Category Archives: On My Mind

Why I Don’t Like the Term “Animal Lover”

I am waaaay late to this New Year’s party but Happy 2017 everyone!  Thanks to all of you who’ve been reading my old posts while I’ve been procrastinating for the past two months.

Over the holidays, I encountered a few scenarios where someone, after finding out I was vegan, referred to me as an “animal lover.”  Though attributing this label to me was not meant to be an insult, I find the term presumptuous, inaccurate, and as I’ve written before, dismissive.  Not only that, but it’s become more of a statement than an expression, the kind I might have printed up on a business card like a Private Detective or Chartered Accountant: “Nicola Sark – Animal Lover.” The term paints me with a very broad stroke, enforces a stereotype, and doesn’t get to the heart of why I choose not to eat or wear animals. Continue reading

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About Peta

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, as they are more commonly known (pronounced “pee-ta”, just like pita pocket) are one of those organizations that people tend to have very strong feelings about.  They are arguably the most famous animal rights organization in the world and their name is vilified almost as often as it is revered.

Before I was a vegan, I didn’t hate PETA or anything but like so many members of the public, I had only one impression of them: they were “those crazy animal activist people”.  I only knew them by some of their more shocking campaigns and by news footage of their protests, footage which usually showed them being dragged away by police after protesting outside of a retail store for one reason or another. Continue reading

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Childish Things

Do you remember when you were a kid and thought Santa Claus was real? In fact, most of us did more than just think he was real, we believed it.  Why?  Likely because our parents and other adults in our lives told us so each year at Christmas.  Our belief in this magical tale was further bolstered with such stories and annual TV specials like, The Night Before Christmas or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

And do you remember when you found out it was bullshit?  Hopefully when you did you were of an age that was old enough not to be insulted nor completely devastated by it either.  I found out when I was nine or ten and it was by accident.  I used to love going through my mom’s jewellery box as a kid, usually while she was getting ready to go out.  I would try on her rings and bracelets and she would tell me the history of some pieces.  One day I opened a tiny box I’d always wondered about and found a bunch of teeth in there.  For some reason – I don’t know why – I thought they belonged to my Nana who had recently passed away.  When I asked about them, it was then that my mother looked sheepishly at me and told me they were mine. Continue reading

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Parallel Universes

I find myself wondering, especially around the holidays, if recovering alcoholics and vegans feel the same sometimes.  Drinking alcohol is an expected societal norm in that everyone thinks anyone over the age of 19 does it.  When you go to a restaurant, the first thing you’re asked after being seated is, “What can I get you to drink?” followed by hearing the specials which usually center around a meat of some kind.  The eating of meat, dairy and eggs is the same as alcohol in that everyone assumes you do it. Just this week, Julian had a minor procedure done at the hospital and upon his discharge was told to keep his meals light that day and to, “Go home and have some scrambled eggs or chicken noodle soup.”  Grrrr.  I bit my tongue because what was the point of correcting a person I was never going to see again?

I’m guilty myself of assuming that everyone drinks alcohol and I’m trying to be more mindful of that.  I know there are people who simply don’t drink and never have but I wonder if recovering addicts, people who have experienced firsthand the damages of alcohol and have made the change from “before” to “after” ever get frustrated with the endless promotion and sale of alcohol knowing what they now know about the consequences of it.  Especially when alcohol, like animal products, is advertised as everything from sexy to traditional, almost as something we deserve to indulge ourselves in from time to time. Continue reading

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Separating Image from Reality

I’m reading this book right now that is rocking my world.  It’s called A Church of Her Own by Sarah Sentilles and it shares the story of multiple women who are ordained ministers and the obstacles they faced from the church when, to quote the back of the book, “the minister isn’t a man.”  I attempted to read it a few years ago but I had just left a church myself and was too raw, too close to that world to take any of it in – it just upset me too much. Now with distance and time, I am able to read it without bursting into tears or rage.  It’s still hard to read some of the experiences these women have gone through but I am in a much better place to process their stories now.

Why am I bringing this up?  Well, linked oppressions aside (women and animals have a lot in common when it comes to being exploited and then silenced), I can see similarities between the attitudes some people adapt towards faith or God as they do toward animals – and why it is so difficult to change. Continue reading

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Learning to Look Without Seeing

As you can probably tell from reading this blog, I’m fascinated by the human and animal relationship. More specifically, I’m curious about how humans have come to treasure certain animals’ lives and not consider another’s. I’m sure this will be a life-long exploration for me as I come to terms with my own changes in attitude towards them.

I can only speak to my own experience but living in North America, I can also speak to some of the messages that Western culture continues to perpetuate and certainly contributed towards my former prejudice against animals.  The Bible, for one.  I was raised in a born-again Christian home and the first chapter in Genesis was one of the earliest things I learned in Sunday school. The first chapter describes the six days of Creation and if there’s a single word that has done more damage in justifying the suffering of animals, it’s the word “dominion” that appears in verse 26.  While different versions of the Bible use different words (i.e., rule, master, etc.), that D-word has stuck like the A-word has when it comes to the church discussing gay rights (the famous “abomination” word in Leviticus 18, verse 22).  Both words are still used today like a trump card some people whip out when they want to have a quick response as to why they shouldn’t pursue either cause any further. Continue reading

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