May 10, 13
I received an email this morning from a friend of mine. Very few of them write me about my activity on animal rights, so I thought her letter and my response was worthy of posting online.
It can be tremendously isolating to be the only vegan in your group of friends. Some will, wrongly, expect you to show up at their BBQs and throw buckets of blood on their faces. Or scream, “Meat is murder” at them as they eat their eggs even though you yourself ate meat for many years.
It’s nice when a friend writes me and is genuinely curious. It lets me know my online advocacy is not falling into a black hole.
Hello my beautiful spirited friend! I love your posts about animals and veganism!
I want to ask you: you know how I’m always teetering back and forth between vegetarianism and not. I would full-heartedly love to live the vegan life. I do not know how you do it. It seems impossible to me. Especially living with a meat eater. He’s gone a lot so scout and I stick mainly to fruits and veggies and grains and sadly dairy.
I could so live without meat. But I cannot eliminate the dairy, and you taught me that’s the worst industry.
Can you give me some inspiring words? Kudos to you and your family and for your love and devotion to animals.
Thank you for the kind words! Here are some tips. I hope they help you make some changes that make you feel better and help the animals.
The beautiful thing about being vegan is you get a chance to creatively help the animals, and make a real impact on their lives without having to ever leave your kitchen.
Milk is pretty easy to replace. Think of how many alternative milks there are: hemp, rice, soy, almond, coconut, just off the top of my head. Vegan butters are for sale in places like the grocery near your house. Cheese replacements don’t taste quite the same, so that’s why I say just pull the cheese out and put something interesting in its place: avocado, cashew / basil pesto, etc.
Being vegan with a nonvegan spouse can be challenging but it’s totally doable. Think of it like trying to quit smoking while living with a smoker.
Eating vegan can seem impossible because it can be a totally new habit, but if you take one recipe at a time and put in plant-based alternatives, you’ll inch your way toward a vegan menu in no time.
I’d pick one meal a day to make vegan (breakfast is an easy one). Any recipe you have trouble making vegan, just ask me or check these sites for ideas:
Aug 19, 12
We do not allow animal abuse in our house.
This question only comes up from people in meat-eating households, because only in those households is veganism seen as trivial and flippant a “lifestyle” choice as what hobby to pursue or what color of shirt to wear.
Everyone is welcome to their opinions. The question we must each ask ourselves is: Does my opinion result in actions that harm others?
Many people will not see eating flesh as animal abuse. Somehow, killing an animal does not count as abuse, in that mind frame. In my household, the children will not want to harm cows or chickens any more than they want to harm cats and dogs.
Children have amazingly good bullshit detectors. They “get” fairness. They understand justice. The cognitive dissonance parents cause when they tell children to love one animal and eat the flesh of another is confusing and inconsistent for completely arbitrary reasons. A vegan diet provides a consistent, clear and truly compassionate framework built on honesty, healthy eating, love and, yes, even on justice.
Oct 07, 11
Inspired by the currently trending #Top10Lies Twitter hashtag, here are the ones I hear most about vegan diets, motives and vegans themselves.
- “Veganism is expensive.” I build muscle on $4 a day. Grains, legumes, beans, veggies, etc., are incredibly affordable and nearly all the recipes can be cooked quicker than you can drive to a restaurant.
- “Vegans are elitist.” There is nothing more elitist than subjugating innocent beings and killing their children because you prefer the way their milk tastes.
- “Vegan diets just aren’t healthy.” This nearly always follows someone assuming you went vegan ‘for health reasons,’ and then trying to find some criticism when you tell them you stopped eating animals for ethical reasons. Vegan diets are incredibly healthy.
- “Plants feel pain, too.” You have to be out of touch with reality to utter this as a reason to eat animals. To produce a plate of animal-based food, you have to spend 20 plates of plant-based food and a tremendous amount of water. Eating animals means eating, by proxy, 20 times as many plants as a vegan does. Plants do not have any nervous systems.
- “Vegans cram their beliefs down other people’s throats.” No, foie gras is cramming your beliefs down throats.
- “Vegans are weak little waifs.” I can’t speak for Mac Danzig, Brendan Brazier and Robert Cheek, but they are not waifs. Anecdotally, I have been vegan four years and I still squat twice my body weight. Vegans are just people. If they lift weights and eat right, they get big. If they argue on the internet all day, they get pasty and skinny (or fat), just like meat eaters.
- “All vegans love PeTA and are domestic terrorists.” No, vegans want you to live longer, healthier, and to stop exploiting animals. Shoving 1,100 pigs down a killing line per day is a terror factory. PeTA has as much to do with vegans as the National Rifle Association has to do with eating chicken.
- “It’s too hard to be vegan.” Too hard to shove food in your face? Too hard to say ‘vegetable fajitas’ instead of ‘chicken fajitas’ when you are eating at a Mexican place? The ‘too hard’ excuse reminds me of all the excuses I heard when I was a personal trainer.
- “You can only get protein from tofu.” Tofu has protein, but you don’t need tofu to get all the protein you need. The world has gone protein crazy. People have been convinced through protein suppliers that a human needs 50g of cow-based juice every 3 hours or they will shrivel up and die. Don’t believe the hype. Do some research. You’ll be fine.
- “Growing plants causes field mice to be killed, therefore eating animals is okay, and vegans are hypocrites.” People forget that it takes tremendous amounts of plant material to feed 56 billion land animals every year. More field mice are killed feeding meat eaters than feeding vegans. And the idea that accidental harm justifies intentional and unnecessary harm is just stupid.
This update is a little grumpier and less polished than most of mine, so if I’ve offended you, please go vegan.
It’s true. Our bowel movements are healthier and typically faster than those of meat eaters, but otherwise we are exactly the same.
Vegans are not super heroes. Although directly reducing the demand for animals to be exploited is a super thing to do, it’s easy. Veganism is a moral baseline; it’s not exactly heroic.
We do not possess superhuman willpower. If you want a demonstration, just tell a recently awakened vegan that Oreos have no animal products in them. See how long it takes before he looks like he just ate, well, a box of Oreos. We struggle with restaurant and junk food marketing like anyone does. We do have it a little easier in that area: most of the ads are targeting a different demographic.
Vegans have no keener empathic abilities than the rest of the world. We are not Cow Whisperers. We do not hear the cries of corn as it’s fed to pigs on feedlots. Vegans are not so delicate and refined that they run in terror from the company dinner table when someone orders steak. Nor do we possess the hardened, bleached souls of war criminals. Seeing graphic video footage of animal slaughter bothers us as much as it does anyone.
Like meat eaters, vegans are not necessarily eating perfectly balanced diets, either. A huge percentage of the United States suffers from Vitamin D deficiencies, despite what the dairy industry would have us believe their fortified products will do.
Who could predict this thriving, fantastic outcome based only on looking at the seeds?
All seeds for one plant pretty much look alike and, until we engage them, all people’s minds pretty much look alike as well. We sometimes make the mistake of assuming people are completely closed off to veganism when in fact they are not. And sometimes we spend all our time trying to educate completely disinterested captives (coworkers, family members, schoolmates).
But regardless of success or failure, we should never be discouraged, because that next vegan blogger, fitness guru, grandma or executive is probably not going to come from where you imagine.
People will surprise you. The man you would never discuss veganism with because of his demeanor or background might actually be completely disgusted with meat, only able to eat carefully disguised bodies in the form of hamburgers or nuggets. Or you might just catch him at a particularly receptive moment. The sweet vegetarian mother of two active children might just be completely shut off to the idea of animal rights, with no concern for the direct relationship between cheese and veal. We never really know until we engage others.
We should approach every opportunity for advocacy as the sowing of a new seed. Even when speaking about veganism with people who have heard it before, consider that maybe circumstances have changed.
The sprouts from nonviolent, intelligent discussions are fantastically creative and different and inspiring for each person.
All growth requires a little seed, or seed energy, and steady nurturing. As advocates for peace and justice, vegans are asking people to grow and expand their circles of consideration. And if the animal’s lives mean anything to us, they should mean, at a minimum, the willingness to engage people in whatever comfortable way we feel is appropriate.
Let us be kind and honest with people and about the animals we represent. We don’t need bullhorns, we need dinner parties.