Optimistic Vegan


Staying Optimistic
February 6, 2011, 1:14 am
Filed under: Lifestyle, Personal | Tags: , ,

Considering the fact that the title of my blog is currently “Optimistic Vegan,” I felt it was only appropriate to talk a little more about that.

I think that most vegans are necessarily optimistic. Unless the reason you’re vegan is purely for health reasons, odds are that you are hoping to change something. Whether it’s putting your dollars elsewhere to encourage better alternatives that are sustainable or to end the cruel practices of factory farms, you’re hoping that your actions will affect change. This in itself is an optimistic way of looking at things, rather than apathetically thinking that nothing you do will help.

This is one of the reasons I love meeting new vegans. They’re usually very passionate, compassionate and happy people. They love life (and the lives of others!) and they’re enacting change by changing their lifestyles.

However, I’m not going to lie, there are definitely some depressing sides to being vegan. For one, if you’re vegan you know how terrible society can act. The people that surround you are contributing to the suffering of millions and most of them don’t ever think about it (or know?). You see how greedy industries can be, or how passive the government acts. And on top of this you get ridiculed by the people around you for not participating in the cruel practices that are considered normal. I’ve definitely had my times where I’ve been overwhelmed with all of this. But for me it’s worth it.

You’ll get no where if you all you think about are the negatives. If you’re vegetarian/vegan then something inspired you to get to that point. Just remember what it was and you’ll be fine. It can be hard sometimes, but think about all of the good that you’re doing! You are making a difference. You’re helping us get to a more compassionate world. One vegetarian at a time!

I hope this was coherent. It’s a bit late!



Oprah’s Vegan Challenge
February 4, 2011, 12:20 pm
Filed under: Animal Rights, Celebrities, Food, Lifestyle | Tags: , , , ,

For those of you who missed it, Oprah had a show described her challenge of going vegan for 1 week, including 378 of her staff members. How exciting is this?! I’m sure that Oprah’s influence will help change the image that vegetarian/vegan diets currently have. I haven’t watched the entire episode, but there are some segments available online.

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I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but in 1998 a group of Texan beef producers filed a lawsuit against Oprah after she had a show that talked about BSE (mad-cow disease). After hearing about the dangers of it, she said, “I’ll never eat hamburger again.” Apparently this comment affected a lot of viewers and sales of meat products decreased. This group of Texan beef producers didn’t want Oprah saying anything bad about their products, so they sued her. Even though Oprah won (thank goodness, ever heard of the freedom of speech?) I think it scared her from talking about it any more. (Lawsuits take time and money!) So when I heard she was doing this vegan week I couldn’t believe it.

If her comment about hamburger can have such an influence, what do you think something like this can do? I don’t think all of those staffers are going to go vegan, nor do I think Oprah’s fans are. Although I do think that the seeds have been planted. This was a very positive picture of veganism, and I think that this was a great introduction to a lot of people, especially to those who’ve never heard the term before.

I’d like to point out a few things that were talked about on the show. Michael Pollan was one of the guest speakers, who I have a love/hate relationship with. On the one hand, he does raise a lot of awareness and advocate for more conscious eaters, but I think he could be a little more optimistic. One of the things he said was (I’m paraphrasing) that this vegan challenge is a moral challenge, an ethical challenge, a challenge to tradition and that it could be viewed as an insult to your mother. I could say a lot about this, but the part where he said it was an insult to your mother I couldn’t handle it. I think he views veganism as giving up “great food” and saying no to a way of life. While this is true, you’re also giving up your support for the unnecessary suffering of animals, the environment, etc. Your mother should be proud that you’ve seen this connection and you’re willing to change your way of life to align with your values (I’m just assuming compassion and a rejection of cruelty are some of your values). He is seen as an authority figure for vegetarianism for those who don’t know about it and I think he could be using his influence in a more positive way. But anyway…He did talk about how 75% of our health care spending is linked to diet. This needs to change. AND he said that you shouldn’t eat meat if you aren’t willing to look at how it’s produced. I think this is a great idea. He knows how it’s produced but still eats it a couple times a week (but not from feed lots or industrial factory farms).

Last thing, sorry this has gotten so long! They got a chance to get into Cargill, the largest beef processor in North America (after being turned down by 20 others). Obviously I don’t know, but I suspect that they made sure everything was clean and smooth so they could get a better image for all of Oprah’s fans. But it was good for people to see nonetheless. At one point the investigator asked her “tour guide” what she would say if animal activists told her they didn’t support the consumption of animals. She  said that she would respect their opinion, but that they value the dignity of animals and that it’s the natural order to eat them. OKAY. I’m sorry, but I’m not sure how dignified it is to treat every animal like a piece of machinery, from birth to death. I missed that part somehow. And I’m not sure which part of it is “natural” either. Well then.

Well, if you’re reading this, you got through that whole thing! Thanks! And you should check out the vegan show. And you should become a conscious eater. And make me vegan brownies.

I’ll give you a picture of Oprah AND a cute animal, how’s that?

giraffe



A Change of Opinion: Is it Unnatural to Eat Animals?
February 3, 2011, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Animal Rights, Lifestyle, Personal | Tags: , , ,

After some recent conversations about whether or not it is “natural” to eat meat, I have revised my stance on this topic. In passing one day, one of my friends said that one of the things that bothered them being vegan is that it is “unnatural.” We decided to postpone the rest of our conversation, which gave me a chance to think about it. I then talked to my dad about it (also vegan) and told him how easy I thought it was to dispute that. How could factory farming and drinking milk intended for baby cows be considered more natural than fruits and vegetables?

The conclusion I’ve come to is that, as much as I hate to admit it, there is nothing wrong with consuming animals for food. However, the way that we are currently consuming them is wrong. Like my dad pointed out, humans have been eating animals as soon as we could catch them. He used the term of opportunistic carnivore, and I think this is accurate. We would rely on plants and things we could gather, but when an animal came around, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity of an energy-rich meal. We didn’t used to subject animals to the cruel practices of factory farming and industrial slaughterhouses, we put them to their death as natural as another animal consumes another.

That being said, the way that we are eating animals today is nothing like that. The way we get our meat now is about as unnatural as you can get: treating animals like machines, hooking them up to machines, caring more about the end product than the animals’ dignity, and putting them through unnecessary pain.

This is a big change in the way I look at things. Instead of advocating for a world where no animals are eaten, I will instead advocate to limit our intake to avoid excessiveness and go towards a more sophisticated, more dignified, and more conscious food system.

Even though I have modified this way of looking at things, I think the best way to achieve the ideal food system where animals are spared suffering and a loss of dignity is to speak with our wallets. I will not support any food industry (factory farms, industrial slaughterhouses, etc.) by giving them my dollars.

So there you go! (For the record, I’m still a vegan and probably always will be.)

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This is a Duiker. Isn’t he adorable?