Category Archives: Daily Life

Our Contrary Relationship with Animals Continues

One inescapable reality of being vegan are the constant examples and reminders of how some animals matter in our world, and others don’t. From sitting at a table with meat-eaters who speak of love for their pets while they chew on the flesh of a cow, to people walking their dogs while wearing a coat with fur trim from a coyote, to coworkers with calendars of cute animals hanging at their cubicle as they tell me about the barbecued pig ribs they ate over the weekend, this contradiction is not something most people even realize is happening but it happens ALL of the time.

As children, some of the first words, sounds, and pictures we learn to identify are farm animals: cow, pig, chicken, turkey, sheep. Yet those same animals are some of the first we’re given to eat, normalized by such phrasings as, “It’s good for you”, “It’s tradition”, or, if you were raised in a born-again Christian home as I was, “God gave us dominion over the animals”, as if being granted authority means never questioning how we’re actually using it. By the time we reach adulthood, farm animals have long since ceased to even be animals; they are simply thought of as food. Continue reading

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Call Me Vegan

There’s this thing that some people do when they find out I’m vegan but don’t want to ask me directly about it or don’t know how.  They spend extra time telling me about their pets, regaling me with stories of the funny thing their dog did on the weekend or how they just got a cute little kitten and wouldn’t I love to see the pictures?

Um, unless I can show you a picture of a rescued cow or chicken in return then…not really.

I think I understand where the extra effort comes from.  I feel as though on some level they’re trying to show me that they’re not bad people; by going out of their way to demonstrate to me how devoted they are to their pets proves they love animals, e.g., Sure I eat some animals but look how much I love these other ones! Continue reading

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The Animals Get Me Through

You might as well know that I suffer from depression – not an uncommon affliction these days although still misunderstood with all kinds of stigma attached to it.  It doesn’t look the same for everyone either which makes it additionally difficult to understand and deal with. There are days when I would like nothing more than to get away from myself for a few hours and I completely understand why people take substances – illegal or prescription – to try to do that very thing.  You just want your brain to stop once and awhile.

I’ve referred to the experience of becoming vegan as transformative and although it hasn’t eased my depression any (the knowledge of animal suffering has just given me more to be depressed about), in an odd way, it has helped me to cope. Continue reading

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The Knowing

If I had to use only one word to describe how my life has changed since becoming a vegan, I would have to say its transformative. It has changed me in ways I’m still trying to assimilate.  My health has improved (my cholesterol level is 3.9 combined – all without medication), my physical shape has changed, and even though my personality flaws remain fully in tact (impatient, hot-headed), I feel like a different person on the inside.  Even things that seemed of minor importance at the time now seem connected when I look back: I got a pixie cut last year after having long hair nearly my entire life, I decided to ride a bike regularly after a decade of not even owning one, I don’t get shit-faced drunk like I used to, I’ve re-learned to cook without animal ingredients, and I even make my own deodorant now!  I’ve definitely become much less afraid of trying new things.  Changing my view of animals and re-defining what food is has freed me in other areas of my life.  I don’t even think about dieting anymore; I don’t count calories, I don’t starve myself and I no longer subject myself to punishing workouts.  Food has become my friend rather than a shaming device and exercise has become a natural activity for me rather than a chore I have to hold myself to for a certain amount of time each day before it can “count”.  Put simply, if someone were to ask me about becoming vegan (they rarely do), I could honestly tell them it’s changed my life.    Continue reading

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Living in the Gap

When I watch a film on animal rights or read certain books, I sometimes get what I call a “heart hangover.”  I call it a hangover because it usually comes the following day, after my binge is over and my body is finally able to process what it has taken in. The next day I often wake up with a heaviness in my chest and I am very aware of the weight in my heart.  I move about the day slowly and maybe watch a comedy to cleanse the mental palate, gradually returning to a state of function.  At some point in the day, after the worst of the hangover has passed, the tears well up and I allow myself a few minutes to grieve for what my eyes have seen.  I take that time to quietly weep for the animals who continue to suffer as I sit on the edge of my bed, feeling the softness of the mattress underneath me, knowing that billions of them will never experience anything close to such comfort or quiet. Continue reading

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Punk frontman and activist Henry Rollins once said that apathy is death.  I don’t know if he said it originally but I first read that saying from him in the liner notes of benefit album for The West Memphis Three.  He’s right of course, and those three simple words have stayed with me from the day I first read them.

Apathy.  Complacency.  Being afraid of change. These are hands-down the things I fear and despise the most, especially when I see them in myself.  The truth is, I’m almost always battling them in some form or another and I hate it when I allow myself to give into them. Continue reading

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