Category Archives: In Our Hands

The Hardest Ceiling to Crack

Earlier this month when – and I still can’t believe it as I type these words – Donald Trump won the U.S. election, Hillary Clinton gave a moving concession speech the following day.  As I wrote over at my other blog, not many speeches made my politicians in my lifetime have moved me to tears but hers did. It was an emotional day.

A week later, there was a protest here in Toronto to speak out against Donald Trump and I decided to go. There’s a Trump Hotel downtown and, in what must be the shortest march ever, we walked from City Hall to the hotel (it took less than ten minutes, even with hundreds of people).  It may seem odd to march against the President of another country but Trump’s election will still affect us, as it will other countries. Plus, speaking out against his “victory” to the highest office in the land lets our Prime Minister know that we are not all onboard with Trump’s bullshit and to tread carefully when dealing with him on our behalf.

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There Is Nothing Wrong With An Emotional Response

I don’t hate the word “emotional” but I’m careful how I use it.  The reason is because it’s a word usually associated with weakness, hysteria, and is often assigned to females, implying some out-of-control aspect of their response to a situation.  What I’ve also noticed is that the word is sometimes used interchangeably to describe an overreaction even though having an emotional response and overreacting are not the same things.  Related, yes, but not the same things.  When people learn to restrain or control their emotions, it’s not that they’ve learned not to feel anything but rather they’ve learned to control how they display their responses to particular feelings.  This can be a good thing if you’re hot-tempered (like I am) but unhealthy if it means suppressing something that is fundamentally wrong, such as people who work in slaughterhouses and have to basically die a little themselves in order to carry out a very traumatic job day after day.   I suppose what I’m saying is that the term “emotional” is one I would use more were it not for some of the stereotypes that accompany it, including how it relates to one’s reaction to animal suffering. Continue reading

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Right Here, Right Now

If you’ve been a vegan for any length of time or maybe you’re still exploring what all this animal rights stuff is about, I know you’ve probably heard or thought at one point that’s there’s too much already going on in the world; there are too many issues to consider as it is without having to add animals to the list. Just reading the daily news can feel overwhelming.  I read a book years ago that called it “compassion fatigue” where it’s easy to feel exhausted by all the problems and suffering in the world.

I can remember when I was a new vegan, during the first six weeks in fact when I was “just trying it out,” as I educated myself on how food got to my plate and I read up on factory farming and animal welfare, the thought hit me early on: This is actually something I can change today.  This is something that can make a difference immediately.  When I say that, I was not thinking that I, Nicola Sark, would change the world if I stopped eating meat and dairy that day.  But with all the horrors in the world – the natural disasters, displaced people in refugee camps, war, racism, poverty, worldwide conflicts on both small and epic scales – the crime that was being committed against animals was something I could literally stop contributing to that very second. Continue reading

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Animal Rights is a Human Problem

Back in June when I participated in my first ever protest march for animal rights, one of the speakers who spoke to the crowd prior to the march was an activist named Paul Bali.  He’d been in many marches before and he shared a story of one protest he’d been on where someone yelled at him from the street, “Human problems first!”  This is not a surprising reaction.  I’ve written about this before, this “but-what-about-the-starving-children” response humans seem only to have developed toward the topic of animal rights, one which no doubt every vegan has experienced at some point. As I’ve also mentioned previously, this attitude only seems to occur when discussing the treatment of animals we eat.

For instance, if I were to be a staunch advocate on behalf of abused or exploited dogs and cats or even wildlife conservation, I would bet my next paycheque I’d never hear the same “arguments” when advocating on behalf of farm animals: “Guess you don’t care about poor people, eh?” or “I guess people living on the streets don’t matter then.”  No one would dare say that.  As long as I speak on behalf of animals we don’t regularly find on our dinner plates, I’d rarely be challenged. I might even be called a hero or a compassionate person.  But as soon as a vegan mentions considering the suffering and rights of cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, sheep, lobsters, fish, etc., look the fuck out.  Out comes the name-calling and the stereotypes. A compassionate person becomes a crazy person.  A hero becomes someone with nothing better to do with their time.  An advocate becomes a hippie; bravery becomes brainwashing.  I’m not calling all vegans heroes or brave – I’m (hopefully) illustrating how the labels change depending on the animal.  A person advocating on behalf of dogs is no different from a person advocating on behalf of pigs – the message is the same, only the animal is different.  And that’s where animal rights activists differ from say, an omnivore who truly loves their pet dog: activists view all animals as equal because of all animals’ capacity to suffer.  A pig shouldn’t be subjected to factory farming any more than a dog should simply because we don’t want to give up bacon. Continue reading

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Taking Food Advertisers To Task

Well, hurrah!  The Internet has returned to our household after a 12-day absence and I’m glad to be back online.  Considering that ninety percent of the Canadian population has and/or uses the Internet, you’d think we’d have the whole “Internet Service Provider” part down too but, no. We suck at building infrastructure and this recent experience with Bell and Primus Canada made me long for the days of ink wells and parchment paper.  Nevertheless, it’s fixed now and I can finally stop going outside or heading to bed early just for something to do and return to watching cat videos into the wee hours while eating chips from a bag as nature intended.

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