Tag Archives: My Fellow Humans

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

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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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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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“What Difference Does It Make?”

The title of this blog is in quotes because those are the words that someone yelled at us last week at a vigil in front of Maple Leaf Foods, a chicken slaughterhouse here in Toronto. Actually, his precise words were, What FUCKING difference does it make? but I decided to edit that part out since it doesn’t make for as strong a title. The man who yelled at us was an employee and it was after two truckloads of chickens – about 7,000 birds per truck – had been driven onto the property and were being held in an area prior to slaughter.

This is only the second vigil with Toronto Pig Save that I’ve been to.  The first was in 2015 when I joined in one held at Maple Leaf Foods, St. Helen’s Meat Packers and Ryding Regency Meat Packers, all three which are located very close-by to one another (both St. Helen’s and Ryding slaughter cows, calves and lambs, Maple Leaf slaughters birds).  Although nothing can ever prepare you completely, I was more mentally ready this past week and had at least some idea of what I was going to see.  And smell.  Even just standing outside of a slaughterhouse on a chilly night in November, the smell of blood and feces and raw flesh hangs in the air. It’s an unmistakable stench and all the Styrofoam, refrigeration and plastic wrap in the world could never make me forget it.  Continue reading

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First Response

A couple of years ago at one of my more painfully boring office jobs, I had a picture of a rescued calf as a screen saver on my computer.  It’s the same picture I keep on this blog, under the “About” page. I’m with a young calf named Fawn, whom I met when Julian and I went to visit a Farm Sanctuary in 2014.

One day while at my desk, my boss came over and saw the photo and asked me about the bandages on Fawn’s legs. I explained that this was due to her falling into a concrete pit at birth and breaking one of her legs. Fawn’s mother, a dairy cow, had been forced to give birth while standing in a milking stall and could do nothing to save her since she was confined herself.

The response from my boss was, “Why didn’t they just put her down?” Continue reading

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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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