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A Sunday on Pig Island

I was able to meet up with Toronto Pig Save again yesterday, during the largest vigil I have ever attended. There were a total of 37 of us there yesterday, and it was the strongest sense of community I’ve felt in a while. Some people even recognized me from here and my impossible-to-miss rainbow hat, so thank you to anyone who mentioned my blog 🙂

I saw people I’d met previously, I met new people. Most importantly for me is I met more people my age. Everyone that I’ve met has been beyond friendly (I mean, have you ever met a mean vegan? I’m pretty sure that’s an oxymoron) but with how I’ve felt lately in terms of feeling isolated from my friends… it’s great for me to be starting to connect with more people my age.

One dedicated young woman (with awesome pink hair) was there a whole hour before everyone else. One of the memorable conversations I had was with a gentleman; I had been telling him how I had come to be vegan, and asked how long he’d been vegan. He didn’t know. There was no solid date that he decided to be vegan. Apparently it just sort of happened gradually over time without much planning. I think this is an excellent thing in terms of telling people about how easy going and being vegan is. If some people just end up vegan accidentally, how hard can it be to do intentionally? Clearly, not very.

I had a conversation about that with a woman at a red light who had taken one of the pamphlets being offered to her. I told her that I was recently vegan, and barely noticing in terms of food. We talked about how there are substitutes for literally everything now, and I told her that to me, it really only feels like I’m buying different brands of food at the grocery store. She was very supportive and assured us she was going to do more research as she drove away when the light changed.

I think this is the first vigil that I’ve attended where the positives outweighed the negatives for me. I actually had a really good day.

I had a good day despite the fact that some people were laughing at us from their cars. Despite the fact that a driver re-routed his truck so that he wouldn’t have to stop at the light in front of us. Despite the fact a driver threw carrots at us on his way out after “unloading” his pigs (because, didn’t you know: vegans are always starving because we have nothing to eat… so really, he was being nice……………) while yelling who knows what. We had waved at his passenger because it looked like he was recording us or taking pictures on his phone.

I also had a good day despite seeing this after leaving the vigil. I had posted this link on my wall in the morning. 

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All in all, I think I’m getting better at managing things. Before leaving my house in the morning, I had to tell myself that I wasn’t allowed to get mad at myself for not being able to do anything for the pigs today. I need to remind myself that some things can be done today (like showing love and compassion to as many of them as I can) and some things can’t be done today (I can’t save any of the ones being sent to slaughter). But I can help reduce the demand by talking to people about it and helping them realize what they are participating in. Like the man at the light the first time I was there. Like the woman I spoke to yesterday. That is why I had a good day despite all of those thing, because someone listened and understood.

Now please excuse me while I go dig in to the delicious blondies I have cooling on my stove top.  Recipe.

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Photos: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Full Album: here 

Also, if you haven’t checked out Toronto Pig Save, you should!

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My words, My rhetoric

rhet·o·ric

noun

  1. (in writing or speech) the undue use of exaggeration or display; bombast.
  2. the art or science of all specialized literary uses of language in prose or verse, including the figures of speech.
  3. the study of the effective use of language.
  4. the ability to use language effectively.
  5. the art of prose in general as opposed to verse.

I’ve been told I should tone down my rhetoric. The intended use of the word was not specified, so I figured I’d address them all.

  1. Undue. Exaggeration. Bombast (speech too pretentious/pompous for an occasion). What about animal rights activism is undue? What about drawing attention to the reality of food production is exaggerated? How am I pretentious for wanting to scream at the top of my lungs that we are no better than the animals we are exploiting for our enjoyment?
  2. Oh, so you want me to be less intelligent when I speak? No thanks.
  3. Again, where’s the problem?
  4. You don’t want me to be effective in my speech?
  5. I use my words and actions to convey what I need to. Typically this is trait is desirable.

So, why would anyone want me to tone my rhetoric down? To tone down myself, my actions, my words; is to be silent. Given that I already see so much that makes me want to scream but instead I lower my head, avert my eyes, and try not to think about it every second of every day… to do less than I do is to be silent. Is to betray myself. To do any less is to be complacent; which I am not. In a world where action is needed for anything to ever change, to do nothing is to consent. Which I do not.

My rhetoric should not be cause of concern for anyone. What my discourse and actions are about is what you should be offended by.

I do what I do because it is important to me. I do what I do because it is important. I do what I do because I care an awful lot.

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Right Foot. Left Foot.

One foot in front of the other. Just keep swimming. Dry the tears, take a breath, move on to the next thing.

The night before last I started wondering how often I saw or thought something, related to veganism (or lack thereof), that made me sad or caused me pain in some way. A point I don’t feel I’ve been able to get across to some people yet is the magnitude with which I am affected by what I am experiencing. It’s so much more than just when I see people eat meat. So in order to give my point more weight (notice, you don’t have to use the word “meat” here) to my statements about how my life has changed in terms of my emotions, I started a daily counter.

I know two days isn’t really much of a sample size, but same as when I started tracking my anxiety symptoms a few months back: I had no idea it was this high. Way higher than any anxiety symptoms were popping up. Yesterday I counted 134, and today I’m closing in on 180. Not quite there yet, but give it time, I’m not asleep yet.

So, I’m obviously pretty drained. It seems that on average about 160 things a day happen that I suppress. 160 things a day that remind me how awful the world is. That averages out to 1 every 6 minutes in an 16 hour day. Every 6 minutes. I literally cannot get ten minutes peace.

I had an incident with my roommate tonight. It’s really upsetting to me when it happens, because I love her very much and three months ago I never would have guessed that I’d ever have a reason to be hurt by her or vice versa.

She came across a super sexist article by some idiot, and got a little worked up about how that could have come from a real person. It was just so obscenely ridiculous to her that something like this could exist in our society. I looked over at her with that tight smirk that says “I’m holding something back right now” and she knew I was gonna say something about meat. The fact is… I have that thought 160 times a day apparently. Same shit, different topic. I forget what exactly happened in the middle, but I think she asked me if I could just respect her personal choices the way she was doing for me. I said I can’t. It got a little awkward for a minute, then I tried making small talk. But she just said something like “I’m upset right now, can I not be left alone?” and then walked away. I honestly can’t remember the specifics, because I was too crushed by that point.

I’m upset 160 times a day, and I don’t get to be left alone.  I just sat down on the kitchen floor and cried for what may have been 15 or 20 minutes. I cried for the 160 things that I hadn’t cried for yet today. I cried for the rifts I am experiencing with my loved ones. I cried for all the things I want to change in the world. I just feel so powerless and tiny up against it all and wanted to give up and just quit life and just… not feel like such a failure.

I wanted to quit. But my friend told me earlier in the day (apparently I want to quit life more than once a day) that I can’t quit; they need me. They need me to fight for them. So when I was done sobbing, I took some deep breaths, and I got up. I picked up my phone and went back to a conversation with a friend who was having a hard time finding stuff without milk products in it, and made a recommendation or two. I knocked on my roommates door asking her if she wanted me to set the coffee maker for both of us. And life goes on, one foot in front of the other.

H

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Pig Island

To the man at the red light who held my gaze for what felt like hours: Thank you. Thank you for looking. Thank you for not intentionally choosing ignorance. Thank you for not scoffing and turning away like so many others. You gave me hope. And I really needed that today. You looked at me and you seemed confused. But you didn’t look away. Then you looked concerned. But you didn’t look away. Then you looked sad. And you continued to look into my eyes. I felt like we had finally come to an understanding, and I swear I saw you give the tiniest of nods. You understand now. You understand where your food comes from, and you understand that it’s wrong. Thank you for looking me in the eye for that minute that felt like an eternity. Thank you for looking. Thank you for seeing.

When my class was canceled this morning, my friend and I decided to join Toronto Pig Save to bear witness to the pigs about to be slaughtered, and to protest meat in general to passers-by. We had signs, we had pamphlets, and we wanted you to see us. That was my experience with one person in particular and possibly the highlight of my day. There were obviously many low points too. Today I learned that SEVEN THOUSAND young pigs are slaughtered daily at that one death-house in Toronto.

We only had one truck pass by us when I was there. As it was getting closer I got angry at the people in the cars. I was waving and pointing ferociously, yelling THEY’RE RIGHT THERE! LOOK AT THEM! No one seemed to care. Or maybe I was just too heartbroken to notice. Then the truck was in front of us. It stopped with a jolt, and the pigs were shaken. I couldn’t control the tears by that point. Then the asshole lurched the truck again, just to shake them another time. I stuck my hand through. I rubbed them. One of them sniffed my fingers intently. I told them I was sorry. I told them I was so sorry and I couldn’t stop crying.

Jo-Anne McArthur was there taking pictures. I hope she got some of me crying. I need my friends and loved ones to understand how much this hurts me, to know that people that I love and value are participating in this. My heart is always breaking.

H

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Photos taken by my friend E

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Ah!

For the maybe three people who read this….

I’m still alive, I’m still vegan, I’m still proud, I’m still loving it, I’m still struggling.

I’m just in a 7 week intensive semester at school so I’m not really able to spend too much free time thinking critically. I like tv.

H

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Happy New Vegan!

With the countdown done, so are my exceptions.

I am vegan. I’m finally here!

As with any commitment, I’m slightly nervous. But I know I don’t need to be. I’ve done amazing the past two months and I don’t think I’ll have any troubles. And if I do, I’ll sort them out here. Writing always helps settle me.

I’m vegan. (It feels so good to say!)

H