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

Tagged , , ,

If We Can’t Advocate for Animals Now, When?

One of the most common “arguments” animal-eaters use against vegans is that we should be putting humans problems first, as if we can’t simultaneously care for humans and animals or that speaking up on behalf of animals must mean we don’t care about the suffering our own species. These are long-held assumptions that are not only false but are indicative of two things in our society: 1) we don’t value animals very much and 2) we don’t want to believe that we might be part of the problem when it comes to how animals are treated.  Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

Stop Pinning Your Animal-Eating Guilt On Vegans

Or in the words of Madonna:

“I’m not your bitch
don’t hang your shit on me.”

Today I read – to use a term Animal Rights lawyer Camille Labchuk used for it – an utterly perverse story about firefighters in England who rescued 18 baby piglets (and 2 mother sows) from a barn fire in February and on Monday the farm’s manager served those same piglets – in the form of sausages – to the firefighters as a thank you.  Both the farm and the fire service station posted their “gift” to social media although the Fire Station has since removed their post and apologized when PETA, vegans, and activists pushed back. Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

Which Resistance Are You In?

I often think back to the night I went vegan. It was a Sunday evening in November of 2013. I was sitting on the bed trying to find something to watch on Netflix, not thinking of much in particular. My husband and I had recently seen friends, all of whom were either vegan or vegetarian (including my husband), and we saw them often. Usually our time was spent playing video or board games, talking and having a laugh.  As was custom when we got together, we usually ordered take-out. In the beginning of our friendship (I had met this group through my husband who had known them all for years), I was the only meat-and-dairy eater in the group and at first, I was the asshole kind: I would order a meat dish just to prove some point that now seems lost on me. But as time went on, and as I got to know each of them better, I started ordering vegetarian dishes. I had reached a point where I didn’t want to offend their beliefs, even though I still clung tightly to my own.

Here’s the other thing: I genuinely liked them. They were fun, funny, thoughtful, and smart people who embraced me from day one. And without saying a word about their veganism, they were influencing me. They didn’t know it but the more I hung out with them, and the more I saw all their animal-free products and animal rights books and T-shirts, the more I began to see animals and the people who represented them – vegans – differently (spoiler alert: stereotypes are usually bullshit). Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Let’s Play Taunt the Vegan!

I eat my lunch early everyday at 11:30. The staff lunchroom, or any meal table with non-vegans, can be one of the least enjoyable places to be. Even before I was vegan, I was never a fan of the staff lunchroom nor have I ever understood the obsession people seem to have with what they and others are eating. Although it pains me to say this about my own gender, women can be the worst for this:

“Oooh, what do you have there? That looks healthy,” as if I need their approval before I can begin eating.

“Oooh, fries – are you treating yourself today?”  Oh my god, fuck off.

As a vegan, it only gets worse:

“Is that tofu? It looks like chicken.” Yes. Yes, it does. But it’s not and that’s the point.

“So you don’t eat animals. But you eat fish, right?” Um…. Continue reading

Tagged , ,

The Guilt of Meat-Eating, the Forgiveness of Animals, the Redemption of Veganism

I recently finished reading Mark Hawthorne’s book, Striking at the Roots: A Practical Gide to Animal Activism. In the last chapter, he talks a lot about guilt, and how animal rights activists generally carry around a lot of it: they often feel like they’re not doing enough for animals, they feel guilty if they take time away from activism, they feel guilty if they say the wrong thing or don’t say enough….the list goes on.

I can relate to this, mainly because the suffering of animals is never far from my mind.  If it’s a bitterly cold day outside, I think of the animals on slaughterhouse trucks and feel guilty that I don’t mention them when someone complains about the temperature outside. When I’m menstruating, a cycle that is always accompanied by tender breasts and painful uterine cramps for me, I think of the mother cows, their lactating and swollen udders attached to mechanical milk machines multiple times a day, and I feel guilty for giving in to any of my own pain. Perhaps some of it is not so much guilt as it is an awareness: now that I know what animals endure day after day, it changes the context for how I process my own suffering. Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,