggest impact on its' demise is our diet. Over-breeding animals for food is crippling our chances of any kind of survival daily. If you don't believe me, please follow these links or do some research of your own.

We live in a day and age where eating meat and dairy is not necessary for survival. This is not the ice age. There's plenty of good, nutrition filled food out there that does not require slaughtering innocent beings or screwing up the planet. A lot of it is being fed to those other animals bred for food. It could feed those starving children we hear so much about.

So, what would you do if you lived on a dying planet and your best chance of survival depended on giving up meat and dairy? Because, that, my friends is not a hypothetical situation. It's our reality.

Portions of this post were previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Vegan junk food junkies - Are you one of them?

Vegan fried tempeh temptation
Oh yes, they are out there. I was a junk food junkie vegetarian for many years. Cookies are vegetarian. Potato chips are vegetarian. Soda pop is vegetarian too. That doesn't make any of them good for you. So, how can someone who professes to be a vegan stoop to washing down their veggie burger with a diet soda? Well, it happens and for the same reason it happens to omnivores. Vegans aren't perfect. They have bad habits, just like everyone else. Plus, many of us are prone to caving, having lived in an omnivorous culture for so long. My main enemy in this respect is cheese, since I grew up in dairy country. For other vegans, it may be something else entirely.

I”m so lucky!

I consider myself lucky (yes, lucky) to have had a close encounter with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. It was a wake up call for me. You see, things like sugar, processed foods and dairy products can contribute to inflammation. In turn, that inflammation can cause dormant conditions (such as Lupus and Rheumatoid) to rear their ugly heads. I was a vegetarian, but I was eating way too much junk food and had a massive extended flare. That's what first prompted me to go vegan. Since taking that step, I feel much better. I will always have these conditions, but a healthy diet will keep my symptoms at bay. Sure, I have my moments of being an imperfect vegan. Still, the results of getting off the healthy track encourage me to keep plugging away.

Meat and dairy substitutes:

That brings us to the subject of commercially made vegan substitutes for meat and dairy. I've addressed this in other articles. In my opinion, they're junk food. They're processed food, no matter what you want to call them. Having read the packages of many a commercially made vegan burger, I generally decline them. However, they are much healthier than the meat based alternative. And if you're picky enough and read the labels, there are a few out there with just a few simple ingredients. So, I suppose, if one was really wanting a burger, they would be a viable alternative. I simply don't feel it's wise to eat them on a regular basis. Remember, there are homemade options that are much healthier.

Cravings are not omnivore exclusive.

Cravings will get you every time. There are healthy foods you can make yourself that will satisfy your need for crunchy, salty or sweet foods. There's no need to reach for that bag of chips. Slice some sweet potatoes thinly. Spritz with olive oil and bake. Sprinkle them with powdered lemon zest as a salt substitute. They're absolutely delicious and nutritious besides. Whipped frozen bananas with vanilla make an awesome sub for ice cream. In fact, no matter what kind of junk food you crave, you can make a homemade vegan substitute that's tasty and good for you.

Any lifestyle or diet change takes time and work.

Vegans really have to remember why they've adopted this diet/lifestyle. It's about saving innocent animals. It's about saving the planet. However, it's also about eating a healthy diet. Don't be so quick to reach for something on the shelf, simply because it's vegan. It's devoid of meat, eggs, seafood and dairy. That doesn't always mean it's good for you. It could be filled with sugars and additives and still be considered vegan. Is it organic? Is it chemical free? Does it contain GMO's? Is it nutrient dense? Part of being vegan is being aware of the consequences of what you eat. Try to remember, the other animals aren't the only ones who suffer from your bad food choices.

Vegan junk food junkies are everywhere. Are you one of them? If so, you may want to change your evil ways.

Portions of this article were previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What do vegans eat for Thanksgiving?

Well, for starters, we leave this beautiful being in peace.
For most vegans, there's no turkey, but there's tofurky. The stuffing is baked outside the “bird” although, some tofurky comes stuffed. The gravy is mushroom based. The potatoes are mashed with whole, roasted garlic and fresh chives.

The salads are loaded with all kinds of veggies, not just lettuce, tomato and cucumber. They're dressed with vegan dressing, olive oil and apple cider vinegar or whatever is to the taste of the vegans in question.

The potato and macaroni salads are coated in vegan just mayo and instead of eggs, there's more veggies, spices, etc. etc.

All the vegetable dishes are pretty much the same with those that contain non-vegan items getting a vegan overhaul. 

In other words, most vegans pretty much eat what you eat for Thanksgiving, without the meat, seafood, dairy and eggs and with a whole lot of other delicious, nutritious stuff added.

For instance, vegan stuffing isn't just a boring pile of bready goo. It has substance. It has huge walnuts and fresh cranberries and big chunks of onion, celery and other veggies. It has character! Oh, and you can make stuffing with vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. In fact, you should, even if you're not vegan. It's much better for you.

You can also make pumpkin pie with vegan egg substitute and almond milk. It's freaking delicious. In fact, most people who “dare” to taste it, prefer it. And berry pies are already vegan, as long as you use vegan butter for the crust and stay away from bone char processed sugar.

Whipped cream made with coconut milk is the bomb. It's way, way, way better than that dairy based crap. It's fabulous on fresh fruit salad with a sprinkle of raw coconut.

Are you drooling yet?

Ya, vegan Thanksgiving dinner really is something to be thankful for, because it's not only healthy, it's scrumptious. And it won't leave you filled with regrets because it's all good for you!

That being said....

Being vegan sometimes means adapting traditions to your lifestyle, but it can also mean breaking tradition once in a while and trying new things. So, this year, we'll be doing just exactly that.

We've decided to keep it simple and take it easy on the chef (me). So, were having a gorgeous vegan vegetable lasagna with Daiya brand vegan cheese, a huge salad and pumpkin pie for dessert. Oh, and before dinner, we have guacamole and hummus with both veggie and vegan chips to stave off the cravings.

And of course, there will be pickles and olives. What's Thanksgiving without pickles and olives?

So, what do vegans have for Thanksgiving dinner? Whatever they want!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Defensive vegan no more

Punching bag no more!
I will no longer be responding to cruel remarks, clever puns, vegan bashing, questions that aren't really questions, but criticisms, or people who purposefully say cruel things about vegans, the vegan lifestyle or any other subject, simply to provoke an argument or procure bragging rights or make themselves appear clever or witty in front of their friends. I am switching over to the offensive team.

There is nothing to defend.

And by that I mean, vegans do nothing but live a kinder life. Why should we have to defend that choice? There's nothing wrong with that choice. There's no reason we should give mean, sarcastic, bigoted people the satisfaction of arguing with them in defense of doing the right thing. We're doing the right thing. The facts clearly and unequivocally back us up.

I am positively glowing

I love my choices. I know I am on the right track. My health, my state of mind and my connection with the earth are all strengthening, due to veganism. So, from now on, I'm going to talk about that and spread the undeniable facts that back up my position instead of spending precious energy arguing with negative naysayers whose sole purpose in life is to make other people miserable in order to prove their own self worth. It's just not worth it.

Enough said and enough done.

Connecting with vegan fallibility

Cheese is my weakness. What's yours?
We vegans love to think we have all the answers, don't we? Problem is, we are fallible, just like everyone else in the world. In the past couple weeks, it has come to my attention that I am not a perfect vegan. Nor is anyone. Now, in my case, I slipped up and ate some cheese. I've since gone back to my former, healthier, vegan ways. However, as usual, my experience with failure got me thinking. Is it even possible to be completely vegan?

Slip ups, notwithstanding

How can we be assured as vegans that every single thing we participate in or consume is vegan? Well, in today's world, that's completely impossible. While we may try our best to live a cruelty life, as widespread as the meat and dairy industry's practices, products and influences reach, we can never be completely sure that our lives are 100% cruelty free.

So what do we do?

Well, we do our best. We stay away from meat products, dairy products and seafood. We don't buy leather goods. We make a concerted effort to be less wasteful so as not to become a drain on other resources. We address the major and minor concerns we are aware of. We accept that there may be things we are doing that are inadvertently cruel, due to the fact that we're not aware of every little product or pastime that encourages or promotes cruelty.

And about those slip-ups

We have to accept that going vegan is a journey. In my case, I thought that after two years, I was done with dairy. As it turns out, I'm just a human being. Surprise! Once again, just like everyone else, I am capable of straying from my path, despite my somewhat relentless vegan advocacy. You can liken it to a Christian who has “sinned” or a drug addict who has caved to the temptation of imbibing. The fact that they have erred doesn't mean they are any less Christian or any less committed to kicking the habit. It just means they have made a mistake.

How about you?

If you've been feeling that you're not a vegan because you've made such an error or had to compromise on your diet or lifestyle due to circumstances beyond your control, don't be so rough on yourself. It's OK to not be perfect. Certainly, you may feel badly that you have let down your fellow animals by slipping up. I know I do. Still, it doesn't mean you are a horrible person. It doesn't mean you are a failure or that you are misrepresenting yourself. It just means you have to keep trying until you get it right.

Be proud of the things you do right.

In my case, it's been a very, very, very long time since I even thought about eating meat. I'm very proud of that. I'm 55 and I believe the last time I ate meat, it was a few pieces of pepperoni on a pizza when I was around 20 years old. So, it's been about 35 years since I've directly consumed another living being. That's pretty darn good, right? The point is, rather than concentrating on your weaknesses as a vegan or your slip ups, try to stay focused on the good you ARE doing daily in your vegan journey, no matter how far along you are. And continue do all the good you can! It's contagious!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Connecting with the vegan in you

Vegans believe in protecting the earth from destructive human behaviors.
Maybe you think you have nothing in common with vegans. Maybe you think vegans are crazy. Not so fast. If you're a kind, decent individual, who cares about your health and the health of the planet, you may have more in common with vegans than you think.

Do you believe in eating a healthy diet?

Sure, junk food is appealing on occasion. But we all know that eating it on a regular basis can lead to serious health issues, vegan or not.

Vegans believe a healthy diet can extend and raise the quality of their lives. How about you?

Do you care about the future of the planet?

I hope so. Because when this planet finally throws in the towel, we'll be on it. What does this have to do with vegans? Well, eating a meat and dairy based diet is the single biggest human behavior that is currently impacting the environmental destruction of planet earth.

Vegans believe in protecting the earth from destructive human behaviors. How about you?

Does worldwide starvation concern you?

You know all that land used to grow food for the animals we over-breed and consume? It could grow enough plant food to feed all the humans on the planet and provide sufficient nutrition as well.No one would have to starve or be malnourished.

Vegans believe in eating a diet that considers the lives of others, not just themselves. How about you?

Do increasing water shortages worry you?

Where does all the water go, anyway? Doesn't it just recycle itself? Well, not exactly. You see, once again, those animals we over-breed and consume are drinking it up at such a rapid rate, that it never does have a chance to renew itself.  

Vegans believe that our dwindling water supply should be used in a responsible manner. How about you?

What about clean air and water?

Surely you care about that. You may even be involved in protesting the harmful effects of the oil and gas industry or fracking. Did you know that meat and dairy production is actually more polluting than big oil/vehicle emissions/fracking etc.?

Vegans believe in leaving clean air and water for future generations. How about you?

Do you enjoy watching slaughterhouse videos?

How about videos that realistically portray the meat and and dairy industry in all it's gory, painful, bloody glory? No? Neither do vegans. In fact, they bring us to tears.

Vegans believe in stopping the atrocities revealed in those films. How about you? Surely, you don't want them to continue?

Do you consider yourself an animal lover?

That steak on your plate was once a living, breathing, feeling being. Some of the animals we consume as food are more intelligent than our companion animals. They have lives and families. They care about each other. Some of them even feel love for the caretakers that send them to slaughter.

Vegans believe taking the lives of other animals for food, tangible products or entertainment is self serving and unnecessary in a world of less violent alternatives. How about you?

Where's the connection?

If the only vegan principle you disagree with is the last one, you may be more vegan than you think. Vegans aren't strange or crazy. They aren't evil or pushy. They aren't manipulative or unkind. In fact, vegans are among the kindest, most unselfish, most caring individuals in the world.

Just like you.


Speak your mind. Wait, you're vegan? Forget I said that.

What non-vegans often project toward vegans
And there it is, exactly. Ever notice how everyone on the planet speaks up for speaking out? The louder the better, right? That is, until they find out you're vegan. Then, you better keep your opinions to yourself.

Plus, you better enjoy being ridiculed, taunted with bacon and BBQ and catching people talking crap about you behind your back.

Oh, and whatever you do, don't defend yourself, your fellow vegans or your way of life when you do catch them at it. That just proves how annoying you are.

And you better get good at asking questions designed to insult you, no matter how many times you've heard them or how insulting they are.

And the shunning. Oh the shunning.... You'll get so accustomed to that, that you'll actually suggest they ignore you before they even think of it themselves.

In other words, you might as well not bother, right? You might as well just concede to the fact that when it comes to speaking their minds, vegans just don't have the same rights as “normal” people, right?

Wait, what? I don't think so. But here's what I do think. I think that if the people you associate with don't feel you have the same right to speak your mind as they do, well, maybe it's time to stop associating with them, vegan or not.

 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Vegans like me are not trying to change you

We just want to give you cookies and show you some stuff you might not know.
Oh sure we're not, right? What about all those vegan Facebook posts? What about this stupid blog post and all the other ones? What about the fact that I just can't shut up about going vegan? What's that all about if I'm not trying to change you?

Well of course I promote my views and defend them to the core. Don't you? Doesn't anyone who truly cares about anything? How about religious people, political parties and charities? Don't they try to gain your empathy by speaking out?

Then why, in the name of all that's good in the world is it so much worse when vegans do it? I have NO idea!

But, back to my point. Vegans aren't trying to change you. They're just trying to show you some facts that are not commonly known. Now, what you do with those facts is totally up to you. Just as it's up to me to remain atheist when Christians state their opinions. Or, to continue to be liberal minded when faced with opposing politics.

I don't want to change you. I want to open your eyes. I want you to see things that extend beyond what you've been told all your life. Certainly, I'd like you to understand that compassion is the answer to many of the world's current difficulties. But mostly, I want you to think for yourself, weigh the facts and make an informed, fact based decision. I actually want to see you break free from brain-washing, not brainwash you more.

And of course, I am of the opinion that going vegan is the biggest thing anyone can do to save the planet, the humans, the animals and even the starving kids in other countries, just as religious folks feel God is the answer. However, do I expect every one of my friends to miraculously go vegan overnight? No. Not at all.

But what I do expect is to be allowed to express my opinion and share my views just like anyone else, without being told I'm pushy or shoving my opinions down someone's throat or some other such nonsense.

I also expect people to get that when they are engaging in a not so nice session of vegan bashing and I speak up in defense of what I believe in, it's not about pushing my beliefs on them. It's about defending my right and the right of anyone else, vegan or not to freely express their opinions without being discriminated against. And that includes the people I am addressing.

So, you can continue talking crap about vegans if you wish. You don't have to go vegan either. Nobody said you did. Or, you can connect with the fact that by denying me or any other vegan (or anyone else) the right to speak out, protest or otherwise “annoy” you with their opinions, you are also making it easier for the rest of the world to deny you your own right to do the same.

Blind compliance never helped anyone find their voice.

Vegan heartache #1 – The vegan bashers you love and care for

Feel like you're going around in circles with your non-vegan friends?
This one is mainly for my fellow vegans, but the rest of you are welcome to listen in. Ya, even if you're trolling to dig up dirt and gloat. All are welcome to give me page views. That is, after all, how I get paid. Feel free to pass it around too. I love it when haters do that. Ka-ching! LOL I'm just giving you crap. I love all my readers, vegan or not and I appreciate you. I wouldn't be here without your support. Anyway, back to the subject at hand. I have addressed this before, but I feel like talking about it again.

My vegan friends, did you ever feel that you could make a list of everything you've had said to you in response to your choice to be vegan and answer it all (for the 199th time) but what would be the point because nobody really listens anyway? Ya, that's how I feel today. "If you were stranded on a desert island...., but, but, but if we all went vegan, animals would over-run the earth...., Where do you get your (insert nutritional need)? What do you eat? How many licks does it take?" Wait, that's something else entirely.

Anyway, my veg buddies, I am so sick of all these questions. I don't mind answering them for people who really want to know the answer. The thing is, though, most of the time, when people ask vegans questions, they don't even want the answers. What they want is to prove us wrong. Now, we all know that the facts are on “our” side even though we are all in this together and there really are no sides, except the ones we all invent.

So, I'm thinking, wouldn't it be a hoot to print up a document containing all the factual answers to the mean spirited questions and comments with applicable links and sources? So that instead of answering them, we could just pull one out and hand it (or message it) to them. “Here you go. This should answer all your inquiries. Reference # 87 – The dairy industry is the meat industry.” Wait, that's been done many times over? They're still not listening? They didn't even read it?

Of course not. Because some people's main interest is not to learn. It's not to change. It's not to grow. It's to stay tucked away in their personal comfort zone, blissfully unaware of the atrocities of the industries they patronize, lashing out at anyone who so much as suggests that there may be a better way of doing things than the way they have always been done (Like that's working SO well.).

Because, if they knew what we know, assuming they are nice people, which I believe most of them are, they would have to change. 

Or maybe, they just have better things to do than to listen to us ramble on. I do like to ramble on about my favorite subject. Don't we all, vegan or not?

The point is, with certain people, even people you love with your whole heart and soul, there's really no point in addressing their inquiries and insults. What's a vegan to do? Well, you do what everyone does when faced with rudeness, bullying and general mean-spirited comments and questions. You walk away, leave them in the most kind and peaceful way possible and live your life as a shining example of compassion. A sense of humor doesn't hurt either.

It's not a competition or even a race, my friends. It's not about you. It's not about them. It's not about any individual right. Folks, we're all connected, vegan or not. Whatever any of us do impacts every one of us. Vegans need to remember that too. So, get a sense of humor, grow a huge pair (because you WILL need them) and try to be as nice as you possibly can when people insist on being biased and critical. And whatever you do, don't comment on mean spirited Facebook posts like I sometimes do. 

Heaven forbid you might express an opposing opinion to vegan bashing. It's in style, you know.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Embracing my inner annoying vegan

Ya, it's like that. (Public domain photo)
I used to take offense when omnivores told me vegans were annoying. Now, I laugh it off and take it as a compliment. Well, maybe not a compliment, but certainly it means that someone is listening. If I wasn't getting through to them on some level, they wouldn't get so annoyed, would they? And if they weren't so hell bent on having their own way, despite the fact that the rest of us are being forced to go down the tubes with them, they wouldn't consider us annoying either, would they?

The fact that I am thought of as annoying doesn't really bother me so much any more. Why not? Well, it's because the more I learn about the impact a meat and dairy based diet is having on the entire planet, other animals notwithstanding, the less guilty I feel about annoying the crap out of people until they get the message, stop making lame excuses and change their “evil” ways.

Figuratively, of course. I would never personally and purposefully bombard or target any individual with my personal beliefs. That would be wrong and it would make them feel bad. I should know. Omnivores have been doing it to me for more than 30 years.

I am preaching a non-violent life. I am suggesting that we live in harmony. I am suggesting that we get as close to nature as possible in this day and age in order to get the earth back in balance. (Which, for humans (we are primates, after all) means eating our fruits and veggies, not other creatures.)

I'm not mean, mean spirited or violent towards those who disagree with me. I'm not asking anyone to kill someone in the name of God, tradition or any other nonsense.

I'm just asking people to be kind to each other and the other animals we share the planet with. Isn't that deplorable?

It's not, of course. And if asking people to make an effort to do the least harm possible to all offends anyone, I say, tough crap. I don't need rude, purposefully ignorant, violence loving, biased friends. I'm not better than anyone, but I do try to avoid those who feel their lives have nothing to do with anyone else's. We are all connected, folks. Being peaceful brings about peace for all, no matter how you look at it.

And so, I am embracing my inner annoying vegan because she knows what she's talking about and she cares. Not just about herself and her own needs and tastes, but about every single living thing in existence, including all those people who have labeled her “annoying.”

So there. LOL, chuckle, snort....

Why won't my vegan friend come to my BBQ?

Gee, I can't imagine why your vegan friend might not enjoy this. Public Domain photo
You'll be making special vegan food, just for them. You plan on cooking their food on a different grill. You're happy to make any other allowances to make them comfortable. Why won't your vegan friend come to your BBQ?

The simplest answer is, of course that your barbecue isn't vegan. Sure, you are making certain they have vegan food. You are willing to go out of your way to accommodate their needs. That's commendable. Unfortunately, it doesn't change the fact that the rest of the folks there will be celebrating in the most “un-veganny” manner possible.

Connect with the vegan view of your BBQ.

People will be sucking meat from the bones of other animals. They will be drooling over the bloody nastiness sizzling on the grill. They will be sharing recipes that further disrespect other beings. In short, a BBQ is probably the least appealing event on the planet for most vegans.

There will be no shortage of reminders that this is an omnivore gathering, despite the fact that there is a little vegan food to eat. An omnivorous BBQ is every vegan's nightmare. Asking a vegan to attend your BBQ is like asking a die hard Christian to come worship Satan with you.

That being said, I have attended the BBQ's of a few non-vegan friends in my day. However, it was more out of consideration for the friendship than because I thought I would have a great time there. And I have to add that I will not be doing it again unless forced by some social obligation that is simply unavoidable.

Why? Because it's just plain disgusting. It goes against everything I stand for. It nauseates me. It's uncomfortable. It's unnecessary. We can go to a movie or something, right? Do we have to sacrifice several animals for the sake of our friendship? Nope.

So please, don't do me the favor of inviting me to your omnivore BBQ out of some sense of social obligation or for any other reason. I don't want to come. I will not have a good time. I will be surrounded by reminders of a way of life that repulses me.

But do call me. I am still your friend. In fact, I'll do almost anything else with you that you like. Not only that, you are perfectly welcome to come to my Vegan BBQ where no one dies and everyone eats delicious food and has tons of fun.

Unless my non-violent lifestyle offends you in some way, of course. Because the last thing I want is to make you uncomfortable or push my lifestyle on you.

Enough said?


Monday, October 20, 2014

Aside from veganism

Connect with your trashy ways (Public domain photo)
Since going vegan, I've started reconnecting with other things that help everyone (human and other creatures) and everything on this planet. I'm in this weird stage where, while I try not to pry, I can't help but notice that the human conscience or sense of awareness and injustice has gone on vacation. Aside from veganism, here's a few examples to illustrate my point.

Stop being a glutton – People are starving.

Whether you are vegan or not, please be aware that while you're wolfing down that second helping or running to the store for dessert when you're already stuffed to the gills, there are little children (and adults) dying of starvation. Why not take that extra money you spend getting fat and help someone who truly needs it buy food or water? Use portion control for a good cause!

Stop buying crap you don't need – It's a waste of resources.

Advertisers work really hard to make us think we need things that we really only want. I just recently had to buy a smart phone because the company I get service from is switching to a new platform. The old dinosaur phone I've had for 6 years is not compatible with it. However, if they hadn't decide to do that, I would have kept the old one until it went to cell phone heaven.

Why? Because the more we buy, the more they make and therefore, the more resources are used up. As far as I know, there is no such thing as unlimited resource on this planet. Once everything is gone, we're gone too. So, stop bragging about your shop-a-holic habits, collections, doo-dads, gizmos and gadgets. Start caring about something besides your own selfish “needs.” You're better than that. Be responsible. Save something for future generations. As it is right now, they may not even have a future at all.

Be kind to people – even those you don't care for.

We vegans are constantly preaching about being kind to other animals. That's important. It's absolutely vital for our own survival. However, I have noticed that some vegans are not as kind to other human beings. Yes, it's true, humans can take care of themselves, whereas, other animals have no choice in the way they're treated. I also get that non-vegans can be quite abrasive toward vegans. Boy, do I ever! That doesn't give us an excuse to be rude, sarcastic and just plain mean to other people. So, let's practice what we preach and direct kindness and compassion toward all.

Be good for goodness sake.

I'm going to tell you I'm an atheist here. However, it's not because I wish to prove I'm smarter or better or superior to those with opposing beliefs. It's just to illustrate a point. It seems that we have gotten into the habit of thinking that we have to be good people, because if we don't, we'll go to hell. That's all well and good, except for one thing.

We shouldn't have to be threatened into good behavior. In fact, I'm actually slightly more motivated to be good, because, as an atheist, I feel this life is all we get. I have no second chances. This is my one and only chance to do right by everyone and I'm going to make the most of it. I won't be meeting anyone on the other side to apologize for my behavior, so I have to make things right now.

Use proper disposal methods.

Is anyone else tired of seeing trash everywhere? What ever happened to waiting for a trash can? What ever happened to recycling? In my experience, most people don't actually make an effort to keep trash out of landfills, either. If they have no easy way to recycle something, into the trash can it goes. I've done it myself, but I'm stopping all that right now.

If I don't have a way to recycle what I use, or I don't use enough to be worth a trip to the recyclers, I'm still going to save it for someone who does to take. It's just sad to throw away items that can be reused or recycled when the earth is absolutely being raped and ravaged to create more. It's not just wasteful, it's completely counter-productive.

Quit buying into shows like “House Hunters”

It makes me nauseous when I see people touring million dollar homes and picking apart every little cosmetic detail. “Oh gosh, honey, the kitchen is soooo outdated. Why, we'll have to gut the whole thing. Did you see that old fireplace? It's totally 1960's.” So what? Are you are aware that there are people who would give up their last meal for an 8x10 shed with a mattress to sleep on?

Stop being so darn picky. Caring means not acting like a spoiled brat. It means realizing that the extra money you spend on pointless renovations could help someone who has true need of shelter from the storms. Sure, you can do a little painting here and there. No one is begrudging you that. But do you really need a $50,000. kitchen? No. You WANT it. You don't NEED it. Living without it means that spare 50 grand you have in your hip pocket could buy several tiny homes for several homeless families.

I keep hearing people say they feel powerless.

As vegans, we know that's simply not true. Every person we convince to go vegan creates less demand for the animal products that are killing us, other creatures and the entire planet at alarming rates. The issues caused by human greed and wastefulness are not limited to meat and dairy based diets. They are absolutely overwhelming. It's true. However, there is something we can all do on a personal level to change things for the better or at least slow down the clock. We can apply that same vegan conviction (that all life matters and one person can make a difference when combined with the effort of many such persons) to other kind causes, like the ones above. Veganism aside, it's just the right thing to do.

Are vegans the new hippies?

Saw a post in a vegan forum by a younger member. The question posed was, “Are most vegans pot smokers? Because that would be really cool!” I thought it was kind of silly and maybe placed a bit more importance on pot smoking, rather than the tireless effort to save animals, the planet and each other that vegans stand for. On the other hand, it did get me thinking.

You know how back in the day, hippies tried to warn everyone about environmental issues? Remember how everyone ignored them (us)? Now we know better, don't we? The world is falling apart around us. We're running out of clean water, food and resources at an alarming rate. And, now, vegans are speaking out on those same issues and being ignored.

No one wants to give up their meat and dairy, just like no one in the 70's wanted to give up their cars, conveniences and consumerism. And yet, the meat and dairy industries are responsible for most of the environmental damage happening today. The parallel connection is obvious. Vegans are the new hippies. Will you take a lesson from the past and listen this time or will you ignore the facts, stick to harmful, destructive traditions and beliefs and watch the world go down the tubes?

You have a choice to live life as you wish. Why not choose wisely so that we all have a brighter future? It's not always about you.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Connecting with transitioning vegans

Positive connections spring from kindness (public domain image)
So, you're in a vegan group or on a vegan page and your fellow vegans are bashing some poor innocent who's still in transition. Do you join them, berate the meanies, come to the victim's defense or just walk away? I think how you react to this scenario could make a huge difference. Here's why.

For whatever reason, the transitioning vegan is at least headed down the path to a kinder life. It doesn't really matter whether they're there yet. The point is, they're trying. Bashing them is a great way to drive them away.

Joining the critics who feel you have to be completely vegan right away, with no transitioning allowed is so elitist. Most of us weren't born vegan, in that even though veganism is a natural human diet, it's one that most of us adopted later in life after learning what we now know.

Face it, unless you were raised vegan, you likely had some kind of transition period. You should therefore accept that others will travel a similar path to their eventual goal of cruelty free living. Why not show some respect for their journey, rather than discouraging them from going vegan with harsh words?

As vegans, we believe in living a kind hearted, cruelty free lifestyle. We should represent that with our interactions with humans as well as our interactions with other animals. I think the best interaction with a transitioning vegan would be to give support and ignore those who are critical.

As they say, it's better to promote what you love than to bash what you hate.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Five things I thought were wholesome entertainment before going vegan

The circus is unnatural entertainment (public domain photo)
My whole outlook has changed since going vegan. Rather than just taking things at face value, I look for the deeper consequences. For instance, I will not be participating in the ALS ice bucket challenge or contributing to that organization. Why? Because they do animal testing and not the mild kind, if there is such a thing. That's not all, though.

Rodeos/Horseback riding

This past summer I attended a rodeo in Deer Trail, Colorado. It was a big deal. Not only is it the home of the world's first rodeo, it's the home of my partner's grandparents. He went to high school there. The rodeo is a big part of the town's identity. Unfortunately, as we watched the cowboys flip the little calves around with no thought to their discomfort, we got a sick feeling in our stomachs. We also noticed the curving of the horses backs when the saddles were taken off. Curving caused by years of being ridden and ridden hard. We won't be going to any more rodeos.

Ranches/Farms

Doesn't it sound fun to have a working vacation at a farm or ranch. I used to think so. That was before I learned the extent to which we use and abuse the animals raised for food, clothing and more. It was before I learned that the meat and dairy industry is the biggest polluter on the planet. It was before I realized that a meat and dairy based diet wastes tons of water and grain and contributes to world hunger.

4-H Clubs

You know those cute little bunnies, calves and sheep with the blue ribbons? Do you know what happens to them after they get their prize? I do. The blue ribbons indicate their superior flavor. What's really sad is when the 4-H kids that raise them have to give them up to be sold for slaughter. It's very traumatic for them. Many of them cry. Some try their best to convince their folks to keep them as pets. They love these animals. How on earth is this a wholesome way to raise your kids?

Zoos

I used to take my kids to the Zoo all the time when they were young. I thought it was wholesome family entertainment. They got to see other animals up close that they wouldn't normally see here in the U.S. I thought it was a good educational experience for them. Even then, though, it bothered me the way the caged gorillas looked at me as I peered into their cage and their lives. Now, as a vegan, I don't go to zoos at all. Doing so would feel so wrong. I don't want to pay for other animals to be caged or take away their personal freedom. There's nothing wholesome about that.

Circuses

Circuses are even worse than zoos where the animals are concerned. Do you really think it's wholesome or natural to train other animals to entertain us? Zoos have been known to abuse animals in order to “train” them to do ridiculous things. Bears have their feet strapped to bicycles until they learn to ride. How many times do you suppose they fall and hurt themselves before they perfect this skill? Elephants are whipped when they don't perform well. Young animals are taken from their mothers at an early age to join the circus, just as young male calves are taken from their mothers and slaughtered as veal.

My entertainment is hardly worth all this.

I can live without the zoo, circus, rodeo, etc. if means I save another creature from the misery that comes with captivity. Some might argue that they treat their animals well. That's just the thing, though. Other animals are not ours to use and abuse. They're not ours to keep. They don't belong to us. They are individuals just like we are. They have feelings and families and rights. I'm glad that as a vegan, I have discovered the consequences of my actions are just as important as the actions themselves. Look below the surface, my friends. Even if you're not vegan, think about the form of entertainment you choose and how it impacts others. Have a heart.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Connecting with what you seek

Seek the good things in life and you will find them. (public domain photo)
What are you seeking in life? Chances are, whatever it is, you will find it. For instance, we all have that phase when we first become vegan where we seek out all the wrongs in order to make them right. It's a necessary part of the journey. After all, if you are not aware of the bad things, how can you possibly make positive changes to fix them?

So, what's the problem? Well, it's just that a lot of us never graduate to the next step. We get so involved in fighting what's wrong with the world that we never reach that other phase. The one where we start to realize that whatever we seek is quite often what we get.

So much is going on in the world that begs for activism and change. However, there is also an awful lot of good out there. By spending the majority of our time as vegans simply living the life we preach about, we are, in effect, drawing the very things we tell others are so wonderful to ourselves.

In other words, we create what we seek.

So let's give it a shot, shall we? Let's spend more time seeking out and creating peace than we do seeking out suffering and injustice. Instead of looking for wrongs, how about we simply switch our focus to doing right? Instead of telling everyone what's wrong with the world, how about we concentrate on showing them how beautiful it can be and what happy lives we are leading?

Yup, it's a journey.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

The sounds of silence

Silence is not always a good thing. (public domain photo)
Like most vegans, I've been told many times that I should simply live my beliefs and shut-up about it. Some people tell me that non-vegans are sick to death of hearing about veganism. To which I reply that they're sick to death, for sure, but veganism is not the cause of their issues. It's their diet that's killing them (not to mention the planet and everything on it). Being silent under those circumstances would be nothing short of criminal as far as I'm concerned.I love my friends too much to do that to them!

The sounds of silence are echoing all around us if we care enough to give them a listen.

Farm life involves using and abusing animals, no matter how you slice it. Can you hear them crying for help or do you turn a deaf ear to the fact that they suffer, feel pain and care for each other just as we do? That includes dairy cows and those “humanely raised” animals too, by the way. Look it up.

Little children all over the world are crying themselves to sleep. They are dying daily from starvation and lack of clean water. Food and water they could have consumed is being foolishly sold and recycled through animals for consumption, instead of being eaten directly so everyone could be fed rather than just the fortunate few that a meat and dairy based diet caters to. (Resources go much further when directly consumed. Not to mention that the nutritional value is much higher.)

The planet is screaming for relief! Streams that were once teaming with life are dead due to algae overgrowth from nitrogen rich farm run-off. (Once again, dairy farms and humane animal farms are no better.) The earth was simply not meant to support the amount of animal life that is occurring as we over-breed other animals due to the demand for meat and dairy.)

People are dying due to diseases caused by poor diet, food additives and genetically altered crops, never realizing that all they had to do was make the right choice as to what should go on their fork and into their mouths.

Produce farmers who have sustained us happily for many years are crying too. They're losing their family farms because they refuse to use GMO seeds. They're being squeezed out. There are very few left that do not cater to Monsanto and big business. The ones that do are often sued and lose everything they have when GMO's migrate (on the wind) to their fields.

It's time for all of us, vegan or otherwise to connect with the fact that when we are silent, we pay for all of this. So, no, I will not be silent. Being silent is like signing a death warrant for everyone on this planet. I'm just not that kind of girl. I won't do it.

And yes, you do have a choice and here it is. You can change the way you do things or you can suffer the natural consequences of your actions. (Bad health, starvation, lack of water and a filthy planet that will not sustain any of us.)

And yes, what you eat IS my business. Because by choosing a meat and dairy based diet, you are not just killing yourself. You're killing all of us. You're giving my grand-kids less of a chance for survival in the future. You're telling them that their lives are not as important as your taste buds. Not only that, you're telling them they should repeat the process. And if you don't think I consider that my business, you don't know me very well.

So please, connect with the fact that silence kills. Go vegan. Go viral. Go verbal. All our lives depend on it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Connecting with....everything

Come in peace, always (public domain)
In the last post, I talked about how after going vegan, my brain started going off with rapid fire connections. I now look at the world, society and everything else within human reality very differently. I still have a long way to go, though. I'm not there yet. Not by a long shot. I believe there are threads of energy connecting everyone and everything in existence and connecting with those threads is so freeing, so beautiful that it cannot be comprehended.

Sometimes I raise my hands to the sky and picture the giant web that connects us all reaching out for me and coursing into my soul. It makes me feel more a part of things than I have ever felt in conventional human society. I feel the same connection when I touch a tree or work the soil in my garden or feel the hand of one of my grand-kids in mine.

In fact, I'm slowly realizing that this false world we have created for ourselves is taking us further and further away from the natural world and who we were intended to be (the longer we let it go on and nourish it and serve it). Does that make me seem like a whack job? I don't know. And frankly, I don't care. The truth is more important to me.

The broken connections are poetically heart-breaking to me. I hate seeing the way we treat other creatures as inferior or even the way we treat each other. It sickens me. We could have so much if we would simply embrace who we really are and be good to each other.

As long as we continue to label and separate each other from the “pack”, we will never reach our full potential. We will never know how fulfilling life can be when it's lived in unison. Because, my friends, we were never meant to be separate. We are one. Yes, we are individuals in some respects, but only like our fingers are individual, yet just a part of who we are.

So yes, maybe I appear to be a little crazy with my vegan “nonsense” and my habit of reaching out to strengthen those invisible threads. Maybe people who are heavily indoctrinated into this so called human society we have invented for ourselves don't get me. That's OK. I get myself. I like the way I do things. I like that I do my very best to do no harm. I like that I relate better to people like me than I do to people who think conventionally. I'm OK with that.

I wish everyone could feel the connections. Some do. As for the rest, well, I hope they come around. Mother Earth is calling to you. Are your ears, hearts and minds open enough to hear her cries?

If so, please reach out. Reach out with kindness, love and respect. Reach out with compassion and understanding. Make the connection between your individual actions and the changes that occur in the world. All of them. Connect with nature, with each other and with all the good things in the world. Strengthen your ties to Mother Earth and loosen the threads that connect you with the anger, hatred, bigotry, speciesism, greed and gluttony we have created by being “civilized”.

Take only what you need. Give back all that you can. And please, please, please, stop the violence. It breaks the connections. It's always wrong, no matter which “side” you are on. Because as long as you are on a side, you can't feel the connections that bind us all and keep us alive, thriving and joyous.

Eventually, some time before my body and my energy permanently join the natural world I came from, I hope to be connected with everything. I hope to embrace the vast unity of all nature and feel all of it's beauty. How about you?