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.