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Have you ever been to a typical North American “ski-in, ski-out” village? Vegan-friendly dining isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
If you look around the village at Big White (and elsewhere), it’s obvious that every restaurant serves up meat, meat, and more meat. It’s exasperating and depressing.
“Vegetarian” doesn’t necessarily mean “veganizable.” It’s typically code for cheese, cheese and more cheese.
Vegan skiers, don’t despair. You can have a perfectly powder-licious ski experience and find some great vegan grub at the same time. All it takes is a little sleuthing.
Here’s the on-mountain restaurant listing for Big White.
Our trip to Big White was short (3 days). If we stayed longer, there are other places we would also try. Next time!
Check out where we did eat (and drink!)…
BEANO’S COFFEE PARLOUR
LOTUS LOUNGE – THAI CUISINE
(Don’t forget to request “no fish sauce” when dining at Thai restaurants.
Expect the food to be spicy, so speak up if you want the heat turned down.)
Vegetable Thai Spring Rolls:
Mixed Vegetables in a vermicelli wrap, fried golden, served with sweet and sour plum and tamarind sauce.
Thai Yellow Curry:
Thai yellow curry in coconut milk with potato, onion, carrots and pineapple
Black Bean Tofu:
Tofu with bean sprouts, garlic and fresh chilies in a black bean sauce
SANTÉ BAR – APRÈS-SKI
Muddled cucumber, lime, black pepper, gin and soda
I (unintentionally) had a green drink theme going on for St Patrick’s Day weekend.
The steamed edamame was green, too. And it was addicting!
Veggie Pizza, no cheese (substitute extra sauce and another topping for the cheese)
For tips on eating vegan breakfast in your hotel room, see the previous post, “Ski Breakfast & Morning Powder.”
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.
This restaurant in Stanwood needs a LOT of help in the “veganizing” department. (Check the online menu to see for yourself )
However– I dine here from time to time with my non-vegan family. Fortunately my husband and I always end up satisfied with our vegan meal.
We order the large vegetarian pizza. We prefer to substitute spinach for the mushrooms and we ask for artichokes instead of the cheese. Our colorful pizza always elicits comments, such as…
“THAT LOOKS GOOD!”
Yes, it does. It tastes good, too! We never take leftovers home.
Despite eating half of the pizza…
…without that huge brick of cheese and meat in the belly, I always leave the restaurant feeling satisfied but still light and energenic!
Why don’t YOU try a vegan pizza today?
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
I did a home safety assessment for a patient at work today. I went with her & her husband to their rural home that includes a small herd (i.e. <25) of cows raised for meat. Having never been in this particular situation before, I was keenly interested to learn everything I could about the fate of those animals. I watched the cows innocently & peacefully grazing on grass as my patient was more than happy to answer all my questions.
By anyone’s definition, this is about as “humane” as an animal farm can get. The bulls are not castrated, so the breeding is natural. The cows have a lovely green pasture with a beautiful view of trees & mountains in a location w/ a mild climate. A mobile unit comes to the farm to slaughter the animals on site. The animals are killed when not much more than ~18 months (“so that the meat doesn’t get too tough”…and older animals are only “good” for hamburger.) The animal’s body is hauled off to a butcher shop in a nearby city for about a week of aging (she called it “hanging”) & then processing into the various meat cuts.
This will be the last herd that my patient & her husband will have because they are both elderly & it’s getting to be too much work for them. She also admitted that for health reasons everyone in her family is eating less beef so it is clearly not a necessary food source. She clearly has a certain fondness for her animals & yet her speaking tone was matter of fact and clinical.
I found the whole experience quite unsettling. Since going vegan, I have never needed confirmation, but yet being there confirmed in my mind that I am on the right track. If this little family farm is AS good as it gets, I still don’t want any part of it. I looked at the eyes of those animals. I put myself in their situation. I can only come to the conclusion that those animals don’t deserve to be suddenly killed when it is so unnecessary to kill them. It is unnecessary to eat them. And they really are babies…18 months. Cows can live to be 20 years or more if given the chance.
More Q’s I have: What happens when the mobile slaughter unit drives up? What is the process then? I didn’t have time to find out all the answers to every question that I later thought of. What happens when one cow is harmed..killed? When do the other cows know that they, too, will be harmed? I still want to know more. Nevertheless, I reflect on this interaction without tears, without anger. I am disturbed by it because it is so unfair. So unjust. But I am glad that no more animals on this particular farm will be bred just to be killed. I hope that more people will go vegan.
(Written April 5, 2012)
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)