0

I’m Grumpy

Every time someone (who I assume or know is a meat-eater) posts something about animal rights, ESPECIALLY something about typically farmed animals… I immediately comment on it all excited asking them if they’re veg/vegan too.

It’s my passive-aggressive way of calling them a hypocrite.

Oh, you think it’s cute and happy when Dairy cows are released from their confinement, and get to live in a nice field because of some amazing people, instead of being sent to slaughter? Oh cool, STOP DRINKING MILK AND EATING ANIMALS THEN.

Except, I can never actually open with that, cuz what if the person actually is vegan and I just didn’t know it yet.

I just get so mad at the hypocrisy. The disconnect. How stupid people are. How ignorant. How blind they are to the impacts of their actions.

I get mad. I get frustrated. I just want this shit to end and there’s nothing I can do to end all the suffering I know is going on around me every second of every day from every angle.

Sorry guys, guess I’m having a bad night.

2

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. 

Image

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.

Image

Image

Image

Photos: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Full Album: here 

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

0

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

8

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

Image

Image

Image

Photos taken by my friend E

0

My First Green Christmas

I’m not quite sure how to start my post tonight. It’s my first night home in my bed after over a week spent at my parents place. I’m really quite surprised I survived. Normally I’ll go over for a single night on a weekend or something and need to be out of there ASAP. But thanks to my meds I guess, I made it through the week.

New things are always difficult for people, change is challenging. I certainly got some firsthand experience with this from my family and close family friends this Christmas. The Saturday before Christmas my parents had their neighbours over, a family we’ve known since I was about 5. Conversation got a bit heated at one point in the kitchen while we were nibbling; I was being asked about the housing conditions of dairy cows and poultry RE my decision to stop all animal product consumption. It was going so-so, but the father of the family challenged most of what I said. He knows a lot more about farming than I do, having grown up with a Mennonite family on a farm. He had selective hearing when I was trying to point out the fact that whatever experiences he had on his small family farm approximately 40 years ago are drastically different from where their food is actually coming from now.

My father also tried to argue that there was some degree of ethics in slaughterhouses by stating that the deaths that take place in nature by natural predators can be a lot more drawn out and painful than being slaughtered. I tried not to appear too upset while potentially forcefully reminding him that depending on the animal being slaughtered, they might be hung upside down by their feet before hand. The sheer terror of that ought to be considered very unethical without even taking the physical pain of it into account. I also reminded him that machines don’t take terror and the will to live into account, and that more often than they’d think, the blade misses in the first stage and the poor things go onto whatever else is next before their suffering finally ends. I don’t think he was really listening.

The kicker for the night happened after I was already primed by these two events as well as listening to someone complain about how they had been eating dry chicken because they hadn’t noticed the plumb sauce on the table. We’d moved to the couch and comfy chairs and we’d had a glass of wine or two. I forget exactly how it came up, but the mother of the family was basically complaining at me looking for me to take her side about some story about an encounter with a “crazy vegetarian” she had had at a party of some sort. This woman had yelled at her for eating an egg salad sandwich at some function that had sandwich platters, saying she was eating the vegetarian food. Granted, yelling typically isn’t the best way to start a dialog, and usually doesn’t make you very likable, but most omnivores are not really willing to think about this sort of thing. But this isn’t the main event, the main event stems from a miscommunication that lead to a disagreement. I thought she had said that for this event they had been surveyed for their eating habits, not unlike a wedding RSVP or something of the sort. I made it clear that I believed that if you were asked ahead of time what you ate, that you had to stick within that guideline even if it’s not a sit-down meal where a plate is placed in front of you.  You wouldn’t go to a wedding having said you’d like to eat chili that night and decide there that you actually want the lasagna and expect for that to work. I don’t even know exactly what happened, but soon her, my dad and my brother were all very loudly disagreeing with me and I basically felt like they were saying they thought anyone was entitled to eat any food even if it meant that I ended up not having enough available to me because I made the choice to not eat those other things… I assume you can understand how upsetting this would be to me. So I left and went to my room and ended up sobbing. Apparently they heard me and had an awkward moment afterwards. My mom had been in another room not really paying attention to the conversation but came to my room with her doggy for comfort when she heard me crying.

The only really notable even from Christmas Eve at my boyfriend’s house was that his family was talking with me about things generally and the “plants feel pain too!” argument/joke came up…  thankfully the conversation didn’t get too heated. All in all… his family is a lot nicer to me than my own. His mom used my becel in stuff so I would be happy eating it, and left the cream out of my bowl of the delicious soup that she made. She even went as far as to get me a vegan baking cook book, some baking ingredients I might need, and chocolate bars from whole foods. That night was the single best night of the holidays.

Christmas day, while not as bad as the preceding Saturday, was certainly not as pleasant as Christmas Eve. My mom had made me chili to take to my grandmas to eat (my mom has been amazing about feeding me, I do understand how lucky I am to have that and I think my next post will look at that more) but I had been waiting to eat it because I had wanted to be polite and sit at the table with everyone while they ate their meal. I was really hungry by this point, actually had a headache for over half an hour leading up to this point. They were cutting up their bird carcass, which I was “lucky” enough to get to see quite a bit and all spread out………… when they noticed that it wasn’t cooked enough so they were putting slices of it in the microwave to cook them faster. They took the plate out and said they were done so I put my chili in to warm (using a paper towel to cover it rather than the plastic cover they had just removed from the full plate) when my grandma decided that the turkey on the plate wasn’t warm enough whereupon she decided to take my food out of the microwave instead of waiting the minute left on the timer. I don’t really know how to interpret that any way other than “you are less important than us” so obviously I was hurt by this. But it passed. When I was finally able to put it back in, my great aunt asked me why I was eating chili. I told her I wasn’t eating meat anymore. She said “a little meat won’t hurt you.” I said it’s not me I’m worried about hurting.” At which point my grandma chimed in “All right, that’s enough, don’t be bringing that up!” I confusedly said I didn’t bring it up, I was answering my aunts question (EXTREMELY mildly, might I add) but my grandma proceeded to yell at me anyways and I just couldn’t take it so I ran away to cry again. Merry Christmas indeed. My grandma came banging on the door a little while later saying she needed to go to the bathroom, but then grabbed my shoulders and trying to talk to me when I opened the door. I told her that wasn’t going to the bathroom and went into her bedroom to be alone instead. It was quite a while before I was able to come out, and I was incredibly worried my family thought I was crazy.

I’m finding it’s not so much what people say that’s getting to me… it’s how they say it. I feel ganged up on, bullied, ignored, talked at, less than. I feel challenged from every angle almost all the time. I have really great debate skills, I am excellent at making a point and challenging people to think. But I feel like I’m being denied the opportunity to actually dialogue with people. It’s incredibly disrespectful and something I have a lot of trouble with.

I feel the need to end on a good note though. Yesterday was the Christmas gather for my dads side of the family. I have issues with my dad, but I find his family a lot smarter and … better … than my mom’s half of the family. I tend to have more in common with them. A cousin of mine on his side is vegan too, so seeing her yesterday was really helpful for me. Her mom had made sure that we had lots of things available to us to eat and I really felt included. I need to find myself a bit of a community that gives me that feeling.

0

Opinions – Out of the Woodwork.

I was especially worried about telling one specific friend about my looming veganism. Eventually I worked up the courage and started talking to her about the fact that I was vegetarian now, and going to be vegan in the New Year. I was shocked by her response. I prefaced telling her by saying I had an announcement, but that I was not pregnant or engaged. I then made the reveal. She said “You shouldn’t be veggie/vegan if pregnant, but you’re not, so congrats! That’s a big step, and an amazing one! It’s great for the environment and your overall health.” She floored me with this response. I was expecting the “veganism is crazy and extreme and stupid” lecture I could’ve sworn I’d heard parts of from her in the past when I’d mentioned thinking about going veg long before I did. But here she was, being supportive and happy for me. Even starting talking about how she wanted to go back to her semi-veg lifestyle she had in high school but dropped in college because of “limited food options on campus.”

So this was going well, right? It was nothing like I had expected it to be, minus her little remark about pregnancy, I couldn’t be happier with how that had gone. I had been all worried about telling my grandma as well and that went completely fine. So I told her how relaxed I was having finally told her, since I was worried that she’d make a big deal out of it because she thought the idea was stupid.

Her response? That veganism was stupid for most people, but that I’d be okay because I can handle myself. My thoughts are that this remark meant that she thought I was going veg for health reasons, as an attempt to lose weight (she’s in the performing arts industry and unfortunately has issues with body image and is very focused on thinness to the point where I wonder if she exercises past the healthy amount) or for environmental reasons (which are obviously a factor now that I know about them as well). I didn’t quite know what to make of it at the time, so my reply was “oh. I definitely thought that you didn’t think that things were harmful to animals.”

That’s when it all fell apart.

The reaction I was expecting from the beginning started now. When I made it clear to her that I wasn’t doing this to be thin (which probably will never happen given that my roommate has made me amazing vegan banana bread [which I call vegana bread] and countless junkfoods are still an option for me…. Gosh I love food) her actual opinion came out.

Every typical, horrible response other than “mmm bacon” started to flow out of her like bile. I could barely keep up with her. “Cows need to be milked, they feel better afterwards” “Chickens lay eggs anyway so why not use them?” “It’s the natural order of things for humans to eat animals, it’s how we evolved” … I’m sure you know the drill. I did my best to rebuttal each statement she made, but she has a habit of sending up to ten messages in a row so things eventually started to get confusing and muddled and pointless. It was clear that no progress was going to be made, so I eventually politely asked if she would view me asking to stop the conversation at this point was an indicator that I was out of things to say in response to her, assured her I had much to say and disagreed with much (or, all) of what she was saying but felt we should stop for the time being. She agreed of course and we turned to other things. But when my friend posted on my facebook a link to the article that made her go vegan (one that says to be feminist is to be vegan and talks about the dairy industry) and I tagged this friend in a comment so she could read it.

Holy. Fucking. Shit. Things exploded. I wanted nothing to do with the conversation as it was taking place online without me realizing right as I asked for our text conversation to be discontinued. My friend that posted it and some of her friends were engaging in a back-and-forth with her and I was just cringing watching it unfold.  She’s been a friend of mine for coming up on 10 years now, but I was so embarrassed by things she was saying and how she wasn’t being logical at all. Eventually she stopped responding, I’m assuming because she ran out of ways to counter the other things being said. But I don’t feel any sort of resolution. I don’t expect I ever will.

It leads me to wonder if this is how I’m going to spend the majority of my life from now on. Feeling disconnected from my longest friends, feeling ashamed and embarrassed by things they say instead of having their backs when they get into messes they can’t handle. This is who I am now, and I do not regret making my way here, I’m so happy that I’m finally making these changes, but I wonder what other effects I will experience. It’s so much more than food.

H