Social Meatia

August 31, 2013

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Facebook was a silly time wasting game, I thought, until finally joining in 2011 at the plight of my animal rights friends who needed backup. Joining Facebook as a vegan person, I soon observed that while Facebook is very powerful in connecting with the plant-powered (who represent a small, yet exponentially growing, minority of the population), Facebook is also a place where carnists display their prey in the same way that cats bring half-dead birds and mice into the house (bloodbath often ensuing). Carnists will share their BBQ pics, McDonald’s indulgences, and… “did I see a Facebook picture of you eating a fish with its head still on?” my vegan friend asked our carnist friend at a party. “Yes. That was a thing that happened,” he replied.

While I’m morally ambiguous about the sentience of various types of marine life, I’m aware of its unsustainability, and bottom line: I don’t really want to see any other meal with a face on Facebook. I have a strict mental diet and I’ve been plant-powered for over 4 years so I definitely don’t want to support others needlessly consuming animal products, let alone invite the mainstream meat experience into my plant-based wonderland of a lifestyle.

I don’t watch TV commercials to avoid the every-30-second hamburger and ‘real’ milk ads, I don’t venture into the raw flesh section at the grocery store, and I prefer not to break bread while animals and their secretions are on the table. So I unsubscribe to my Facebook and Instagram friends who proudly display these experiences. In all fairness, I also unsubscribe from my more hard-hitting animal activist friends who post pictures of tortured animals for the same reasons. I strive to live a lifestyle free of all violence, which includes the violence of others that I can’t control. Law of attraction: violence in, violence out. Facebook is not always the place to soapbox. WordPress is. A few strong vegan links every once in a while, well played. But Facebook is the morning paper of most people, not the temple of doom where people go to face their greatest fears.

I would like to take this WordPress moment to clarify that by unsubscribing from my carnist friends’ feeds, I know I’m missing out. I want to know what’s going on with them and their binge-drinking, babies, and bad bridesmaid dresses. And sometimes I will venture onto their pages just to check in with them (and quickly exit, finding Paleo recipes and pics of their kids covered in melting coned mammary bovine secretions. I don’t want to disconnect from my friends, but I’m creating the reality I live in and the world I choose to live in does not involve the needless oppression of animals. While the whole world may not agree, that’s the small space I’m carving out for myself.

Carnists use social media as a way to justify their food choices (“see, I’m eating this bacon and you guys all get it right? You know it’s pig flesh, too, but that’s okay cause it’s TRENDY. We’re all in on it. Wink wink.”) Groupthink. Someone shows an image of something simple that they assume everyone guiltily enjoys and the Likes are the confirmation that this choice is acceptable and that the person is accepted by their Facebook circle, which is then further affirmed by pop culture – written about in blogs and shared via Twitter, creating the illusion that these no longer morally okay acts – abusing the animal directly or paying for the abused animal after it’s been cut into slices and packaged – neither is kosher.

Now, sometimes I don’t avert my eyes in time. And while I don’t choose every battle, I will definitely speak up and point out the inaccurate language being used (it’s not bacon – it’s the flesh of a factory farmed pig, who acts and feels very much like your dog), and/or I might provide some statistics (hey did you know that your supercool cow milk yogurt has casein which has been tested for over 30 years to directly increase cancer cells)? {China Study}. I’m not trying to be obnoxious (comes naturally). I have better things to do than jump into everyone’s learning paths and divert them from dishonesties and dangers. BUT if it’s in my path, then I’m not usually comfortable turning a blind eye. This is the case whether browsing past a Facebook meat post or walking past a knife fight on the street. I’m not just going to abandon these poor people and animals. Being the person who walks away doesn’t feel good to me. Shouldn’t have chased down that guy with the knife and yelled at him – I know, I know.

@ Carnists who use social media to make themselves feel better about consuming animal products: I suggest you give your content the oppression test. Before posting something on Facebook, inspect it – turn it over a few times scanning for clues of oppression. If something has been raped or murdered in order for that picture to exist, maybe don’t post it, or better yet – don’t engage in it at all.

For those who consider themselves pacifists who want to live in a world of non violence, it’s up to us to define what politically correct means. If we accept a world where people laugh at ‘bacon’ jokes and hold up buckets of KFC as a symbol of naughty [but harmless *wink*] indulgence, then nothing is going to change any time soon.

Sometimes it feels like I’m throwing a cold bucket of water over people’s heads, bursting their carnist bubbles, but I personally see that as my responsibility. Elitist of me? Feel free to consult my post: The Vegan Elite.

Just like people blow the whistle on kitten torture vids on Facebook, one day the same will go for the purchase and consumption of animals. It’s the exact same torture. The only different is that torture is behind closed doors.

Shamelessly promoting my plant-powered lifestyle

Shamelessly promoting my plant-powered lifestyle

 …and 3 Reasons I Sort of Am

Can I pull this off?

Can I pull this off? Spot the 3 main reasons why not.

1) I care a lot

Just like the cloud land in Care Bears.

A hipster once introduced me: “this is Isla, she likes to hike and protest.” I mean. There is much more to me. But these are not exactly approved hipster activities. They involve exertion.

2) I lived through the Degrassi era

For those of us who had already moved on to 501s after forced-watchings of the real Degrassi in HPLS (Health and Personal Life Skills), and who identified ourselves as cool by NOT having  mom butts and camel toes, we recognize that going back to high-waisted pants is not ironic, it’s simply regression.

And any kind of padding on the shoulders, unless you’re playing sports, is not needed.

3) I make fun of hipsters

While never admitting to being hipsters, hipsters also don’t usually make fun of hipsters because that would involve acknowledging the breed and they just happen to be this way all on their own.

4) I’m a jock

I like to work out and sweat. This means I’m often in runners and fitwear, out of convenience. Unacceptable.

If your’e going to work out as a hipster, you should have appropriate ironic tees to do that in. And make sure you get to wherever you’re working out on a bike that is not ‘mountain’.

*I also ride one of those because I actually like to ride it IN the mountains.

5) I strive for non-conformity

I was recently telling a hipster friend how a former hipster love interest didn’t consider me hipster enough to date.

She replied: “oh, so you’re more mainstream?”

Since when did the world divide into two categories: hipster and mainstream?

In order to be a hipster, you have to memorize an unwritten bible of dress codes, musical selections, and lingo. You HAVE to.

6) I’m straight edge

I don’t drink, smoke, or drug. Not on purpose, I just stopped getting high one day. No amount of drugs could get me high anymore, so I gave it up.

My drug is fresh air. <Hipster t-shirt

7) I’m FRIENDLY

I introduce myself to pretty much anyone willing. I have a million girlfriends. Ok, I’m usually not that friendly to straight guys, but there’s a good reason for that.

I just want to love you. <Hipster t-shirt

8) I hate major chord composed emo music

Anything that sounds like The Postal Service can kiss my ass.

Give me something nasty. Or at least something extremely depressing.

3 Reasons I (Defeatedly) Am a Hipster

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1) I hate labels

If you see me with any type of label on my person, I can assure you I would rather not be wearing it. This means the little hidden ones on buttons and zippers.

I will definitely not wear any kind of logo. No words at all, please. If I have something to say it, I’ll say it.

And I’m definitely not advertising for you for free.

2) I’m cool

It’s irrefutable.

I define cool by how willing to be a dork you are.

3) I’m an Art Bitch

You probably haven’t heard of our band, Art Bitch, with @MichaelaLucas. Because we don’t play music.

 

Can Enneagram Personality Types Explain Varying Perceptions of Animal Cruelty?

My friend’s four year old son recently asked: “Mom, why are some people fake?”

From a child’s honest viewpoint, he was referring to people who he felt did not show up as their true selves. Like little booboo, I also don’t get how so many people can know about factory farming and simply keep consuming animal products. But perhaps the answer lies in that there are many ‘true selves’, some more change oriented and forward thinking than others.

We are born caring for animals. Being kind and gentle to them, being infatuated with them. And then we learn that the food on our plates IS animals, and we are taught to build walls around our hearts and minds so that we can accept killing animals as okay. The way that we decide to reconcile this incongruity determines not only how we live the rest of our lives, but WHO we become.

So what makes some people care enough to change their behaviour towards animals, while others let their initial programming continue to run? 

Joanne Chang from Nice Shoes recently suggested watching Peaceable Kingdom.

In one scene, a farmer who had grown up on a farm was reunited with a cow he once knew. The cow recognized him, ran up to him and bumped him right in the heart. The man was choking up as he told the story, because he said that this bump re-opened his heart chakra, which had been shut off as a child after seeing his pig friends being slaughtered one day, coming home to find their carcasses hanging upside down. After that moment, he no longer considered the farm his home. The man eventually became vegan, and began adopting animals to give them shelter.

As a contrasting example, recently, little booboo’s mom and I had an encounter with three dumb bitches perfectly acceptable ladies in the lobby of my building. I pointed out that all three of them were wearing real fur, and gave them a quick run down of how animals are routinely anally and vaginally electrocuted and skinned alive, and one of the girls simply giggled and said: “I like fur, teehee!’

How is it that these girls, once faced with their roles in animal cruelty, can go into zombie mode? My friend pointed out that maybe they’d never thought about it before, and even if they had, perhaps they weren’t smart enough to grasp the correlation between their fashion choices and the animal suffering those choices were causing.

So is it intelligence that makes some people connect the suffering of other sentient beings with their own? Do those who choose to turn a blind eye to factory farming lack the emotional and mental intelligence to make the higher moral choice? Or are they bound by certain innate traits of their personalities?

Many people are not educated about what goes on behind closed doors when it comes to factory farming, because the industry does not want us to know. This is why laws are passed like the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and the Ag Gag bills—to keep consumers from knowing the dirty truth behind what they consider ‘food’ because otherwise they may not consider it food anymore.

For the purpose of this blog post, I want to examine those who ARE educated on a basic level about factory farming. Who have sat down and read literature or watched films about factory farming, who have worked in an animal industry, who have been to a lecture, or know an animal rights’ activist, or those who have been schooled on Facebook when they post some stupid bacon joke.

*Disclaimer: for the record, ‘humane meat‘ does not exist.

Let’s look at the nine Enneagram Personality Types:

1. The Reformer

The Reformer is all about rules. They are the party-poopers. The perfectionists. The ones who ensure that systems are maintained. Think teachers, police officers, the people who rat you out at work.

These people have grown up in a set system, which they may feel is their role to maintain. To ‘go against’ the system would be chaotic for them, and their number one enemy is chaos. Therefore, a Reformer might feel it’s more important to stay with the systems that have ‘worked’ for a long time, rather than to experiment with new lifestyles of which the results are uncertain.

Reformers could be highly valuable to the animal rights’ movement because they are the ones who can carry out real change. They would be the ones to pass animal rights laws, to enforce laws to protect animals are being harmed, and to go cold tofurky vegan. Catch 22 – they’d do it in a heartbeat if it were already law.

2. The Helper

The Helper is motivated by the heart. Personal relationships are very important to them. They feel the most satisfied when making others happy, and are motivated by appreciation, but they are prone to over-giving which can make them carry resentment.

The Helper may not be interested in shifting from consuming animal products because they are more comfortable in a role of assistance than leadership. They also may avoid experiencing the pain that animals suffer—not watching important films, such as Earthlings—because they are afraid of the pain it could cause them.

Once The Helper acknowledges their emotional relationship with animals, they can be the ultimate direct contact for animals. These are the type of people to adopt abused animals, run sanctuaries, and definitely the people who show up at the demo.

3. The Achiever

The Achiever is busy, hard working, and goal oriented. They are hard on themselves, and need a lot of attention. The Achiever lives for glory, fame, and accolades.
Being so ‘gotta stay on top of my day, gotta stay on top of my life’, the Achiever may be too busy to look at the suffering their consumer choices are causing. They are on a mission and may not acknowledge their role in oppressive animal systems because they feel they ‘don’t have time’. The Achiever would be the type to insist that they ‘need’ animal products as their fuel, fearing what any lifestyle change would do to their productivity.

The Achiever could be a great spokesperson for animal rights, since they love to be in the spotlight. The Achiever could execute cutting edge animal rights campaigns, become leaders in the new rise of vegan cuisine, and they could definitely destroy a fur store. Destruction can be productive.

4. The Individualist

The Individualist likes to go their own way. The most romantic number of the enneagram, the Individualist has big ideas and big dreams and their biggest hurdle against recognizing their role in animal suffering is their selfishness. Caught up in their fantasy worlds, the Individualist might not take their head out of the clouds to notice what’s going on behind the closed doors of factory farms. The Individualist will understand the discord between these utopic fantasy worlds they dream of and the current realities of animal slavery, but this harsh dichotomy may be so extreme for them that they ignore it in self-preservation.

The Individualist should be a pretty easy convert for veganism since they like to be different. However, they won’t be swayed by other people pressuring them. The Individualist can be an excellent source of inspiration for others to go vegan because they will do it confidently and with style, reassuring people that it’s okay to be different.

Sensitive to emotional pain, these types will feel a weight off their shoulders once they are no longer a cog in the animal Auschwitz machine.

5. The Investigator

The Investigator. This egghead bookworm is a total poindexter. They are constantly untangling problems in their minds, which they love to chew on. The Investigator can often withdraw into their own minds solving the world’s problems.

As an observer, The Invetigator may be well aware of the systematic animal abuse in today’s modern world, but they may view it from a detached perspective, and not make a heart to heart connection with the Ghosts in the Machine. Stuck in observing and analyzing these twisted realities, the Investigator may not take initiative to ACT to alter this overwhelming information.

The Investigator is probably the first one to find out just how horrible conditions for animals are in farms and labs these days, and would be a great communicator to break these statistics down for the masses. They are the ones who document animal suffering, who research what is actually happening and hopefully, the ones who determine alternative measures that can be taken.

6. The Loyalist

A simple type. This type is conservative and feels at peace with what they know. They are supportive, consistent, and serious. But they are also skeptical, especially to anything that threatens the relationships they have come to value the most.

Since the Loyalist is stuck in the old ways, they could be among the hardest to make aware of the pain their consumer choices inflict on animals. Highly nostalgic, they tend to think of the past as ‘the good old days’, rather than good times with serious underlying mistakes that need to be rectified immediately.

When you stop consuming animal products, many people call you a freak, or ‘religious’, or an ‘extremist’. This could be very difficult for the Loyalist, since fitting in is of utmost importance to them.

Loyalists make excellent animal guardians. Once thinking empathetically with animals, they could be dependable allies to animals, animal activists (aka no narcing here), and would be very thorough in changing their lifestyles over to nonviolence, once that decision is made.

7. The Enthusiast

Positive, upbeat, optimistic. High energy. The Enthusiast is Red Bull.

The Enthusiast might be afraid of ‘missing out’ on the animal products that the majority of the world currently consumes, as many popular foods, events, trends are still based on animal exploitation. The Enthusiast can be scattered, which could affect their clarity in thinking for themselves about the results of their choices on animals. And the Enthusiast would be very resistant to hearing about the deeply sad situations animals live in today because they are committed to being high-energy-happy-fun-time pretty much all the time.

The enthusiast could be a highly valued animal rights’ activist because they are  able to see a better future, to inspire others to join them to create a new world, and best of all, the Enthusiast has infectious joy to spread, making veganism fun, as it naturally is.

8. The Challenger

Contrary. Stubborn. Strong. It is part of the Challengers’ natural inclination to challenge the status quo. The Challenger is a fighter, which is great, but they can’t easily be swayed to make changes to their lifestyles because they do things on their own time.

The Challenger may fight data about animal industries out of their urge to battle, without allowing valid findings to soak in. They could vehemently block out very basic information, such as the China Study, not even taking the time to research it themselves, as they jump to defense instead of going within. 

The Challenger is going to RULE the demo. They are the ones on the megaphone, calling out the cops, the animal abusers, or both. The Challenger is a renegade, so they could be excellent leaders in demanding animal freedom. The Challenger could be highly protective to animals. They are the Mama bears.

9. The Peacemaker

The Peacemaker needs harmony and concensus. They enjoy feeling calm and reject conflict, feeling that it will ‘sort itself out’. The Peacemaker can be very accpeting. Too accepting perhaps.

When it comes to the reality of animal agriculture, Peacemakers might stick their heads in the sand instead of speaking out. Or they may want to envision the state of animal existence as ‘peaceful’ already so it’s easier for them to handle.

But, the Peacemaker is patient and persistent. More than any other type, a plant-based lifestyle should make perfect sense to the Peacemaker’s pacifistic  preferences. They are gentle, and therefore great at things like outreach, one of one connection, and of course, relating to animals (who seem to have copious amounts of inner peace even in the most dire situations).

EnneagramDiagram

“(People) occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”

Winston Churchill

Many people are a mix of these personality types listed. Also, this is just one viewpoint of personality classification. There is of course Myers Briggs as well. The main thing the Ennegram personality indicator tells us is what motivates us in contrast to others.

To determine which personality type you are, take the quiz: http://www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/test.php (although this test is not very good in my opinion, better to self-diagnose after reading the descriptions).

What number of the Ennegram do you identify with? How does this affect your relationship to animals?

It’s Official: Snowflake Furs is NOT Welcome in Vancouver

Emergency! Someone spoke out for animal rights too loudly to ignore.

How many times have we chanted: Snowflake Furs, Shut them DOWN!

Well, dreams do come true.

After several years of hard-hitting protests and anonymous acts of animal freedom, Snowflake Furs appears to be down for the count.

About a year ago, Snowflake was evicted from the Fairmont Hotel and tried to move down the street. Local activists paid them a few visits. One in which a random guy volunteered to have blood (strawberry sauce) poured all over him in a real fur coat (donated by means of pressure) to show Snowflake’s hand in the sick and blood-spattered fur industry.

In Snowflake’s stark empty windows now are pictures of the damage that led to the store’s closure – chemicals injected into the store to ruin ‘merchandise’ (abused animal carcasses).

The evil Snowflake sisters have never swayed from their position that they are the victims in this situation. Victims of senseless vandalism.

But is it property damage if what they are selling is not only not their property but not products at all?

The final nail in Snowflake Vancouver’s coffin was committed by the ALF. The update on Bite Back reads:

“Five weeks ago we took action against Snowflake Furs and Speiser Furs in Vancouver Canada. We used 10 large syringes with 16 gauge needles to shoot a foul substance into the stores through small spaces in the doors. Syringes have the ability to shoot more than 25 feet into the building onto their merchandise causing serious economic damage.
The Pacific Center Snowflake Furs location is now closed indefinitely. The store is gutted and lifeless, how appropriate.
We will stop when the violence and murder stops and it is only a matter of time before actions like these start occurring at the other Snowflake locations in Whistler and Banff.
To anyone who does not understand why fur stores are being targeted in this way please search ‘fur cruelty’ or ‘skinned alive for fur’ on your computer and spend some time witnessing the horrific fur trade.”

Although random passerbys might think this ‘vandalism’ needs to be ‘cracked down on’ (yes, I’m talking to you random passerby), what really needs to be cracked down on is the use of animals for clothing when other more environmentally-friendly, more comfortable, more hi-tech, humane materials exist.

Fur is as much a part of Canada’s heritage (as Snowflake tries to claim) as genocide. Let’s leave the past in the past.

If Snowflake is indeed renovating trying to recover from this catastrophe, their insurance will be sky high, and they’ll no doubt be greeted by a slew of animal rights’ activists if they try to show their face in this town again.

Fur bearing animals, we’ve got your backs.

Thank you, ALF.

#nonviolence #crueltyfreefashion

This progress shows that all types of activism can work together nonviolently to get results for animals. This is democracy at work. If one does not have dollars to vote with, one must take the dollars out of the hands of the oppressors.

*For further reading: The Calgary Sun has most cleverly determined that this act of liberation was done by -gasp- anti-fur activists. Read HERE.

Pop Culture Police

August 16, 2012

Although there is an official Vegan Police, I’m making a few citizen’s arrests here today. Up for trial are:

1) Lena Dunham from Girls

Charged: with seeming cute and innocent while needlessly hurting animals

What a great show. The awkward sex could be cut down on a smidgen. Sometimes a suggestion can go a long way. But it’s fresh, it’s current, it’s raw, and lol at times. I want to know what happens next. That’s the definition of a good fictional work.
Lena Dunham is the creator of this masterpiece (major props), and aside from a few Full House moments, it’s clear that some of the show is based on reality. How right I was to find out that Dunham used to be vegan and into animal rights.

The scene in question is her diner confession to the pharmacist that she used to be vegetarian, but then she was forced to eat roadkill and she felt herself “growing stronger and stronger with each bite.” So this would make her character, Hannah, strong, right? Have you seen her character try to jog? She is clearly out of shape and admittedly not the weight she feels best at.

This seemingly innocent anecdote did not fall on deaf ears. It’s weak sauce and a blemish on Lena’s perfectly imperfect character.

You don’t need meat to feel strong. There are MMA fighters and athletes all over the world who are vegan.

Lena, if you want to be able to jog without collapsing in the street – go veg. And if you want to create a work that speaks to REAL girls, have a vegan character. This is current. Or better yet, have Hannah go vegan. She can be self-effacingly weak willed in all other areas.

2) “Food” vendors at Shambhala & BassCoast

Charged: with preaching peace while vending violence

Welcome home, the signs say. You’ve found the holy land – the land where love lives. With all this love in the air, chowing down on factory farmed animals seems not quite apropos.

Humans celebrating freedom, while fueling themselves on the confined misery of animals who are tortured in captivity from birth to death.

These festivals have hardly any vegan options, and definitely not a single  completely vegan stand. Not even the ultra hippie ones that serve twigs and moss and forest berries.

Well PLUR you, BC festivals. These could be excellent opportunities for people to experience a taste of vegan food. And instead you serve pig parts to real-fur fox tail wearing hypo-hippies.

Living in the past. I sometimes feel that we are. Living in the past.

 

Vegan Exclusivity

August 1, 2012

Are Vegans Snobs?

The elephant in the room: do vegans think they’re superior?

*Disclaimer: Elephants should probably be outside, not in rooms.

They won’t eat what’s on your menu. They won’t shop at your stores. They won’t wear the clothes you wear. And they look in horror at what’s on your plate. Who do vegans think they are?

Vegans are judgmental—I hear this frequently from regular folk (that means that 99% of people who are not vegan). They feel that vegans take on an attitude of superiority. So do vegans actually think they’re superior? Or are carnists projecting their own guilt about their consumer choices involving the oppression of animals?

In the recent contest by the New York Times, challenging readers to explain why it’s ethical to eat meat, the comments section was full of outrage: “why should we have to defend ourselves to a small minority of people?” I was just happy to see people considering the topic on a mass level.

I have discussed before that I feel that veganism is the path of evolution for human beings, touching on the misconception of vegan elitism. (Funny coincidence, Einstein had the same theory.) To sum it up: it’s not that vegans think they’re better than everyone else—it’s that they realize they’re not better than anyone else, hence the reason for their rejection of their ‘rank’ on the food chain.

And then there is the joke: “How do you know if someone is vegan? They’ll tell you.” (Except in all fairness they’ll have to tell you unless they want a large chunk of flesh handed to them at some point.)

So? Is it true? Are vegans happy with being a rare breed?

To make it clear: definitely not.

This is why you see vegan people standing on street corners with information about the environment and factory farming. Vegans want to make friends. The more the merrier.

Just because someone proudly claims to be vegan, it doesn’t mean that they’re putting you down for not being vegan. The vegan person may be the trigger for feelings of being judged, but vegans are just not that good – we can’t get inside your head and heart like that, as much as we might wish we could.

I used to rave out. When I was 19, I started going to electronic music events and it was such a positive experience for me in place of the bar scene where I would be ogled at and dancefloor raped. Raving is about dancing (dancing well), it’s about dressing colourfully and at times with a sense of humour, it’s about independence (it’s common for people to dance alone), and it’s about the contribution of art in its many forms.

When at rave parties, I would feel the PLUR (Peace Love Unity Respect), and have epiphany moments where I would feel at one with everyone in the room. We were all having the same experience together. There may or may not have been happy drugs involved.

I haven’t felt this since I became vegan, except at animal rights conferences.

When I became vegan 3.5 years ago, I would walk the streets and observe people acting like robots as they ate and shopped. I wondered how much they knew about animal industries. And if they knew what I knew, why they didn’t care. To be fair, I spent the first 26 years of my life relying on some form of animal product, but when I stepped into this new vegan world, it seemed that I was usually standing there alone.

BassCoast goes Vegan – 2013!

Now, for the first time in a while, I’m going to a large outdoor rave, known and loved as BassCoast, and I’m wondering if I’ll feel connected to these people or alienated. There will definitely be freaks there. I can connect with freaks. Nudists. Hippies. Music lovers. Granolas. Check. Check. Check. Check. But there will also be many carnists there. Can I PLUR with them?

In BellyFit tonight (Tantra Fitness’s amazing bellydance/cardio class with Laura BonBon), I envisioned that the entire room of women was vegan. That each one of us had made a decision to be plant-powered. And for a moment, it became real. And in this moment, I realized how realistic this reality was.

This is the path to manifesting the world you want, vegans.

If you’re vegan and feeling the urge to judge others or alienate yourself from the group/dancefloor, envision everyone as already vegan. Because it’s entirely possible that they will one day soon be. And while it may be a stretch to envision, you have to dream it before it can exist in physical form. (Not getting new agey here, this is how ideas generally manifest, isn’t it? ~Think up idea, idea happens.)

So let’s review what it means to be a snob.

A snob is someone who turns down connections. Vegans want to make connections. This is why they’re always around holding up signs and passing out leafleats and distributing food.

A snob is someone who thinks they’re superior. Vegans know they’re not. So they eat low, low, low, low, low, low, low on the food chain.

A snob is someone who wants to be exclusive, part of a subgroup, different. Vegans want a vegan world – they don’t want to do all this to simply keep witnessing atrocities happening every day. They want a nonviolent world where they can relax and garden.

Snobs are cutting edge and will always change their stripes to be ahead of the game. Vegans didn’t use animal products yesterday, and they won’t tomorrow. They’re not trying to one up you.

So, what’s that you’re saying giant elephant? That you probably shouldn’t say out loud but you can since you’re an awesome elephant? Veganism is for most people about morality. Shh! Don’t say it out loud. It’s elitist and judgy.
Vegans for the most part feel that going vegan is a form of progress for them. It’s an accomplishment. This does not necessarily mean that they judge you for not having chosen a vegan lifestyle. I want to say ‘yet’.

Honestly, vegans do believe that at some point, you will at least ponder the decision. Maybe not in this lifetime, but eventually. But for vegans who think like this, it’s no different than an adult looking at a child without judgment—they know that eventually, the child will grow up and become a better communicator with more refined ways of getting what they want. This is a nice way of explaining how vegans see carnists: the decision to consume animal products is NOT valid and equal, but is a decision based on an entirely different set of life experiences for each person, and people will face the decision at their own pace.

Some might find this inside info. offensive. “See! This is exactly why I hate vegans!” you might be thinking. But the metaphor of old vs young souls is a gentle way to put it.

What does a toddler do to get what it wants? Has a tantrum.

What does an adult do to get what it wants? Something less violent.

Maturity, it seems, usually takes on the less violent form.

In comparison, what does a carnist do to nourish themselves? Pays someone to kill an animal for them, or spills the blood of an animal.

What does a vegan do to nourish themselves? Picks vegetation from the ground or a tree, or pays someone to do it.

To be fair, I think vegans do sometimes enjoy being outcasts and forget that the division between them and carnists is not a permanent one, a division that could change any day.

Vegans are, after all, totally imperfect humans. Not saints or nuns or goodie 2 shoes, and not aspiring to be. We may have grown past relying on animal products, but there are quadrillions of other ways left to grow.

Vegan Romance

July 3, 2012

Should Vegans Only Date Vegans?

In my last relationship, there was naturally some conflict at meal time, although surprisingly not that much. He’s a meateater; I’m vegan. For the most part, he would love the dishes I served, because of course they were small vegan masterpieces, some with the same comfort tastes of animal products. We would dine places that had vegan options. And he would listen when I would explain to him my reasons for being vegan. His reasoning for not wanting to go there himself was that he believed the myth that he could only keep his hot bod by eating meat. #sountrue

But then there was an unnamed vegan pizza place. We hadn’t eaten all day. It was 2:00. I’d been wanting to go there and he agreed to come with me. We got there, our pizza was soggy – temper tantrum in 5,4,3,2… He freaked the f out. Said he HATED vegan food, which wasn’t accurate because there were a ton of vegan things he liked. That he’d been more than accommodating of my vegan needs (I pointed out that I had likewise been accommodating of his.) And then he drove to a deli and bought a sandwich with nothing but 3 inches of meat. “I know what I like,” he said. I will spare you the juicy details, but it led to a discussion of what what I found attractive, and clearly it was not that.

So can vegans only be happy in relationships with other vegans? Let’s face it: less than 1% of the population is vegan and most of them are women. I don’t have the stats on this latter fact, but judging by attendance to vegan events, women are representing veganism more than men. The vegan guys I know are amazing, and for men there are issues that come up with going vegan that require redefining masculinity. In that case, I direct men to The Discerning Brute, a great website that defines what the new age gentleman is all about.

I hear mainstream single women complaining that there ‘aren’t any men out there’. Well can you imagine what a single vegan woman might experience if she considered her selection from a fraction of that (less than) 1%? Depressing. So why look at it this way?

The best solution for single vegan women is to not have too specific of a dietary checklist. What’s important is making sure that the guy a) likes eating healthy, b) is active, and c) is open minded. You have to make sure that he doesn’t still eat a diet off the kids menu, that he can appreciate the new foods you’re experimenting with in the kitchen, and that he respects his body enough to pay attention to what he’s putting into it.

You don’t need to expect a guy to have a knowledge of the state of animal rights, to know how to cook vegan, or to even be convinced of the lifestyle. (Although, bonus!) I know of a few friends whose partners have become vegan during the relationship. It’s entirely possible.

For those who feel that vegansexual describes them best, there are many veg dating sites:

Veggie Connection, Ethical Singles, & Veggie Fishing, and did you know that the owner of OKCupid is vegetarian? Also there is Volentia, a veg*n social networking site.

I have never had the luxury of dating a vegetarian or even a pescatarian. I went on one date with a guy who was almost vegan, but he turned out to predominantly be a flake-atarian.

But there are also downsides to a vegan dating another vegan:

  • He judges you for not being vegan enough (eg. wearing faux fur)
  • He’s a raw food snob who refers to anything other than raw food as ‘junk food’
  • He doesn’t want kids because he thinks they ‘aren’t vegan’ (ie. use up too many of the resources he’s already using).
  • He goes to jail for getting caught liberating animals.
  • And of course, he’s already vegan so there’s no challenge to turn him (mostly kidding)

So the clear answer to whether vegans should only date vegans is: no.

Being vegan is an attractive quality because it shows that a person cares on many levels, but just as others inspired us to go vegan, we can inspire others to learn the lifestyle.

Go for sex appeal, manners, and integrity. Do your vegan thing. And cupid will strike.

Cupid is vegan, clearly, since he only hunts humans.

Mindful Murder

June 3, 2012

Is Meat Murder?

If so, can that Murder be Mindful?

Meat is Murder. It’s a loaded statement that immediately divides people. Vegans see it as obvious: of course meat is murder, how the f do you think that burger got on your plate? Meateaters see it as overly dramatic – an overstatement by those who are out of touch with their carnivorous identities.

Humans don’t generally identify with the murderer label. So they will try to overcompensate by doing things like devoting entire websites to bacon. And vegans will drive the point home by doing things like posting blood spattered Meat is Murder  stickers all over public property (which is funny, because that makes them look like the morbid ones).

Recently, I was discussing the new restaurant Meat & Bread with a dance friend. As I flippantly chuckled about how I wanted to spraypaint their windows, she immediately mentioned that some chefs are extremely mindful of where they obtain their meat (because she eats meat and wants to make a case for ‘mindful’ meat consumption.).

This comes to no surprise because most meateaters, when faced with a conscience-jostling vegan, will grab for some reason to justify their lifestyle. I know the drill.

So anyway, just as casually as she described head chefs, out of the kindness of their hearts, visiting factory farms ‘in the flesh’ to pick out the best rotting corpses, I casually mentioned that the whole idea was utter bullshit (no offense to bulls…)—that there was no such thing as mindful killing, because I don’t really give a crap why someone has decided to kill me, or even so much how they do it, if I’m still going to die unwillingly. I explained that the chefs were only acting mindfully for their own benefit (achieving a certain desired taste and of course $$).

And for those who like to think they buy ‘ethical meat’, no matter what slight alterations in conditions the label promises: you weren’t there. You don’t know how the animal was treated. You only know that it’s dead.

Guilty Verdict?

Being polite and maybe not knowing what to say, dance friend then asked me if I hate meateaters. I think I said something along the lines of: I appreciate what people bring into my life. Most of the world eats meat. Would I like it if the world went vegan? Sure. But here we are…

I feel I said this in defense of her assuming that these statements were coming from a place of hatred in me, when really, they were just revealing a hateful act that maybe she still plays a part in.

What I could have said (and might still say) is that people’s choices are not who they are. Sure, patterns of choices can be indicative of character, but context is a large determinant of a person’s choices. Something I’ve realized recently: sometimes it can take us years to realize that we’ve made a mistake. Take for instance when I left my little sweetheart puppy dog, Turbeau, to go traveling when I was 23.

I left indefinitely because I wasn’t happy living in Calgary. At that time, I thought of him as our family dog, ie. not my responsibility. Cut to 8 years later, seeing animals as equals now, I see that he and I shared the closest relationship out of anyone in the family. And that he needed me as he was getting old. It was a difficult time for me during his last years, as I was dealing with staring-at-a-closed-door in my love life, but had I acknowledged the importance of my relationship with my dearest darling, I might not miss him so much today. He was, as I’ve mentioned, my inspiration to go vegan and become an animal rights activist because he showed me how human animals can be.

Anyway, no, I don’t “hate meateaters”. I don’t see people who eat meat only as meateaters, so then I definitely don’t see them primarily as murderers. People are complex. And society is built to hide the truth about what they’re eating. It takes a strong person to pull back the curtain, and then explore other options. I see it as my role to show the other options. Simply.

Murder Victims

Which brings me to an expansion of this topic. I sometimes watch real crime shows. 48 Hours Mystery. Cold Case Files (soo scary). I watch them to solve the mystery, to test myself as a human lie detector, and to test myself to see what I can handle knowing. And I sometimes feel quite deeply for the victims and families.

Becoming vegan, I now watch this suffering a little differently. I still feel for them just as much, but I also acknowledge that they are (unconsciously, for the most part) instigators of murder themselves. Going back to those stubborn stats, 99% of the population eats animal products. This makes most crime victims and their families the reason that animals die horrific deaths in factory farms each year. Does this make them any less deserving of our sympathy? No. But when they are crying for themselves, I wonder if they ever give thought to anyone they have killed.

Someone without the vegan mindset might read this and think it’s despicable for me to even go there, but when we feel sorry for ourselves, it’s a great time to take stock of any harm we have caused.

Real life example: my first job was as a counselor at a YMCA camp (I always thought it was weird that we sung to “the Lord”…) Anyway, my section directors came down really hard on me mid-summer for not being camp-y enough. Just probably being a princess in general, apparently I have an attribute or two of that ; ) To be more specific, I had this hairy troll of a co-counselor who saw herself as my ‘senior’ and she tried to throw me under the bus for counseling with a more laissez-faire style than her ogre-y ways. I was intimidated by my first-time bosses to either be more fake and people-pleasing, or get fired. I chose a), cause I didn’t know myself that well then. I recently remembered how shiteous those people were to blame me without even asking my side of things. And then I remembered how weeks after, another co-counselor and I played a similar power trip on our CIT (counselor in training) for telling the campers that they were ‘on crack’. We nailed her for being inappropriate and crossing the line. I mean, really? She was just a sweet kid. So I was power tripped on, and then repeated the behavior (the cycle of abuse that leads to the sick hierarchy of our society). This is me taking responsibility for harm I have caused as I revisit a victim experience.

Do the families of murder victims also take responsibility? It’s something I think about now when watching these shows.

And on that note, it’s usually the mastermind behind the crime who does the most time, not necessarily the one who actually did the killing. What does that say of those who pay for meat?

I See you Brother

One of the first things I think of is Neytiri on Avatar killing an animal and sort of blessing it by saying: “I see you, brother.” This makes me rather nauseous, and I guess this is the same idea behind ‘halal’ meat where they slowly make the animal bleed to death. Ugh.

If I was being held captive by a murderer who needed to get his psycho fix and he said right before slicing my head off: “I see you, sista”. I would say: NO, you DON’T. Let me live and then I will show the world who I am. Not you, I don’t give a flying fuck about showing you who I am. Don’t ‘see’ me, take a look at yourself, you psycho fuck! (Whoa, really went there…)

So would an animal feel the same way? An animal who is taken away from its mother at birth to become veal to perpetuate the dairy industry?

I would say yes.

So what of the foodie chefs who refuse to buy from the most dire factory farms because they have ‘high standards’, such as that infamous Robert Belcher from Fuel (now Re-Fuel since we took them down a notch)? Or what about these new hipster butchers who feel that they deserve to eat the animal if they do the dirty work of butchering it themselves? Butchering apparently now some kind of sick art.

I mean, I have more respect for a person who hunts their own meat than someone who buys it. But in the end, killing is killing. Unless it’s done in self defense, then it just wasn’t necessary.

Hot shot chefs need to acknowledge that any extra thought they put into where they obtain their rotting animal flesh is essentially for their own gain, NOT the animals’.

Being mindful of something is a nice notion, but unless an action towards the nonviolent alternative is actually chosen, then that mindfulness goes to waste. Just an abandoned whim.

Sorry if I’ve spoken a little bluntly here, to all the yogis and new agers who have worked so hard at mindfulness. But if you’re well-practised at mindfulness, this is actually a huge head start for you to use it to examine gentler alternatives. Mindfulness IS gentleness.

Daily mindfulness is not just noticing pain, it’s observing it, accepting it, questioning it, and then acting to move beyond it. Without the action, you could mindfully do just about any horrific act.

I’m not going to get into whether an animal’s life is worth enough to be considered murder. I think we’re all familiar with varying punishments for murderers, depending on who they are and who they killed. Some people’s lives are deemed more important than others in our current society. Immigrant prostitute? Less. Rich white politician. More. Do we really want to play that game?

How about re-defining “I see you, brother” to mean that we see ourselves as animals – one and the same. Then no one has to die.

HypoQuiz


Let’s be honest, we’re all hypocrites on some level. What level is the question?

The Hipster – Level 10

Your disease has gone as viral as an incurable STD, which is why no one wants to admit they have it. Meek kitschy music is your religion and your god is the Biblical one, due to his beard. You eat at deck new restaurants called Meat & Bread, because eating vegetables would give you too much energy and you might use it. You’re sure that the revolution will happen with or without you, and when it does, you’ll be watching it on your Ipad on mute listening to a band you’d prefer not to name, in case they get overplayed. Look what happened to Foster the People. You fear the collapse of mainstream culture, because then your parasitic identity would have nothing to be superior to.

The Meat Eating Hippie – Level 9

You call yourself a Buddhist and lift bugs to safety in the palm of your hand saying: “there you go, little fella.” You tell people that ground beef makes you feel grounded without batting a dreadlock at the irony. You wear factory farmed rooster feathers in your hair to make you look like a forest goddess. You go to expensive retreats to restore the well-being of your sacred marriage, eating for breakfast eggs that came to your plate via garburating 99% of the males at the hatchery.

The Easy Going Guy – Level 8A

You love your friends and family. You like music, and other stuff, too. You get emo when your hockey team loses. You say you hate Nickleback but sing along to it when alone in your truck. You know you should want a woman with an airbrushed Maxim ass, but secretly know that you’d have to spend too much time at the gym to keep up with her so you settle on the hot mess who’s drunk 5 nights a week. You’ll change the world, if it’s what everyone else feels like doing that night.

The Gal Pal – Level 8B

You have a great spray tan that you tell yourself isn’t too orange. You’d do anything for your BFF, unless she got weird and complicated. You love all the things you should: Jennifer Aniston, Coach bags, Ugg boots. You hate all the thing you should: Mondays, gaining weight, and ugh – PMS. You’re offended by the phrase: first world problems. You dress your dog up and accessorize yourself to match with your fave parka with the real dog fur trim.

The Babyboomer – Level 7

You are a committed recycling underachiever. You are appalled by slutty pop singers these days, and yet you know who is in rehab, who has breast implants, and who smoked out of a bong last weekend. You were so emotionally damaged from hiding under your desk during the cold war bomb threats that a part of you is still hiding there.

The Libertarian Capitalist – Level 6

You believe there is a ‘pure’ capitalism that could exist, but can’t figure out how to transform the greedy, wasteful capitalism of today to get there. You spread anti-government links through capitalism-affirming social media platforms, occasionally #hashtag acknowledging that selling your personal information for profit is #notcool. You think the only alternative to capitalism is communism – and they tried that already and it didn’t work. You think that competition is healthy, because otherwise people are lazy; you would know.

The Realist – Level 5

You’re too smart to be an optimist. Koni, climate change, the Wall Street bailouts—history repeats itself and you can’t do anything to change that; and if you could – nah, you probably wouldn’t, realistically. You have a hunch that 911 was an inside job, but you’ll never know exactly what happened, so no point forming an opinion. You call people sheeple, and sometimes eat lamb.  You don’t use question marks #whybother

The Vegetarian – Level 4

You refuse to eat disgusting animal flesh, but crave animal secretions because they’re “comfort food”. You don’t feel the need to cut out ALL animal products because you’re already doing so much. You drink organic milk and eat free range eggs because these foods don’t involve killing the animal… right away. You think veganism may weave  your hair into dreadlocks, lock by lock. Switzerland is your favourite country; waffles your favourite food.

The Enviro Fundamentalist – Level 3

You live off the grid in a forest commune and hunt small rodents to stay alive. You place yourself too far away from technology to change the world. You are at one with nature; it is literally wedged in your every orifice. You exchange a modern diet of nonviolence for a Paleolithic diet of violence because it’s more “natural”. You past-urbate to loincloths and wooden clubs. You let MTV film your journey towards enlightenment for $20,000.

The Vegan – Level 2

You’re against animal cruelty but own a cat or dog, so your fridge is full of factory farmed meat. You fly across the world attending animal rights conferences pumping tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. You waive your right to have children and use the extra time to blog about #breeders. You are as offended by a pregnant woman as a slaughterhouse. Nonviolence is your religion, but you seem to frequently want to slap fur bitches upside the head. You walk on the pavement crushing millions of innocent bugs with each step.

The Fruitarian – Level 1

You eat as low on the food chain as possible to be gentle, while traveling the planet with celebrity frequency; you prefer the term “nomad”. You believe in voluntary extinction – that humans should sacrifice their full existence to sustain the environment, but sometimes you  wonder if humans aren’t part of the environment. You plan to live off the land, as long as there is an internet connection – high speed.

What I Thought about Vegans

Before I Became One

I started eating a vegetarian diet when I was 17 while working at a summer camp. It was all or nothing there depending on which team you signed up for and I wanted the healthier options. {I had stopped eating red meat when I was 14 because I recognized that I didn’t need to.}

Eating mainly vegetarian and continually relapsing back to eating chicken for about 3 years until I was 21, I stopped eating all meat for good after watching Baraka, an amazing art film in which they show the inside of a factory chicken farm. (At this point, I didn’t connect that egg-laying chickens were treated the same way.)

The phrase ‘smug vegetarian’ would have somewhat described me, because I felt that I was doing enough (ie. more than the other people I knew). I remember being more comfortable with the phrase ‘animal welfare’ than ‘animal rights’.

I loved being vegetarian because it introduced more vegetables into my diet. I wore the badge proudly, and clung to dairy in various ‘comfort’ foods under the notion that I had already given up the foods that harmed the animals directly.

During this time, I had a few people in my life who were vegan. One was a waitress I worked with. I didn’t particularly like her because I found her condescending. I remember her telling me when hearing that I was vegetarian that I ‘should be vegan’. I couldn’t figure out why she would care about what I ate. We weren’t friends. The comment seemed intrusive.

Now, being vegan, I understand that she was suggesting I go vegan based on her knowledge of the remaining harm my vegetarian diet was causing. If she had explained this to me, I might have been more open to the idea. Now when I think back to her, I automatically like her, knowing she’s vegan because she cares.

The other person in my life who was vegan didn’t talk much about his reasons for going vegan – it wasn’t his style. I felt that everything about him was ‘extreme’. And didn’t necessarily want to be like him. I preferred to be ‘nomal’. When I put milk in my tea around him, I remember feeling guilty and wishing I was around someone who wouldn’t notice this choice. It’s interesting to me now, because my guilt had nothing to do with him and everything to do with my own knowledge that maybe I didn’t need the dairy.

These two people were the ONLY vegan people I knew for the first 28 years of my life (!) My general idea of both of them was that they were ‘kind of a drag’. People who lived purely and judged you for not doing so. So I do understand why meateaters label vegans as ‘almost religious’.

It was wanting to participate in animal rights activism that spurred me to go vegan. I met a small group of people in Vancouver who lived without the use of any animal products. I didn’t even know it was possible before I met them. I would list this as the main reason that it took me so long to become vegan: I didn’t know it was a realistic option.

These new friends simply chose to wear alternative materials, and eat different foods. They’d been doing it for years. I shared my experience with them of cutting down on dairy (which I now recognize they were very patient about, knowing deep down that I didn’t need to cut down, I needed to cut it out). And I did become vegan after a few months of transition. It was a learning process of beginning to crave new foods. This would be my main definition of veganism:

Vegansim: a process of learning to crave new, non-animal foods in the place of animal-based foods.

There was all this food out there that I’d been blind to before and I only needed to create the space for it. It was truly a matter of emptying the ricebowl.

This group of vegan people presented their knowledge to me in flat out facts. Take it or leave it. They allowed me to ask stupid questions (ie. how do you get your protein, etc.). And instead of seeing them as ‘a drag’, I saw them as inspiration to keep learning. They were some of the most active people I knew. They were on to something.

I’m now aware, being vegan, that other people may see me as a drag, an elitist, bossy – all the things I thought of those few vegan people in my former life. I’m pretty vocal about the things I’ve learned, but mainly in a positive way because becoming vegan is something that gives me eternal joy.

I would say vegans in general are not as judgmental as others might assume. Most vegans were not born that way so they know they have no right to judge, and it takes too much energy to judge 99% of the human race. That energy is better spent creating strategies to save the world that actually have results.

I think more than ‘annoying’, the people around me see me as healthy, happy, and as a leader. But I don’t kid myself: I know they also see me as the dreaded interventionist to their inner meatahoilc. They don’t want to be seen as they expect I see them: as someone who harms animals. No one wants to be seen this way.

The bottom line: it’s not my responsibility to take on their guilt. Living a vegan lifestyle is the largest gesture of kindness a person can make and living within this kindness, you become impervious to other’s judgments on you for allegedly judging them.

I don't want to be harmed & I don't want to be the reason they're harmed. That simple.

I have lost friends since going vegan, jobs, family relationships, probably other opportunities I don’t even know of. But I also meet new, amazing people every day who I then have time for when expired relationships die out. Not necessarily vegan people, but people who are open, risk-taking, growing. Being progressive and embracing change is at the core of who I am, and living according to these values naturally attracts similar people.

I acknowledge that people have to make changes at their own pace, but the more they are reminded of the detriments of their choices, the faster they might put two and two together (and not take 28 years to figure it out like me.)

These reminders don’t have to be negative, they can come in the form of vegan baking and dropping the ‘v’ word until it becomes a household word.

It’s not my role to police the universe, but it is my role to protect animals. This is the zone I try to live within.

Nonviolent Communication Tactics for Pacifistic Activism

So you want to change the world. But you don’t want to hurt anyone or force anyone to do anything in the process. That’s a very possible aspiration to have. It begins in our own thinking patterns and in our daily conversations.

I’m interesting in finding out what violence is before it becomes actual bloodshed so I was naturally inclined to read Marshall Rosenberg’s book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life.

In a recent post, I discussed how to address anger. I explained how anger is an essential call for action, similar to an alarm waking us up. It can be compared to a hunger pang – just like our hunger drives us to nourish ourselves, our anger drives us to meet other unmet needs.

Until recently, I was pretty out of touch with any real anger or sadness for quite some time, cruising the whatever plain and kind of enjoying not having the highs and lows of ‘emotions’. But all good things come to an end and it took a person who I really cared about to reopen my heart chakra. However, now that the vault has been opened I feel a responsibility to ‘feel with care’ so that I don’t unleash like a model with a sensitive ego. Actually, revising the book now to touch on some key points, I realize that I’ve read it, but I still don’t know it. I recommend buying a copy. Ignore the bad poetry in a few places; the rest is imperative.

Beyond providing methods to deal with our own self-violent habits and violent pattens in our social interactions, nonviolent communication (NVC) is essential for activists striving to protect animals, the environment, and the oppressed. If we wish to see results, we have to be confident that we are not creating new violence as we create change.

Requests vs Demands

NVC explains that the difference between a request and a demand is that a request is not followed by any kind of punishment if the other party does not comply. This means no guilt tripping, no snide remarks, no emotional alienation, and no continued persuasion. My interpretation: an essential part of nonviolent communication is being able to accept to word NO.

When faced with demands, people will react with either submission or rebellion. Demands are the language of the oppressors. So when we stand outside an establishment demanding that they shut down or “we’ll be back”, we are actually engaging in oppressive behavior.

The nonviolent method would be requesting a change and empathizing with the other party’s needs for not complying with our request. Eg. “So you are needing to make an income to survive? Or, so you feel fearful that changing your products would turn away customers.”

I think we forget as activists that asking can sometimes be magical. In 2010, the VADL asked Aritzia to stop carrying fur and this request was promptly granted.

This is Gold > Defining our Objective When Making Requests

“Expressing genuine requests requires an awareness of our objective. If our objective is only to change people and their behavior, or to get our way, then NVC is not an appropriate tool. The process is designed for those of us who would like others to change and respond, but only if they choose to do so willingly and compassionately. The objective of NVC is to establish a relationship based on honesty and empathy. When others trust that our primary commitment is to the quality of the relationship, and that we expect this process to fulfill everyone’s needs, then they can trust that our requests are true requests and not camouflaged demands.”

Animal rights activists are not simply seeking for an end of factory farming by law or by necessity, we are seeking a change in hearts. In order for a permanent change in the way that our society treats animals, society must electively make that choice.

The need behind animal rights activists’ requests to stop violence towards animals is in large part a need to reconnect with people. We want a relationship with these people who we currently feel alienated from. We want to know that their hearts match ours. So when we engage in animal rights campaigns, we are doing it just as much for our relationships with people as we are for the animals.

Marshall Rosenberg explains how he has more effective communication with people when he listens to hearts instead of minds.

Is this violence? This would be a 1 in comparison to Kim’s favorite activity of skinning animals alive.

The Need Behind our Actions

Animal rights activists want to see an end to human-induced animal suffering because:

  • we want animals to be free to live as they choose
  • we want people to live up to their full emotional and physical potential
  • we want a pure, clean environment to pass on to future generations

But there is another need that drives many of my colleagues in animals rights, and this is the need to fulfill a duty.

NVC warns against pursuing actions motivated by this ‘need’ because we are essentially subjecting ourselves to an internal oppression if we are acting out of obligation to a moral code and not by choice.

One animal rights group is named ‘Because We Must’, a name which every AR activist gets, but in relation, it was this same call of duty that allowed the Nazis to perform horrific daily violence during the Holocaust in a choice-denying phenomena called ‘Amtssprache’. I’m not calling into question anything that ‘Because We Must’ does; I support them, based on what I know that they do – I’m just drawing attention to the language that many animal rights activists often operate on.

Slacktivism

Slacktivism, or arm-chair activism, is the act of… not really acting. Not leaving the house to support a cause. Sharing links, filling out petitions. This is great. I’m not discouraging it. But sometimes people don’t feel that interacting with people on a human level is effective – giving up before any type of communication has even been attempted, and perhaps it’s due to this:

“…when we have a judgmental dialogue going on within, we become alienated from what we are needing and cannot then act to meet those needs. Depression is indicative of a state of alienation from our own needs.”

When we break down the dialogue of what is going on in our thoughts, we are able to pinpoint exactly what it is that we are unable to act on.

Self A: I would like to see an end to factory farming in my lifetime.

Self B: That will never happen. It’s too big of a system to bring down.

Break down the latter statement into:

When seeing _____(observation), I feel _____ (feeling), therefore I am needing ______(need), so I would now like to_____(action).

A fun Mad Libs way to identify feelings and needs so we can really hear ourselves and create solutions for those silent internal wars within us.

Empathy

Empathy is what drives people to become interested in animal rights. We empathize with suffering animals because we feel their pain. As a spectacular friend recently quoted from a poem: “I have the rages that small animals have / being small, being animal.” (Paper Matches, Paulette Jiles).

And yet we lose this empathy when dealing with those who can’t figure out how to meet their needs without violence, unable to see past our rage.

NVC advises to give the other party what they want first. “The more we hear them, the more they’ll hear us.” Practice identifying each judgment we hear from the other party as an unmet need.

The Use of Force

The part you’ve all been waiting for. Is there a nonviolent way to use force?

There is a great short story by this title, The Use of Force, by William Carlos Williams in which a doctor is trying to get a young girl to open her mouth so he can examine her for a deadly sickness going around. The outcome of the story is that the doctor uses substantial force to make the girl open her mouth, and discovers that she has the disease and will die. So in the end, what did the use of his force achieve besides the inevitable?

NVC speaks of ‘protective force’, which refers to attempting to protect life and individual rights by more direct methods, after nonviolent communication tactics have been exhausted or if they don’t have the chance to occur. Take the example of grabbing the arm of a child running into the street to protect her from a moving car. As long as there is no punishment following this action, this is an example of protective force. Protective use of force does not include blame, punishment, or condemnation.

Animal rights activists see more ‘heavy-handed’ tactics as precisely this: they are protecting animals who are in danger of violence and who cannot speak for themselves.

When an animal rights activist flour bombs a Kardashian, it’s not primarily because they wish to humiliate her, it’s to draw attention to the pain her actions are causing. (Granted some will take pleasure that she looks like she’s been owned.)

Interestingly, the chapter on protective force is pretty short in the NVC book. I don’t think Rosenberg has quite figured this one out yet. Most of the content is about punitive force. In the must-watch movie Bold Native, we see an activist kidnap and torture a factory farmer. This would be punitive force. But when the ALF liberates a mink farm, once again we’re back at protective force.

So when is it okay to use protective force?

Do we decide not to use protective force more often out of fear of punishment?

Is revelation through hidden footage the best happy medium in between basic demos and full-out arson? Is this why the AgGag bills keep popping up?

As you can see, I have more questions than answers here. I do know that I don’t consider property damage and financial damage as violence, especially in comparison to causing emotional and bodily harm to animals or humans.

If we want a nonviolent world, what tactics will lead to lasting change? It would appear that a mixture of tactics is in need. Perhaps a reminder not to judge one another’s tactics, as long as they fall within the nonviolent spectrum. And to examine and evaluate what tactics we are currently using and figure out how nonviolent communication in our everyday lives can help to facilitate that.

How Much Violence Do We Need to Stay Healthy?

Society looks down on those who openly love violence, labeling them as bullies, thugs, or even serial killers, but let’s be honest with ourselves: 9 out of 10 of us believe that we need a daily dose of violence just to stay alive.

Whether it’s killing a cow, a chicken, a goat, a pig, or a human, violence is crucial to our everyday functioning, or at least we’re pretty sure it is. I mean, to eat those beings, they must be killed. So violence must not be all that bad, if it feeds us. It’s the juice that keeps us alive. Well, most of us.

Usually we try to side-step the violence that kills the beings we eat and focus on the nutrition provided from their dead carcasses (because it’s the lifeless final product and not the process that truly provides nourishment). But what if the nutritious value is not in the bodies of these tortured beings but in the killing?

Perhaps we are feeding off the violence and not the aftermath of the violence—the process of killing one being to fuel another.

Let’s come out of the closet and admit that violence is not such a bad thing. Raping, mutilating, confining, and slaughtering animals is something we should be proud of. Let’s get in touch with the essence of our violent diets and start being more violent ourselves.

No more keeping the violence behind closed doors in factory farms and hiring new immigrants to do our dirty work—why let them have all the fun? Let’s get our own hands bloody! Since we’re convinced that nourishment can only come from killing, then having more violence will make us all healthier.

Wait. What’s that you say? You regret that eating animal products means that animals have to suffer? You don’t want to hurt animals? Hmm… conundrum.

But… something has to suffer for you to be nourished. Someone.

Doesn’t it?

Can we live off NO violence? Eat a nutritious diet without killing any creatures who experience affectionate,  nurturing relationships with their young?

This idea is so extreme. So hardcore. So jarring.

So… violent.

Disclaimer: Obviously this post needs a disclaimer.

Don’t hurt people. Or animals.

Veganarchy.

Oryn Lusitana                                                          

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Oryn Lusitana (April 7, 1977-2016) was a Canadian performer and filmmaker, as well as an instigator of the Personal Income Tax Rebuttal Act of 2015[1], and founder of the C911TP, the 2011 petition that spurred the civil lawsuit against the Canadian government for its negligence in failing to conduct an investigation of the September 11 Attacks.[2][3]

Early Life                                                                                                  

Born in Nelson, B.C., Lusitana was the only child born to Clementine Annette (née Walter), a contemporary ballet dancer, and Frankie Lusitana, a marijuana activist.[4] Lusitana Sr. was the founder of Farmers Against Plant Censorship (FAPC)[5], who established the Legality of Cannabis Act in 2015.[6] He was extradited for U.S. imprisonment from 1982-1990.[7][8]

Lusitana’s mother was shot to death on January 26th, 1990, during a raid of the family’s property due to suspected cannabis cultivation.[9] The RCMP officer, Duke Blakely, was reprimanded with a 6 month administrative leave.[10]

Lusitana was home-schooled by her mother before attending L.V. Rogers Secondary School at 13[11]. She was expelled for engaging in an interview with Vancouver Media Co-Op regarding inaccuracies in Canadian history curriculum.

Lusitana attended McDonald International Academy in Toronto, Ontario before expulsion for truancy[12][13] and began attending the Toronto School of Circus Arts at the age of 17 where she studied lyra, fire spinning, and aerial silks [14], going on to form Animalia Lyrica in 2007, an animal-free circus that toured Canada and the U.S..

Personal Life                                                                                              

Lusitana became vegan in 1997 and is accredited for inspiring singer/songwriter, Lady Gaga, to adopt a vegan diet with an open letter published on ellentv.com in 2012.[15] Gaga later wrote a song about the event titled Blood on My Dress, in reference to the meat dress she wore to the 2010 VMAs.[16]

Lusitana had an open marriage to filmmaker and activist, Kairo Porter from 2008 until her death in 2016.[17] They resided on a geothermal eco-friendly ranch on Mount Elphinstone near Gibsons, B.C. known for its eccentric “playground” décor, featuring slides, swings, poles, and tunnels.[18]

On May 15, 2013, in the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ontario, Lusitana gave birth to a daughter, Rousseau Jackie Portana, named after Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was considered one of the first animal rights activists due to his support of animals’ natural rights in 1754.[19]

Activism                                                                                                      

During Occupy Vancouver in 2011, Lusitana and Porter gathered 10,000 signatures to support a re-investigation into the September 11 Attacks in the Canadians for 9-11 Truth Petition (C911TP).[20] In April of 2013, the C911TP was used as the basis of a negligence lawsuit by the people of Canada against the Canadian government, orchestrated by whistleblower litigation attorney, Jeremiah Paxton.[21] The lawsuit alleged negligence on the part of the Canadian government for failing to administer an independent investigation into the events of September 11, 2001, in which 24 Canadians died, which led to misused military funds and endangerment of Canadian public safety[22]. The lawsuit demanded a government review and response of: Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe, as well as a public statement from the Minister of National Defense.[23] The trial received international coverage and in 2014, a verdict was reached that ordered the launch of a full-scale investigation into the September 11 Attacks by referendum-elected criminal investigators, forensic scientists, military scientists, structural engineers, and demolition engineers. A separate investigation was also launched on the actions of 36 members of the Canadian government in relation to the protocol taken in response to the September 11 Attacks, leading to 19 charges of high treason.[24][25]

Lusitana’s public performance The Crop Circus, in Stanley Park, on August 4th, 2012, featured images of recent crop circle findings, as well as fire spinners, acrobats, and contortionists. The audience of 5,000 was dispersed with tear gas and subject to a long range acoustic device utilized for the first time in Canadian history.[26}{27] Four children under the age of 10 passed away from the effects of the device and became the subjects of The Speaker Death Trials in 2013.[28]

In December of 2012, Lusitana organized the first public showing of Venus on Earth in Robson Square, a street circus based on The Venus Project, which resulted in her arrest, as well as the arrests of 4 other performers and 7 spectators.[29]

In 2015, Lusitana presented the first working torus energy machine at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the establishment of a permanent Black Rock City in the Nevada desert.[30] The torus was conceptualized by polymath and physicist, Nassim Haramein.[31] Black Rock City was declared as the first P.A.Z. (Permanent Autonomous Zone), rejecting the U.S. dollar as currency, and claiming autonomy from U.S. Law. U.S military troops raided the city on four occasions during the first six months of its establishment, killing 12 U.S. citizens, but after the death of 7 month old, Gemma Lucki,[32] nationwide protests called for legislation that temporarily allowed the city to exist under the structure of a religious community until due court procedures could be completed.[33]

Controversy                                                                                                  

Lusitana was criticized for a photoshoot in Adbusters in September, 2014, entitled Owned in which her daughter, Rousseau, was drenched in oil to resemble an animal affected by an oil spill. Rousseau commented on dawnofanewera.com: “It’s not like I fed her antibiotic and pesticide laced food.”[34]

Critics of Lusitana note her eccentric fashion choices, such as corsets, as degrading to the feminist movement, with the coalition Women Against Women indicating that Lusitana “over-sexualized the female form.”[35][36] Lusitana responded to the criticism in a 2009 radio interview with The Agora National, stating: “I’m an equalist, not a feminist.”[37]

Films                                                                                                               

Lusitana directed, and produced four documentaries with husband, Kairo Porter under Tetranatrix Productions.[38]

Oryn Lusitana activist

Black Rock won Best Picture at the 2012 Alternative Film Festival. Unfit for Trial made the Top 5 Most Viewed Internet Films of All Time on watchtheworldunravel.com. Outcome was shown at Western Canada High School in Calgary, Alberta in 2013 and was subsequently banned from public viewings [39] after a lawsuit from The Canadian Chamber of Commerce for unlawful use of intellectual property referring to the film’s culture jamming stunt in which Porter posed as a fictional electoral candidate named Beau Runningbear, who essentially gained the title of Calgary alderman, Ward 9, for his stated intention to eliminate provincial income tax. Porter was discharged after inauguration for fraud.[40} No charges were pressed and the Chamber’s lawsuit was dismissed.[41] From these parodical premises, the Personal Income Tax Rebuttal Act was founded and taken to the Parliament of Canada in 2015, rejecting the tax as unconstitutional as per the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[42]

Arrests                                                                                                            

Lusitana was arrested in 1993 for civil disobedience in protest of the Clayoquot Land Use Decision in which logging was being permitted in old growth forest areas of Clayoquat Sound.[43] Lusitana was subsequently arrested in 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2000 for public mischief for anti-capitalist performances on municipal property.[44][45] She was fined $9,000.00 for a performance art piece in 2009 involving indecent exposure.[46] The amount was paid by an anonymous donor.[47]

Lusitana was put on surveillance by the FBI, the CIA, and the CSIS after her 2012 arrest for her performance in Venus on Earth for breaking fire safety codes, noise bylaws, and for misuse of public property.[48] Lusitana was subsequently charged under the Canadian Anti-Terrorism Act with intent to conspire against the Canadian government[49]. She commented on the charges in an interview with Democracy Now! on January 5th, 2013: “The only path to social and economic development is complete disregard for current policy.”[50][51]

Lusitana awaited trial in prison from 2013—2014. In 2014, after multiple delayed court dates due to her deemed status as “unfit for trial” [52], Lusitana was released. The Supreme Court of Canada stated: “further prosecuting Lusitana was no longer in the interests of justice.”[53]

Assassination                                                                                                 

In 2016, Lusitana’s tortured body was found on the shore of West Vancouver’s Lighthouse Park with lacerations to her throat, wrists, and genitalia.[54] Autopsy results were inconclusive. [55]

Oryn Lusitana activist

*This has been a Wikipedia culture jam. Details on how we can and should urge Canada to officially investigate 9-11 were inspired by http://www.thevertigo.com/html/9-11/


Human and Animal Enslavement

February 22, 2012

Why Animal Rights Can’t Progress

Unless We Look at the Bigger Picture

Human Oppression Just after I write a guide on being less controversial, I drop this bomb. Some people devote their lives to animal rights. And it’s an area that needs a TON of work. So how could it be a waste to devote attention to it?

In order to create a non-violent world, we need people working on all types of changes, on all levels, from all angles. But sometimes, we become so entrenched in a particular area of focus, that we forget to look at it in the larger context. Some of my smartest animal rights colleagues reject looking at the bigger picture, perhaps because it’s overwhelming.

So what do animal rights activists want?

We want animals to have the right to freedom because we believe that animals want that right for themselves. This includes freeing animals from their roles in food, clothing, testing, and harmful entertainment. In effect, animal activists want animals to stop being thought of as products. But how is this possible when humans are used as products?

Let’s begin by watching this short film on human enslavement:

So who are the farmers?

The farmers of human oppression are not only those in high positions of government, those with accumulated wealth, those with the closest ties to the financial world, or even the small number of families who control 1% of the world’s wealth, but anyone who can find justifiable reasons to use violence. The ones actually making profits from human enslavement would be the owners of the farms – the instigators, but Hitler did not create a holocaust on his own.

Dominating others is the single most profitable industry on Earth. This is why the most powerful countries are at permanent war with the rest of the world—to ensure that they are feared by other nations and their own nation just enough to preserve that dominion. These same nations ensure that other ‘3rd world’ nations are kept down to make their own livestock feel as though they don’t have it so bad.

How do they breed us?

Mandatory schooling. Do you remember learning about how our financial systems really work in school? Or about current human oppression in your own country? Let’s not be overly dramatic, there are many positive skills and memories one can experience in school, but it is also an institution that is focused on creating obedient employees.

Also included in this obligatory indoctrination is competition. We are judged with letters and numbers and compared to our peers so that we are less likely to join forces with them. This also has the bonus effect of creating a majority of a population who believes so strongly in their system that they will violently oppose those who point it out to them because they define themselves according to their countries/churches/hockey teams.

We are simultaneously programmed by mainstream media, which has become consolidated into the hands of fewer and fewer. Those mainstream media channels project the rights of their owners, under the guise of entertainment and information sharing.

Human Breeding

What about all our freedoms?

Just as corporations today are learning that micromanagement doesn’t necessarily equate with more productivity, and thus providing more free time for employees to work towards assignments of their choice, so has the human enslavement model developed, allotting more freedom to humans, but only as far as it makes us more create more profit. Just like allowing cows room to graze to produce better ‘beef’.

The problem is that once humans get a taste of more freedom, we begin to feel entitled to it, leaving us to question why we need to be ruled and why we give up such a large portion of our earnings to a government who represents us only indirectly, and usually not at all. Many vegans are disgusted to know that their tax dollars go towards subsidies for animal agriculture, for example.

We are provided by our farmers with enough freedom to survive, as long as we are productive (for example, you can only be employed if your skills are needed and you comply with your employer’s policies).

Our freedom ends when we want to freely move about our planet or spend the majority of our time as we want. We are trained to think that it is not humble to even consider these possibilities. That we should appreciate what we have, which is more than others have in developing nations. And if we, as livestock, try to push against the system, we meet violence—whether economic or physical—to silence us from dissent.

How do they keep us on the farm?

Heavily manned borders. Laws that dictate who is legal and who is not. You do know you can’t escape, right? And to make livestock feel at home on their farm, sometimes special events are held, such as 9-11, in which horrifying events unite people in attacking other countries and trick them into appreciating the security that their farmers can protect them with.

Not to mention that we are born into debt… and chained to our 9-5 jobs.

As the film states: We will never escape a cage that we refuse to see.

Human Enslavement

What happens when we try to get rid of the farm?

An excellent example of how humans are prevented from actually changing the farm is evident in the film Into the Fire, which depicts what happened when the G20 Summit visited Toronto in summer of 2011. A (fucking) billion dollars of taxpayers money was spent on fencing people away from the event and costuming police with full riot gear. Police reacted with random violence, ID checks, and strange new temporary laws to deter people’s rights to protest.

Police are quick to point out in oppressing your freedom that it’s ‘for your own safety’ just as veal calves are kept ‘safe’ in dark boxes before they are led to slaughter.

Humans as a means to an end: profit

Sure, human livestock doesn’t (directly) face slaughter, like factory farmed animals. However, with the routine poisoning of the masses through toxic foods and chemicals, constant wars, and weather warfare, are we really kept as safe as we believe? If we are kept alive it is because we are of more value alive, for awhile.

Has anyone seen the Care.org commercial for women as “the world’s greatest untapped resource?”

The commercial is meant to get you to donate to helping women, but hold the phone… Does Care.org think women haven’t been working for the last 4000 years? Ok, the ad is trying to tell us that sexism lives on in some parts of the world more than others. But accidentally gives away that the larger system would optimally like to exploit women to their fullest capacity.  If a woman chooses to exert her power, it shouldn’t be as a resource for someone else’s gain.

So how did we get duped into all this?

Death Denial

The film above discusses how our fear of death makes us controllable. We are afraid to be physically hurt or deprived because we fear it will end our existence. While animals also experience this fear, humans have more cerebral capacity to contemplate death on a linear level, making us prone to fear beyond an instinctual level by our awareness of death’s effects on our future.

It is from this deep fear that we are also driven to dominate others. The film Flight from Death: Quest for Immortality discusses how people harm others to feel as though they are at least more immortal than those who they knock down.

Experiments were performed in which subjects who were given subconscious reminders of death were found more likely to cause harm to others, and less likely to destroy systems  that they felt represented them eg. an American flag and crucifix. The studies found that we aim to appease our own death anxiety by alienating those who are dissimilar to us (think Holocaust), and that humans feel a type of immortality in belonging to a greater culture, so that even if we can’t live on, we can live on as a whole eg. as Christians, Canucks fans, Nazis, etc.

{*What the documetary failed to discuss is that this knowledge of how death denial works  is a prime motivator for a group of people seeking financial domination to instill a fear of death in the masses to make them more prone to want to attack an outside source (Iraq and Afghanistan).}

This same death denial can be transferred to the animal-based diet eaten by the majority of the world’s population. We feed off of the death of other ‘lesser’ beings. We believe that our lives can only flourish through their death. We feel that energy is obtained through dominating and conquering those species that are weaker. And we put the majority of this process of domination behind closed doors so that we can shove it to our subconscious, just like our thoughts about death.

The Bigger Picture

The oppression of animals in our society is a symptom of human oppression.

Gary L. Francione writes on The Abolionist Approach that we can change human rights by changing animal rights, which means first and foremost changing ourselves to not wear or eat animal products, and secondarily taking direct action to liberate animals. I agree with Francione – animal rights is a great place to start in order to wake up to large the larger systems of oppression we live in. But it is only a place to start.

This does not mean that we forgo veganism for other causes – veganism is the building block of all non-violent progress. But it does mean that if we wish to campaign for animal rights, we need to pay just as much attention to the bigger picture of our oppressive world systems.

Veganarchist

By learning to treat animals non-violently we are feeding something in our souls. However, if we are not aware of the nuances of oppression in our daily lives in a greater scope, then our animal rights victories will not be as far-reaching as we want them to be.

I’m not asking anyone to stop doing what they’re doing, simply to keep an open mind. It takes a lot of courage to look into factory farming and see what really goes on, but the horror doesn’t stop there.

Just as we can’t rally for no war while our bodies are graveyards, we also can’t practice veganism without properly critiquing the systems we live in. Don’t be afraid of anarchism. Check it out and learn what it means to you.

Being the person who protests the effects while ignoring the cause is like being the person who says they are against animal abuse but eats animals.

Only when we strive for the end of all oppressive systems will animals and humans truly be free.

5 Ways to Address the Controversial Subject of Non-Violence

without Focusing on the Controversy

When asked what the theme of this blog is I often tell people: nonviolence. In dawnofanewera, I aspire to deconstruct modern myths in place of a sustainable and dynamic nonviolent existence or, the end of all oppressive systems.

But often, when an individual is unwilling to compromise on something (even non-violence) they are labeled extremists. Sometimes, in the unrelenting path of my own mental expansion, I look behind myself to see an uproar in the wake of my words. And actually, my intention is not to cause controversy, but to inspire others to come together to create a more free-spirited world.

So, here’s what I’ve been thinking:

1) Communication is the Response that You Get

Christian Carter, dating guru and the boyfriend I never had, may not have come up with this one, but he did coin it (I believe it was one of his female friends). Basically this statement means that if you’re not getting the response you wanted, then you didn’t make the statement or pose the question effectively.

I have experienced several examples of this recently. A certain unnamed person, we’ll call him, John Lennon, was recently feeling as though I wasn’t respecting his needs. But unfortunately he chose to tell me this at an extremely sensitive time in an extremely blaming way, and therefore I didn’t even want to engage with him. I thought about it and realized that if he had asked me to support him in a gentle way with a specific solution in mind, I wouldn’t have even questioned offering the support he was requesting.

So how can we learn from this when discussing non-violent topics such as veganism or a RBE (Resource Based Economy)?

  • Choose the right moment
  • Remove the blame
  • Offer specific solutions
  • Ask for what you want, don’t demand

Essentially, knowing that communication is the response that you get puts the responsibility perpetually back in your hands.

2) Give Up Attack Thoughts

In Marianne Williamson’s book A Return to Love, she discusses how in a dream one night a dream figure told her that she could never establish peace while hating politicians so much, because she was a ‘hawk’. Or in other words, she was on the attack and as such could not spread peace.

Marianne Williamson talks a lot about ‘attack thoughts’ and I really like this term because it refers to not only our attacks on others, but attacks of others on us. This means that if we’re contemplating an unfair remark made towards us, we are still focusing on the attack rather than the non-violent solution. (Serious LOA going on here.)

Being defensive is just as bad as being offensive because we are still creating a scenario of attack in our minds. Which brings me to my next point.

3) Choose your ‘Battles’

Those who advocate for non-violence are not likely to see their tactics as being violent. I have a few friends whose vegan views feel slightly fundamentalist to me and who often use the cause as an excuse to behave threateningly. It can be difficult at demos to not get carried away at times, as there is so much adrenaline in the air, but it is entirely possible to use rage at demos in a non-violent way. Non violence is not about not having feelings. The key is to do it in a respectful, controlled way.

In order to see opportunities to create non-violence in place of battles, you have to first be clear about your intention. I’ve discussed the concept of ‘choosing connection’ before. Instead of judging a (totally adorable and amazing) friend, we’ll call her Nelly Furtado, for wearing bunny moccasins recently, I explained a similar situation where I’d unknowingly purchased a fur hair accessory once. My intention is to connect with her, not to villainize her.

Engaging with teeny bopper girls who pretend not to know English on the street, or a certain millionaire booty queen who swears she’s a good person (and skins hundreds of animals alive a year) – it’s not so easy. You want to slap stickers their furry backs and kick them in the face. *Face kicking is violent, for those who were wondering. Solution? Keep it light and then move on. I chased the Harajuku girls for a block and they took a pamphlet, and I came up with some zingers for the poor Kardashiass, eg. “junk in the trunk, nothing in the heart #furkills”, which were retweeted.

I have a friend, we’ll call him David Blaine, an advocate for non-violent principles, who saves up his rhetoric for people of more influence, such as journalists who he feels could actually help him reach his activist goals. It can be fun to completely annihilate people intellectually, and I love a good debate, but sometimes our time can be better spent when working at larger goals. However, I’m in no way encouraging passivity. Passiveness is not pacifism.

4) The Rogerian Approach

We’ll call this the ego-sensitive approach, but it can be fun because it requires an element of stealth. Technically, a Rogerian argument is a long slow finessing of the other side, completed by a gentle suggestion of your true stance. Think of Robin Hood the fox sucking the rings off the cowardly lion’s fingers after buttering up his ego with praise.

The Rogerian approach doesn’t need to be manipulative – you could call it Canadian if you prefer. It begins with a great amount of listening and summarizing the other person’s view, and your best impersonation of sympathy. *This is not a feely feely communication guide.

When you’ve found a way to agree with every single point the other side has brought up eg. you know what climate change could be natural, and the government does do a lot right that we don’t give them credit for, and a transition of economic models could be messy (hint: do it in a way that doesn’t hurt too much), then suggest one small, unobtrusive point at the very end of the conversation, eg. hey, I heard your aunt was suffering from cancer, have you ever heard of the China Study?

The theory is that the other side will be so sure that you’re agreeing with them that they won’t notice that you’ve implanted a logic bomb inside their minds. A bomb like a bath bomb, not nuclear.

5) Use your Anger

Often when discussing non-violence with people who think it’s far-fetched or ‘utopian’, rage follows on the part of the pacifist. The other party transforms into this barbaric monster with antiquated views and entitled values and this is exactly what enrages those who rally for a non-violent world (even though it would make more sense for those who advocate violence to go to anger). The anger stems from the obviousness that arises from seeing better solutions that others do not see.

If you see the possibilities of a non-violent world, you are part of a minority. (In case you haven’t noticed, we’re still living in the dark ages where war and slaughter are daily occurrences). This learned vision is a gift, but it comes with anger – which is what will drive us to create change. It is our responsibility to diffuse the anger as we move forward. To exchange the anger for results.

In Marshall Rosenberg’s The Surprising Purpose of Anger, he advises not to see anger as something bad, and not to oppress it but to see it as like a warning light on your car – informing you that you need something. He says not to confuse the trigger for your anger with the actual cause of it, which is always your own thinking. So once we identify the trigger and cause, we can move onto the unmet need behind the anger. Just as we would die of starvation if we were never hungry, we become angry to satiate our emotional needs.

I think often times we feel like victims to our anger. We don’t want to engage with it because we feel it is overpowering us – bossing us around. One alternative to diffusing anger is ignorance, making a quick escape from the anger to something else. But activists for non-violence usually choose to go deeper. We are not afraid to get angry, even though we’re not experts at understanding our anger yet. As my friend, well call him Marcus Aurelius, just summed up well on Facebook: the more you oppose an idea, the more you give it strength.

When we entertain blaming thoughts, we are rejecting our personal power. It takes humility to recognize the scope of changes you can realistically make (those directly through yourself), but this seemingly small scope can lead to huge effects. It is all we can handle, and all we need.

Remember: just because we are honing our debate skills and activist methods, non-violence should NEVER be compromised to reach any type of temporary peace. Gentle interactions can exist without meeting people who support war or killing halfway. Stick to your… carrot sticks.

Excusatarianism

January 17, 2012

9 Excuses for Not Going Vegan

I like to hear people’s excuses for not cutting animal products out of their diets because it means they’re actually thinking about it.

A few people in my life lately have told me that my simple presence ‘makes them feel guilty’ about their diets, but the funny thing is they are always the ones to bring up the discussion.

When I remind them that I can’t ‘make’ them feel anything, this is when the juicy part happens; they start to fight with themselves about how consuming animal products is ‘okay’.

Have you ever read the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus? Well it talks about how when men grumble about doing a requested task, women should see this as a sign of love because this is the process of how men reach within to put the woman’s needs first. This is the exact same thing that happens when people generate excuses to stop eating animals – this is their growth process and it was once mine, too.

Here are the top 9 self-fights I’ve been hearing:

1. It’s Hard Enough being Vegetarian, let alone Vegan.

I feel you. I’ve been there. I was vegetarian for 10+years and towards the end was trying to eat less dairy. But as long as I continued to see dairy as food, I would still eat it. When you learn about the link to casein and most major diseases, when you learn that rape is a mandatory part of dairy, and when you realize that veal is the mandatory byproduct of dairy (calves kept in solitary confinement from birth, then slaughtered as infants), this sickly product starts to look less like food. Mix it with the blood, pus, and bacteria that mixes in during processing  and this secretion cocktail becomes simply inedible.

So what will happen if you don’t have dairy and eggs to support your meat-free diet?? You’ll inevitably make healthier choices. That was the main thing I found in transitioning from vegetarian to vegan. I had to avoid the quickie junk foods like chocolate bars, baked goods when out and about, ice cream, cheese, some types of potato chips, etc. I reached instead for snacks like fruit, some kinds of granola bars, nuts, smoothies, and homemade things. It’s harder to go wrong when vegan because your palette of choices is healthier.

So when worrying that you’ll be even less ‘nourished’ if you take the full plunge, it’s actually easier to be a healthy vegan than a healthy vegetarian.

*I’m all for ‘junk’ food! But as a treat, not a staple.

2. Eating Animal Products is Normal

I’ve heard this one a lot lately. I’m the freak, the animal consuming loved ones are normal because they represent the majority.

In our everyday lives, how many of us kill sentient beings? In our modern day society, this type of behavior usually merits jail and probably the psych ward, and maybe even the fate of being murdered in jail.

In our ‘civilized’ society, killing is not socially acceptable behavior. So then how is hiring others to do if for you behind closed doors any different? Animal cruelty is considered especially sick in our modern world – akin to child molestation.

Eating animal  products = killing.

Killing is not normal. Not anymore, anyway. This isn’t Middle Earth.


3. Veganism Doesn’t Make a Difference Anyway

Less than 1% of the population is vegan so what’s the point? It saves 90 animals per person a year!

Many people believe that unless everyone goes vegan, their doing it somehow doesn’t count. Who cares what everyone else is doing? If you can’t do it, how can you expect anyone else to?

As I said above, you can’t make anyone do anything. All you have control of is yourself and your actions. And that’s all you need.

The real difference is how you feel in making such a small, huge change.

4. I Don’t Like Vegetables that Much

Are you a mama’s boy/girl who was indulged to only eat chicken nuggets and donuts as a kid? Did your idea of veggies consist of perfectly sliced cold cuts and tons of Ranch dip? I was. I was raised with perpetual vegetable threats, probably because my parents had themselves been indoctrinated to believe that if it’s good for you, it probably doesn’t go down easily. Lies.

It’s time to reprogram. Small bites at a time.

You are not a crazy nasty ass honey badger. Do you know how badly your body is craving fresh fruit and vegetables? Can you hear the callings?

But if you love your comfort foods, you can still eat them. Any animal-based indulgence can be vegan: Cadbury cream eggs, poutine, meatball subs, Blizzards, ice cream cake, insert craving here> _____.

5. Eating Animals is a Personal Choice

Some become absolutely livid when confronted about their animal-based diets. How DARE you? they hurl. Eating animals is a PERSONAL choice. I don’t pressure YOU to eat animals.

Well, asking someone to behave non-violently is a little different than asking someone to behave violently, to begin with.

That aside, I believe we are now smart enough as a human race to understand that eating animals is no more a right than enslaving other humans. If eating animals destroys the environment at exponentially greater rates that plant agriculture, if the resources used to raise them perpetuates worldwide hunger when veganism would feed many more, if eating these ‘foods’ is keeping people perpetually ill with documented correlated diseases… then how is this personal?

Eating animals affects us all.

We have a responsibility to the planet, to the other species of this planet, to the oppressed people who are as enslaved as the animals who we pay to kill them, and to ourselves.

I’m all for individualism. However the very idea of civilization is based on the idea that our freedom ends at the loss of another person’s freedom. And what we are learning is that eating animals infringes on not only the violent treatment towards animals, but the violent treatment to people (starvation, destruction of environment, diseases, dangerous slaughterhouse conditions, etc.)

We are only as free as our neighbors.

6. Animal Rights is Not my Cause

Some people feel that going vegan is like choosing a charity to volunteer for. It’s an option among many. Nice try.

You can be vegan and still support whatever causes you choose. It’s not an either/or matter.

The movie Bold Native explains that animal rights activists are the ones who say: me, I will help; I will do something about it. While you don’t need to become an animal rights activist to be vegan, being vegan is the same concept of realizing that if you eat animal products you are the cause of suffering in factory farms, and therefore showing the world that you are willing to try a different lifestyle to change that.

7. Veganism is a Sacrifice

Hate that word. It doesn’t represent me at all. Yet I identify about 95% with the vegan concept. Veganism is not about cutting things out of your diet, it’s about redefining what you see as food.

From the outside, going vegan probably looks like giving something up, but once you’re in the loop learning new cooking skills and places to eat, and meeting veganish people, not only is it not a chore, but it’s a blessing, inside & out.

When you think about it, you’re only cutting out three main animals from your diet: chickens, cows, and pigs (lamb, fish for some). These 3 elements that make up a huge portion of the North American diet. How many thousands of other foods exist that you are not trying because you’re perpetuating a diet your TV raised you with?

The concept of sacrifice is the opposite of non-violence. Sacrifice is the idea that we must suffer for something greater. Non-violence is the quality of approaching all things gently. Veganism is a lifestyle that embraces non-violence. ‘Embrace’ being the key term.

8. Veganism is a Huge Commitment

You don’t have to be convinced that this new lifestyle will work. You don’t have to make a lifetime commitment. Going vegan is like working on your flexibility – one day at a time. Hurts a bit to start, but feels sooo good to progress and expand your power as a human being.

Before assuming that you’re going to be hungry all the time, actually try it for a few days. You will be hungrier more often, because you’re body will be digesting food faster. But you will also be entirely satiated, just without the heaviness.

Like Alicia Silverstone says in her book The Kind Diet: flirt.

9. Vegans are Annoying and I Don’t Want to be Like You

Guilty. People who lean towards veganism in all its variations can be really annoying. Hard to say if they’re genuinely excited about their transformations, or if they’re just trying to spread propaganda to ‘convert’ you. But they sure are vocal about their choices for the most part.

You do realize you can be a silent vegan, right? It’s just that most vegans don’t want to stay silent because they are having the time of their lives growing past what they once knew.

Capitalism is Collapsing:

11 Reasons Why it’s About Time

In a lengthy Facebook debate recently, I was told that I was using capitalism as a ‘strawman’ to boost my anarchic Venus Project ideas. I replied that I didn’t make capitalism a strawman, it simply is a strawman – easy to destroy.

As the masses shake off their shackles of financial oppression, capitalists such as former IMF chief economist, Kenneth Rogoff, try to spin the epidemic by agreeing that: sure there are some problems but no real imminent revolution, trying to minimize the international uprising. But the Occupy movement is part of the slow waking up of human consciousness – people are finally realizing that they’re being used.

In this post, I’m going to break down why capitalism is inherently flawed by listing its false premises.

1) Capitalism is Not Barter

Barter implies the exchange of commodities of EQUAL value. Capitalism often tries to ride the coattails of barter as ‘a free market exchange system’, but while barter aims for a trade that equally benefits both parties, capitalism is based on profit, which means that one party must always exploit the other party in some way to get ahead, whether it’s an employer exploiting their employees by paying them just enough to get them to stay, or a merchant charging a customer as much as they possibly can without the customer spending their money elsewhere. Capitalism strives not for sustainability, but for gaining the ‘little bit more’ than the other party, ie. profit. Capitalism ensures that there will always be a winner, and as a result, not only the other half, but 99% loses.

Should we also talk about how capitalism has morphed beyond goods and services to trading abstract concepts such as derivatives that most people don’t even understand? I would, if I understood more about it.

2) Capitalism Breeds Sociopathy

Some argue that capitalism, while not ‘fair’, does reward those who work the hardest. But by now we know that those who come out on top of the capitalist game not necessarily those who work the hardest, but are actually:

a) those who are most interested in financial gain

Excelling at financial gain is just one strength of many other equal strengths – those who excel at science, math, writing, raising children, etc. are just as important to the quality of life of our society.

b) those who are already in a position of financial privilege

Should businesses necessarily be started only by those who have the funds? This just leads to more financial imbalance of the rich getting richer.

Or what about growing up in a wealthy family? This leads to segregation among classes, elitism, and resentment. And politicians like Newt Gingrich suggesting that poor kids work as janitors at lunch to make money.

c) those who are most physically and/or mentally endowed

Many financially successful people feel as though they deserve their monetary gain because they have worked hard for it. But what other traits led them to their financial gain? Many people don’t realize how brilliant they actually are and how many other people don’t have the same intellectual or physical capability. Sure, a businessman who works 8-5 for 40 years has worked hard, but hasn’t a person with physical or mental disabilities perhaps worked just as hard at tackling their own obstacles?

What we essentially live in is a meritocracy. When we are not born equal, capitalism only exacerbates our individual weaknesses.

e) those who are the most ruthless 

Capitalism is the economic system of ‘survival of the fittest’. This is a vicious and often violent mindset, when ‘fittest’ becomes interchangeable with ‘most ruthless’.

Going further down this mental mindset could lead all the way to eugenics – a valid concept to explore, but loaded with potential for genocide and other types of oppression.

3) Capitalism Trumps Community

Capitalism is in direct competition with community, which is why it’s illegal to have a bake sale on the streets of Vancouver, it’s illegal for homeless people to congregate in tent cities, and it’s illegal to exercise free speech in many places unless that space has already been determined a ‘free speech zone’ or unless one purchases a permit.

Canada’s media is among the most consolidated in the world – why? Because a few individuals managed to purchase it. So the community does not talk amongst itself in mainstream media, it is talked to by the voices of its paying customers. How is Canwest owning the media any different from Monsanto purchasing patents on organic life?

Instead of having places of true ‘free space’, capitalism dictates what activities can be held in what zones. For example: in Wal*Mart – you shop. You don’t sit and relax, or play cards with friends. Wal*Mart owns that space and while you’re there Wal*Mart tells you what to do, the same as in any private property.

When we go out to socialize, we rent a portion of space and are expected to get in and get out, buying enough to justify our presence there. Capitalism frowns upon simply giving things away because then it’s more difficult to control what’s being exchanged. Capitalism wants to track, measure, rate, evaluate, classify… which brings me to my next point.

*(To digress,  non-profits such as Liberation BC can’t be considered charities because they actually strive to change laws. This is how charities can get tax breaks while activist groups can’t – a blatant policy to stifle activism or anything that opposes capitalist reign.)

4) Capitalism is a Control Freak

Capitalism aims to dissect and package what we have to work with until everything has been claimed and assigned a dollar value in a bloody race to the finish. It is so fearful of scarcity that it mutates into a complex knot of rules and regulations until they make no sense anymore and can be interpreted about as clearly as the bible.

Capitalism has so much fine print that entire sectors must be devoted to defining its rules and policing the rules. These sectors are made up of anal people policing each other. I’ve worked with them. They are so pressured to ‘fit in’, that they will call you out if you don’t fit in to ease their own pressure, the corps. don’t even need to get involved – it’s a self-cleaning system.

And have you heard the one about the fat cop spraying the cross legged activists like an exterminator? (Don’t worry he was fired reprimanded.) What exactly do you think he’s trying to protect? I doubt he knows, but his heavy-handed training taught him to protect the current dominant economic system that employs him.

In the U.S., anyone who upsets business trade can now be labeled a terrorist, and (even more recently) detained and tortured (some articles say assassinated) on the grounds of suspicion without legal process (!)

When we have demonstrations against fur stores in Vancouver, which side do the cops stand on? The side of the store, of course.

Now… what makes people become control freaks?

Oh, right. Insecurity.

5) Capitalism has Nothing to do with Democracy

Those who wave the flag of capitalism believe that it provides them with the freedom to prosper. By now we know that 1% of the people own 99% of the world’s wealth. So ok, let’s lower our expectations of financial prosperity to simply the freedom to have guaranteed income and a home. Not so easy – inflation soars, interest rates waver at the hands of the major banks, minimum wage drags its feet to keep up, social programs are snipped to pay off national debts, and your worth as an employee declines as technology leaves your skills behind. Sorry, pal.

So what does this leave us with? Freedom to choose. How we want to spend our 8 hour work days, sort of. Consumer freedom – well, based on the declining selection of monopolized corps. And freedom of our small slices of free time. As long as you stay leashed to your designated areas of habitation and employment and don’t break any laws or get caught looking bad on Facebook or make your co-workers feel uncomfortable by being too different from them or….

This is a rather vast point to explore, but for me, true freedom comes with knowing that as I flourish, others do not suffer. Capitalism creates a world of winners and losers, employers and employees. For one to win, others must lose.

6) Capitalism is Drama

Capitalism has us chasing our tails to fill arbitrary 8 hour days, celebrating and grieving stock market crashes and bail outs – such unnecessary drama. Wouldn’t it be nice if the busy work was automated and those who wanted to play the money game could in some virtual reality scenario? And those who didn’t want to play wouldn’t starve their families because of that?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could create our own drama instead of being a slave to the hormonal capitalist outbursts?

7) Capitalism Wastes Time

In Tim Ferris’s book 4 Hour Work Week, he describes the perfect job as ‘one that takes the least amount of time.’ Most people would rather be doing something else rather than what they’re doing. Do people have the insight to imagine what that might be after being indoctrinated by the media and public education their entire lives? Perhaps not. They have forgotten how to imagine a more satisfying life. Could these people learn to live by their gifts and not their jobs? Sure, quickly.

People spend so much energy simply surviving. Shouldn’t we be past worrying about survival by now? We’re not cavemen – it’s 2012. There are more than enough resources to ensure that every single person on this planet could prosper. So, as Foster Gamble points out: why aren’t we thriving?

How much time do we waste re-writing the rules, translating the rules, establishing bureaucracy around the rules, enforcing the rules, punishing people for not adhering to the rules? How much free time and resources would we have without all this excess?

Sure, transitions can be messy, but once new systems are established, how many redundant, boring jobs could be eliminated? How many wasted lives could be resurrected?

8) Capitalism is Addictive

Or rather, capital is. Money is and always be a virus in the human mind because we can never get enough. Money is (well, really it’s debt) but in our society it represents potential power and potential power is never something that you can achieve and put aside – its obtainment is a lifestyle. Two words: dangling carrot.

In Zeitgeist III when I saw pictures of people throwing away their money, I wanted to go and pick it up. I have the addiction, too. We place all our power in this external structure of money, and therefore the worth of humanity lessens. This is why factories and factory farms exist. Sentient beings becomes products. Human welfare becomes secondary.

Those who are the closest to the money will always have a Gollum type relationship to it, which calls for surveillance, which calls for a need for surveillance of those who are surveilling, etc. (See 7)

9) Capitalism Disempowers Personal Will

The world is in debt to itself. When we are born into countries in debt, it creates a mindset as though we owe something, even if it’s not personally us who’s acquired the debt. When we owe, we are indentured to work. When we are indentured to work, we have less time to think for ourselves.

Profit incentives in social experiments have only been shown to raise productivity level with tasks such as factory line assembly, or other mindless work. However, people are more innovative in creative ingenuity when left to their own devices with the reward of freedom instead of money. The natural human state radiates genius and if we rid ourselves of the stress of needless competition, human potential would flourish exponentially.

Technological breakthroughs exist not because of capitalism but despite capitalism. The internet exists not because a corporation forced it into existence, but because of the human need for global inter-communication. Inevitable human expansion at its finest. It is not regulated and taxed to its fullest capacity only because of the non-physical nature of intellectual property.

10) Capitalism Promises Uniformity

In other words – booo-ring. How many times have you gone on vacation only to see the same effing KenTacoHut franchises littering the landscape? How many times have you gone out shopping for something unique… and found every store to carry the same knock off fashions? How many times have you tried something new at work and been told to: just stick to the protocol?

Sure, the world’s financial crisis has become exacerbated since WW1, since the derivatives spiraled out of control, etc. But going back even as far as the industrial revolution, people were made to involuntarily witness a transformation of their landscapes and lifestyles as mass production turned them into machines (I recommend reading the American classic: The Jungle), and even when gold was the currency fractional reserve lending was being practiced. Capitalism turns people into consumers, but worse it turns people into products. We are so much more complex than this.

Ok, so on the plus side, it’s nice sometimes that Starbucks has your favourite drink at every location on the planet. But are we willing to sacrifice variety, adventure, selection, and creativity for consistency? Maybe we are until we see the repercussions.

11) Capitalism is Delusional

Capitalism is not based on reality because it never started from a place of assessing our collective resources in total. It is based on ideas, not solid resources. Might we prosper from the resources of other planets one day? Yes, but not yet.

How does a capitalist system measure the total of its resources if it’s measuring with old systems? Capitalism measures energy in money – a concept.  A resource based economy relinquishes the game tokens and aims to preserve and equally distribute resources, releasing human innovation from the confines of lifetime enslavement so that we can function to our fullest capacity (a resource that capitalism does not even perceive and so therefore has not been able to exploit).

Capitalism does not see the world as an inseparable entity, it divides and conquers: and this is why it creates a war machine. War is the use of force, which is why capitalism and constant struggle are lovers.

So, can we reform capitalism? Tweak it into something more functional. Absolutely not.  There is no from of renovation that can make capitalism habitable because it was never intended as a long term sustainable system, and therefore we must lay a new foundation.

The point of a resource based economic system is abundance, where people don’t have to steal because they do not lack. It is not lack of resources that prevent widespread wealth – it is closed minds. Only when we diminish the power of money to zero will it be impossible for a small group of people to gain control over it. Only when we eliminate poverty will people no longer feel compelled to fearfully hoard and preemptively strike each other down for land and wealth. Only when we distribute widespread elective education can people become mentally sound enough to make better decisions.

When asked on a university exam which was more important: the needs of the individual or the needs of the collective, I argued that the needs of the individual ARE the needs of the collective. The systems ARE the people. When the people are secure, the systems will be, too.

Christmas Among Meateaters

December 25, 2011

How Can Vegans Remain True to Themselves at Christmas?

I’m not writing this post as a prescriptive because I truly don’t know how a vegan can glide through the holidays when celebrating them with meateaters. When I look at the Christmas cacaphony of bacon fryers and leather handbags and turkeys, I see the places they came from and this doesn’t make me feel like celebrating.

Instead I will post a conversation between myself and a family member about our attempts to reconcile the lifestyle clash. When meateaters argue with vegans, it can be exhausting, especially for the vegan because they’ve probably had this convo a million times before. Ring any (jingle) bells?

Meateater VS Vegan – Conflict @ Christmas

M = Meateater

V = Vegan

V = I appreciate the efforts you make to provide vegan options and gifts, but please realize that when you gift everyone else twice as much of the opposite kinds of gifts, and feed everyone else ten times the amount of non-vegan food, I feel upset because I see all the violence it took to obtain those products.

M = Well, those are your beliefs. I don’t get why you have to ‘push’ your ‘beliefs’ on the rest of us.

V = The nature of and prevalence of factory farming is statistically documented. It has nothing to do with a belief – this is what’s happening in our world right now. I’m speaking the truth and being myself.

M = You are making me feel bad when you say something about gifts such as the PiggyWiggy bacon fryer.

V = I am not ‘making’ you feel anything, but I am drawing attention to the violence behind this gift.

M = Well why do you have to do it in an attacking way?

V = The slaughter of pigs is the ultimate act of attack. If you perceive someone mentioning this as an attack, then maybe you are creating that experience out of your own inclination to defend this consumer choice.

M = How do you know that the animals suffer?

V = Would you suffer if you were strapped to the floor of a gestation crate and raped over and over until your innards spilled out of your body?

M = Well have you gone and actually witnessed this yourself? You just watch these videos and assume it’s true.

V = I could go into the factory farms but then I could be prosecuted as a terrorist according to new U.S. law.

M = Why do you need to try to change us? We don’t force you to eat meat.

V = I am not trying to change you. I am simply sharing my experience with you and the essence of who I am. Changing you would be a waste of my time, if you choose to grow for yourself that’s great.

Also, me reminding you of the violence in animal products is very different from you pressuring me to support violence.

M = What if we don’t want to change?

V = We are always changing no matter what – the only question is in what way. On a personal note, if you learn about animal agriculture and simply don’t care – I don’t get that.

M = I care about other things that you don’t care about: poverty, homelessness, various charities, etc.

V = I care about those things, too. If I was doing something directly to cause these things and I had other choices, I would choose the least harmful options.

M = So you really don’t want to change us?

V = Would I love to live in a non-violent world? Yes. Am I going to go around begging individuals to change? No.

M = Can’t you just be pleasant?

V = I can be a lot of positive things. But I’m not willing to silence myself.

I’m going to stop there because it’s excruciating. I would like to point out though that it’s not the veganism that tears families apart – it’s the violence behind the animal products. Just like it wasn’t women’s rights that tore families apart, it was the sexist laws of that time. Just because an animal based diet is currently more popular, doesn’t mean it’s natural or normal.


Christmas can be a difficult time for those who have seen the truth behind the animal products the ‘mainstream’ chooses to purchase because we are simply unable to appreciate or celebrate them.

Vegan Xmas Options

a) celebrate Xmas among meateaters and shut up, feeling as though you are a  phony

b) celebrate Xmas among meateaters and speak out, probably causing defensive responses from others

c) spend Xmas with vegans (but be guilt tripped by meateating friends and family who you’re ignoring)

d) volunteer at a homless shelter and serve people… turkey

So it’s kind of a no-win sitch. But it’s all good, because it’s not about us anyway in that our feelings of exclusion and alienation pale in comparison to the atrocities faced every day by animal slaves.

Where the Movie ‘Thrive’ Fails to Thrive

Foster Gamble, renegade heir of the animal-torturing Procter & Gamble corp, has made his own version of the Zeitgeist trilogy with an extraterrestrial spin.

Below are a list of WINS and FAILS that I’ve compiled to gauge the overall success of the film. Generally, the first 3/4 of this film is a win, and the last quarter is a fail. Not an F, but a D-.

The end of Thrive is reminiscent to that of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, except in that film the solutions came rolling down like credits in a tiptoeing, whistling, thumb twiddling don’t-ask-me slink away.

WIN

  • Names are named. Thrive pinpoints the main elites causing the global fear-based decision making structure in what is labeled the Global Domintation Agenda: the Rockfellers, Morgans, Vanderbilts, Carnegies, and their buddies. The film explains how this small group of people control money, food, water (trying to), education, media, healthcare, etc. Well done Thrive for not being afraid to call the hoarders out.
  • Blame is diffused through explanation. Any time people lean on the concept of ‘evil’ as an explanation for violence, whether economic, physical, or other, we regress back to the polarity of the US government, the bible, or a Star Wars movie. Truth is far more complicated than simply: some people are just evil. Thrive explains that those hoarding power are doing so out of fear. Fear of freedom, scarcity, and change.
  • Exposing the appropriation of the term ‘conspiracy theory’. It seems as though anyone who commits to dissent these days is termed a conspiracy theorist. Conspiracy theorist is the new terrorist. So I’m glad that Thrive exposes the negative connotations this term has garnered so people can feel more comfortable about thinking critically. Remember critical thinking? That skill we were taught in school that gets us fired from jobs in the real world?
  • Thrive has a fact checking page on their website. Point.
  • Thrive does make one or two good points in its otherwise weak attempt to solve the world’s problems, with statements such as this: “It doesn’t work to build an healthy system on top of an unhealthy one.” True that. (So why does Thrive go on to try to bandaid job the system we’ve got now?)

FAIL

  • Thrive’s main failure is in its proposed solutions. While the Gambles’ hearts are in the right place, they lack the vision to picture actual economic alternatives and therefore they aim low, telling viewers to work within the monetary system, when the monetary system IS the problem. Bank locally? Vote for better people? These systems are already corrupted – time to start fresh.
  • No mention of the Venus Project. Hello! There is already a much more cutting edge solution out there for all the problems Thrive presents. Could Thrive not even comment on a resource based economy? Even to say why it isn’t feasible? If Gamble missed this biggie, what other essentials did he omit from his ambitious film?
  • After showing numerous shots of people starving and living in poverty, the makers of Thrive warn that watching the film without paying for it is immoral. Isn’t it more important to get their message out than to expect immediate reward? The filmmakers seem to be stuck in a place of rich kid entitlement on this issue.
  • Thrive’s golden rule is to practice non-violation… but what exactly does this mean? What about violating the wealth of the elite hoarders and redistributing it? And don’t we have to violate current laws in order to exercise free speech these days? What about the people who pay more for water than Coke who might violate the copyright laws to watch this movie? Gamble then tries to interchange the term with non-aggression. Let me help, you Thrive – the term you’re reaching for is: non-violence. But to be fair, for humans to practice non-violence, this requires a shift from animal agriculture, the violence-based system that nourishes most of the people on the planet.
  • Fail squared: the soundtrack. Please make it stop.

All in all, Thrive is well organized and accurate on many points but its main flaw is that it has an economic blind spot.

Instead of spending a bit longer to search for solutions to the problems it presents, Thrive rushes the project and instructs viewers to follow a list of biblical commandments that basically amount to recycling to attempt to save the environment.

In my humble opinion, the film would have been more cohesive if it had spent longer examining its main breakthrough concept: the torus, explaining what direct solutions a functioning torus could offer.

May the torus be with you.

What the Death of Jerry Hicks Means for ‘Abraham’

I recently learned that Jerry Hicks, of the infamous Abraham-Hicks empire, was suffering from an advanced form of leukemia and on November 18, 2011 he passed. He was 89 years old, to the best of my knowledge, and his wife, Esther, is 30 years younger.

In the most honest eulogy I have heard from Esther, she admits that she has not fully grasped the idea of death. Normally Esther, speaking through Abraham, refuses to admit that she doesn’t know anything and it can be painful to listen to.

When the public discovered that Jerry Hicks had leukemia, Esther would not talk about it, stating that she did not want to draw negative energy to the circumstance, and that is where I have always believed that Esther was getting it a little wrong: in order to move beyond the difficult, one must acknowledge the problem first to manifest otherwise – articulate to dissipate. Esther often silences people who come to her with problems, and has been doing so more in her later years.

Esther and Jerry Hicks have presented themselves to the world as highly spiritually evolved, ‘the happiest people you’ve ever met’. And so when Jerry Hicks began to suffer from leukemia, many questioned if the couple were really who they said they were.

Esther teaches that those who contract illness think illness and radiate illness, and therefore attract it – so why would Jerry have invited this illness? Could they not apply the law of attraction to heal Jerry, as they so often instructed others to do? Where was their best buddy Abraham? *Esther has since interpreted this to mean that the drawn out experience of dying by sickness was so their goodbye process could be elongated and therefore diluted for an easier transition.

(*The image above is, of course, not the entity of beings Abraham but the biblical Abraham, although it suits the situation in question perfectly.)

Is Abraham a Scam?

Many feel that Jerry’s final illness was the demise of the Abraham-Hicks empire – a fatal flaw in the product they’ve been pushing. I’ve known for a long time that Esther and Jerry’s personal agendas were getting meddled with their comprehension of the material. I have written several articles about their misinterpretation of animal suffering not to point fingers, but because Esther’s callous attitude about animals as beasts (alternately referring to them as friends when convenient) is damaging on a large scale level to listeners who elevate Esther to God-like.

But my intention here is not to bash Esther in her time of grieving (and Esther is about to discover that sadness and depression when experienced with consciousness can actually feel really good, defying her proposed linear scale of emotions).

My intention is to clarify that despite the inaccuracies in Esther/Abraham’s teachings (does it really matter who is who?), despite her recent lack of patience with followers, and her detachment from other sentient creatures on this planet, Esther has a gift and girlfriend makes a lot of sense a lot of the time. And the fact that the invincible Jerry died of leukemia does not falsify any of the the Abraham-Hicks teachings – it simply reminds people that he was human, just as Esther is.

Some have accused Esther of being trained by Jerry on what to say, or suggest that Esther bases all her material on the former Seth books (they’re completely different), but while Esther did not invent the law of attraction just as Newton did not invent gravity, she breaks down the law of attraction in a comprehensive, focused way that helps people learn (remember) the logistics behind deliberate creation. She is extremely articulate and accurate, and while not the most touchy-feely-lovey person, she shows up and offers the knowledge inside her in a clear and concise way which many are able to connect with.

Does it matter where she gets the knowledge from? Only if you follow it on blind faith. I never accept knowledge unless I’ve given it a spin for myself, and you are free to test out any one of Esther’s gems of wisdom, which couldn’t be summarized in one article.

Law of Attraction Points that Remain Solid

  • We live in a vibrational universe.
  • Focus on what you want and the rest will fall away.
  • Feel the new reality. Emotion creates pathways.
  • Go to a positive vibration (the Vortex) and THEN create.
  • Play with general and specific manifestations based on which creates a more positive emotion.
  • Negative emotion indicates resistance.
  • Deliberate co-creation is the essence of our true identities.
  • Why? Why do anything? Joy. (*I believe joy can be present in many emotions. I can be thoroughly satisfied and in awe looking at something intriguingly dark.)

I value the mental work outs that Esther offers. It is one thing to know these handy tricks, but quite another to remember them, and just as our muscles must remember how to be strong through perpetual exercise, so does our spiritual compass if we want to use it with precision.

It is entirely possible to be disappointed in Esther for her unwillingness to examine her highly destructive relationship with animal souls, and to also be completely in tune with other material she presents. If we throw out the baby with the bathwater (reaching for an updated metaphorif we throw out the email with the spam, if we throw out the show with the commercials – never mind) then we are shooting the messenger without hearing out the message.

Just as people want to discredit former CIA asset, Susan Lindauer, for her nervous (some think hysterical) laugh and her inappropriate jubilation when discussing serious matters (which she explains as a form of  being reborn after a year of imprisonment by the US government), then we are missing out on the testimony of an insider of the US government who admits high-level government involvement. Likewise, if we discredit Esther Hicks for her animal cruelty, being a jerk, and not always knowing when to admit that she doesn’t know, we are missing out on her valuable bag of tricks – that can essentially be used to fix all of Esther’s flaws – in ourselves, others, and the world.

*I also wanted to add that while this post focuses on the living half of Jerry and Esther’s unit, when I read that Jerry passed, I felt a moment of loss.

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