Thursday, September 21, 2006

I took the veg pledge!

I also took this very silly online test which tells me that I'm a militant vegan. Amazing, since I don't actually manage to be a vegan. Apparently I'm militant enough to make up for it (hmmmm, bad quaker!)

You scored as militant vegan. You are a militant vegan! Happy? Surprised? A vegan is someone who avoids consuming/using all animal products, including flesh, dairy, eggs, honey, leather, and so forth. Some avoid products tested on animals. Being a militant vegan means you have more radical views than most vegetarians, namely animal rights. You may be an activist already or on the verge. You are confident and unwavering about your ethics. Not a vegan? Perhaps you're one waiting to happen! Check it out at www.goveg.com

militant vegan

56%

quiet vegetarian

45%

health-conscious vegetarian

39%

new veggie

33%

vegan vixen

28%

welfarist vegetarian

28%

lazy vegetarian

17%

What type of vegetarian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com


I volunteered at a food giveaway sponsored by compassionate action for animals this morning, and got all jazzed about everything.

So, I've meant to write about how being vegetarian is tied to quakerism for me, but I've never really found myself motivated (led?) to. It somehow is hard to explain, though it's the most obvious thing to me (well, probably because it's so obvious to me) So I probably won't again, except to say that it's nonviolence, it's equality (which for me is manifest in not causing animals suffereing because they can suffer, and they don't like to any more than I do, rather than basing it on whether they're smart enough, or human-like enough, or whatever), it's also, conveniently enough, simplicity (eating lower on the foodchain - that also ties into eating locally and organically and stuff)


But right now I'm interested in other stuff about the topic.

Firstly, how hard I find it because it sets me apart from my friends. Most are omnivores, but comfortable with eating vegetarian now and then, some are vegetarian. Pretty much none of them are vegan, and very very few of them (okay, I can think of one) are comfortable eating vegan frequently (that would be my recent ex girlfriend) - It's freaky and saddening to me to think that I am so "of the world" that such considerations could keep me from something that feels rightly led and discerned. And it brings to mind what Zach has been writing about getting back the original "fire" of quakers - that fire that put what God wants (or, in my language, what one has discenered to be "right") ahead of, or even more simply on a completely different playing field from, worldly comfort and convenience.

To be fair, I don't particularly want to be vegan, I really like cheese, and ice cream, and eggs. I really liked meat too, but somehow it was easier to give up - I think because it was more difficult to dissociate - eating the actually leg or side of an actual animal, rather than eating a product that is tied to suffering (and yes, death) but one step removed) - so it's not like the world is holding me back from righteousness, it's more a terribly handy excuse.


I don't know, I think I'm drifting.....

9 comments:

GMC said...

Don't beat yourself up too bad, go ahead and have a piece of cheese. I think of it as the necture of cows. I think that the big thing is cruelty shouldn't be in the process of feeding oneself. I guess it's up to you to define cruelity.

I don't think that much has been said on the eatting habits of Jesus, but I am quite sure that He wasn't vegan.

I have been an ovolacto(?) vegatarian for many years, I think I was one ten years before before I ever met a Quaker. I guess what I am trying to say is don't get to hung up on labels, just try to be the best person you can be.

In reading your blog over the last months I guess that I am just restating what you already know.

Peace

Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C]) said...

Maybe what the quiz thinks is your "militance", is simply the clarity with which you see what's right?

I've been vegetarian myself (no meat, fish, or eggs -- i.e., nothing with brains; I'm allowed to eat Democrats and Republicans) for thirty-four years. I'm not the type to force it on others, but I do think my practice is a testimony.

There are very probably dairies in your area that obtain milk in humane ways. You can ask around; the dairies that do hold to humane considerations will gladly tell you. You may also find you like soy milk.

earthfreak said...

Ha!

Thanks, guys!

I don't beat myself up, actually, really at all.

I must clarify that while I find it interesting to learn about how Jesus lived his life, and often take inspiration from it, it's nothing like a template for me.

What's more, he lived in a time and culture where food choices were a totally different thing. I WOULD bet yout that, while he probably wasn't vegan (varioius references to fish, even though some think he was actually vegetarian anyway) I would bet you hard money that he never ate any food that came from more than 100 miles away from where he was at the time. Not because he was a "locavore" or whatever, but because it wasn't an option. The choices that we are faced with these days are vastly different from his.

I'd like to think that he was inclined to act out of compassion (though there is some evidence against this, in my opinion) and that he would speak out today against things like factory farming, but I could be wrong, and I don't base my opinions on such things much on the bible.

In any case, i do actually live in a community where it's not hard to find "ethically raised" dairy and eggs. (or at least organic/free range) - I still haven't explored any of the farms, which is reccommended if you want to eat such things with a "clear conscience", but I do buy free range and avoid "commercial" eggs (and to a lesser extent, dairy) I used to buy eggs from a coworker who had chickens, and I felt much better about that, actually from two different coworkers at two different times, the later one being a woman who really seemed to have empathy for her chickens.


And I meant to get to this, but my mind drifted off, I do have a concern about the "tradeoffs" - If I buy fake meat that was made in California and shipped halfway across the country in plastic packaging (not to mention a heavily polluting airplane!) can I really feel better about that than about buying a humanely raised turkey from a local farm? maybe marginally.

Of course, the answer is to eat vegan and still eat simply, but my addictions are many. I don't know if I can give up ice cream, and I really like tofurkey slices :)

I do actually drink soymilk instead of milk as it stands now. But I really like cream on raspberries (now I'm off the hook cause the seasons' over) not to mention traditional pizza ( you can concoct a pretty good vegan alternative, actually, but it isnt' the SAME, and sometimes you want familiar foods, not just something that tastes good.

earthfreak said...

Marshall - your jab at dems and reps made me laugh. Thanks!


Yes, I think it's about clarity, rather than "militance" so much. None of the questions on the test, for example said "meat eaters should be shot, true or false?" - I think I'm militant in their eyes because I am willing to say that I think meat eating is wrong (rather than simply, it's not for me)

(Though, of course, i don't think it's inherently wrong - I don't want to force eskimos to be vegan, or Lions, or any of the siliness that gets thrown in one's face. I think eating at McDonald's is wrong, perhaps that's closer)

I struggle with "forcing it on others" as opposed to "leading by example" - I am, or was, the type to force it on others, and irritated a good number of people in college :)

(I've been vegetarian for about 20 years)

Now I think I'm pretty clear what my ethical framework is about the whole thing. If a meat eating friend asks me about it, I'll tell them, or even if the conversation veers that way, but mostly it doesnt', I guess, lately, maybe that's a form of "tact" or "diplomacy" - somewhat foreign concepts to me!

peace
Pam

Zach said...

Marshall, to me it seems more possible to produce eggs in a humane manner than milk, because with to keep a cow lactating you have to keep impregnating the her every year or two (usually forcibly), and this produces a lot of baby cows no one wants to take care of, which are then killed for veal.

Pam, what do you think of soy ice creams? Slightly more simply, have you experimented with homemade banana ice cream? Blended frozen bananas have a creamy texture that comes pretty close to ice cream (depending on the preparation) even without dairy or processed soy products. I linked to a recipe on the wikiveg blog last post. (Incidentally, I'm probably shutting down that site soon.)

earthfreak said...

Zach -

thanks.

I'm sad you're shutting down wikiveg, but I suppose I haven't been there in a while......

I absolutely love the purely decadent peanut butter zig zag, and get that more often than dairy ice cream for at-home times.

It's more cultural stuff about how much I love going out for ice cream. There is a great family run ice cream place about a mile from my house (okay, three?) that has solar panels on their roof and stuff. They also actually almost always have 2 sorbet flavors and 1 or 2 soy flavors on hand at all times, but I prefer their dairy flavors (though when they have soy chocolate I'll have that) - Also, there is a wonderful, small lesbian owned ice cream place that uses local organic cream and local berries, cookies from local shops, fair trade coffee, etc. Which I just LOVE - they also usually have at least one sorbet, but, like yesterday, they had local pumpkin ice cream, which I couldn't pass up.

I actually feel somewhat more justified in buying ice cream from these folks. At least I'm not patronizing dairy queen (at least not very often!)

Eggs are still an issue too, though. If you want to be "pure" whatever would you do with the boy chicks?

I mean, i'm a total hypocrite because I feed meat to my dogs and cats. It would be an improvement to raise chickens myself for eggs and feed the male chicks born to them, but that seems so much more brutal than buying "kibble" at the co-op.

sigh.

zach said...

You're right, I forgot about the male chicks...

I'm thinking of shutting WV down for precisely the issue you touch on -- the fact that the veg*n movements (like most movements) see veg*nism as an end in itself, but to me the broader ecological issues seem to be the truly important ones now. The difference is that a vegan/vegetarian wiki or site can't easily incorporate the ecological issues of processed soy products, etc., or the rightness of eating meat in certain primitive contexts, but conversely, an ecological site/wiki can easily incorporate veg*n issues.

I guess I'm a "post-vegan" (which of course is not anti-vegan) stuck with a "vegan" site.

James Riemermann said...

First, let me say that I admire a person who is extreme about not contributing to suffering, and that includes a lot of vegetarians and vegans. It certainly includes you, Pam.

But I want to probe a little bit about your statement, and partial retraction afterwards, that "meat eating is wrong." I'm not quite sure what you mean by "wrong" but not "intrinsically wrong." You seem to allow exceptions for indigenous cultures and natural predators, but--not sure about this--not for middle class white people like me.

It is true that some people have broader options in life than others. It would be far easier for me to put together a vegan diet than for someone in a pre-modern community. And maybe that freedom makes me more culpable for the suffering I cause through my choices. I guess I can accept that. Guilt and culpability are old hat for me.

But I have to say, it seems to me that the world itself--God, if you will--bears a good deal of the culpability. The dynamics of the "circle of life," despite our romanticism, is fundamentally about cross-species exploitation, about creatures eating other creatures, often inflicting horrific suffering. I don't blame lions for the suffering they inflict on their prey--they're not wired to care about such things--but that doesn't make the suffering any less, or any less horrific.

This is not meant as a criticism of vegetarianism, nor a defense of the suffering I inflict by choices in my own life. It is intended to show that life is intrinsically problematic, and there is no innocent way to live. All we can do is keep reaching toward the light.

earthfreak said...

It is intended to show that life is intrinsically problematic, and there is no innocent way to live.

amen, brother!

That's much of what I was trying to get at. It's all a balancing act, and nothing we do can be "pure" - at least by my standards, it's about weighing the impact of various choices and attempting to make the best one (after you figure out what "best" might look like!)

In terms of excusing some, I do. I actually excuse most to some extent these days, and count meat-eaters (even middle class white people like yourself, well, heck, yourself!) among those I love and admire and respect.

I think that what I meant is that meat eating as it would fit into my current life is "wrong" in my estimation - most especially if it involves huge operations where the animals are never even really seen by their "owners" or even their handlers.

Balanced against something like a northern tribe hunting seals in a traditional manner - where the animal is living its life up until the moment it is killed (rather than being part of someone else's system), where (hopefully) there is some intentionality about the whole thing (I don't know if it's true of northern indigenous folk, but I know that some say prayers when they kill something, of gratitude, or even apology) (that's important to me because, unlike lions, we humans DO have the capacity to understand the impacts of our actions, and empathize, and I think that's important)

To be honest, I think I would rather the people who can live simply, and "in harmony with nature" (a concept that could use some exploration itself!) by eating meat, do so. I think veganism and vegetarianism are somewhat of an urban phenomenon, but I'd need to give that more thought. I knew a guy in college who was vegetarian cause he grew up on a dairy farm and really came to love the cows, and couldn't bear the thought of eating one.


I find that my thoughts on this have settled into something like:

*It's at least morally honest to eat meat if you are willing to kill it yourself. (I, so far, am not, which is one major reason why I'm vegetarian)

*It's more "okay" the less suffering is involved (so, if you eat meat from a local farm where the animal got to live out a relatively healthy life before its death, and never spent any time on a feedlot, or, preferably a slaughterhouse (I don't know how they do that on small farms, actually) - that's better than eating what you'd get at, say, Burger King (or McDonald's)

*hunting and using as much of the animal as possible would be best - and most reasonably justified by the "lions do it" line of thinking - lions do not stockpile their prey in feedlots, nor let their bodies go to waste, ever (I think)

peace
Pam