Standing Against the Angry Vegan Movement?

“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”

Last friday, I was “informed” by some well known figure in the vegan community that this adage should form the basis of all vegan activism.

While this old saying may be fundamentally true, I believe it cannot and should not be the basis for all activism.

The first obvious reason being that vegans have no interest in catching flies in the first place and they for sure wouldn’t use honey if they did.

Now, this person (if you’re vegan you probably know who I’m referring to) made a point to say that she “stands against the ‘angry vegan movement’ and wants us to join her in her love movement”.

First of all, what is a angry vegan? Does a “Angry Vegan Movement” really exists?

Being angry refers to either feeling anger or showing anger. Anger being defined as having a strong feeling of being upset or annoyed.

An angry vegan is thus someone who is strongly upset and annoyed by the consumption of animals in any shape or form  and/or show to others this anger.

I know that this topic is controversial among vegans but I believe this is a discussion that needs to be had.

Every movement whose basis is pushing towards some kind of social reform faces heated disagreements in the best way to disseminate its core beliefs.

The vegan movement is no exception, I would argue it is even more so plagued with divergence of opinions because compassion and love is at its core. It has also been widely embraced by and associated with so called “hippies”.

I, myself, lean more towards the “hippie” stereotype. I am peaceful, loving and highly non-confrontational.

You could say I practice what is claimed to be the “right” way to spread the vegan message, at least in the eyes of some people.

However, I will say this: “The Angry Vegan movement doesn’t exist and if it did I would be all for it”.

Most people would say that veganism is all about love and compassion and that we become vegan for those reasons.

I disagree.

Anger is at the root of veganism. Without anger there would be no vegans. If I wasn’t deeply upset by the consumption and use of animals I would see no need to be vegan.

Any real change is met by resistance, wanting to suppress this resistance by suppressing our own anger is bound to be fruitless (pun intended).

Suppressing our feelings to cater to meat-eaters sends the message that there is nothing to be angry about.

That’s not true and it’s a disservice to people to hide the truth and it’s a disservice to the most important ones; the animals.

If being confrontational and showing anger is too much for you, like it is for me, at least be supportive of people who have the courage to tell things like it is to those who need to hear it.

*Picture credit: Martha Soukup flickr Creative Commons 2.0

The Scale of Things

The other night, I was lying down on my pillow when out of the corner of my eye I saw a spider crawling next to my face.

A while ago I would have thought this could be a great start to a horror story.

Not anymore. As I gently let the spider crawl on my finger and opened my window to let it out outside I had an epiphany.

I am now a level 10 vegan!

Spring is in full force here in Montreal which means I have to welcome back bugs and spiders into my life.

It took me about 2 years after calling myself a vegan to stop killing every bug and “creepy” crawlies I encountered.

I don’t regard killing bugs and spiders the same as killing animals but I still cringe a little when the 4 year old I babysit purposefully steps on ants.

As I went back to bed I started thinking about this: the scale of things.

How is it that something so small can make us lose sleep if it crawls too close?

We decide to magnify the threat of something just because it’s on our pillow. It’s silly really, especially considering there is no real threat in the first place (unless you live somewhere tropical in which case I’m both sorry for you and jealous).

While I don’t care anymore about spiders on my pillow, I let my worries weave their web in my head. As I lay down, anxiety crawls around me like a spider.

Instead of guiding it outside or letting it be I try to squash it.

I realized that I should do the same with it as I do with any real spider. Anything crawling on my pillow will either go away on its own or I can guide it gently outside.

As humans, we place value on everything; objects, animals, people. Our own worries and fears are magnified when they really are only tiny little things that happened to land on us or near us.

Our scale of things is largely arbitrary. I think we can all agree on that. Both about the external world and our internal world.

We give more attention to the worries and fears that eat at us even when they’re about the tiniest of things, while we give our big dreams very little time.

As I’ve been able to stop killing spiders because I’m no longer afraid, I have to stop chasing worries.

You should too.

On both accounts. Spiders and worries.

Add cows, pigs, chickens, lambs, goats, ducks, rabbit and anything else you fancy killing while you’re at it please.

Thank you!

*I apologize to all arachnophobes for this picture

 

 

What Motivational Speakers Don’t Tell You

If you have dreams, you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from. Well, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have at least one dream, so everyone can relate to what I’m about to discuss.

In the back of our minds we all have something we want to accomplish. It might be for yourself, for your children, for prosperity, heck even for money!

The why doesn’t matter really, whatever the reason I think we are all guilty of doing this:

Getting obsessed with self-help books, motivational speeches, business coaches’podcasts, famous vloggers living the dream (take your pick).

I mean, there’s a reason my title prompted you to read this.

We want to learn how to achieve our dreams. What better way to get inspired and to learn than trying to soak up all the knowledge given by those who succeeded before us?

I’m guilty of it, I love all the content that teaches how to get organized, how to be productive, how to get motivated, how to be more creative, how to do…everything! (pretty much)

The thing is (this is the moment you’ve been waiting for) motivational speakers or anyone who gives advice on “how-to” something, never tell you that you don’t need to listen to their advice. 

That’s it?

Are you kidding me?

No, I’m not. Let me explain.

Now, I know that obviously they won’t tell you that (they need a paycheck after all).

I’m not implying that all the advice out there is not valuable. A lot of it most certainly is.

But.

It gets us into thinking that we need to change this and that before we can tackle/get results on our projects.

Let’s take me for example.

A while ago I came across a video on “5 things successful people do before 8am”.

Our daily routine is the foundation for future success, that’s basic “motivational” knowledge.

Variations of these abound but the gist of them all is the same. You should get up early, meditate/pray, read, exercise, review your dreams/goals, etc.

I forged my own routine, I was going to get up at 8 every day, read for 30min, write a blog post, do chores and the list goes on.

It was going to be great, I would become this better version of myself. I would finally be productive. I thought to myself “once I become the kind of person who can stick to a routine, I will finally be able to do everything I want to accomplish”.

Of course, I failed. I’m not a robot.

The key point is, every time I failed, I would get derailed. I couldn’t focus on doing y because I didn’t do x like I was supposed to and how lame was I that I wasn’t even able to stick to a simple routine.

I was so obsessed on getting all the habits I thought I needed to be successful that my focus was not on my dreams and goals anymore!

My advice is (though you don’t have to listen to me, remember?) you don’t need new shiny habits, you don’t need to listen to anyone telling you how to go about becoming the kind of person you (think) need to be to reach your dreams.

All you need is yourself.

You don’t reach your dreams because you are successful, you are successful because you reached your dreams. 

Skip trying to change yourself to achieve your dreams, the process of getting to your goal is what we will change you. 

What do you think? Can you relate to this obsession with “self-help”, motivational material?

I’d love to hear from you.

 

What is your count?

What if I told you your days are numbered?

That’s the kind of threat bad guys use in movies. I’m not a bad guy but I have to tell you: your days are numbered.

The moment you came into this world the meter started. It’s been counting ever since. One day it will stop. Life as we experience it as a human being living on this planet will stop. Maybe there are other meters beyond, who knows, but as of right now, this one is the most tangible to all of us.

Everyone’s meter is adding up as I write this. Your own meter is adding seconds and minutes passing by as you read this. Your children’s meter will have gone up of several hours when you go pick them up at school later today. Every 24 hours, +1 will be added to your days.

What is your count as of today?

Mine is 9508. My mom’s is 19269. My grandma’s is 29469.

For every +1 added, -1 is subtracted.

We are helpless to some laws of the universe.

Linearity rules us all. As a writer, I appreciate that every beginning has an end.

As a human, not so much.

I don’t know who many +1 I’m going to get. Today might be my last. Even though that’s scary to contemplate, it is even scarier to think about how many +1 our loved ones have left.

There’s many I mean MANY inspirational/motivational books and talks that cover this.

I’m not bringing anything new.

For sure, you might probably think this is all cheezy. (I know it’s spelled with a ‘s’ but we’re vegans here so no real cheesy, duh!)

“Enjoy today, it might be your last”

Whatever.

All it ever does is make people think: “That’s right I should really get on to doing x,y,z”

But who actually ends up using their +1s to go after their dreams?

There is a deadline to this big project called life and we are all being the worst procrastinators!

Today is another +1 that you and I get.

Thank you for spending some time of it reading this by the way!

To make it worth your precious time, I’m going to give you my #1 piece of advice to get started on those big (and little) dreams of yours:

Be Mediocre

You read that right.

What the &%$#!???

I know. That sounds crazy.

As I grow older (9508 days, remember?), I realize it is the antidote to many of my problems.

It’s something so simple, yet I stayed away from it for a very long time. Because, you know, who in the world would want to be mediocre?

Now, I proudly raise my hand. Me.

Recently, I did something that I’ve been wanting to do for years. I started my youtube channel.

It is embarrassing, cringy and definitely sub-par. (I won’t even get into the editing…)

But…

I DID IT!

In the end, and I do mean the end, as in when the meter will finally stop, will you care about what you did with mediocrity or all the things you didn’t do?

Our egos keep us from doing the things we want to do but don’t do because of how bad we think we are.

My ego has met reality, my days are numbered and I will work every +1 that I get on doing all the mediocre thing that I’ve always wanted to do.

Go on, on your next +1, try it.

Be mediocre.

 

 

 

*Picture: Nick Kenrick Flickr Creative Commons 2.0 

The Reinvention of Vegans?

Apparently a new wave of vegans has arrived. Of “fit, macho, sexy” vegan men to be exact.

An article published last week on the Guardian present this new breed of men as “smooth and firm as tofu” (without their tops off). The arrival of such creatures on the vegan scene has prompted the infamous newspaper to ask “Could the movement go mainstream?”

Indeed, cis white privileged business inclined “real men” vegan advocates might just be what the animal rights movement has so long hoped for.

After having suffered from being comprised largely of women and “hippies”, it goes without saying that the cause needs serious help.

Veganism’s only hope to become mainstream is resting on all those manly shoulders.

Let’s take a closer look at these specimens. Not only do they possess abs made of firm tofu (it’s much better than steel!) but they have very important skills that are paramount to reaching the masses.

They shamelessly brag and cuss.

The “mmm…bacon” crew finally have rivals worth their time!

You might think I’m not being serious, but take note guys; their methods work.

A friend of their’s, a former cattle rancher, is now mostly vegan!


All sarcasm aside, this piece by the Guardian touched on some important issues.

  1. The seemingly necessary (?) loss of the weak (unmanly) vegan stereotype to reach the masses
  2. The inclusion of plant-based and “mostly vegans” in the vegan movement

As I self-identify with the “real” vegan moniker used in the title, I thought I should answer the question.

What do I make of the newcomers?

Short answer:

Wannabe vegan ≠ vegan

Wannabe vegan ‹ vegan

Wannabe vegan › non-vegan

Wannabe vegan⇒ future vegan or future non-vegan??

Long answer:

&$%?&**!!???

This article almost gave me a headache. Veganism was mainstream enough to attract men whose strategy for making it EVEN MORE mainstream is to make plant-based eating (or mostly vegan-eating *cough*) part of a patriarchal norm. Then I ask, is it really necessary?

I think it’s a flawed strategy. Patriarchal norms of the meat-eating manly men have been around for too long to try and create new norms of masculinity. Instead of trying to make veganism (a movement against the oppression of non-human animals) fit into a system of oppression against women (patriarchy), why not go the rational route and fight against all oppression all at once?

The strategy advanced by those “VeganBros” may work, I’m not denying it, but do the means justify the end? If it meant a 100% adherence to a vegan lifestyle by a majority of the population, I would be open to discussion but it doesn’t seem to be the case.

Which brings me to the second point raised in the article. The inclusion of “mostly plant-based” eaters to the vegan movement. By definition, the word vegan refers to a set moral standpoint against the use of animals in any shape or form.

The original meaning of the word has been hi-jacked by the well-meaning crowd of plant-based eaters who have seen in it an opportunity to cash-in on a trend they created. On the surface, it is not a bad thing. Making vegan eating a food trend helps it become part of the mainstream discourse. Following a trend is cool, people in the mainstream want to be cool. If everyone who wants to be vegan to be “cool” is included, for sure it will tip the scale and make a massive impact. The question is, trends come and go, what will we do when all those “new vegans” turn their back on us “real vegans” and jump on the next train?

I doubt that having the possibility of easily being a “full-time vegan” would be sufficient to you know actually have full-time vegans.

What do you guys think? What are your thoughts on the best way to make veganism mainstream?

Thanks for reading. Your input will be appreciated.

*A lot of articles can be found about how “veganism is becoming mainstream”. In light of this, there’s a lot to discuss. This will be Part 1 of an ongoing serie.

 

 

 

 

 

The First Piece (My Vegan Story)-Part 1

I remember how weird it felt to cut through the skin of the half-defrosted giant white rat with those tiny chirurgical scissors. I was 15 years old in biology class the first time I started to consciously look at the pieces from my “vegan puzzle box”.

Yesterday, I wrote about those puzzles that we inevitably encounter as humans living on this planet. I do feel that veganism is one of them.

When I look back to how I became vegan, moments of short insights come up to me like pieces of a puzzle. I didn’t know what they were or what they meant when I encountered them but over time I was brought to see how they all fit together.

I didn’t know that the compassion and sense of wonder towards animals that my parents instilled in me from a young age were forming the rough edges. I realize now that I had the frame of my puzzle built up a long time ago.

It is not really out of the ordinary, I would say a lot of people have a puzzle frame built up. The middle part with all the confusing look-alike pieces is where it gets tricky. It took me 23 years to piece them together.

Let’s go back to my opening story. This was one of those lonely pieces that I couldn’t do anything with at the time. In the way a puzzle piece belonging in the middle cannot be placed before you build around it. Does it make sense?

So I was cutting through the rat’s skin, it was tough and odd, still partially frozen from being in the fridge too long. I thought “everyone is doing it, surely I can manage to dissect it”. Then something weird happened. To this day I still don’t know if it was an allergy to chloroform or my unconscious trying to get me back to reality, but my eyes started to uncontrollably tear up. I didn’t feel any particular emotion, not even outright disgust but I couldn’t help it.

I had to give up trying to dissect through a blurry vision. I was excused of the class much to my embarrassment and ran to the bathroom.

Some emotional expression theorists say that we smile, then we feel happy, we cry, then we feel sad. In other words, we don’t cry because we feel sad but we feel sad because we cry.

It certainly applied to me that day. A wave of sadness hit me out of nowhere after crying for a while without any reason I could think of.

It sounds overly dramatic, was I really crying over a dead rat?

I asked myself that question over and over again.

I concluded that I wasn’t but the sadness didn’t go away.

I realized I was crying over all the rats in the world, all animals really, human and non-human. I was crying over how senseless death and this world is.

Then it stopped as suddenly as it all started.

I came out of the bathroom, laughed at myself for such a dramatic outburst. I went on with my day.

It was lunch and I was hungry. I think I had chicken or something.

To be continued…

 

*Photo credit: Tatiana Bulyonkova Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

The Puzzle

A couple of years ago I gave my mother a puzzle for Christmas. It’s been sitting in a corner unopened ever since. Every time I’m visiting I can’t help myself and I playfully tease her about it.

It got me thinking about people and puzzles. We probably all have tried completing at least a puzzle or two in our youth. Cute kittens in a basket 100-pieces puzzle certainly springs to my mind.

Much of life is a puzzle in itself, starting without a doubt with our very existence. Why is there a little me on this big planet?

My point is, we get a wide variety of puzzles of all shapes and sizes handed to us just because we exist, here on Mother Earth.

The difference lies in how we each deal with puzzles.

First, lets consider the box itself. Some people, like my mom, leave the box in a corner forever. Who knows if they’re even going to bother opening it in their lifetime?

 Then, you have people who actually open the box.

I would say they fall into two camps. Tossers and organizers. Are you the type who dumps the pieces on the floor and starts digging through? Or are you more of a “let’s set everything on a table and organize the pieces by color scheme in neat piles”?

Mind you, both types are as likely to quit as they are to finish.

In terms of solving the actual puzzle, again, you have different styles.

There’s the overachievers who won’t stop until they’re done. You have the “routine” solvers who will spend 10 minutes everyday on it, until completion. You have the “let me do it alone!” vs the “teamwork is dreamwork”. Strategists “if this color goes there than this goes here” vs trial and error die hards.

Obviously what is true for puzzles doesn’t necessarily translates to real world problems. However, I think it applies to a lot of them. Many issues about ourselves and the world we inhabit are sitting in their puzzle box in a dusty corner of our mind. There is stuff that will stay in that corner until the day we die. Other issues will take precedence and we will work on those instead. Sometimes we will accept help, sometimes not.

I think, in many ways, veganism is definitely a puzzle box we all have in our minds. For most people, it’s sitting in a corner and will stay there forever. Others will open it, look at a few pieces and give up. Some will work on it very slowly, alone, piecing it together for years.

I’m here with my completed vegan puzzle and I wish everyone would complete theirs. It feels so good to look at the final image. However, I know that some people will never bother taking the box out. I also know that most don’t want to be reminded that they have this puzzle somewhere. Of those who do have it out in the open, most don’t want to be told how their pieces go together.

Vegan activists have it hard. People are all at different stages of their puzzle. It takes a huge amount of finesse to be able to cater to all. Some boxes were willfully thrown in the trash, others are lost in the attic, some have just begun looking through the pieces.

No matter how painful it might be to watch others disregard their puzzle, how annoying it is to see how the pieces they are staring at go together without being allowed to tell them, how frustrating it all is, I will do my best to cheer everyone on, regardless of where they are and how they go about solving their damn puzzles!

*Photo credit Jesus Abizanda flickr Creative Commons 2.0