an open letter to office co-workers on Weight Watchers

So well put.

I know some people will think that is directed at them, but really it’s not. It’s a good way to blow off some steam about being thrown into these conversations when you don’t want to be. At my last job I ate lunch with all my coworkers at once (which was nice, until I started my clique) and everyone would talk about calories and food content and such while I was eating my lunch. Fuck off. Now I eat lunch with people who don’t give a fuck what they eat and have extra helpings of french fries and it is awesome.

Oh, what’s even better is when I am eating something and someone wants me to explain why I am vegan and don’t eat bread, while we are eating. So I am forced to tell them: I don’t eat animals because it is mutilation, I don’t eat dairy because cows are raped repeatedly to produce milk for the masses, and I don’t eat bread because it gives me explosive you-know-what. All when we are both eating. Good times.

oh, just some interesting tidbits about my day

Nothing to say really, except that I consumed the flesh of dead animals. I haden’t eaten anything, and I was not going to have the chance to for a long time, so I had a hot dog. Except that it was a chicken-and-apple flavor. WHAT THE FUCK? Who puts those flavors together. Apparently they are supposed to be some of the best in the area, but it has cured me of any longing I have been having for hot dogs. Maybe it was good, because it affirmed my committment.

I also did an exercise where I had to design an amusement park based on significant points and events in my life. I am not one for sharing, and it all came out kind of superficial and I think it made people confused. Here were some of the highlights:

  • a puppy and kitty petting zoo
  • a roller coaster of my moods
  • instead of a “test your strength” column where you have to get the device to reach the top, it was a “guess how many bootleg albums I have”
  • a museum consisting of the history of the feminist movement, the civil rights movement, ancient Rome, and fashions of the 90s.
  • The theme park resort is still in the works, but it will look like a Barbie Dream House, obvi.
  • There is also a new Sweet Valley High themed extension, where all the employees have to be size-six blonds and there is a roller coaster where all the cars are Black Porches. And  a si,u-rode where you have to stay on the back of Todd’s Motorcycle without falling off. Ok, stop me, I could go on forever.

yum

Some vegan related things that got my tofu in a bunch:

Whole foods Market bans the sale of live lobsters. Can I love this place more? They also started making vegan spelt cupcakes.

The Flying V is a vegan diner that will open in DC very soon. I would give my kidneys to move back there again.

Jack Black: another hot vegan. And he eats wheat-free bread!

The realtionship between veganism and global warming.

cookin

One of the things I have most enjoyed about being vegan is that it has encouraged me to cook more. I think it is the combination of having to be more creative in what I eat combined with the fact that I always hated handling raw meat when I cooked. I used to always be so paranoid about not cooking meat long enough and poisoning myself. Also, with vegan cookin, there is more incentive to experiment with mixing different flavors. Since I am impressed with myself, here are some recent successes that I have had:

Potatoes "au gratin" with baked tofu and asparagus

"Cheese" quesadillas with mango pico de gallo

Three-bean cinnamon chilli

Italian eggplant and portabella

Garlic polenta with (homemade) marina

Sweet potatoe enchiladas

White bean stew with fennel, organge and rosemary (this was the shit, and also took about three hours to make)

I also love how you can take something that is not vegan, but quotes around the non-vegan part, and poof! It's vegan.

undeclared

I am still undecided about how I feel about labratory-grown meat. Sure, it is not killing any animals, but is it one of those messing-with-science-in-a-mad-scientist sort of way? Also, does that mean vegans will start to eat lab-grown meat? To me, it is almost freakier to eat than actual animals. Below the cut is the insightful opinion piece that made me think of it in the first place.

Continue reading

animal liberation human liberation

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I finally finished reading Peter Singer's Animal Liberation, which is apparently one of the first and most imformative works on animal rights. If I wasn't already vegan, this would have done the trick. Although he certainly argues for veganism, the information is presented in a very clear and constructive way, which makes for a good argument.

I have been vegan for six weeks now, and now as I think of it, I can't understand why I hadn't been vegan for the first 27 years of my life. Well, I know why- social norms. I didn't even start thinking about animal rights until I got my first pet six years ago. So I know to some it may appear I am self-righteous about something I only adopted less than two months ago. However, becoming vegan is the closest thing I have ever come to a spiritual transformation, if I could even call it that. I am trying as hard as I can to not be condescending when I talk about it. I do not condemn or look down upon anyone who eats meat. People have to make their own choices and I've made mine.

What does bother me is when I tell people I have become vegan, they make it seem like I am some big martyr or something. I am not doing it to torture myself. And helloooooo, I am far from malnourished, if you know what I mean. I guess I would just ask that people acknowledge the practices meat industry and the impact of it. They don't need to do this while they are actually eating, but it is best not be completely ignorant of food productiion. I am far from perfect. I know that some 11 year old made the shirt I am wearing for about two cents an hour, but right now I have not come to the decision not to shop at the Gap.

What's my point? Oh yea, Animal Liberation is a great read, whether or not you are into animal rights. He explains specieism very well, a concept that I really hadn't understood before. I had always thought that individuals who oppose specieism meant that they think of their pets as people. It's more than that, and ties into all other -isms out there. As I had once read, animal rights are very much tied to women's rights and reproductive rights (see also Femmefatalities.org).

While I am on the subject, in honor of meat, one of the best Wondershowzen skits (blood tastes sooooooooo gooooooood):

step off!

Who is the Jezebel? Step away!

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Also, here is the animal rights film that he narrates.

(Edited to add:It is a very powerful film, but just a warning that it is very graphic.)

(Edited again to add: I didn't mean to say that people shouldn't watch it if they don't want to deal with animal slaughter. I think everyone should watch it to know where their food comes from, but it needs to be the right time and place. It may not be the best thing to watch at work.)

milk it

For all you pop-culture nutritionists (all one of you) here's an update on the should we serve milk should we not serve milk debate in the nyc public schools. First, it was limited because of rising rates if childhood obesity but then some council member wants to revisit it because quite frankly I believe he is feeling pressure from the American Dairy Association or something like that. It's an interesting debate. Just taking away something is not going to do anything for children's nutrition if there isn't other education involved. Did your school have a school store? Mine did, and it sold a bunch of candy and crap and whatever. (Luckily, at that time, I had been fasting, so I was able to buy my stick of gum for lunch). It's an interesting approach to a larger issue. Not to mention it would be nice to not be pumping secretions from an nonhuman animal into our children. And people are in an outrage of someone breastfeeds in a mall.

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Well, I've now been vegan for three weeks. I am proud that I have actually committed to something. That rarely happens. I thought it would be harder. I actually do not miss meat or dairy at all. Once I left it, I was fine. Plus, I have been doing a lot of reading on it, and there are a few mental images that I fall back on when I get even the tiniest craving for meat or dairy. I've even been cooking. It's a miracle. This week I made chili (the recipe with cinnamon- it sounds weird but it was fantas), and Baked Italian eggplant and portabella, and tonight I made tofu with green curry and bean thread noodles. I hope I keep up my enthusiasm for cooking and don't end up micowaving a gardenburger every night.

This weekend I decided to do some clothes shopping for myself, something I really haven't done in months. Plus, I need summer clothes. The only summer shirt I have is a black stretch tee that I wore every day last summer. (I know the Gap is bad, but this is probably the most comfy shirt ever made)Of course, this consisted of getting a new bag and a new shoes. It was actually harder than I thought to find something non-leather. It was actually a little ridiculous how much is made from leather. Is that really necessary? And why is leather desireable? Is it because it is more durable, looks better? I'd never thought I'd say this, but thank god Keds now has some decent stuff. And Converse is always a good back up (believe it or not, I rully rully want these.)

Don't even get me started with shopping for summer clothes. I haven't actually worn shorts for about 8 years, and these so called "capris" are not capris on me. They're more like…really short pants. The other issue I struggle with is, is there a certain age that I can't wear some of the things I wear? When I hit a certain age, do I need to start shopping exclusively at Chico's or Talbots? My look is a bit more modified than it used to be (what was it? Grandma-chic meets pirate-chic?) but seriously. Warning: If you wear Talbot's or Chico's, I am sure you look fine. Didn't mean to hate.

gross

Ok, aside from the fact that the circus is stupid and trite, it is insanely unecessarily cruel to animals. The New York Times is all over it, citing it for nostalgia and crap. And they are pretty sexist about it, stating
The plot also reaches back to the mythology of circus life: a family that has always dreamed of being in the circus is selected from the audience. Dad becomes the Ringmaster (Chuck Wagner), Mom becomes a trapeze artist (Gisela Riquelme), their daughter, Jan (Lucilene Correa), turns dancer, and their son, Dan (played by both Ruirui Zhu and Dashan Hou), is seeking his special role. Essentially, the entire family runs away and joins the circus.

It's bad enough we had to endure the tired, scared elephants being dragged across the island of Manhattan only to be led to their new home, the cramped quarters of the bowels of Madison Square Garden.

Check out this video here.

mmmm, tempeh

Here's another one to add to the "cool vegans" list- Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

What are some of your favorite places to get vegan food in New York City? And elsewhere?
NYC is the easiest place to be vegan—it’s truly awesome. My favorite is Zen Palate in Union Square. Pukk is a newish vegetarian/vegan Thai place on First Avenue and Fifth. Also, the vegan Sicilian frittata at Old Devil Moon on 12th between A and B is great, and the place used to be Lydia Lunch’s bedroom. Kate’s on Fourth and B is probably the best punk rock vegan/vegetarian greasy spoon.

it’s like aaa

So, I've been almost 2 weeks vegan. That's a lot, considering I usually don't stick to anything. Turns out I can't cook so well. Here are some of my accomplishments:
-falafel patties. I used a mix, but added some things to it. It was ok, until it turned rock hard on day 2.
-twice baked potatoes, with stramed tofu, rosemary, garlic whatever else I had laying around. Not too bad.
-I just made a chilli tonight, but I'm a little wary because it has cinnnamin in it. So far, not bad. But I'll have it for lunch tomorrow.
-I can always fall back on quinoa with tamari, which is what I end up having in a pinch.

So, I'll have to be more creative this week. My theory of cooking is that if I am not sure about something, I just keep adding more garlic. It's coming out of my pores.

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Ok, now along with obscure bands, celebrities and kitty kats, you will have to start hearing about a lot of vegan stuff here as well. Deal with it.

First, my tenth favorite vegan (behind Joaquin, Rachel Leigh Cook, the members of Sum 41, Weird Al, among others) is Andy from Fall Out Boy. Who knew? Here he talks about his feelings on eating meat. First, that is not what I thought his voice would sound like. Second, he is about as an enaging a speaker as Bode Miller, for what it is worth. His reccomendation for non-leather products? Hot Topic. Psssshhhhaw.

Also, this is neat- how to make your ipod vegan!

i loved you before you were a myspace whore

What a weird day. I slept with earplugs un last night and apparently contractors came into my apartment and started working on the vents. When I woke up, I don't know who was more embrassed, me or them. Good thing I wore my XXXXXL mumuu to sleep.

I am really enjoying Brian's and John's accounts of some gay sci-fi convention they just got back from. I was hoping for a Battlestar Galactica and Serenity homoerotic fanfiction. I wish!

So, I've made the jump. I'm officially vegan now, I guess. Thanks to Erin and Brandon for their endless support and encouragement, as well as a brochure from PETA that I got at the metro station. Before you start calling me a dumb hippy, I am really excited about what this will do for my health. Although Brandon informed me that if I don't take B-12 suppliments I will end up with some massive neurological disorder. Thanks, Debbie Downer. I actually feel kind of free and excited about the fact that I can sustain myself on nothing to do with animals. I actually puchsed a rice cooker thing, so now I can start making quinoa and other organiz pretentious foods.

the psychology of eating meat

Food for Thought: Carnism and the Psychology of Eating Meat
Melanie Joy, Ph.D., Ed.M.
"…I mean, there are so many mortifying things in our culture and society. But that [killing animals for food] certainly is one of the worst and people ignore it the most because they think that animals don't matter…I feel a lot for these animals. Just the thought is really upsetting…I'm crying."

While many VegFamily readers likely identify with the above quote, what may come as a surprise is that this statement was made not by a vegetarian, but by a meat eater. Perhaps even more surprising is that the sentiment expressed in the statement appears to be more the rule than the exception. Research suggests that eating other animals brings about an inner discomfort, or inconsistency, that people are generally unaware of. The question, then, is how can the average American, who very likely considers her- or himself nonviolent toward other animals, eat their bodies and experience no apparent discomfort?

The answer to this question may be explained, at least in part, through an understanding of carnism. Carnism is the word I began using several years ago to denote the ideology of meat consumption. Ideologies are social belief systems that have enormous power to shape people's attitudes and behaviors. Ideologies are often so embedded in society that their influence is mostly unconscious-and therefore unquestioned. Typically, ideologies are only recognized when are an exception to the "normal" way of thinking (what we call the "dominant ideology"). This is why there is a name, vegetarianism, for the ideology that considers the consumption of other animals inappropriate or unethical. The dominant ideology in our society maintains that eating other animals is normal and even necessary. However, there is no name for this ideology. We therefore tend to view eating animals not as a choice, but as a given. This way of thinking makes society view the consumption of animals as normal, natural, and legitimate.

Ideologies can hide contradictions between people's behaviors and their values. They allow people to make exceptions to what they would normally consider ethical, without even realizing it. This is how we can understand carnism. If we consider carnism to be an ideology, then we can explain why it is possible to love some animals and eat others. We have been so socialized to believe in the legitimacy and necessity of carnism that most people do not even think of their meat as having once been an animal. Indeed, most people begin eating meat before they can even talk, and the process of maintaining the invisibility of the animals who become food continues for the rest of our lives.

In my own research, I found that certain ways of thinking support carnism. Interviewing carnists (meat eaters) and meat cutters, I learned that, in order to eat or process the bodies of other animals, individuals needed to use a degree of "psychic numbing"-the separation of thoughts from feelings and of beliefs from practices. This psychic numbing was expressed through a variety of defense mechanisms. Among the most notable are:
-denial ("animals don't really suffer when being raised and killed for meat")
-justification ("it's acceptable to eat certain animals because they're bred for that purpose")
-avoidance ("don't tell me that; you'll ruin my meal")
-dichotomization ("I think of some animals as companions and some as food")
-dissociation ("when I look at meat, I don't connect it with an animal-if I did, I would be disgusted and unable to eat it").
One might ask, then, if such defenses are necessary for the consumption of meat, why continue to eat meat? Why not just go vegetarian? The answer to this is complex. In a nutshell, though, carnists often continue as carnists due to a number of factors, perhaps the most prominent of them being fear. A comprehensive list can be found in Carol Adam's wonderful book, Living Among Meat Eaters (2003). Since ideologies tend to perpetuate themselves, it should be no wonder that the carnistic system works quite hard to ensure that its members remain loyal, using fear as an effective tool toward this end. For instance, many of us have been led to believe that if we stop eating meat, we will become unhealthy, seen as antisocial, weak or less "manly," flaky, and a host of other stereotypes. These notions are communicated through the mass media, in which vegetarians are often portrayed as strange or radical. They are also conveyed through carnistic "education" campaigns and marketing, where meat is associated with health, strength, community, and normalcy.

While an understanding of psychic numbing may help us better relate to carnists, it can also help us better appreciate and value our own choice to be vegetarians. Psychic numbing, when used to enable violent practices such as carnism, is, arguably, psychologically unhealthy. Unfortunately, though, the field of psychology has typically supported, rather than challenged, the status quo, and so the use of massive psychological defenses to enable participation in violent practices that are contrary to one's deeper value system is generally not considered psychologically questionable. Instead, those who resist the dominant ideology (i.e., vegetarians) tend to be either ignored or pathologized-for instance, a psychologist might assume that one's vegetarianism is simply a mask for an eating disorder.

Thus, what may be one of the most important points to remember as vegetarians is that mental health comes not from unquestioningly participating in what we have learned is normal (consider the average German in Nazi Germany), but from practicing we believe is right. It comes from living in accordance with our deepest values, values such as personal authenticity, integrity, empathy, and compassion for all beings. What better model for a peaceful planet? What better lesson to teach our children?

http://vegfamily.com/articles/carnism.htm