Monday, July 21, 2008

Vegan

At the core of my heart is my commitment to the non-human people of this world. To work toward a goal of harm reduction and walking lightly, I live as a vegan. To me, being vegan includes not ingesting the bodies or secretions of non-human animals. I do not wear things that are made from the bodies of animals. It also means that I do not participate in the various events that feature non-consenting animals including zoos, rodeos and aquariums.

My deep commitment to our furred, feathered and fined sisters and brothers is rooted in many things.

For one, I am a Jew. In Ashkenazi culture, we are taught to think about WHO we are eating or wearing. For example, we are meant not to eat the body of an animal along with her secretions. For me, being vegan is what kosher principles are all about: just because something is available to me to eat does not justify uncritical consumption. And my privilege as a human in this world does not justify my using other animals’ bodies at my whim.

I am a feminist. I believe in looking critically at the way female people are treated in society. I want to tease out misogynistic saturation in my life. When I think about the consumption of bodily secretions I know that these are female bodies from which milk and eggs are sucked. I know how raw, bloody and full of pus my own nipples would be if I had metal suction cups forcing liquid from them for hours on end. My own menstrual cycles let me feel the pain of those whose bodies are starved so they will be shocked into an unnatural egg cycle. I am left horrified. I wonder if this abuse of female bodies would be appropriate in a feminist, non-patriarchal society.

I am human. I know that no person can kill animal after animal on an assembly line without suffering irreversible psychological damage.

Pure logic. If we were not stuffing non-human animals full of grain and corn, those foods could be fed to the millions of people who are hungry around the world. I refuse to exercise my first-world privilege by eating flesh because I know that a cow or chicken has a relatively small body compared with the amount of grain s/he must eat.

I have been criticized before that I am exerting my privilege as a first-worlder by being vegan. This weak argument often sounds like “Some people don’t GET to eat meat” or “it’s so white to be vegetarian, people with culture eat meat”. Just because endless consumption is available to me as an american DOES NOT mean that I must participate and more importantly, to participate creates a world of suffering from humans to non-human animals to the environment as a whole. There are cultures throughout history and across the world that encourage their people to think critically about what they use, take and eat. Jewish, Rasta, Buddist, Hindu and Muslim cultures all ask you to think about what you are eating.

Please do not censor your comments. I want to have a space where we can speak openly about each others’ thoughts and beliefs.

12 comments:

Alienation said...

"I wonder if this abuse of female bodies would be appropriate in a feminist, non-patriarchal society."

Wow that is really really powerful. I never thought about how the value of females, animal or otherwise contribute to why female animals are exploited for things like milk and eggs. It's 100% true, and something I've never considered or critiqued.

"I have been criticized before that I am exerting my privilege as a first-worlder by being vegan. This weak argument often sounds like “Some people don’t GET to eat meat” or “it’s so white to be vegetarian, people with culture eat meat”.

I think that it is unfortunate that people will list these examples because you choose to be vegan as a personal choice. However, I think one is exercising their privilege by claiming that everyone should be vegan, or eat organic, or buy polish spring water, or whatever else might be a trendy and a part of the new "health conscious" movement. Eating meat in the third world is a luxury and we can't deny it. But so is vegetables, grains, and fruit. A lot of what we eat comes from the third world, just ask Whole Foods. Is there really a difference between eating a burger from McDonalds which cut down rain forests and displaced hundreds of thousands of people in South America and shopping at Whole Foods? Why or why not? (Asking myself this question as well).


Rasta's (only group you listed that are vegan?), Hindu's, muslims, etc., have been avoiding certain animal products for ages, and its only healthy because elite whites have started a trendy new movement. I guess i think that food is neutral in terms of health and that meat, grains, etc., are not inherently unhealthy. The media/science would never tell us either way, because so much is invested in keeping America sick.


I'm not anymore sold on vegetarianism than I am on the argument for eating meat. I am a vegetarian after numerous failed attempts at starting back with meat and getting sick. Although I've gone back and forth, I've been a vegetarian for at least 8 yrs. From 14-20 I was fully vegetarian, and since then I've fluctuated back and forth but MOSTLY not eating meat. I wouldn't say I was a "health nut". I pretty much ate and still eat the average americans intake of fruit, vegetables, but mostly tons of rice and beans and pasta. I don't eat all junk, but I don't eat all healthy either. I've also focused so much on racism and sexism that I've never considered animal rights. I became vegetarian at 14 simply because I didn't wanna eat meat anymore. I never re-evalued my stance and don't know nearly as much as I'd like to about animal rights.

I honestly think that people's instant defensiveness to your veganism could be based on the the organic "conscious" neo white people movement. I can understand why it is inherently problematic for white people to come preach to black people about cruelty of animals while simultaneously (and conveniently) ignoring their own privilege and covering their guilt with "save the whales" campaigns. I know that is not what you're doing, but I can also see why it might sound like that to people.


For example what comes to mind when we hear the word "organic"?

White people who can afford to spend a ton on Evian, go to Spa's, and getting massages, and practicing buddhism while going to yoga in their hybrid cars. Practicing eastern medicine and taking vitamins with low regard to any of humanity and connecting with "spirituality" while exploiting/appropriating eastern cultures. Being "peaceful" and meditate without acknowledging their privilege and passing it off as "personal wellbeing". Again, thats just what comes to mind as an initial thought based on the media.

The Organic Movement and Veganism are closely connected in people's heads and I think that is also a problem that can be cleared up with active discussion.

I don't like when whites in general try to come in with their stamp on what's healthy. When meat is luxury and everyone not wealthy can only afford to eat root vegetables and rice, the opposite is said. This was over and over again throughout history and in the third world as much as it was in feudal Europe.

It is an obstacle for me to think that America has any kind of expertise in health whether its vegetarian or not. From the outside looking in, the privilege of America would make you forget that so many are suffering from mental and physical illness. I know that based on denying what science has to say about gender and that if the theories dont fit its ALL wrong because science is not exact. Since people are healthy or unhealthy based on a variety of things that have nothing to do with what science claims such as: family history, meat intake, weight, age, geographical area, etc., that science is correct about what it says about health. 100% of vegans should not get cancer if veganism prevents cancer, and 100% of meat eaters should die sooner if the reverse is true. I apply this to gender and sexuality as well. 100% of women should be maternal if its biological, etc., If science is not exact, then all of it is flawed (like math).

Just like attractiveness, HEALTH is associated with what those in power eat, think, and do. Thinness is only healthy for example, because it is associated right now with the elite (that too, has fluctuated over time). Which is why there are totally different standards in the third world that equate thinness with sickness in many other cultures. Women also outlive men regardless of the fact that men tend to be more muscular and have less body fat then women across the board, regardless of what science says. But because attractiveness and wealth are tied into health, we wouldn't know what health is. Men are considered healthy where as women's body's and health is always in question because, again, health has to be synonymous with privilege. When people hear the word "Vegan" they think "health" and "organic movement" but never the root reason for you: A general concern for the life of animals. THAT is not even up for discussion. I feel in many ways, animals never enter the equation and that's because its something people want to ignore. I guess I'm trying to say that it's easier to pass a vegan off as one of those annoying organic people I mentioned than it is to address the consequences of our eating flesh. (In typical Shekinah lengthy post fashion)

I do think that privilege is the main obstacle to having a conversation about veganism. I know plenty of black vegetarians, but it is still considered an elite movement because it usually is. We should try to do something to encourage dialogue about veganism that doesn't lead to the argument against it.

Anarchist Jew said...

First, thanks so much for the thoughtful response, Shekinah.


Although I definitely believe that abstaining from eating flesh and animal by-products is a far healthier diet, it is certainly a secondary reason for my dietary choices.


“HEALTH is associated with what those in power eat, think, and do. Thinness is only healthy for example, because it is associated right now with the elite (that too, has fluctuated over time).”


I absolutely agree that those in power dictate what is healthy in order to make money and control the people. However, I don’t know of any main-stream health organization that is advocating a meatless or vegan diet. With these things in mind, I think that learning about our various ancestors’ diets is enlightening and valuable.


It is extremely important that I remember that privilege does dictate a large part in my life- as white, able-bodied, financially sound and living in the first world. Often, what may seem like choices are the direct result of privilege. I want to talk more about how privilege steers our lives.


However, I believe that part of being a critically thinking, revolutionary-minded individual is seeing the connections among various oppressions. The oppression of one group rationalizes the oppression of another. There are disturbing reasons that expressions such as “treated like an animal” or “treated like a piece of meat” exist.

We are all connected. It is racist and colonialist to stake claim to another part of the world to grow fat cows for us to eat. We all suffer from decisions that destroy people or the environment.


My compassion for non-human animals does not limit my compassion for human animals and our various social issues; it deepens it. My compassion is deepened because I see that non-human animals are not the only people being “treated like animals”.

Alienation said...

"However, I don’t know of any main-stream health organization that is advocating a meatless or vegan diet. "

I agree. When I had knee surgery I was told that I need red meat and protein shakes in order to get my knee muscle stronger. Since I have so little cartilage in my knee, they were adamant about me starting back eating meat AND drinking cows milk as a source of calcium to maintain the little cartilage i have left. Up until a year ago, even. These words came out of my physical therapists mouth. I just mean that as of RECENTLY with the organic movement, now the privileged have once again staked a claim in what is healthy.

"I believe that part of being a critically thinking, revolutionary-minded individual is seeing the connections among various oppressions."

Yes, but very very very carefully when one comes from a position of privilege. White people regardless of gender, orientation, or belief need to be careful comparing their struggles to People of Color for example because it comes off as entitlement and a superiority complex, and it often is.
Just like addressing the sexism foreign women experience must be done VERY carefully in order not to come across as nationalistic and therefore racist.

I know for a fact that comparing people of color's struggles to animals will often get a bad response. P.O.C's don't like being compared to animals. Period. And when people compare the struggles of P.O.C it often sounds like "why should said group not have rights when EVEN P.O.C's have this right" :entitlement: as though everyones struggle is more important. It's a touchy subject. That's just what it could sounds like, even when I see your very valid point. I apply this to myself (or at leas try) when I'm criticizing foreign sexism. I compare the struggles of People of Color to say, whites who are queer or women in general but its so that I better understand and empathize with everyone's struggles also. But whites in general who do it seem to have a very different agenda for reasons I mentioned above. It reminds me of when people like to bring up rape as a comparison regularly "oh, that's like being raped" for their argument. And it makes you wonder why their mind is so preoccupied with rape that they have to compare it in some arbitrary metaphor?

"It is racist and colonialist to stake claim to another part of the world to grow fat cows for us to eat. "

AGREED. It is just as racist to stake claim on Soybeans from tropical climates. I mean, I drink Soymilk too. :-(

"I think that learning about our various ancestors’ diets is enlightening and valuable."

I agree. I also think that this is the argument people use for claiming why meat is healthy. Millions of years of evolution where our ancestors ate meat, which I don't deny. I guess what I am trying to say is that the argument against meat from a "health" perspective, is weaker than a genuine concern for the life of animals because the "health" thing (like all of science) can be fought to death by either argument depending on personal bias. And that looking out for our lil furries is more relevant to me (personally), as a legitimate reason for why eating meat is wrong. But people equate veganism with the organic movement probly partially done to IGNORE the fact that eating animals is wrong as well. AKA Deflecting: Something people generally do to ignore their privilege.

Bandbabe said...

I never thought about how the animals we get eggs/milk from, which are treated so cruelly, are female. It's really terrible. I don't think industries involving living things should done in an assembly line. Yet, in our capitalist system of greed maximizing profits holds presence of everything else (as we've seen time and time again with little regard given for human life in western society -- serfs, the poor, the oppressed, etc).

Alienation said...

"SERFS"???

Ahahahaha

What in the archaic terminology?

Ebony Intuition said...

"I wonder if this abuse of female bodies would be appropriate in a feminist, non-patriarchal society."

Wow that is really really powerful. I never thought about how the value of females, animal or otherwise contribute to why female animals are exploited for things like milk and eggs. It's 100% true, and something I've never considered or critiqued.


This is very true, I never thought of it either.


"It is an obstacle for me to think that America has any kind of expertise in health whether its vegetarian or not."

Ok i have a lil inside joke , as you know I am from Canada EHH !!lol anywho...
anytime I go to the USA, I sing this lil song because seriously most Americans are over weight, not just black americans, americans of every race. The song goes, " Living in America is UNHEALTHY". I have noticed that Americans like to eat out a lot, compared to Canadians who will eat more home cooked food.

"Men are considered healthy where as women's body's and health is always in question because, again, health has to be synonymous with privilege."

hmmm interesting never thought of it that way, but it makes sense. Men always seem to have this assumption that they are healthier, which explains why guys seem to never want to go to the doctor. Which also explains why tv ads are always targeted at women for taking responsibility for health disease especially sex related diseases.

Not how any type of "health ad" for a man is to help him with his sex life...


"I also think that this is the argument people use for claiming why meat is healthy. Millions of years of evolution where our ancestors ate meat, which I don't deny."

This is a good point also, because I've been in lots of discussions with black people who are vegan or vegetarian and try to say that are ancestors didn't eat meat at all,(which then connects back to the point you made about blacks not wanting to be associated with animals at all, so some assume we never ate meat at all).

But if you look at history or ancient paintings you always see a tribe with a certain animal in which they would eat the meat and use the rest of the animal for whatever tools they need in their daily life.

For example in africa the drums that we used and still used are made from the skin of an animal, the eskimos used the skin and fur of the buffalo for their jackets to keep warm.

Ebony Intuition said...

I came across this post by a female on my myspace page.

"Makeda Voletta aka QueenLionesss aka QueenGoddezz

OK...ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

I have sat quietly as the vegan cult has grown more and more aggressive. Vegans wear t-shirts that say "Vegan" and in their profiles they write: "I am a writer, scientist, actress and a vegan." They must always point that out. People who consume animal products do not state that all of the time.

I am a researcher by nature and have spent years in nutritional biochemistry classes. I have studied nutrition from a spiritual, historical, paleolithic, anthropological, nutritional and epidemiological standpoint and there is absolutely no evidence of any vegan societies and/or that humans are herbivores. I have dedicated my life to studying how to bring the body to it's highest level so I keep my mind open and study from all perspectives. I have read the poorly designed studies that state that meat eaters have more health problems than non meat eaters....the studies are FLAWED! So many people talk about nutrition as if they know what they're talking about and it's a bunch of mumbo jumbo.

I have enough to write a detailed 500 page book on this topic. For now, I am presenting this brief post and I will have a blog up by the end of the night with much information. And I challenge anyone to a public debate on this topic.

This vegan propaganda has gone too far!!

Some vegans claim that animals who eat other animals do so as a survivor mechanism...however this is so far from the truth. Lions, Vultures etc are carnivores and giraffes are herbivores...humans are omnivores. Humans, pigs and rats can eat almost anything. Other species just eat one type of plant or one type of animal. Carnivores have sharp teeth and Hcl acid in their stomach, herbivores have flat teeth and omnivores (such as humans) have teeth that are a mixture between the carnivore and the herbivore with Hcl in our stomach. Hydrochloric acid is there to help digest animal protein.

If you look at every corner of the Earth at indeginous people who live in the bush uncolonized...they all hunt WILD animals and pick WILD fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables and other plants are just as alive as the animals. Hunting tools and beautiful art work depicting hunters are found all over the world. Hunting was a spiritual thing for indeginous people. They did not just go kill animals to hang from their wall. For example, the Native Americans needed Buffalo to build their Tipi's along with the raw organ meat. That is where most of the nutrition is stored..in the organs.

All of the drums in the world are made from animal skin and wood. There are no vegan drums. The fake vegan imitation drum head does not give off the same sound and vibration.

Many people forget to realize that most of the food we eat in America comes from across the country or outside of the country. If the electricity went out and we had to get our own food...LOCALLY could we live off of just our local plants? Would that fill all of our nutritional needs? That would mean no tropical fruits shipped from Brazil and herbs from China. Also, what would you do in the winter to keep warm if you had to use what was around you and there weren't any slaves to pick cotton to make fabrics? Indeginous people used animal furs and hides since the beginning of time. Look at the Eskimos...their diet is high in raw, cold water fish. Could they survive on plants alone? NO!!! But they do eat their fish raw.

The healthiest people in the world right now are the Okinawa in Japan...they are not vegans. And as a matter of a fact all of the vegans I know are either too skinny or too fat and mushy,. Most of them are not that physically active aside from Yoga. The ones I am surrounded by are not very strong and energized.

I would highly suggest you take a look at the work of Weston A. Price.

He traveled around the world and studied indeginous people and the archaelogical remains on every content and see what he found:

PLEASE TAKE AN HONEST LOOK AT THE LINKS BELOW:

http://www.westonaprice. org/traditional_diets/out_of_africa.html

http://www.westonaprice. org/mythstruths/mtvegetarianism.html

http://www.westonaprice. org/moderndiseases/copper-zinc-imbalance.

http://www.westonaprice. org/traditional_diets/ancient_dietary_wisdom.html

I would also suggest purchasing these books:

"Traditional Foods are Your Best Medicine: Improving your health and Longevity with Native Nutrition" by: Robert Schmid

"The Maker's Diet" by: Jordan S.Rubin "

The above post is what she wrote and I must add that this women is in amazing shape..

I think the main issue is that anything and everything from the "old world" has been turned into a exploited money making business. That has made north america and europe into power countries by of course exploited the rest of the world.

Anarchist Jew said...

hm, again, i am not talking about health- this womon can go ahead and eat dead animals that are killed by underpaid, overworked people with no health insurance who go jobless when they get their limbs cut off in factory farm equiptment. Being vegan, for me, is a choice to walk lightly and not consume everything in front of my face. The reasons BEYOND selfish ideas of health are where im at- think of the humans, the non-human animals, the environment.

Alienation said...

"this womon can go ahead and eat dead animals that are killed by underpaid, overworked people with no health insurance who go jobless when they get their limbs cut off in factory farm equiptment. "

The fact that strawberries and other fruits are picked by immigrants from Mexico as WELL as vegetables, etc. by people abroad and the people who work in factories mining our meat is no different. However people eat whatever is in front of them based on personal ideas and don't consider others at all (privilege). Whether it be human or not human. We are all guilty of it to a certain extent. People are suffering as a result of imperialization and globalization to produce massive amounts of food for privileged countries, meat or not. It's not americans eating meat that is causing foreign people to starve, it's that americans eat food, period, that is not homegrown.

"Being vegan, for me, is a choice to walk lightly and not consume everything in front of my face. The reasons BEYOND selfish ideas of health are where im at- think of the humans, the non-human animals, the environment."

Very well put. I agree 100%

Alienation said...

"But if you look at history or ancient paintings you always see a tribe with a certain animal in which they would eat the meat and use the rest of the animal for whatever tools they need in their daily life."

It really depends on the area. Some cultures I believe were vegan while others may have eaten meat.... But cows milk could not have been eaten if the country didn't have cows, which explains lactose intolerance amongst many african americans, asians, etc., being more common. Evolution can sway either way, depending on bias just like science can. There were plenty of vegans and plenty of cultures to eat meat. So we can't use the argument of what "the ancients" did, I don't think.


"Carnivores have sharp teeth and Hcl acid in their stomach, herbivores have flat teeth and omnivores (such as humans) have teeth that are a mixture between the carnivore and the herbivore with Hcl in our stomach. Hydrochloric acid is there to help digest animal protein."

The problem with this argument is that people CAN eat vegan and be healthy. A given is that we can't survive without water for a week or two, this is across the board. 100%. Anything else in terms of "food" and "health" depends on personal bias.

Whether or not meat is healthy is debatable and therefore I don't trust the argument either way.

"And as a matter of a fact all of the vegans I know are either too skinny or too fat and mushy,. "

This is a matter of personal aesthetic that I am talking about, associated with science. What exactly is too skinny or too fat? It's not mentioned.

I think people WANT to believe meat is healthy so they don't have to consider that eating animals is morally wrong, or the pain animals go through to get it.


It's the same argument as "the animal is dead so wearing fur is ok", which is ridiculous (and weak). The argument can always be that "Well, it's healthier this way". Or "it's human nature" (As this woman is saying). And I don't like the human nature argument applied to anything.

I mentioned the health argument because I know this is will be brought up when AJ talks about not eating animals, and it has been. But AJ is not arguing from a health perspective. She is healthy, as a vegan. As many people are healthy, as omnivores. So we can't use any argument about health. The issue of animals is what needs to be discussed. Do you think eating animals is morally wrong, or ok?

Ebony Intuition said...

"Being vegan, for me, is a choice to walk lightly and not consume everything in front of my face"

I hear that I myself have reduced the amount of meat I consume over the years, I still eat meat only chicken, turkey or fish. And I have uped my veggie and fruit intake.


"Do you think eating animals is morally wrong, or ok?"

I don't think eating animals is morally wrong, I think slaughtering animals to hang their head on the wall of someone's living room is wrong. It's a really hard debate because I personally feel everything was placed on this earth for a reason, animals and humans are all apart of an eco system. We have plants and herbs which are good for us, but there are also herbs and plants that can be harmful to us or if you consume to much of it it because harmful, just like there are certain meats that do provide protein etc , and then there is animal meat that shouldn't be eaten because the animal its self isn't a clean animal (pigs).

And again it also depends on the area and environment that you live in. like you mentioned below

"It really depends on the area. Some cultures I believe were vegan while others may have eaten meat.... But cows milk could not have been eaten if the country didn't have cows, which explains lactose intolerance amongst many african americans, asians, etc., being more common.



"The fact that strawberries and other fruits are picked by immigrants from Mexico as WELL as vegetables, etc. by people abroad and the people who work in factories mining our meat is no different."

Good point, the majority of food we eat regardless if it's meat or fruits are picked by women of colour, underage kids, jobless, no insurance and makes a penny a day.

I can also apply this to clothing were the majority of clothing we wear are made by 1. women of color in africa, mexico, south america , india, and asia.

2. Children in these same countries
3. All under payed and exploited

This can be applied to so many different industry's not just the meat or food industry

Other examples would be diamonds, oil, titanium all the resources of this world that are being placed in everyones face in north america are being grown and picked, dug,and made by women of colour and or children in rich countries that have been labeled third world countries by Europeans.

It really boils back down to "explotation" prior to colonization everyone had control of their own resources in their country, after colonization europeans had control of everyones resources, which left women, men and children who are native to africa, india, north and south america, the pacific, etc with "nothing". They still do all the work but they don't even get the first hand or any profits in their resources.

Ebony Intuition said...

"We are all guilty of it to a certain extent. People are suffering as a result of imperialization and globalization to produce massive amounts of food for privileged countries, meat or not. It's not americans eating meat that is causing foreign people to starve, it's that americans eat food, period, that is not homegrown."

100 % true, even in Ontario the government has been pushing locally grown food a lot for the past several years so Canada is already starting to make a change even though of course stuff is still being import in, but things that can be grown here are being put in the grocery stores and markets first.