Note: This may be a bit of a controversial post. Feel free to rant at me on facebook or in person!
It is in my nature to progress in fits of productivity. I have hemmed and hawed about the prospect of being more vegan for about 4 years now. Once I made the decision that it was the only moral and environmentally sound decision I could make, I poured myself into research and baking. I determined my ideal animal product consumption to be limited to 1 pint of goat’s milk and 6 eggs/week, calculated protein counts for my weekly menus, and ran to the library… I did not run back from the library, because I was carrying too many books. I also watched the documentary Forks Over Knives.
It was with some trepidation that I told my boyfriend this new project. He is, after all, paleo, and utterly set in his ways.
“Okay,” he said. “I think you can do it.”
“What?!” I exclaimed. “You don’t think my brain is going to fall out and I am going to die?”
“Nope,” he said. “You’re so passionate about these things, I’m sure you’ll be able to do it right.”
I left that conversation feeling jubilant. People having confidence in you is a wonderful thing. However, this was not the reaction I had from my mother. This was the reaction from my mother:
“Jean, you can’t do this! I don’t understand, why are you doing this to yourself?!”
Now I understand why vegans go militant. This reaction was so shocked, so dismayed, so utterly convinced that I was a masochist bent on killing myself. Doesn’t my mom, and other people know that there are tons of long lived vegans out there? Sure, there are plenty of malnourished ones too, but you know what else? There are plenty of malnourished meat eaters out there as well.
So why this reaction? Why do people react so strongly against the concept of limiting meat consumption, being a vegetarian, or being vegan? This isn’t a new thing. In 1327 AD, vegetarianism was viewed as synonymous with being a heretic and/or a witch, and you can still see that view today. I didn’t have to google long to find websites saying that veganism is a sign of sodomy and Satan (along with feminism. Duh, vegans are ALL feminist!). Of course there is a significant component of anti-vegan anger based on guilt, or a reaction to vegans who run around blasting their views everywhere. I don’t care how right you are, if you try to force your opinion on other people they are going to get a little angry. However, there seems to be another significant component that is based on humanity’s own feelings of self-importance.
The Christian argument against veganism is based upon man’s supposed place of honor in the world. God gave man meat to eat, because humans are more important. Just like Galileo was persecuted because he said the Earth revolved around the sun, vegans are persecuted because they preach that the world does not revolve around humans. We are just as important as the other beings we share the world with. I think this view has expanded to the heavily Christian influenced United States. In the below video, this (albeit highly spunky and entertaining woman! The tea fireball shot is pretty genius…) is offended because of one vegan’s comparison of eating meat to lynching black people.
“The fact that you could ever equate an animal to a person is racist and awful,” she says.
So, time for honesty here. Yes that comparison is fucked up, but this made me think, why do I think this comparison is fucked up? Why do other people react so strongly to comparisons like this? Let’s back up here, and just consider comparing the killing of a human to the killing of, say a cow. Is that offensive to you? To me?
Well, yes, yes it is. It is offensive because saying the life of a cow is just as important as you, or me, or my friend Bob over here, is saying that we are not worth very much at all!
Now wait a minute. Why the fuck is that belief offensive? Just because you don’t think a cow is very important, doesn’t mean the vegan making the comparison thinks the same way. That particular vegan could love cows. Hell, in some circumstances and with some people I have met, comparing them to a cow would be a complement! Does this mean that vegans should compare the killing of animals to sensitive issues like violent discrimination and genocide? No, but people should not be comparing anything to those things anyway. That’s like walking up to someone who had their sister murdered and stating that you missing your teddy bear elicits the same emotions. You don’t say things like that! However, in thinking about this, I believe I now understand the point that this not very tactful branch of veganism is trying to make (exhibit A, Sorsha). We frankly abuse and use most of the creatures on this Earth simply because we can, then we try to assuage our guilt with a bunch of religious crap. And if someone does truly and honestly believe that humans and animals have the same right to live on this Earth, I can see how they would get just as upset about someone torturing and killing cows, as someone torturing and killing their next door neighbors. Does this excuse bullying? No. But we should stop being offended by sensible comparisons of human death to animal death. People view the world through different lenses and get upset. Deal with it. Or better yet, have a sensible conversation about it!
I decided to be a vegetarian when I was a kid, because of hearing this quote. I couldn’t find it on the internet, but here is what I remember… I think it was by Jane Goodall.
“If a more intelligent species invaded Earth, wouldn’t we want them to treat us with respect? How is that any different from how we can and should treat animals?”
Do I think a small percentage of people need meat to live? Yes. Do I think animals are just as important as humans? Well, I view it as a positive change thing. Can a good person create more positive change than a cow? Yes. So is their life more important? If they are a good person, yes. If not? Ehhhhhh…. I try not to delve too far into the logic from there. Once you start valuing all life and caring too much, the world isn’t a very wonderful place.
This Week in Updates: I’m a podcast star!
Hello everyone! This week kicked off with a fabulous birthday get away that was nothing less than epic. Buddhist temples, 150 year old hot springs, and the discovery of the best coconut free vegan ice cream ever! Not to mention the company of the one and only Jesse Liebman. The rest of the week has been interesting too, with finishing each night off helping Jesse with his podcast project. Turns out both of us are good at talking for long periods of time. Who would have thought? We also just went grocery shopping for this week’s food and supplies for Birthday Brunch this Sunday. It will be my first attempt at cooking vegan food for my friends. Wish me luck!
Oh yeah. And I am more convinced then ever that I want to work in the food industry. I’ve been considering a food based educational supplement to my Industrial Engineering degree. The best value program looks like this one from Rouxbe.
The Recipe: Easy Vegan Tacos!
The use of taco seasoning in these makes them easy peasy. The use of amaranth with the lentils gives them a good body, and tons of protein! The result? Vegan tacos that my meat eating sister says “taste almost like meat!” That’s about as good of a complement as any vegan cook can ask for. To make your own tortillas like I do, read this fantastic blog!
- Cooked amaranth
- Cooked lentils
- Taco seasoning to taste
- Salsa to taste
- Taco shells
- Fresh greens
- Use equal amounts cooked amaranth and cooked lentils. Both of these are chock full of healthy protein! Top with chopped fresh greens.
Make sure to enjoy these with salsa and some leafy greens! Make easy blender salsa if you have some tomatoes lying around!