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.

Animal Rights Psychos

August 30, 2011

Why Animal Rights Activists are “Crazier than the Rest”

I chose Brigitte because she came up first under crazy animal rights activist. And she’s rad.

Someone recently remarked to me something I’ve heard before, along the lines of: “why are animal rights activists so (effin) crazy? You know your crazy is giving the movement a bad name”.

Allow me to explain.

An 8 Point Guide to Understanding Crazy Animal Rights Activists

1) The voice of the voiceless

What would one say who was made to endure a lifetime of confinement in filthy, crowded living conditions, unable to even turn around, separated from their peers and offspring, parts of their body hacked off with no painkillers, humiliated by being hung upside down, or shaved, or castrated, pumped full of drugs just to keep them alive, sick and dying from lack of care, abused by numb, begrudging workers, treated as products from birth until death, raped, anally and vaginally electrocuted, and then killed sloppily and unceremoniously?

What would these voices say?

They would be upset. They would be angry. They would be sad. They would feel disrespected. Betrayed. Lonely. And hysterical. How is it that we are made to face such atrocities? They would ask.

This voice would demand answers and change.

This is what the collective animal rights voice calls for.

2) Until humanity ceases to nourish itself from violence, violence will prevail

Some people find it ‘crazy’ that animal rights activists place animals ‘over’ people. But animal rights activists see the widespread, systematic animal abuse in our world as the root of all other problems.

The Tolstoy quote goes: “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.”

Animal rights activists do not place animals above people, they see them as equal (but different) to people in that they, too, have a right to live.

3) What is violence?

99.99% of animal rights activists are pacifists. We are so upset to see violence towards animals because we are disturbed by violence in general. Violence meaning physical and emotional harm and abuse to others. Violence does not mean: yelling and breaking stuff. Violence means gore. Expressing anger and sadness is not violence.

While animal rights activists may pay you a home visit to protest you testing a make up line on baby monkeys, we are not going to show up and torture you or murder you – that is exactly what we’re protesting against. And for those who think home demos are acts of intimidation, compare in contrast the animals in labs who do not have homes, who are kept in cages their entire lives in isolation, only to be taken out to have painful experiments performed on them. They don’t get to go home.

4) No measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society…

Animals rights activists usually adopt a vegan diet since it doesn’t make much sense to fight for some sentient beings and torture others. There is some discrepancy as to what veganism is among activists, which is okay, as most of us are on the same page about most things. But from a vegan standpoint, ARAs find themselves among a very small portion of the population, making us, for lack of better terms… freaks. We are used to being the odd ones out.

If we cared about what people thought of our unwillingness to consume products derived from suffering animals, we would throw in the towel. But clearly, we like it over here, and we are willing to give up being normal for inner well-being. So standing on street corners and being vocal are really just a few more steps in a direction we’re already confident in.

5) They’re not ‘beliefs’, they’re understandings

Nothing annoys me more than when people start talking about ‘my beliefs’. If you watch the footage, if you read the statistics, if you go to the factories and smell the putrid, rotting smell of death, you will know that factory farming is not a concept one needs to believe in for it to be true.

Animal rights is not something certain people engage in to be different; it is not something that defines us (just like some people like the colour blue, or fencing, or Buddhism, or clogs) – it is about paying attention to a mass component of the state of the world.

“It takes all kinds”, is a cop out used to explain that well, some people like to be vegetarian and others just like meat—we’re all different. No. While it takes all kinds, we don’t need to all be different in this sense. Just like we don’t need for there to be some murderers, some child molesters, some serial killers, and some normal people to provide a lovely rainbow of variety within society. We can all eat a plant-based diet and celebrate our millions of other differences. Meat is not part of anyone’s identity. Although some rednecks have no other personality traits, so they make websites and TLC shows about bacon fetishes and the extreme barbecuing of flesh.

6) You think we’re crazy? 

While animal rights activists stand outside with signs or megaphones, do crazy shit, or write controversial pieces, those who consume animal products willingly are actually signing the slip for horrific animal abuse to occur.

What’s more crazy? Standing on the street naked, or ripping the skin off an animal while it’s still alive? (Common practice in the fur industry)

What’s more crazy? Screaming at the top of one’s lungs in public, or hanging a cow upside down and slicing it open so its innards spill out while it’s still conscious?

What’s more crazy? Talking about the horrors of factory farming at Thanksgiving turkey dinner, or sticking your arm up a cow to impregnate it against its will and then putting its baby inside a dark box for the entirety of its life?

If you wear fur, if you eat meat, if you drink dairy – you are the reason why these acts of cruelty are happening. You are paying for these industries to exist. They exist only because of you.

7) The truth is persistent

When you feel good, you want to share it with others. Although there is a lot of misery expressed by animal rights activists, it is not our personal misery – it is misery that we are strong enough to know about and not take on ourselves.

The only reason that we are strong enough to persevere in looking at these images and teaching others about what goes on behind closed doors is because we are doing it from a place of confidence and strength. We feel good in our path. We feel good in our diets. We are not being vocal about animal suffering to ‘recruit you to our side’ like missionaries; we could care less about your inner beliefs. We just want you to know what’s actually going on. Someone else told us, and we, at our own pace, changed. We are so glad they told us.

Thank goodness a plant-based diet is a karmic superfuel or we wouldn’t have the energy to keep doing this.

8) A bad name

Okay, part of the purpose of the animal rights movement is to educate and bring people together to form new, conscious communities. Excellent. The other part of the movement is to simply: stop the killing. By any means necessary (except violence).

So while it’s great to see a plethora of tactics being used, from PETA’s porn site to vegan potlucks and bake sales and leafletting at high schools, the other part of the movement is just as necessary. Making it known that animal abuse is politically incorrect. Setting free confined animals. Hitting these business where it hurts: the profits. These means of direct action have nothing to do with winning the support of the general public.

It’s a choice of getting in where you fit in. Joe Backwoods might not have the best people skills, but he may have a crowbar and some spraypaint to do some serious liberation for the ALF.

Jenna Marbles is Vegan… 6 Days a Week

Who can make a complete ass of themselves and still have a pretty exquisite ass? Why Jenna Marbles of course. And how does she keep her bod in shape?

She’s mainly vegan!

Clearly Jenna Marbles loves animals, since her dogs are her best friends, but she also describes herself as “not some animal freak”, which is okay with me.

People sometimes say to me: “wow, you must LOVE animals”. And I’m all: “I just believe in treating sentient beings with respect”. I don’t have any pets at the moment and I don’t primarily identify with being  an “animal lover”, though I guess I am. I see myself as someone who believes that evolution includes respecting the sentient experience across species. But there are other reasons to go vegan besides compassion for animals. Having a hot bod and not destroying the environment, for example.

And as for Jenna Marbles being vegan only 6 days a week because she feels a need to cheat, I say go for it. (She does say she wants to go vegan full force). For me, I don’t crave meat anymore because it’s not food to me, but I understand how people have cravings for foods they used to eat. There are substitutions for just about every animal product based comfort food in existence, but if all that’s stopping you from going vegan is the thought that you can’t do it a full seven days a week, you are still making leaps and bounds of change by going 6 sevenths of the way.

*It should be noted that Jenna recently went on a fatgirl meateating binge (March 2013), which she bragged about for 10 minutes while cradling her dog in her arms. I like the vegan 6 days a week Jenna better. Snap out of it, girl.

Excuse Me, but Fuck You

June 13, 2010

Gentle Corrections

for Everyday Ethical Dilemmas

Okay, so most people would agree that murdering someone in self-defense is okay. Fighting for one’s life is natural. If a psycho is coming at you with a spiked ball on a chain, it’s only reasonable that you have a right to try to stop the upcoming brain damage. But the meat-eating world also uses the self-defense argument to justify eating meat.

“I need to eat this animal to live.”

“Humans eat animals – it’s the circle of life.”

However, many sexy, slim, healthy vegetarians and vegans are proving that you don’t NEED to kill animals to live. You can ingest all your daily dietary requirements from a plant-based diet.

Still meat-eaters argue: “well you might not need meat, but my body does.”

(Sometimes going into arguments about their lineage… how they’re German, or Viking or something). Well most of us come from cultures who relied on a meat-based diet in the past. Past being the key word. We used to think that we needed meat because we didn’t know otherwise. Then, usually, you ask these individuals if they’re ever made an attempt at a balanced vegan diet and usually they haven’t, due to the belief that they have exceptional bodies which function differently than a normal body (which requires protein, fat, and carbohydrates).

I suggest to animal rights activists, as a gentle way of reminding meat-eaters that they do so on a want, not need basis, to correct our loved ones’ vocabularies every so often.

When my friend Virtue* tells me: “I like my meat”.

I reply: “You like meat.”

Virtue: “No, I like my meat.”

Me: “You may like meat, but it’s not yours, per say.”

This shows that you’re hearing them, and respecting them, but you’re not buying the lie.

Another situation I found myself in lately was in a scholastic setting. We were brainstorming website ideas to make money, and one class member, Mary Kate Olsen we’ll call her, pipes up:

Mary Kate Olsen: “How about a site that sells rare cuts of lamb!”

Me: “You are aware that a lamb is a baby sheep.”

Mary Kate Olsen: “You should see the market for lamb! It makes a ton of money.”

(What I should have said: “So does human trafficking, doesn’t mean you need to get on board.”)

What I Did Say: “Just pointing out that lamb, like veal, is not really a politically correct choice of product to sell.”

Instructor: “Are you a cute-atarian?”

The conversation then veered into cannibalism and became a running joke throughout the rest of the class, and I was okay with this because social change happens one conversation at a time. It’s no longer socially acceptable to talk about beating wives or using slaves, and someday soon it won’t be okay to eat babies.

Why vegans don't have kids.

*name changed for privacy, and fun

The Kind Diet

It’s such a dawg eat dog world out there these days, people assume that taking, killing, and gorging are part of the process of nourishing ourselves. But if you’ve ever pondered the thought: you are what you eat, the substances that you choose to ingest are not only forming your physical self, but your inner self. {If you’re not vegan, please don’t getcha back up here. Being Halloween and a peak emotional time for me, I’ve hit up a few Reese’s lately (although I’m sure if I had a bit more drive to bake, I could concoct something vegan just as good…)}

Alicia Silverstone’s new book: “The Kind Diet” is sort of the antithesis to “Skinny Bitch” while sharing the same knowledge. Getting older doesn’t have to mean getting fat and sick. I always knew that Cher would make it to the top. Now, if she could just make another good movie (instead of this Miss Match crap).Go Girl.



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