I try to actively be aware of how the language I use perpetuates various hierarchies. As someone committed to a feminist socialist anti-racist world, I have been fairly critical of how language perpetuates power relations from these perspectives. However, with my decision to go vegan, lately I’ve been noticing how my language reflects certain conceptions on how the relationships between animals and humans should be approached.
I first noticed it when I was saying something about “killing two birds with one stone” and as I said it I though to myself “wait, why would I want to kill birds?” Then today I was telling one of my friends about how she should be a “guinea pig” for my vegan cooking attempts. I noticed after I said it that there was something off about normalizing animal testing in my language.
To me, this type of language parallels things like rape “jokes” or “jokes” that build on stereotypes. It’s somewhat uncomfortable and I haven’t fully established an articulate thesis on it yet. But what I’m getting a sense of is that it’s this type of language that normalizes notions about how animals should be treated (for example deeming their murder as approach or testing on them as the norm). Over the next little while I will reflect on this more and come back with something more articulate (and probably will write it when I’m not struggling to keep my eyes open because I’m so sleepy), but in the meantime I’m interested in hearing your thoughts?
What's your favourite vegan crockpot (slow cooker) chili recipe?
I’m thinking tomorrow night I’ll throw chili together in the crockpot & figured I should probably get a recipe instead of putting random stuff together (which I did today and was pretty good - but still, it could be better!)
Hey :) I love your page! I'm in exactly the same boat as you at the moment.. I've been a vegetarian for a while and I've decided to take a vegan approach now. I think it's awesome!!! xxx
Why thank you! Appreciation for my page is always delightful. I’m so excited about the 5 minute vegan chocolate recipe you posted! It sounds delicious!
Good luck to you on the goal of veganism! I know for me, every day of being a full vegan feels awesome! It’s always nice to hear others are also trying it out - makes me feel like I’m not alone. “Vegans of the world unite”? #BadCommunismReferences
I was chatting with a friend this morning about a recent situation she’s been in. She feels that she has been reacting defensively to perceived criticism, and would like to…not. So she said that she plans to train herself to respond more diplomatically to the kinds of feedback that are making her…
My friend put this together & it’s bloody brilliant. It has reminded of something I learned last year. In a philosophy course I took, we explored how Aristotle categorized 3 types of friends: friends of use, friends of pleasure, and friends of virtue.
Friends of use are ones you have a relationship that is mutually beneficial for each other, in the sense that there may be some exchange of goods or goods for knowledge, etc.
Friends of pleasure are those you would do things that you enjoy. I assume in the Ancient Greek context this would involve those people you would drink wine with (but of course you can think of many contemporary parallels…heck drinking wine would probably still be appropriate).
Friends of virtue, on the other hand, were those that helped you grow as a person (Aristotle would obviously not use this terminology, I’m paraphrasing). They are the ones that would help you develop your thoughts and challenge you to think. There are elements of the pleasure/use friends in these types of friendships: you obviously would enjoy each other’s company while drinking wine (or tea as the case may be) and you may have some benefits from each other. But the key is that these friendships help you become a better person (however you want to define that, I personally don’t accept Aristotle’s characterization, but largely because I wouldn’t be a person as a woman).
So in case the point I’m trying to make isn’t obvious, this friend is a friend of virtue. My law school experience has been fabulous as I’ve met a few amazing people that I would characterize as friends of virtue. It’s fascinating because we have at a number of times had discussions about our friendships, another characterization that my friend came up with is “glasses friends,”…
I just realized I turned a discussion about “faking it until you make it” into one of how awesome my friends are…lol…anyways, I digress. I’m just going to apply it until I become super diplomatic & once I’ve mastered that, I will be ready to run for politics.
So, I’ve obviously had to deal with a number of questions about choosing to go vegan recently. I decided the solution was this elaborate manifesto on FB. Copied below, partially for your amusement and partially if I have to remove it on FB I will have a copy.
I know a number of people have expressed curiosity in my recent choice to attempt veganism. I haven’t been the most receptive to these inquiries, which I realized was largely due to one early negative reaction that has coloured how I have responded to other people (I’ve taken to being somewhat irrationally defensive). This has admittedly been unfair of me and I apologize to those of you who have been on the receiving end of this. I’m making an effort to overcome the natural defensiveness from the the negative reaction that I received. I’ve also remembered an important lesson from politics: the more you avoid talking about something, the bigger of a deal it becomes. So, I figured it was time to write a manifesto, because that’s what communists do…
The 11th Doctor
But before I begin, I want to set some ground rules. This post is to explain why *I* have chosen veganism. I’m not trying to convince anyone that they should and I don’t want people to try to convince me that I shouldn’t. I ask that you be respectful and I will return the favour. I think food ethics are a personal choice and attempting to impose them on anyone is problematic.
The picture of the Doctor is meant to be lighthearted, don’t jump to the conclusion that non-vegans are uncool - I’m not trying to convey that - especially as Whoites would recall the 11th Doctor enjoys fish sticks and custard (yes, I’m a geek).
Also note that these are my early days and allow for the reality that I’m a dynamic person and am not wedding myself the analysis laid out below. I’m merely setting it down to satiate the people’s curiosity.
First of all, I’ve been (ovo-lacto) vegetarian since I was 13 years old, so veganism is a natural progression - it’s not like it has come out of the blue. I chose vegetarianism for various reasons and my reasons have shifted and changed throughout my life. Initially, it was because I felt healthier when I gave up meat - the impetus was a month long trip to India during which I was completely vegetarian. I think everyone’s body is different and mine responded better to a vegetarian diet.
Over time, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t feel comfortable with current agriculture practices. I’m also just generally not comfortable with using animals to meet my material needs (clothing/food). But, again, I emphasize this is a personal position and you are free to have whatever relationship with the agriculture industry and with animals that you choose.
The impetus for considering veganism was somone bringing to my attention how the dairy industry parallels a number of the same concerns that I have for the meat industry. This has led me to really critically evaluate the roots of my vegetarianism and consider the type of relationship that I want to have with animals. Particularly, I’m finding that I don’t feel comfortable with the appropriation of reproductive organs of cows. I emphasize again that this is a personal position and I don’t judge/expect/want you to have the same stance as I do. Moreover, I have some serious issues with lactose intolerance. So these two simultaenously fit nicely with the decision to eliminate dairy from my diet. Thus far, it’s been quite good as I have not had any unpleasant stomach aches.
With regards to eggs, I’ve never really been comfortable with them. I’ve given them up at various points during my vegetarianism. I’ve never been big on eating them, but have partaken in a number of baked goods that contain them. To me, it feels natural that to extend some of the above analysis to eggs and choose to remove them from my diet as well.
The decision to become vegan has also re-ignited my commitment to various social justice issues. I’ve found law school to sometimes drain my values and suck me into the corporate system. Since choosing veganism, I’ve found myself more motivated and empowered to exercise my values. To those who wonder what values, I’m thinking of: feminism, socialism, environmentalism, and a general commitment to wanting to change society to be more equitable and sustainble. I think veganism is an exercise that both challenges the system but works within it in ways that make me feel pretty excited and energized. Once again, I emphasize that veganism is an expression of social justice *for me* but that doesn’t mean that I think it’s the only or best way to exercise social justice.
Why Aspiring Vegan?
I’ve gradually come to the conclusion that a flexible moral code is the most realistic approach for me. I feel like it acknowledges that I have to allow space for dealing with the multiple different situations that come about on a case-by-case basis rather than being too rigid. I’ve also realized that I need to be realistic about what is available to me and sometimes I may have to eat things that I would not normally because of circumstances. I’m doing this on a case-by-case basis and so far there has only been two situations where I was out of time, hungry, and the only available food was vegetarian and it was likely going to be thrown away if I didn’t eat it. This is a fairly narrow construction, but it was what I feel comfortable with.
So why not just call myself vegetarian? I think because that’s not what I’m aiming for, I’m making a concerted effort to be vegan. Moreover, I’ve altered my lifestyle in a number ways from what it was when I was vegetarian, so I feel like that label doesn’t adequately capture my aims. Furthermore, I feel like I have a right to choose what label to ascribe to myself and I hope that you can be respectful of this decision.
What about humane meat?
I think it is your prerogative to choose sustainable, humanely raised, grain/grass-fed animals - sometimes referred to as the “traditional” way. It’s not for me. I just point out that realistically, raising animals in the “traditional” way would not meet current meat demands, particularly as these demands are growing globally. I think the humane treatment of animals would entail reducing the overall consumption. In this way, people like me who abstain from the demand altogether would be useful to help in this goal. That being said, I do think any sorts of better regulations and treatment of animals is a step forward, especially if we move away from factory farming.
What about your health?/Will you get enough nutrients?
I’ve always found it fascinating how curious some people are about my nutrition/health upon finding out I’m vegetarian. I think those people should devote more time to being concerned about all the people, especially children, who are malnourished because of the unequal economic relations in our society that make it difficult to attain adequate food.
That being said, I have never had nutrition issues with being vegetarian and I’ve spoken to my doctor about my decision to go vegan and he has no concerns. So I appreciate the concern, but I’m doing fine :). In fact, I’m doing better with regards to calcium because the vegan diet circumvents my lactose intolerance.
What will you eat?
This is a ludicrous question. I love food and the decision to become vegan has led me to make more efforts to cook a diverse number of foods. Trust me, I have tonnes to eat and you will be subjected to endless pictures of my vegan food (FYI: you can block my picture posts if they annoy you, FB allows for that, so I feel like that gives me a license to post as much as I desire).
Alright, I feel like I’ve set up a general framework and pre-emptively answered a few questions. I will just conclude with saying that I appreciate your curiosity and I particularly appreciate all the support that I have received. I also have to credit to the idea of “aspiring vegan” to a friend of mine, she captured it perfectly so I’m using her terminology.
Keep in mind my earlier point, I don’t want a debate about my decision to go vegan, I’m merely saving myself having to repeatedly say the same story. I am willing to answer questions and I’m definitely up for being helpful if you are considering veganism or if you have similarly taken the plunge (as I’ve noticed a few of you mention recently).
I’m also too lazy to back and edit this, so I apologize for the inevitable grammatical/spelling errors.
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
42 logs/day, depending on the size, hunger, and other contingent factors specific to the woodchuck. Wait, do woodchucks eat wood? I always thought chucking wood meant eating it…but I’m realizing that it probably means in the sense of “throwing” #revelation
So, I went to the store to buy ingredients for vegan potato salad and came back with a bunch of delicious things (marinated tempeh, almond butter, vegan butter, and a vegan cupcake)…but none of the ingredients. What threw me off was there was more than 1 brand of vegan mayo.
Here I thought that being vegan would equal less choices but no: first I stand in the vegan milk aisles debating between rice, almond, and soy (I went with almond again for the record). Then, I’m debating between Spectrum Mayonaise, Nayonaise, and Earth Balance Vegenaise…which one should I pick? Or do you have other recommendations?
I’ll probably just use it in sandwiches/burger-esque situations & this vegan potato salad that I was planning.
Note: While writing this, I realized it’s more like a diary-entry than a post to engage with people. I acknowledge this, but this is part of what I want Comradia to be about.
Today was my first official vegan day of the pledge I decided to take (it’s for one week). I actually was intentionally vegan the last two days, started early because my latest conceptualization of dairy has led me to be quite off-put by it (I’ve been ovo-lacto vegetarian for over 8 years - so the ethics re: eating of meat are established). My philosophical understanding of dairy right now is fairly personalized and centred on my own body, so I don’t feel comfortable openly sharing it - but essentially I feel I personally cannot in good conscience contribute to the demand fuelling the dairy industry.
I zealously veganized my kitchen yesterday evening. At first, I had intended to go through the materials lying around on my own but I just didn’t feel right doing that. Then, I figured I would distribute goods to my friends. But I realized this would be a logistical-nightmare and require repeatedly explaining to people why I’m going vegan (I get tried of explaining myself for doing something different from majority norms - I need to learn to be more patient or start doing more things that fit into majority expectations…#not). So, I decided to collect it all in two kitchen bags and leave it beside my dumpster. I live in an apartment building and I know the dumpster is frequented by a few different people - I’ve left food on the side before too. When I checked later, it was gone (and I looked in the dumpster too, but wasn’t there). So hopefully the food found a good stomach to live in (temporarily).
So, I knowingly failed my first day. I was attending a lunch-time event today that I knew would provide vegetarian sandwiches but not vegan. I had planned ahead and made my curried chickpeas/peas/tofu last night to pack with me, but I failed to do it properly (I fixed it up this evening) and had no lunch. I arrived late to the event, so everyone had already had lunch, and I ended up (coincidentally) sitting in front of a tray of the last veggie sandwiches. While listening to an actually quite interesting talk on patenting of a business method, I had 30 minutes to debate how I felt about eating sandwiches with cream cheese spread - fun stuff, right? I decided that seeing as the sandwiches were going to be thrown away at this point, my partaking in eating them was an alright thing to do.
I’m starting to realize I may decide to be socially vegetarian while being vegan at home (or possibly a freegan). While I don’t want to consume dairy particularly, I feel like I would have be able to alienate fewer people and feel less isolated if I approach it this way. It’s kind of tough to deal with but presumably it fits with the fluid moral code that I’m aiming for - it’s just so hard to get outside of the tendency to prefer stricter codes. What I’m thinking this will involve is not eating eggs outright or drinking milk outright but instead being okay with both being in things. I’m not really sure how exactly I want this to be, but I feel like this is where I’m heading. I kind of want to do this on a case-by-case basis rather than specific rules…but I feel like that may be too inconsistent for people? I’m not sure…
I decided to have a ‘me’ day. It’s highly unusual for me to avoid socializing with friends, especially when the offer was to go out for food. (I was actually put off by the suggestion of going for gelato - my stomach turned thinking about dairy…I’m going through the initial phase of regret and guilt). I wasn’t feeling so happy as I went home, realized I was feeling quite sad. My bra-less day in PJs was nice.
I bought a magic bullet! So today has been all about smoothies! I’ve had 3 and apparently drank a potentially lethal amount of bananas (something to know: do not do more than 1 banana a day because of risk of arrhythmia). I’m just so happy about this smoothie maker, I’ve gotten a bajillion suggestions from friends on FB about the mix & I drank 1/4 of my almond milk carton today! #calciumWTF
I fixed my curried chickpeas/peas/tofu - and by fixed I mean, got the chickpeas cooked. It’s not that delicious but its edible. I will conquer cooking soon enough! I just regret making so much of this meh stuff. I’ll have to eat it at least for the next few days.
I bought a pair of vegan ethical rain boots! My friend had shown me this website (http://vshoen.myshopify.com/products/retro-flower-rainboot) & its local! I got these Retro Flower ones. I have been hunting for a pair with a frog pattern on it but I realized if I got some now, I could jump in puddles & avoid wet socks.
I was super productive today! I spent most of the day in PJs after I did 2 loads of laundry, took out trash, vacuumed, and made a to-do list. I’m feeling pretty good about my day now, although I still struggle with my philosophies. And it seems that I’m getting a rep for being food-obsessed, one of my acquaintances on FB posted a vegan okonomiyaki (savoury Japanese pancake) recipe on my “Timeline.” It didn’t include a message, so I’m not sure what I’m being told: either a passive aggressive you eat too much or I think you would like this (I’m going to assume the latter)
I discovered the coolest summer research position today & applied! One of the law profs is researching animal law from a feminist & social justice perspective. It seems like the ideal position, but I hate to get too excited, especially because I’m likely to be the most inexperienced applicant (it’s open to all years & grad law students - I’m only 1st year). I’m starting to really embrace the idea of grad school as post-law school plans, I know it fits exactly what I want to do.
Well, that’s all for now. I’m judging high school debates tomorrow - should be fun! In the meantime, I’m going to sleep…
I’m having gulab jamun cravings and while my vegan pledge doesn’t start until Friday, my latest reflections on the subject make my stomach churn when I consider the “confectionization” of cow milk. I won’t bother getting into the details, but essentially I need to find a vegan way of satisfying my gulab jamun cravings.
I’m leaning towards the latter one, mostly because oats in gulab jamuns seems so odd. But, I thought I would canvass to see if people have suggestions/ideas/recommendations/want to make me some gulab jamuns?
Thanks for following back! Your tumblr is so interesting, and I loved your vegan chai recipe!! Helped me so much!! I was trying to do a good vegan chai, but unsuccessfully... But now worked ^^
You’re welcome! And thank you, I’m glad the vegan chai recipe worked out! I was super pumped by how delicious it was and found it infinitely better than cow milk. Look forward to following your posts :)
So, I got my blood test results back from the doctor today. Turns out both my iron and vitamin B12 levels are excellent! I’ve been (ovo-lacto) vegetarian for 8 years and people constantly feel this need to ask about my nutrition. As a result, I get a kick out of telling them my nutrition levels are good! (Take that nosy bastards! I find it ridiculous that people who are only my acquaintances somehow think this is a good conversation topic.)
The two concerns my doctor had are my vitamin D levels are very low (need to supplement on a daily basis) and he wants me to watch my cholesterol. The latter works well in my intentions to start going vegan, eliminating sources of cholesterol from my diet. I have a family history of problems with cholesterol, so this is more of a concern. Also, I’m starting to look into buying a bike so I can get more activity & Victoria is just the ideal city for bike riding.
So, I’ve decided I’m going to try it out for a week. I’m going to start on 24 February 2012 and commit for a full week to start off (so until 2 March 2012). I figure this will be soon enough to capitalize on my motivation, but still give me time to plan ahead. It’s also less daunting of a commitment to start off with a week.
I’ve been vegetarian (ovo-lacto) since I was 13 (8.5 years ago) but never tried going vegan. Although, I have at points given up either eggs or dairy but never both.
I’m going to do this with my fluid moral code in mind, recognizing that I am fallible and will probably make mistakes. I think this will help me stay motivated and not feel so bad when I fail to live up to my own expectations.
I’ve decided to write out my reasons, this is going to be a lengthy personal post. While writing this, it strikes me that I’m writing this more for myself to better articulate my ideas. But I appreciate it if you do read it. :)
It turns out to have been a great exercise in self-empowerment and I’m extremely happy to have done this. The last point has really hit home why I cannot give up on vegetarianism.
First, practically speaking my lactose intolerance is becoming unbearable (currently I’m suffering the combined efforts of yogurt and milky chai - my stomach absolutely hates me right now).
Second, I have been reminded of my ethical reasons for becoming vegetarian in the first place. I use to always tell myself that once I moved out, I could more fully embrace my ethics but now that I am living on my own, I haven’t really made the effort yet. I’m decidedly against the abusive treatment of animals. It’s just absolutely cruel. While more ethical animal produce may be possible, it strikes me that current meat demands would not be met without a factory-like manufacturing of animals. So even if animal produce can be ethically sourced (I haven’t decided whether or not I think it can be), I think people would have to reduce how much meat they consume.
Moreover, the global meat demands and on-going food crises are both inextricably linked. The recession in 2008 led to the media generally ignoring the global food crisis but right before it a big deal was made about the growing international food crises (and it continues to be a serious problem). One of the explanatory factors is the linkage between economic growth in China and India, the resulting increased demand for meat there, and the ramifications on the global food markets. The idea is that as Indian and Chinese citizens have more financial resources, they are demanding more meat, the production of which is generally more resource-heavy than vegetables. This thesis need a bit more work, but essentially it relates to the fact that meat demands globally are too great to be met properly (sustainably and humanely). This leads to both excessively inhumane treatment of animals but also to inaccessibility of food for the globally impoverished. I’ll articulate it better at a later date with more evidence to support my claims. It’s a fairly complicated entanglement of colonialism, economics, and poverty.
Third, I want to make more of an effort to cook and the thought of going vegan both provides ample reason to cook more often & a new creative paradigm.
Fourth, I adore the Tumblogs with vegan #foodporn. I keep having vegan wet dreams as a result of the amazing deliciousness. I was considering giving up vegetarianism earlier this year, which I think largely had to do with a certain degree of boredom and laziness. But I feel inspired to try harder.
Fifth, the thought of eating animal flesh is really off-putting, especially after so long. I have only on 3 distinct occasions had meat cravings: first, when I first became a vegetarian, my brother and dad were eating chicken wings; second, I was hungry at lunchtime and passed someone eating some meat; third, the past few months I’ve been on-again-and-off-again having chicken cravings. I think I just haven’t tried hard enough to make more deliciousness but a recent serving of deep-fried seitan has really shut off the chicken cravings. That and we have a new pet budgie and the thought of eating a bird is so horrible - especially as I love the budgie, even though he doesn’t seem to like my singing very much (tbh, I don’t blame him).
Sixth, I feel like it is a part of my identity. I have spent a good chunk of my life as a vegetarian, particularly all my life that involved making independent-choices. I also remember how many times I have stood up for what I believe in. My father called me a loser when I decided to become vegetarian (yes at 13 he said that to me) and told me I would never become a doctor because I wouldn’t be able to deal with cutting people up (yes, very illogical - and little did he know, I thoroughly enjoying tearing people apart…but with words and am well on my way to doing it as a lawyer). I also was bullied in junior high over it. I remember my classmates in grade 9 saying really stupid shit to me. I recall one of them saying to me “So what do you eat? Tofu? That’s nasty shit” or something equally idiotic. I’ve also repeatedly had to put my foot down to various family members trying to tell me what I should or should not eat (if I say I don’t want to have the sauce from the butter chicken, I think you shouldn’t insist on it).
I have on so many occasions refused to let someone shame or force or convince me into giving up being a vegetarian. It’s almost an element of my feminist beliefs. It’s been an exercise of personal choice and resistance against being told what to do with my body. I don’t think I have ever fully captured this and having reached this realization has made me quite moved (I’m honestly teary-eyed, so apologies for any grammar/spelling errors that I leave here). It also helps me understand why I struggled so hard with the idea of giving up vegetarianism. My identity and sense of self is such an integral part of who I am and the more I think about it, I have worked really hard to define myself and to fight for independence. I cannot even convey in words how empowered I feel right now. It’s incredible how assertive I have been and I don’t think I want to ever lose this part of me, especially now that I have been able to articulate it. I’m really glad I took the time to write this down and have it here to remind me.
Edited: I realized I may not have this clear. Most of the people trying to convince me out of vegetarianism have been men (incidentally even the kids bullying me were of the outward male persuasion). So there are clear gendered hierarchies.
I also don’t mean to entail anything about vegetarianism and feminism as inherently linked. It’s just my personal experience and it has strengthened my convictions on both.