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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.

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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

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

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Photos taken by my friend E

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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.

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Growing

I’m getting more confident in my changes. I’m not shying away from the words thinking “that’s not really me, is it?” Today is my four week anniversary of no meat. Originally this is when I was going to start eating meat again, sort of. I had told myself that I was only giving up meat for a month just to try it, so it wouldn’t seem as daunting, so I’d be more likely to succeed. I’m the kinda person who can easily be freaked out by absolutes. I need time to adjust to them. And thankfully this month has been that time for me. I allowed myself to think about all of these horrible things while I wasn’t eating them, and less than a week into my “month” of no meat… I knew I was done with it forever. It had originally started as “I’m not going to eat meat this November and I’m trying to drink soy milk” to “… never again.” And I know that deep down inside, this is what I wanted the second I had the thought “I feel like a vegetarian.” I’d been thinking about giving up meat for ages and ages, I had a failed attempt in high school and the concept never really left my mind entirely. It would pop up from time to time, I’d think about it for a bit, and then push the ideas back down in my head. Because they weren’t convenient. I couldn’t do it then. But then I started on an SSRI for anxiety. Three days after the drug was functioning in my system… I decided I didn’t want meat. They’re obviously connected. This is who I am, I just needed some help to get here. I’m finally starting to feel like the person I want to be.

I’m getting my voice back. In high school I was part of the debate and leadership clubs, I cared about things, I wanted to change things that needed changing. And then university happened, I lost those supports and the free time to actually do this, and I became so bogged down with work and courses and trying to get by. But after I reconnected with the teacher who sparked so much in me, I wanted to be that person again and almost felt trapped because I wasn’t.  I’m rebuilding my identity, and I’m going to be amazing. I cant wait till my student debt is gone and I can support things with time and money and actually help benefit others in need.

My confidence is starting to take off again, originally I started this blog because I didn’t know if I’d feel comfortable talking about my vegetarian/veganism on my facebook account. But when I went to the slaughterhouse… I posted those photos on facebook. I couldn’t not. I struggle between wanting to share information and challenge people to think (which I have always loved doing) and being that obnoxious friend that posts a thousand things a day that no one ends up paying attention to. So I’ve resolved to try to only post about things when I’ve been at an event of some sort, stick to posting things about what I’m actually doing instead of a million things I’m reading. If I overdo it, I’ll lose my audience. But if I’m careful, people will still actually listen to me. And maybe I can make a difference that way. By being the trusted vegan.

H

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My First Time at Slaughter

I attended my first Pig Save Vigil in Guelph today. I’m pretty sure it had the effect on me that I wanted it to have. By the time we left, despite how guilty I felt about it given the context, my stomach was rumbling because I had eaten breakfast so early to get there when we wanted to. But I distinctly remember thinking to myself: I would rather starve than ever eat meat again. And this is obviously the reaction that I was hoping for by going. I wanted to make my vegetarianism/veganism foolproof. No cravings or temptations are ever gonna hit me after hearing the sounds I heard today. My mom usually gets a fancy ham at New Years. I know I’m going to hear screams when I see it sitting on the table.

I got to pet two of them before one of the trucks crossed the property line. Later, I was hesitant to wash my hands, because they were dead now and I was washing away the last traces of them. But I’ll never forget them.

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I’m really stumped for words tonight. Normally I’ve got a lot to say about everything and have no trouble having words flow out of me. But today… all I’ve got is… how horrible. I feel ashamed of the person I was a month ago, but my friend reminded me to stay positive and proud that I am bettering myself and hopefully educating those around me when I can.

Now it’s time to focus on the good things that happened today. I made a new vegan friend. We all went to a delicious veggie/vegan resteraunt for lunch afterwards. And I came home and took out one of my new cook books, went to the grocery store, and now I’ve got a delicious smelling meal simmering away in my slow-cooker. I didn’t quite get as inspiring a day as my friend E got after attending her first pig save vigil; that was the night where we had a vegan food party and she and her sister took me to some grocery stores to show me the stuff they like and what brands to look for and what not because it timed up perfectly with when I had cut out meat and had decided I was going to be working towards cutting out dairy and eggs as well. She got a little sliver of hope that the world is becoming a better place. I have delicious food surrounding me. But maybe my cooking is my weapon of choice. I love making new and interesting foods and sharing them with people, who knows, maybe I’ll contribute to making vegan seem less daunting to some people as well.

H

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Making it REAL

I’m going to my first pig save vigil tomorrow morning… I’m utterly terrified. I get close to tears even just thinking about it. But I need to go. I need to make this 100% real for me otherwise I’m scared I’ll somehow slip back into oblivion and denial and go back to the way I was. The way the rest of the world is. So I need to go for me. To keep me honest. But I’m also terrified of the way its going to affect me. I don’t want to be the stereotypical obnoxious vegan… but at the same time I do. I do and I don’t. I used to be really obnoxious about my atheism. I don’t think I’m OBNOXIOUS about it anymore, but I’m certainly not shy about it. But I feel that there are more atheists/agnostics in the world than vegetarians/vegans. I feel isolated and fear judgement even though I’m proud of my decisions.

I have a feeling tomorrow is going to change me. Sicken and horrify me. Amplify me. And I need to be okay with that. I need to stop feeling scared about the judgements people might make of me, something I’ve struggled with a lot of my life. I need to be braver, bolder, stronger. I stand up for what I believe in, and I take pride in that. I’ve been too quiet about things I care about lately as I trudge my way through menial jobs and seemingly countless years of post secondary education. I feel muted. I feel like I’ve just been putting my head down and ploughing through life focused only on getting by, not being me.

I am a queer (almost)vegan atheist. I believe in honesty, truth, and respect. Good luck shutting me up once I’ve gotten going.

 

H