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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The Butchering of a Pig, The Rationalizing of a Human

There are a few feminist websites I read regularly and Jezebel Magazine is one of them. Here’s a┬áheadline that greeted me the other day as I was taking my daily stroll through their site:

“I Fulfilled a Lifelong Dream and Butchered a Pig.”

First, in the words of Oprah Winfrey as told in a story by actor Alan Cumming: “You gotta get bigger dreams.”

Second, in my experience and despite the stereotype, vegans don’t offend easily (if cognitive dissonance levels were measured like radiation when it comes to animal suffering, we’d never leave the house). It’s not easy to shock us because we’re basically appalled daily by the staggering contradictions of animal treatment in our world. Continue reading

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For Freedom, For Them All, Part II

I wrote a poem/spoken word thing last Friday on my way into work. Apparently my brain wasn’t done. Here is Part II: Continue reading

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Into the Great Wide Open

Since going vegan in 2013, my view of animals has changed so much. I used to be that person who thought of animals as “just animals” and that eating cows, pigs, and chickens were “just the way things are”, never giving them any thought beyond that.

In June of this year, Julian and I adopted our first dog, something I know I would never have done had I not been vegan. Even the animals we are conditioned to love and care for and not eat, I viewed as more of a nuisance or obligation; I didn’t really “get” the love that people had for their pets and I certainly didn’t see those pets as individuals or companions, mainly because I’d never experienced it before. We had a dog when I was about 4 or 5 who was returned to the shelter when she tore the kitchen curtains up. We had a cat when I was in grade school who was given away when we moved cities. This attitude of animals being disposable if they inconvenienced us continued when my brother was old enough to get a dog (I don’t know what happened to his dog because I had moved out of the house by then. All I know is the dog did not stay long). By the time I was on my own, I knew I never wanted pets, which, on one hand was good because I still viewed animals as expendable but it was also – to use an expression I’ve learned from therapy – a missed experience. Had I developed a better understanding of animals and a proper empathy toward them, I could have provided a loving home to one for many years. Continue reading

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For Freedom, For Them All

I wrote this on the train into work this morning, for the animals, and for my friends on the left. Continue reading

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A Place To Breathe

The Toronto Veg Fest was this weekend and for the second year in a row I had the chance to volunteer with Mercy for Animals, one of my favourite animal protection agencies. They are organized, on-time, and they know what they’re doing. Not only does this appeal to the Type-A side of my personality but it also makes volunteering that much more fulfilling. When you can focus on the animals instead of whose supposed to be doing what, it’s much easier to remain positive and engaged with the task at hand and it removes unnecessary frustration and stress. Continue reading

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