Cowspiracy

I have been a vegan now for almost two years and my only regret was not being a vegan sooner. There were so many things about the animal agriculture industry that I didn’t know, specifically about their treatment. I’m still learning every day, and working hard to educate others about the unnecessary suffering and death of sentient beings. That said, last night I watched Cowspiracy and I have even more motivation to help people transition to veganism.

Did you know that transportation is responsible for 13% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,000 million tons of CO2 per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. While I wouldn’t discourage you from biking more, you can do the most good for our environment by going vegan. I can’t even begin to share all the things I learned about animal agriculture through the screening last night. I highly recommend it as it was funny, thought provoking, enraging, engaging, and powerful.

So while my vegan foundation will always be for ethical reasons, for the justice and compassion that I want to live my life by, I am now aware of the environmental reasons too. I highly recommend you watch this movie. I think I’ll invite some pre vegan friends over for a screening for my two year veganniversary.

http://cowspiracy.com/

What an amazing transformational year it has been!

Not only have I lost over thirty five pounds, without even trying, but I feel wonderful.

Although I’ve also lost some ‘friends’ along the way, I’ve gained hundreds more, and have brought ten people into veganism with me.
I have gone from needing a vegan mentor to becoming one! (I still need my mentor)

So thank you for celebrating my one year anniversary with me! I hope, if you are not vegan yet, that next year, on this date, I can celebrate your one year anniversary of being compassionate too!

Welfare and Abolition

baby pig and mom border

 

The very first time I met my vegan mentor, she explained to me the difference between the terms animal welfare and animal rights/abolition. Thanks to that education, I know how and where to focus my limited energy when trying to help animals. Abolition is my path. I want to end the violence and use of all beings.

While I love networking with fellow vegans, one of the discords on my facebook newsfeed is petitions for single issue causes. Why not sign that petition to make the gestation and farrowing crates bigger for pigs? Yes, let’s try to end eating dogs in China! Oh the outrage of eating of horses, so protest by not going to Europe for vacation. Give me a pen so I can petition to add chickens to the Humane Slaughter Act!

But no, I won’t protest and sign or even share the petitions.

I know that my vegan friends want to save lives RIGHT NOW, and minimize the suffering of animals RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately our efforts to regulate the treatment of animals doesn’t change the end result. The pig, despite a ‘better’ crate, is still being killed and eaten. Other animals in China, just as deserving as dogs, are still on the plate. A cow in the United States is being killed and eaten just as the horse is in Europe. Making a slaughter ‘humane’ still involves slaughter.

I think it’s more effective to focus on promoting veganism rather than regulating use, making conditions slightly better before killing them, or ending the abuse of just one species.

Just because someone is vegan doesn’t mean they are eating healthy.

 Since my early vegan days a whole seven months have passed by and I’ve learned a lot more about food, nutrition, and what my body needs to remain a healthy vegan.

 However, when I first started eating as a vegan, I ate a bunch of Oreos.

Yes, Oreos in the US are vegan, and yes, I ate a lot of them.

Like, a lot a lot a lot.

And potato chips dipped in mustard and apple honee.
And vegan rice crispies.
And vegan chocolate chip cookies.
And just the vegan chocolate chips (bags of them).
And vegan ice cream.
I also drank a lot of pop. At least one bottle a day, sometimes more.
And rarely drank water.
Oh, and I included a lot of vegan meat analogs, which were really were yummy and helped me transition…

but there was a need for moderation and I didn’t moderate.

Despite my unhealthy vegan diet, I lost weight and felt pretty darn good despite all that junk. That said, I wasn’t being a healthy vegan.

About two months ago I turned a corner though. What helped push me towards taking better care of myself was the breast cancer diagnosis of my mentor, The Vegan Goddess. I was stunned by her diagnosis because I thought that eating fruits and veggies made us immune to cancer. While you can reduce your risk of cancer with a vegan diet (and many feel that a vegan diet can treat, slow and even reverse cancer) if you eat an excessive amount of fat and refined sugar you can unbalance the benefits of a plant based diet!

Since The Vegan Goddess’s diagnosis I’ve stopped drinking pop and drink tons of water. I reach for healthy snacks almost as often as I reach for not so healthy snacks. I eat less processed food, and more fresh vegetables and fruits. I’ve reached my ideal weight. I feel fabulous!

But I’m not vegan for health reasons.

Never for a second think that I’m vegan for my health.

I’m vegan for the animals. It’s an ethical choice with incredible health benefits.

I believe it is way too easy for someone to start off as a vegan for the health benefits and then fall away from veganism when they are tempted with just a taste of grilled cow or a small bite of cake containing eggs. Or perhaps they don’t feel so hot and wonder if their vegan diet is to blame, so might as well have some chicken soup because that’s obviously what they must be lacking. To remain healthy and vegan, you need to be an ethical healthy vegan.

 

So, to sum up: Go vegan for the animals, eat vegan for your health, but don’t forget to eat healthy.

 

Here is a link to the blog post my vegan mentor wrote about how being vegan doesn’t make you immortal. Enjoy!
http://oneyearloveaffairwithcancer.blogspot.com/2013/05/being-vegan-doesnt-make-you-immortal.html

Life Preservers

When I became a freshly minted vegan I found myself struggling with my message of compassion verses my anger at omnivores. I lost a few Facebook friends and had to navigate (okay, stumble through) face to face relationships with family and friends who continue to eat animals. The shift in my life was so profound that it caused huge waves, and not everyone is still in my boat.

I’m lucky that I have a few omnivore friends who have weathered the storm. They go to great lengths to make sure I have vegan food available when we’re together…  Vegan Pudding Shots?!?! But, it’s still easier to be surrounded, buffered even, by fellow vegans.

While my husband also went happily on the vegan journey with me, and I was networking with incredible online vegans, I still felt a bit bereft. Something was missing.

Bring in the vegan mentor, Ryan (aka Vegan Goddess). http://animalrightscoalition.com/programs/veganuniversity/
I could barely contain my tears as we chatted for the first time at a little local tea shop. She understood me! We spoke the same language! Actually, she often provides the vocabulary so I can articulate what is in my heart. She was the first to offer a life line to me. I left her side feeling strengthened, with renewed energy and enthusiasm for the choices I had made.

After meeting Ryan I made the decision to intentionally build relationships with more local vegans. I desperately needed a community. Vegans are such a small minority of the public. I think we represent about 2% of the population. One of the tools to make you a life long vegan, rather than an ex vegan who becomes an omnivore or vegetarian, is to first, be an ethical vegan, and next, make vegan friends!

The Animal Rights Coalition (http://www.animalrightscoalition.com) provided a safe haven and obvious starting point for making local vegan friends. I liked this local network because they promote ethical veganism and abolition (instead of animal welfare). The dinner meetups they host continue to be an incredible source of laughter, great food, and new vegan friends. I also networked with local vegans by using a Facebook site called Vegan Friend Me.  https://www.facebook.com/VeganFriendMe.

There’s nothing quite like knowing that you’ll see familiar faces at the World Wide Vegan Bake Sale in your area, or that you have a bunch of people willing to meet you for dinner at a local restaurant. Better yet, that you can be in a room full of omnivores, and make eye contact with that one fellow vegan, and feel you are not alone in a sea of animal misery.

lifepreserver2

I know that I will remain on the vegan path forever, and I don’t need others to be in my boat….  but it is so wonderful to have so many life preservers within my reach!

Finding My Voice

When I was about twelve years old, my father, yet again angry at some minor infraction by my younger brother, reached over the car seat and began to punch him. He repeatedly rained down full forced blows upon his entire body coiled up on the seat next to me. I don’t remember what I did. Did I try to pull my brother out of reach? Did I beg my father to stop? I don’t remember what I physically did. I think I was disconnected from the physical.

I do remember the emotion. Terror. I remember the screaming… my mother yelling at him, begging him to stop. I remember seeing people in the parking lot, and being embarrassed that they were silently witnessing this and also stunned that they didn’t get involved. I was desperate to figure out how to save my brother. He appeared so small, cowering from the blows of my raging father. I couldn’t protect him from the violence. I remember feeling helpless.

I remember the three of us running in the rain, and fear that he would come after us, perhaps even run us down. I remember walking; it felt aimlessly, clueless on what would happen next as we had never run from his abuse before.

I remember getting closer to home. Seeing the car in front of the house. Knowing he was home, and probably still mad. I remember that as we approached the steps to our home my mother saying “Now when you go inside, say you’re sorry”. I think she was addressing my brother, but I remember that moment in my head thinking “No. No, I will not apologize. I will not pretend that what he did was okay. I will not forgive his violence”. As a young girl I couldn’t stand up to our abuser, so I was silent when we entered the house. But inside my heart I decided I would not grow up and be silent.

It has taken me many years to realize that eating animals is also perpetuating violence; where the victims lose their lives in the most ultimate result of violence- murder. I will not apologize when I stand up against violence, even when omnivore family and friends share that they are hurt by what I’ve said. The victims have no voice. I will be the voice for the most helpless of all beings.

I am vegan.

 

I am the voice of the voiceless;
Through me the dumb shall speak,
Till the deaf world’s ears be made to hear
The wrongs of the wordless weak.
And I am my brother’s keeper,
And I will fight his fight;
And speak the word for beast and bird
Till the world shall set things right.

-Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Growing Food

Sexy Beast and I have decided to expand the garden this year. The garden, while always fruitful, has taken on a more profound purpose now that we’re vegan. We hope to rely less on canned  and prepackaged foods.

We have two raised beds (still covered in layers of Minnesota snow) and two compost bins. We’ve decided to expand to a total of six beds and four bins, with additional planting areas throughout the yard. Maybe we’ll even get the rain barrels up and running this year! I can hardly wait.

We purchased Heirloom and GMO free seeds and started our indoor seedlings in recycled rain gutters. I think next year we’ll invest in a green house.

Now, does anyone have compassionate ideas on what should I do about those pesky Japanese Beetles? They almost destroyed my basil, strawberries, and rhubarb last year and I know they’ll be back!

seeds in window