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October 16– “Enjoying the BEST chicken dinner — at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant.”
October 16– “Back for lunch, an amazing Cuban pork sandwich with homemade chips, so good — at Porto’s Bakery.”
October 15– “Onion loaf — at Tony Roma’s Ribs, Seafood & Steak.”
October 13– “Filet mignon with crab cakes. All gone.”
October 12– “Enjoying desserts — at Porto’s Bakery and Cafe in Burbank,CA.”
I’m just picturing what those poor tortured birds went through…
The response I got was this:
“Elisa, we get it. You don’t eat meat. Please keep your negativity to your own page. You are not going to change anyones mind.”
My second comment:
My “negativity” is simply the truth. Those birds were tortured for your meal…no doubt about it. Yes, you’re absolutely correct– I won’t change any minds that are closed to empathy and compassion. And yet– I have changed minds. Those people have told me so.
R.W.P’s next response was to “unfriend” me.
I’m going to expand on my original response here, now that I’ve had the chance to reflect for a while. Here are some questions and comments that come to mind.
- No, I don’t think R.W.P does “get it” at all. If he truly got “it,” then he wouldn’t be eating animals either.
- “It” is not about me. ”It” is not about what I eat. ”It” is about empathizing with other living beings and acting with compassion.
- What is the “we” all about? ”Elisa, we get it.” Is R.W.P attempting to speak for all of my non-vegan Facebook friends? Instead of the dialogue staying between us, is he recruiting his own imaginary crew of backers so that he can feel more supported in his animal consumption? As if animal consumers aren’t already in the majority? (Yet– in that one Facebook moment, there was just 1 animal advocate and 1 animal consumer.)
- Take notice of what R.W.P didn’t say. He didn’t say, “No, Elisa, you’re wrong. Those birds weren’t tortured.” Think about that.
- Did I spoil some of R.W.P’s palate pleasure with my negative truth telling? Did I temper his Facebooking enthusiasm by exposing the experience of the chicken underneath the breading? For even just a few seconds– did I force R.W.P to also picture what those poor tortured birds went through?
- I’m not going to change ANYone‘s mind? Not even one? What a horrible world to imagine
- I’m not going to change anyone’s minds about what? (“What” could mean just about anything.)
I’m noticing a pattern on Facebook. ”Keep it on your Facebook page.” R.W.P isn’t the first FB friend to type that, and he certainly won’t be the last. But, I’ve figured out one thing with certainty through this latest Facebook experience:
As long as my “voice” on behalf of animals stays on my Facebook page, then no one else has to “listen.” Close-minded people can just scroll down the page. Pretend not to see. Refuse to look. Deny.
On the other hand, when I comment on a friend’s Facebook page, it’s different. My voice, the animal’s voice, can no longer be ignored. The ugly, violent, bloody, negative (!) reality demands acknowledgement, whether the friend on the receiving end makes a written comment about it or not.
The “problem” for some people is that they’re suddenly forced to take some of the personal responsibility that they’d been avoiding. They can no longer pretend that they aren’t an active participant in the violence. They can no longer pass the buck. The buck just stopped with them. It’s threatening.
What might happen next? You get unfriended.
Bottom line: It’s not about me and it’s not about you. It’s about the bird. It’s about the living being. That piece of “chicken” belonged to an animal who cared about her own life. Please picture the kind of life that the chicken would have wanted. Please protect that life.
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” -Edward Everett Hale
Questions & Answers / Comments & Questions
[In this category of blog posts, I provide “Answers to Questions”...or I pose “Questions to Comments.” The quoted material will be actual, unedited statements directed toward me at one time or another.]
#1…Fart In The Wind
This comment was directed at me:
“I don’t understand how anyone that is so self righteous about an ethical issue like this can continue to justify their existence in the world today. Clearly living in any part of the developed world you are contributing to the exploitation of humans and other animals without exception. Being a strict vegan hardly matters if you are worried about exploitation of living beings unless you give up all the other trappings of this modern world. If a vegan were to give it all up and live off the grid and subsist entirely on crops that grew with out aid of petro or animal fertilizer I could have some respect for their opinion and righteous indignation. Otherwise it’s just like a fart in the wind.”
1. Is it **self-righteous to:
- Speak on behalf of exploited animals?
- Bring awareness to animal exploitation?
- State that exploiting others unnecessarily is wrong?
- Verbalize how exploitation can be prevented/abolished?
- Question people with difficult, but important questions?
- Ask people to take reasonable, practical, tangible actions to help animals?
- Advocate for positive change?
2. Is this person trying to make a case for why I should go back to consuming animals or why he shouldn’t have to go vegan?
3. If I can’t prevent every single instance of human or animal exploitation “without exception,” then is it pointless to make an attempt?
4. Should I kill myself or else stop being vegan? (Because simply by living, I consume, I use resources, and I have a negative carbon footprint on the world.)
5. Have I ever stated that going vegan means that vegans make a zero contribution to global human/animal exploitation? (The answer is no.)
6. Should I give up “all the other trappings” of this modern world or else stop being vegan?
7. Would I really gain the respect of this person if I “gave it all up, lived off the grid and subsisted entirely on crops I grew without aid of petro or animal fertilizer?”
8. Am I really stating an “opinion” when I point out the ways that animals are exploited…or when I state that animal-free alternatives do exist…or when I verbalize that animals would rather live than die if given the choice?
9. Is this person saying that my words are like a fart in the wind or that my impact living as a vegan is like a fart in the wind?
10. Speaking of farts…Is this person saying that farts in the wind are insignificant? What about the collective farts of all the dairy and beef cattle in the world? Are those farts impacting global climate change? Are cow farts just “farts in the wind?”
11. Should it matter to me if I gain the respect of someone who makes a comment such as this one? What do you think of this person’s comment?
**Definition: Self-righteousness (from Wikipedia)…
“Self-righteousness (also called sanctimoniousness, sententiousness, a holier-than-thou attitudes) is a feeling of (usually) smug moral superiority derived from a sense that one’s beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person.
The term “self-righteous” is often considered derogatory particularly because self-righteous individuals are often thought to exhibit hypocrisy due to the belief that humans are imperfect and can therefore never be infallible.”
Things That Make Me Go “Huh?”
EXHIBIT A: DAIRY RELIEF
While working with an elderly woman for therapy at the skilled nursing facility, I noticed this empty packet on her breakfast tray. It would appear that my patient is lactose intolerant, which means she produces insufficient levels of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose (milk sugar) into glucose and galactose.
This chewable tablet is taken for the purpose of being able to consume lactose– i.e. dairy products– without incurring the symptoms of lactose intolerance: abdominal bloating, cramps, gas, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
What is milk? Food for babies.
Once solid food is introduced, it’s the natural progression for mammals to wean off momma’s milk. People do it. Cows do it. Goats and sheep do it.
It’s natural to stop drinking milk after infancy (including the early toddler years). It’s normal to stop producing lactase, because you shouldn’t need lactase if you won’t be consuming lactose.
If you produce the lactace enzyme beyond the typical age of weaning, it’s called lactase persistence. Worldwide, lactace persistence is the exception, not the rule.
I grew up thinking it was normal to drink milk from cows. This is because I was indoctrinated by my dairy-consuming culture to think this way. I never questioned it because it was all that I knew. It never occurred to me that humans drinking cow’s milk is actually quite bizarre.
Alas, the dairy industry is a propaganda machine. So is Big Pharma.
Who concocted the idea that lactose intolerance– a normal biological process– should be considered a medical condition? Dairy producers? Drug companies? Both?
Brilliant, huh? Dairy producers are happy because they can keeping pushing dairy products on people. And pharmaceutical companies are more than happy to supply people with just the right pill to “pop.”
Dear Lactose Intolerant People,
THINK about it. You don’t need dairy products. Milk from a cow (or a goat or a sheep or any other animal) is not a dietary necessity for humans. If your body is telling you that you cannot properly digest lactose, then LISTEN and STOP. It really is that simple. And, not only are dairy products not necessary, but they are actually implicated in a variety of preventable human diseases.
There are also significant ethical problems with dairy, whether produced by small or large scale operations, and whether produced by conventional or organic dairies.
I haven’t consumed animal milk for nearly 4 years. Weaning off animal milk is much easier than you might think. Once you take dairy out of your diet, you might just say “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
I am happy to help anyone who needs help weaning off dairy. Contact me.
In closing, taking a pill– Dairy Relief– to digest a substance that is completely unnecessary in the human diet just makes me want to go “Huh?”
An Essay on Consistency…
Sooner or later, people who abstain from consuming animal products will listen to friends, acquaintances, or family members declare, “I only buy humane meat,” or “I only buy free-range eggs,” or “I only buy organic milk.” These are the actual words spoken.
“I only buy humane meat, etc” could be one person’s response to some horrific undercover video footage or another’s solution to factory farming. The health-conscious say this in the context of minimizing exposure to rBGH, E-Coli O157:H7 or BSE. Environmentalists might include the word “sustainable.” Followers of Michael Pollan make this statement in support of the family farmer.
When I hear “I only buy humane meat, etc,” I also hear the following unspoken messages: “Hey look, I’m doing something,” “I care about the animals, too,” and “I recognize there is a problem.” I would like to respond to both the spoken words and the unspoken messages.
“I only buy humane meat.” Really? So when you go out to restaurants, what do you order? What kind of pizza do you get? On the road, do you occasionally opt for the convenience of a fast-food restaurant drive-through? In the grocery store, what choices do you make when buying canned soups or frozen entrees? Do you always check labels?
“I only buy free-range eggs.” “I only buy organic milk.” Ok. When you go out for breakfast, what do you have? Do you ever get a pastry at the coffee shop? Do you ask your barista about the milk in your espresso? How about an ice cream cone on a summer day? What about the cheese in your sandwich, taco, or salad? Grocery shelves are lined with baked, packaged, and processed foods containing egg and milk ingredients. Is what you buy free-range and organic? Are you that selective?
These are the types of questions that come to my mind when I hear someone say, “I only buy humane meat, etc.” My first reaction is, “I’m not sure about that.” Chances are, you don’t only buy humane meat, etc. If you truly did, you would be reading labels, asking questions about ingredients, and eating like vegans do nearly all of the time because the vast majority of animal-derived foods do not proclaim to be “humane,” “free-range,” “organic,” ‘”sustainable,” or “grass-fed.”
“But,” you say, “I didn’t mean EVERYTHING I buy is humane/free-range/organic/etc.” Exactly. My point is that consistency is lost. Being true to your own word is meaningless. Whether you say you “only buy humane meat” because of the animal cruelty videos, the factory farms, your health, the environment, the family farmers or some other reason, please take a critical look at whether you are actually doing it. If you say you do something, then do it consistently.
My second reaction when I hear “I only buy humane meat, etc” is, “So, what?” What do labels like “humane,” “free-range,” “organic” (as applied to meat and milk), and “sustainable” really mean? Do you know? Do you want to know? What do you think they mean? What are you hoping they mean? Why do you care?
The first answer to the question “What do the labels mean?” is “Not much.” The second answer is, “It doesn’t matter.” “Humane” doesn’t matter because unnecessary killing can’t be humane. “Free-range” doesn’t matter because it’s still slavery. “Organic milk” doesn’t matter because cow’s milk belongs to baby cows, not humans. “Grass-fed” doesn’t matter because grass is what the cows would be eating if we would just leave them alone in the first place.
None of these labels matter to me. Animals should not be the property of humans. Animals are not things, they are sentient beings. Animals belong to themselves. They deserve the basic right to live their own lives. The problem is not “how” we use animals, the problem is “that” we use animals.
When you say “I only eat humane meat, etc,” is that really what you do? Is that really what you want to do? Or, are you actually just saying, “Hey look, I’m doing something,” or “I care about the animals, too,” or “I recognize there is a problem.”? If you indeed want to do something, then act. If you do care about the animals, then really care. Go vegan. If you do recognize there is a problem, then don’t deny it. Learn more about it, take action, and be consistent.
In closing, being consistent does not make you “radical” or “extreme,” although people who abstain from consuming all animal products are often called these things. Acting consistently on principle simply shows integrity. Being consistent demonstrates conviction and the willingness to stand up for something that is important, no matter what. Consistency in action is necessary for positive change. Be consistent, yes. But please leave the animals alone.
I only buy humane meat. It is 100% plant-derived. It is humane meat.
(Picture taken while mountain biking in Roslyn, WA, Sept 24, 2011)
Milk a bean, milk a grain, milk a nut, milk a seed, milk a drupe (yes, a drupe!), but please don’t milk an animal. When people consume milk from lactating animals, the first thing you should ponder is what is baby cow– baby goat– baby sheep– drinking? What happens to the baby animals? What happens to momma cow– momma goat– momma sheep when her overworked reproductive system stops being “profitable”? The bad news is that the answers aren’t pretty.
The good news is that non-dairy milk options are plentiful. It’s easier than you might think to wean off animal milk. There is no nutritional need for animal milk in the human diet!
Go to the non-dairy milk section of your local store and you’ll notice an ever-increasing array of plant milks: Soy milk, rice milk, oat milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, hemp milk, coconut milk..even flax milk! There are different brands of each type of milk. There are different varieties within the types of plant milks..like plain, vanilla, chocolate, unsweetened, fortified. If you don’t like one, try another. Find your favorite!
Holiday flavors (YUM!) – Pumpkin Spice, Chocolate Peppermint, Nog
Make your “own” milk: it’s easy to do and you needn’t endure a long pregnancy and painful delivery. It’s also less expensive than packaged milk and more eco-friendly. Personally, I don’t like the aftertaste of packaged almond milks but I love homemade almond milk. I encourage you to make your own nut and rice milks. Here’s how I do it…
First, make sure you have a batch of cooked short grain brown rice on hand. I make up a batch and freeze portions in 1/2 cup glass jam jars. One cup (dried) rice will make enough for 7 batches of milk.
You must use short grain rice! You don’t want your milk to have a gritty sediment, do you? What’s the difference between long and short grains? The answer is in the percentage of the starches amylose and amylopectin. (I first learned about them from chef Alton Brown…thanks, A.B.!)
Long grain rice has a higher percentage of amylose. Amylose makes the rice cook up dry, firm and separate. Amylose is insoluble in water. Rice milk made from long grains has more of a “gritty” sediment. The resulting milk is more watery, less creamy = not good!
Short grain rice has a higher percentage of amylopectin. It releases starch when cooking, resulting in a moist, soft and sticky grain. The resulting milk will be creamy without a gritty sediment = good!
On to the nuts…pick your favorite raw nut. I like to use Brazil nuts, but sometimes I mix it up and use cashews, almonds, or hazelnuts.
Nut Rice Milk (my own creation):
Soak 1/3 cup raw nuts and 2 pitted dates into 4 cups water for 4-8 hours. Blend the water, nuts and dates with 1/2 cup cooked short grain rice and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a VitaMix blender or other “sporty” blender. (I don’t know if it would work with a wimpy blender!) Frothy, healthy, affordable and delicious! I don’t strain my milk. I simply shake, then pour.
My personal favorite is mixing my homemade nut rice milk with packaged soy milk in a 50-50 ratio. That’s just me! You do what you gotta do…as long as you leave the animals alone!