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On February 27th, Alex Jamieson made a huge public admission:
Please read the aforementioned blog post now.
Ok. Now my reaction…
Alex is right about one thing: This is a shock.
Alex is wrong about another thing: I don’t feel hopeful and I’m not breathing a sigh of relief.
Yes, I do appreciate her honesty about the whole thing, but I can’t help but find her blog post deeply disturbing on a number of levels.
I will try to enumerate them here. I’m going to list my reactions in no particular order, in an attempt to allow my thoughts to flow out more easily.
Alex was “vegan” for thirteen years. That’s no short amount of time. It disturbs me to imagine how someone who has lived the vegan lifestyle for that long could ever return to a diet that includes animals.
Alex states that some of her health coach clients were “sicker and heavier after going vegan than they were before.”
What does this even mean?
This is disturbing because there is not one “vegan diet.” There are innumerable ways to construct a balanced diet without animal products. Such a general statement about the implied failure of “the vegan diet” does nothing to pinpoint exactly what foods her clients were or were not eating.
It’s perfectly normal to have cravings. I’m sure there are plenty of vegans who have cravings for every imaginable variety of animal product. A craving that comes up at the beginning of one’s veganism isn’t necessarily any different than a craving that comes up later on.
Remember– Most of us do not go vegan or initiate a vegan diet because we stopped liking the taste of animal products!
I personally know of one vegan who has admitted repeatedly that his desire for meat never went away after he went vegan over 10 years ago. To this day, he continues to enjoy the sight and smell of meat. But, he does not give in to his cravings, because he chooses to align his actions with his ethical position. He is vegan for animal rights.
We don’t have to turn craving into consumption!
I honestly feel sorry for Alex. I feel sorry for the inner turmoil she obviously endured for so long. I believe that she did have every intention of staying with her vegan diet.
But– Why didn’t Alex seek support from other committed vegans right at the beginning of her struggle? Why did she go it alone?
I don’t agree with her solution!
It’s distressing that craving (i.e taste, palate pleasure) appears to be Alex’s only or primary motivation for going back to eating animals after thirteen years. This is made clear throughout Alex’s blog post:
“The impulse to order salmon instead of salad with tofu at my favorite restaurant was overwhelming.”
“I told no one of my own cravings for meat or fish or eggs.”
“I had to experience how it felt to eat animal foods again, if only to prove to myself that it wasn’t really all that good.”
“I would secretly visit restaurants or stores and buy “contraband” animal foods, scurry home, and savor the food in solitude.”
I just can’t fully agree with the statement,
“Trusting your body, living your truth, whether it be vegan, part-time vegan, flexitarian and carnivore is all inherently good.”
This is not about good vs bad. Let’s throw out those words altogether and talk about the real issue.
From the animal’s point of view, there is a very distinct difference between vegan and flexitarian. From the animal’s point of view it’s literally a matter of life or death. Staying vegan means something. Being consistent means something!
The above statement is troubling. People can just eat whatever they want and feel good about whatever that happens to be?
So– if my “body” craves bacon and I “live my truth” by eating bacon, then it’s all “good”?
Ask the pig how good it is.
It’s very sad to know that many people will use Alex’s story as an excuse to never go vegan. Certain people will reject veganism without ever having any personal experience with it at all.
Similarly, certain “vegans” and vegetarians will undoubtedly use Alex’s story as an excuse to go back to eating animal products themselves.
Do you think I’m making this up?
In the beginning and at the end, Alex was vegan for health reasons. She said it herself:
“13 years ago, when I decided to eat a vegan diet and live a vegan lifestyle, I did it for my health.”
Although Alex did align herself with other, valid reasons for “living the vegan lifestyle” (i.e. animal welfare, global hunger, and global warming), she didn’t appear to be vegan for reasons of animal rights.
For the sake of simplicity, I’m defining “animal rights” as the idea that all animals have a basic right not to be used, exploited, and killed. Animals are not commodities. Each being is owner of his/her own body.
Although I’m upset by this news from Alex, I probably shouldn’t be too surprised by it. Alex used to eat a vegan diet. Now she doesn’t. Alex used to have health reasons. Now she doesn’t.
CONCLUSION: ANIMAL RIGHTS!
If people who “go vegan” or “eat a vegan diet” do not also believe in “animal rights,” then those people will– just like Alex– be at risk of one day returning to using, exploiting and killing animals.
I believe this 100%:
People who are really, truly and fully vegan for the one, core reason of “animals rights” will NEVER go back to being non-vegan.
Never, ever. It simply can’t happen.
I didn’t write this blog post to pick on Alex.
I’m writing this blog post to make this final point absolutely clear:
The focus of veganism must stay on the ANIMALS. The animals are the ones who are used, exploited and killed unnecessarily. Veganism is about helping THEM.
On January 18, 2013, I got my second tattoo, by the lovely Savannah Beck at Mordor Tattoo.
My first tattoo was “Vegan,” on the top of my right wrist. The second is “269,” on the inside of my left wrist. I chose to have these vegan tattoos inscribed where they are visible to others every day of the year. The purpose is to facilitate a dialogue with people who may be interested in veganism. My primary motive is to help end the unnecessary exploitation and killing of non-human animals. A secondary motive is to attract like-minded people into my circle of friendship.
Please visit the 269life website to learn more about the global 269 movement.
Here is the powerful 269 mission statement:
“The nameless, faceless victims whose bodies are used to feed us, obviously had desires and feelings before their throats were slit open with cold, calculated brutality. It’s strange, we define ourselves as a “law abiding, moral” society, and yet routinely massacre innocent beings.
The branding of the calf’s number, chosen by the industry to be “269″, is for us, an act of solidarity and immortalization. We hope to be able to raise awareness and empathy towards those, whose cries of terror and pain are only heard by steel bars and the blood stained walls of the slaughterhouses.
We are all equal in our suffering, and if humanity has any chance of surviving and evolving, we must accept that oppression of the weak – whether excused by gender, race or species – lacks any rationality and fundamental sensitivity towards those who may not cry out using our language, but feel pain no less than us.
So we ask: What will happen with the individual numbered “269″?
Is his life not more meaningful than a pointless, sanguinary practice?”
Oh, Joy! The circus came to town again in Everett, WA. This was my second year protesting at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. There were a total of 7 shows at the Comcast Arena this year:
- 1 on Thursday 8/23
- 1 on Friday 8/24
- 3 on Saturday 8/25
- 2 on Sunday 8/26
Why do I protest the circus?
Because I don’t think animals belong in the circus, period. Animals are not consenting performers. Animals in the circus are captive slaves. Corporate entities have no right to exploit animals for their own profit. Animals do not exist for the purpose of entertaining people.
It’s frustrating to listen to claims that ignorant people make– that circus animals are “all treated with great love and attention.” I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or bash my head against the wall when I hear that!
“Treatment” is not the issue for me. No degree of welfare regulation will ever make it okay to dominate elephants, big cats and other animals for a life of servitude. These animals deserve the right to live their own lives. Just like “humane meat” is an oxymoron, so is the fantasy concept of a humane animal circus.
- Cruel treatment IS a reality and has been well documented. Check out www.ringlingbeatsanimals.com
- Circus training techniques are inherently abusive.
- The tour schedule and travel logistics alone are inherently cruel.
Think about #3, the tour schedule for a circus animal…
“Circus animals” (elephants, big cats, horses, llamas, and goats) are on the road week after week, month after month, and year after year. Each tour city has multiple show dates. Between shows, the animals travel to the next city.
We are all well aware of how stressful tour schedules can be for human performers in music, right? Yet, even human stage performers don’t go on tour year after year, for their whole lives.
Now that the show in Everett is over, the “Gold Tour” will continue traveling on…
Kent, WA…8/31 – 9/03
Nampa, ID…9/07 – 9/09
Portland, OR…9/13 – 9/16
Billings, MT…9/20 – 9/23
Bismarck, ND…9/28 – 9/30
Des Moines, IA…10/04 – 10/07
Peoria, IL…10/12 – 10/14
Champaign, IL…10/19 – 10/21
Bethlehem, PA…10/25 – 10/28
Wilkes Barre, PA…11/01 – 11/04
Meanwhile, 2 other groups of voluntary human performers and involuntary animal performers are traveling in other parts of the U.S. in the “Blue Tour” and “Red Tour.” It looks like these money-making tours will never end.
This nightmare for animals won’t end unless caring people will make a stand en masse. People everywhere need to show up at the circus arenas in protest– refusing to support, refusing to fund, refusing to attend these barbaric shows.
Read how Ringling Bros. performs some moral gymnastics…attempting to bend, twist and stretch blatant animal cruelty into a benign form of “happy” family entertainment. The following quoted excerpts are from the Animal Care FAQ page of the www.ringling.com website. My questions and comments are indicated by the >>>>
“Ringling Bros. exceeds all federal animal welfare standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Animal Welfare Act.”
>>>> If that is true, then how come Ringling was slapped with the largest penalty in circus history? (Click the link to learn more.)
>>>> View this video of an elephant swaying neurotically. Is this the behavior of a thriving animal? (Footage was taken by a fellow protester at the Everett show.)
“We can’t say it enough: Ringling Bros. loves animals as much as you do!”
>>>> Wrong. Ringling can “say it” all they want, but a lie is still a lie. Actions speak much, much louder than words. Love and exploitation cannot coexist. The only thing that Ringling “loves” is the money that the animals bring.
Only *YOU* can stop the unnecessary exploitation of sentient beings.
My mom sent me this newspaper article in the mail. “Bringing Home the Bacon” was published in the Bend Bulletin on August 5, 2012. The short article was about Central Oregon youth auctioning off their livestock at the Deschutes County Fair.
The article sharply demonstrates how youth in 4-H are quickly taught that money has a higher value than life.
“The kids go home with a big check, more than $5000 for those who raised the biggest, most prized cattle. Most of the cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits and poultry bought by local residents, businesses and civic groups will go to the slaughterhouse and find their way to the dinner table in the coming days and months.”
“Sonna said it’s a bit difficult to part with Gus after spending nearly a year raising him, but the money she’ll make out of the deal makes it a bit easier to accept.”
“I just picture him as a big check.”
I’m glad the 10 year old feels a little better with money in hand. I’d hate to see a child in pain. But, do you think she learned any lessons about trust in this transaction? Gus endured the ultimate breach of trust, for $3.90 per pound.
A 17 year old in the article said,
“You can’t look at them like a dog, like your pet. From the beginning, that’s their purpose in life — they’re just part of the food chain.”
Isn’t it sad that children are brainwashed into thinking that killing and consuming animals is an absolutely necessary part of human nutrition? I haven’t eaten animals for years. I don’t need to. And neither do you.
Like their parents before them, children grow up not ever questioning whether it’s actually justifiable to bring animals into the world, just to turn around and take their lives away a few short months or years later.
We also witness powerful evidence of speciesism:
“…some kids have a tougher time than others letting go of the animals they’ve spent months raising. Much of it depends on the animal — pigs are affectionate and reasonably easy to grow fond of…but sheep…are less intelligent and much easier to view as meat in the making.”
I must ask:
Should our moral obligation toward other living beings really hedge on arbitrary criteria like form, temperament, and intelligence? Don’t dogs, pigs, and sheep possess equal interest in avoiding harm?
Now let’s switch gears. Let’s go forward in time. Children in 4-H grow up. Listen to the words of one such 64 year-old man…
Fred Lundren is the owner and CEO of KCAA AM 1050 radio in Southern California. He is a former cattle rancher who went vegan earlier this year. His interesting interview with Bob Linden can be heard on the June 17, 2012 episode of “Go Vegan With Bob Linden.”
Fred grew up in the 4-H culture. At about 26 minutes into the podcast, Fred recounts his own childhood indoctrination by the 4-H club:
“Well, it’s supposed to teach us to use animals as a product. It’s just designed to do that, and it’s done quite well. But it had an opposite affect on me.
I was actually president of our 4-H club, and an officer in FFA. And, I got a Lone Star farmer degree in Animal Science. So I’ve been there and done that, and raised animals for a living…”
“In 1965 I raised a champion steer at the Austin Livestock Show. And, when I was leading that steer up the ramp to the trailer where it was gonna go to slaughter, it was hesitant, but I convinced it to do so. I took the halter off of it…it walked up into the trailer, and then when it got inside the trailer it turned around and belIowed at me. And that was the moment that I realized what I was doing.”
At 40 minutes:
“…For all my life, I have ignored that episode from my youth when I actually saw the animal respond to me in a knowing way. And, like most people we just block it out. We eat our BBQ, we eat our hamburgers, we eat our steaks. And, as a matter of fact, I was born and raised in what’s known as the sausage capital of Texas: Elgin. And they have 3 sausage factories there. And you can imagine how much beef I’ve eaten in my life.”
“…I had to slaughter one calf in my life…and I will never do that again.”
“When I became a vegan, something changed, not only in my metabolism, but in my way of thinking. Because about a month ago, my wife and daughter ordered a steak. And of course I ate broccoli and beans and peas and everything vegan for the evening. But, in the middle of the night I thought, “you know, I wonder”..and they had some steaks leftover, and they had it in a plastic bag, and I says, “I wonder how that would taste.” And I went to the refrigerator, I looked in the refrigerator and that steak looked like dead flesh to me. It did not look like a steak. And I thought, “My God, I need to call Bob and tell him.””
I think it’s appropriate to end this post with the core principles from 4-H:
Head, Heart, Hands, and Health are the four Hs in 4-H, and they are the four values members work on through fun and engaging programs.
Head – Managing, Thinking
Heart – Relating, Caring
Hands – Giving, Working
Health – Being, Living
The 4-H Pledge
I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.”
(Reference: 4-H website)
My commute to work shares the path of “chicken trucks” en route to the Draper Valley Farms slaughterhouse. (The sanitized name is “Processing Plant.”) Depending on the time I go into work, I may see a truck carrying live birds to their deaths about once a week. Occasionally, I see live birds in the morning, and then a truck carrying dead birds in the evening…
12/13/11…Today at 8:30 AM I saw the ‘chicken truck’ driving north carrying live birds to this “processing plant.” At 6:00 PM tonight, I saw a “Draper Valley Farms” truck driving south carrying the refrigerated body parts of those same birds. What I want to know is this…
At what time did those beings experience the first pains of “processing?” At what time were the frightened birds grabbed– by the fistful– by men unloading their metal cages? When were they hung upside down on hooks? When did the first one experience broken bones? At what time did they realize they would die? At what time did they hit the electrified bath? When did the first bird miss the automatic throat-slitting machine & go to the scalder alive? At what time did the ‘backup slaughterer’ start his shift? When were the birds’ heads pulled off? Feet & feathers removed? Eviscerated? When did the feces start to spray all over? When did the carcasses commune in the refrigerated water? When were these birds chopped up and packaged in cellophane?
AND…At what time will the delivery truck driver unload the neat little blood-free packages at the back door of the grocery store? At what time will the stocker arrange the stacks of flesh? When will the first customer come to pick through the piles of breasts, thighs or legs? At what time will the grocery patron complain that chicken is just getting too “expensive?”
AND…When will that same grocery patron make the connection that IN these packages were birds who were exploited, abused, hurt and killed for NO good reason. WHEN?? When will he go vegan? When will she go vegan? God, I hope it’s soon.
Chickens killed unnecessarily on 12/26/11…
Chickens killed unnecessarily on 12/27/11…
Chickens killed unnecessarily on January 4, 2012…
For more about these birds, please read Chicken Dinners
Monday, May 14, 2012
Today I was rollerblading on a paved trail near my house. The side of the path had been freshly mowed. There, I saw about 5 dead baby possums who must have been killed by the mower. There was no blood, and the bodies were intact. I think they were crushed.
Seeing them made me think about all the animals killed during the production of food crops: field mice, moles, rabbits and others, who unknowingly get in the way of the farm machinery.
Some people like to use the fact that “animals die in the harvesting of plants” as an argument to discredit a vegan’s decision to leave animals off her plate. I respond: Should I go back to eating animals because I can’t help the small mammals who meet their untimely deaths out in the farm fields?
If I can’t help it that a bird got killed by my car while driving, does it mean that I should go back to eating chickens? No. I don’t want to kill either bird: not a sparrow by accident or a chicken on purpose. I want to cause as little harm as humanly possible.
Animals who are killed for food don’t just magically grow big and plump without eating. Animals who are intentionally killed are fed plants first. The two main “animal feed” crops in animal agriculture are corn and soybeans. A high percentage are genetically modified and heavily sprayed with pesticides.
Animals eat plants and then people eat the animals. More animal death is caused by eating animals than by simply eating plants directly. Eat organic, non-GMO plants whenever possible.
What about “grass-fed” animals, you ask? The fact is, grass-fed livestock are rarely 100% grass-fed. Pastured livestock are raised on grassy pastures, but their diet is supplemented with grains, especially in colder climates. Pastured cows, bison, pigs, turkeys and chickens are typically at least partially grain-fed even when they’re called “free-range,” “organic,” “heirloom,” and “heritage.”
In addition, numerous animals– wild horses, badgers, black bears, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, foxes, wolves, opossum, raccoons, skunks, beavers, nutrias, porcupines, prairie dogs, black birds, cattle egrets, and starlings– are killed for the purpose of “protecting” ranchers’ interests (i.e. their livestock, their livelihood.)
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Wildlife Services (WS) has been tasked to “help people resolve wildlife damage to a wide variety of resources.” (In this case, “resources” means cattle. The cattle are physically protected up until the time they are slaughtered.) Wildlife Services (WS) uses the following methods of “resolution”: poisoning, trapping, snaring, denning (denning = pouring kerosene into a den, setting fire to it, and burning young animals alive), shooting, and aerial gunning.
Back to my point.
Yes, even in the “best case scenario,” a certain percentage of animals will be killed through not so pain-free methods: Animals are hit by cars, bugs get squashed, critters are unfortunate victims of combine harvesters and lawnmowers, and animals are routinely consumed by other animals.
I highly doubt that people routinely go into grocery stores thinking– while picking up pork chops– “Well I couldn’t save that possum from being killed by the mower, so I might as well be the reason this pig had to die.”
That’s not how it works. People typically select animal products because 1) animal products taste good, 2) people are accustomed to buying animal products, and 3) people may mistakenly believe that animal products are essential to a healthy diet.
I think that people who use the “animals die in the harvesting of plants” line of reasoning are simply looking for an excuse to continue consuming animals without feeling a sense of guilt.
Bottom line: it all comes down to daily choices. We can choose to cause animals unnecessary pain and suffering or we can choose to try our best not to cause harm.
When shopping for food, we can all choose fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. We can strive to choose whole, organic, non-GMO foods. We can all avoid animal products– including, but not limited to– chickens, pigs, cows, fishes, eggs, milk and cheese.
“Experience the Cabela’s Adventure Today” -Cabela’s website
A new Cabela’s store opened April 19, 2012 in Tulalip, Washington. “Hunting. Fishing. Outdoor Gear. World’s Foremost Outfitter.” Oh, joy. Exactly what the world needs more of: glorification of animal killing.
“Walk through the main door and look up to see two mounted Orcas chasing a school of Chinook.” -HeraldNet
Since opening day, the parking lot’s been constantly packed. I know this because I drive past the place every time I drive to and from work. (Between the Tulalip Tribe Resort/Casino, the new Cabela’s and the adjacent Seattle Premium Outlets (outlet mall), there is no evidence that I can see of our “down economy.” But, I digress.)
“Displays will feature 200 animal mounts, including bears, elk, grouse and otters.” -HeraldNet
There is a banner displayed on the outside of the store: “Personal Defense & Home Protection.”
Let me see if I’ve got this straight: You’re the quintessential Cabela’s customer. You enter the store to buy items that are specifically designed to– track, sight, call, bait, lure, decoy, catch, shoot, target, kill, gut, skin, butcher, season, cure, brine, grill, dehydrate, smoke, grind, slice, and vacuum seal– living, breathing, sentient animals who are simply minding their own business, trying to survive and thrive. Right so far?
You– Mr. Average Joe Hunter & Mr Average Bob Fisherman– go out in nature with all of your Cabela’s “goods” with the hope that something– someone– will die at your hands. If the purchased items fulfill their intended purposes, then lives will be taken.
You want to take the life of an animal. It’s not your life, it’s his life (or hers). But you want it for yourself. His body belongs to him, but you don’t care. You feel entitled to it. You don’t consider his needs, only your own wants. You don’t empathize with the animal, despite the fact that he will fight to survive in whatever situation becomes threatening to him.
How ironic that…
When you navigate the world, you want to remain comfortable. You seek contentment. You know that your life is your own. Your body belongs to you. You withdraw from pain. You don’t want to be hurt, and you don’t want to be killed. You will defend yourself against threats to your safety and the safety of your family. Maintain “PERSONAL DEFENSE.”
When you come home, you expect that your shelter will be undisturbed. You don’t want others to take that which does not belong to them. You assume that your belongings are secure because “what’s yours is yours.” Maintain “HOME PROTECTION.”
Sorry, I don’t get it.
You want to take the life of another, but you don’t want to have the same circumstance visited upon yourself? It makes no sense to me whatsoever. Can’t you see the contradiction? Can’t you choose to live in a better way? If you think you have the courage to do so, then I can help show you how. Let me help you.
“This is freaking impressive,” said Tyler Schmidt, a 16-year-old from Arlington making his first visit to a Cabela’s store. “When I die, this is where I want to go.” -Marysville Globe
I like this comedy bit from Ellen Degeneres about hunting:
Beware! There’s a new children’s book coming out this week. It’s called “Vegan is Love: Having Heart & Taking Action,” by Ruby Roth. A book about living compassionately surely needs a warning label, don’t you think? Fortunately, the U.S. media’s version of that label aired on Friday, April 20th on NBC’s The Today Show.
The show’s pre-recorded segment with Ruby Roth about her new book was a positive portrayal of vegan parenting. Ruby’s young stepdaughter indicated that her favorite food is KALE. Impressive! Fortunately, the nutritional integrity of a healthy vegan diet for children was not called into question…because it shouldn’t be.
Instead…great “concerns” were voiced by the 2 in-studio guests regarding the supposed use of “scare tactics” in the book (surrounding food as well as other issues of animal exploitation, such as animal testing.) To hear the guests speak, you’d think that Ruby’s book will scar children for life:
“There is so much fear in this book.” “Why do we have to scare them?” The book is “teaching kids to fear food.” Fear, guilt, “graphic pictures:” Very scary stuff.
But who is really afraid of this stuff? Is it really the children? Will they seriously be harmed by a book that honestly exposes them to the real world? Are children so fragile that they cannot handle the truth about animal exploitation, when it is presented with gentle candor and realistic illustrations? Will children truly react negatively, or will they logically respond with compassion and concern? Won’t children want to help animals and take action? I don’t think we give children nearly enough credit.
I think the adults are the fearful ones. Fearful and feeling guilty. It’s actually the adults who can’t bear to look at graphic pictures of animal slaughter. Adults won’t listen to the truth about unnecessary animal exploitation. Adults are resistant to change. Adults don’t want their routines disrupted, their palate pleasure disturbed, or their minds opened.
Are adults– parents– most of all afraid of having their own apathy exposed? If, for example, their children reads the book elsewhere and comes home to share the cruel truths with them…what then? How will they justify their own complicity in the violence? How will they try to convince their children that they do care when maybe they really don’t? Or, if they genuinely care, then how will they explain the hypocrisy in their actions? Children are quite capable of recognizing inconsistencies.
Let’s stop pretending to worry about the children. They’re just fine. Children are inherently open-minded, curious, and adaptable. Children very easily grasp the basic concept of Veganism, which is about non-harming. Young children, in particular, naturally consider animals their friends. Why would they want to hurt their friends?
“Vegan is Love” gently asks young readers to take personal responsibility in the form of taking actions that help make the world a better place for animals. Children are not afraid to do that. They are not fearful. Adults could learn a lot from children.
Here is a perfect example of what I’m talking about, written by my vegan friend from Indonesia:
“I did a talk on Veganism to a bunch of 7 year olds. They totally get it. We also went to a local market in Indonesia and one of the kids happened to see a chicken killed. During the subsequent talk about what happened, children mentioned how horrible that was. I said, I know, but how to you think the meat comes to you? One little girl said, ‘I think it’s mean. That chicken wants to have a family and look after its babies too!’ I said ‘I agree with you,’ and she said, completely off her own back, ‘I don’t think I want to eat animals either!’ Kids get it.”
Check out Ruby Roth’s website here: http://wedonteatanimals.com/
(Picture is my copy of Ruby Roth’s first book, “That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals”)
The problem is animal exploitation. The solution is Veganism.
Step 1: You. Change must start with YOU. First you go vegan. You stop consuming animals, wearing animals, and buying products made of animals or tested on animals. You stop going to venues using animals to entertain. You stop accepting that animals are just commodities to use. You start thinking about animals as individuals with their own interests. Simple.
Step 2: NOW WHAT?? Now that you’ve changed, what do you do next? Do you leave it at that? Or, do you speak up and try to help effect change in others? Remember – the point of going vegan isn’t to join a “club” that follows a strict set of “rules.” The point is to help solve a very serious social justice problem.
Solving problems of gargantuan proportion depends on the collective effort of many. No “group” is more oppressed than non-human animals. For the human culture to stop conceptualizing animals as primarily “things to consume” is going to take a monumental push for change.
- To urge forward or urge insistently; pressure: “Push a child to study harder.”
- To extend or enlarge: “Push society past the frontier.”
- To promote or sell: “The author pushed her latest book.”
So who is pushing for change? Vegans. Non-vegans won’t do it. Vegetarians won’t do it. Vegans are the only ones advocating 100% for the rights of animals not to be used.
Passionate vegans work for the greater good. By promoting Veganism, we “urge” others to act with fairness toward sentient beings. We put “pressure” on the status quo. We ask others to “enlarge” their circle of compassion to include all animals. We “promote” non-violence. These are good things. Yet, passionate, active, vocal vegans are frequently called “pushy.”
- offensively assertive or forceful
- marked by aggressive ambition and energy and initiative
Hmm…pushy sounds bad. So how did we get from “push” to “pushy?” How did we get from the words, “urge forward / extend / promote” to “offensive” and “aggressive?”
I think it has more to do with how non-vegans react to being challenged than anything else. I don’t think it really matters what the frequency– the content– the delivery method– of the vegan message is. The vegan message itself is considered inherently “aggressive” in a culture where animal exploitation is ubiquitous. Where animal slaughter is condoned, those who speak in protest are considered the “offensive” ones. All a vegan has to do is open his or her mouth to be labelled “pushy.” No one minds a quiet vegan!
Push…pushy. It doesn’t really matter. The bottom line is we have a long way to go to shift the paradigm. The animals need our help so we can’t keep quiet. So, spreaders of the vegan message: Keep pushing for change…you pushy, pushy vegans!
(Picture taken September 12, 2011 at the Ringling Circus protest in Everett, WA)