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Ellen no longer all in

27 Nov

Ellen Pompeo and Ellen DeGeneres

Since we’re all talking about Ellen today, it must be important to us. I watched the video of her conversation. Here’s what she says: “We have neighbors that have chickens. We get our eggs from those chickens ’cause they’re happy, they’re really happy chickens.”

She never says, “I eat eggs now.” But it sure does sound like it. So what does it mean? I think it means that she’s no longer vegan. Which means we’ve lost perhaps the biggest advocate for veganism. It seemed to me that she or Bill Clinton was the public face of veganism, to the extent it had a public face, and not just a generic hippie or hipster face.

When I first heard the news today I thought wow, I need to write a big post about this. But then when I started reading through the comments on the vegansaurus post my stomach started turning. True, that happens with almost any Internet comments, but it was just plain depressing. Ditto the handful of comments on SuperVegan.

Look, the point of reading Internet comments is to see how stupid our fellow Americans are. And so it’s really not surprising that vegans can be idiots, too. Nor is it surprising when people think people who disagree with them are idiots. (Guilty!)

But what does it really mean if Ellen’s not vegan anymore. I’m guessing it means she won’t talk about it so much anymore, especially when she gets wind of all the vegans trashing her. And I’m guessing that over the years she’s exposed a lot of people to the concept of veganism, and convinced a lot of people to give veganing a try. So to the extent she won’t be doing that anymore, what a drag.

It also seems likely to make some people throw up their hands and start eating eggs again, or dairy, or meat. But hey, those people are adults and we can’t really blame Ellen for that. But it’s kind of depressing that even if she remains an advocate for animal welfare and a critic of factory farming, she’s now moving toward a less restrictive position, in other words, moving in the WRONG direction.

Look, she can do what she wants. And she obviously does. Remember when she took the dog from the rescue agency and then clearly broke their rules by giving it to someone else? And then she went on her show and cried about it? Clearly, the woman is a gigantic asshole. But given that she has been an asshole who has done a tremendous amount for gay rights and veganism, that’s way better than the typical Hollywood asshole who is an asshole about things like blocking access to a public beach.

I know someone in Santa Monica with hens in her backyard. Friend of a friend. This person can not tell you enough times on Facebook how wonderful it is to have these happy chickens in her yard. And yes, if this person is going to eat eggs anyway, this is a way better way to do it than buying them at a supermarket that gets them from a factory farm. But this friend of a friend was never vegan. Ellen was. And now she’s eating eggs again.

I don’t know about you, but if I got some eggs from “happy” chickens (and this HAPPY bullshit is a whole other discussion) and started eating eggs again, then the next time I went to a restaurant where there was nothing at all on the menu for me, BUT there was some pasta that was made with egg, or a veggie burger bun made with egg, well, I know it would be a lot harder for me to be strong if I’ve been eating eggs every day for breakfast.

Since we, the remaining vegans in this world, don’t eat animal products for a reason, a reason we believe strongly in, we obviously want other people to do what we’re doing, so even less pain will come to the animals that provide so much of people’s food. So to the extent Ellen’s action reverses whatever trend there might be, that’s the fear. That Ellen’s move is a step in the wrong direction, IN THE REVERSE DIRECTION. A step that I think can do nothing but lead to MORE animal pain not less.

And that’s why it hurts. That’s why we’re all reacting so strongly to the news today. Because we realize it’s a setback. A huge setback. Our movement, to the extent that it’s a movement, depends on people knowing someone who’s vegan. On being exposed to the concept and the reasons for it. It’s word of mouth not to put this in our mouth. And we lost our most public mouth today.

 

Vegan Food Porn

31 Oct

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while, and Hurricane/Superstorm/Hybridcar Sandy is the perfect reason to do it now.

I signed up for VeganMoFo because I thought it would be a good kick in the ass. I’d slacked off on blogging and thought this commitment might reinvigorate me. But in order to make it to the required twenty posts this month, I did a lot of posts about food. And a lot of food posts about restaurants. And a lot of restaurant posts strafed with photos.

Being vegan isn’t silly. Not at all. I mean, anything can be silly, and probably should be silly, but I mean it’s a serious undertaking, for serious reasons, okay never mind! What I’m trying to say is that while being vegan isn’t silly, posting photos of vegan food *can* be.

Now there’s an upside for sure. I think that posting photos on a blog, or on Instagram, or however, can help encourage other vegans, both new and old. I know that when I first went vegan a little over two years ago, and I found Quarrygirl’s L.A. vegan food blog, it was a lifeline that kept me going and made veganing fun and, more importantly, showed me that vegan eating could have the same fun elements as regular eating, including that feeling of discovery that was my favorite part of restauranting.

And now, on Instagram, I see hundreds of photos a day of great meals that give me ideas for what and how to cook. And maybe one day I’ll actually do that!

But what these photos do, even more than all this, is provide a way for us all to support each other. To be a community. Not the kind where you can come over and borrow a cup of bone char free sugar. Please don’t. But to know that other people are doing this too. To let people just starting out see they’re not alone. And to feel like it makes sense to do this. In the face of continual, daily, hourly, resistance. Resistance and ridicule. And bafflement.

Not that people need this community. Sure they could do it alone. Sure they *should* be able to do it alone. But if talking with others makes it easier, then why not. Because that’s kind of what the Internet is, right? A connector of like-mindedness. And maybe it’s not a coincidence that veganism took off in an Internet world. Like so many other isms did. (Isms didn’t flag my spellcheck, btw.) (And neither did btw).

But it’s still pictures of food. Often expensive food. Often food prepared for the luxury of taste. And it’s great that we have this, and that non-vegans can see this, or try it, and be surprised that it exists, and see that the what we eat of What do you eat isn’t cardboard and twigs and sawdust and straw.

But ultimately it still feels sybaritic to me. Lots of people go hungry. Lots of people can’t eat expensive food. Lots of people can’t indulge their fancies. (Or fancy, if they only have one.) Lots of people think of food as something their bodies need, not something their minds need.

And that’s where the porn part comes in. Because what’s porn in the food porn sense? Gratuity? Well then what’s gratuity? Toomuchofitness? Inyourfaceness? Or is it a feeling of taking the receptors in the body and brain that provide pleasure and cramming them full till they can’t recept no more. Because food, like sex, is pretty primal. Eat to survive, sex to reproduce, two things the mind’s designed to make us feel good about so that we keep doing it. I see the relation. I get the idea of indulgence and overindulgence and golden calf and golden tofu and bacchanalia and baconalia and fakinbaconalia.

And so it feels really wrong, and even outrageous, to be posting photos of gourmet food while other people are having to sneak past police lines to see whether their home is a total loss or if they’re merely facing an expensive year-long renovation. Or they’re dead.

I know people go hungry all the time. And get killed or maimed in wars and car crashes and machinery. And have their children die. But I don’t think I can just throw up my hands and say that since bad things happen all the time I might as well go ahead and post my food porn.

Besides, if I throw up my hands, how can I hold my phone and take my picture?

The Bubble

26 Oct

Art credit: onegreenplanet.org

 

This might be a “just me” thing. I’m not sure. But at 25 months of veganism, I’m realizing that I live in a vegan bubble.

What I mean by that is, my family knows I’m vegan, my friends know I’m vegan, even many of my acquaintances know I’m vegan. I know where to eat, where to shop, what stuff I can buy at the grocery store.

I’m so deep into the bubble that when something comes up where I’m asked to meet some friends at a restaurant that has absolutely nothing for me to eat, it’s shocking. Oh yeah, the rest of the world eats animal stuff. They eat it without thinking about it. The world hasn’t really changed at all, just my one-sevenbillionth of it. Don’t they see? Don’t they get it? How can they keep going about their business and be so happy and miss this giant issue completely?

And they’re not bad people. Many of them are good people. Many of them consider themselves eco, or green, or kind, and yet…

That’s what I mean by the bubble. I forget that even though some days it feels like veganism has caught fire in the last year, it’s not even a brush fire, or even a kitchen fire. It’s a flare-up in a pot. Maybe.

Recently some relatives came to visit. They know I’m vegan. I see them once or twice a year. And I thought they’d have a typical non-vegan reaction. Like the way my mother-in-law will ask, “Are you still on that diet?”

But these relatives started treating me like I was clinically insane. Why would you do this? Why would anyone place restraints on themselves that they didn’t have to place? Nevermind that some of these relatives are religious, and place restraints on themselves that they don’t have to place, they don’t see it that way. It’s certainly not the same thing! That makes sense! And it’s part of their heritage!

So when we go to a restaurant with a million menu choices BUT NOT A SINGLE THING I CAN EAT, and I have to ask the server if the kitchen would be willing to make me an avocado, lettuce and tomato sandwich on rye since I see that all those items are on the menu, these family members look at me like: Why would anyone do this?!?!?!

I live in a bubble. These relatives are the real Americans, not me. These relatives are the real humans, not me. I am an oddball. Living in a bubble.

So be it.

Aren’t you sick of vegans?

26 Oct

Aren’t you sick of them telling you that vegan food can actually taste quite good?

Aren’t you sick of them telling you about how animals are treated?

Aren’t you sick of them ruining your dinner party by expecting you’ll have something for them to eat simply because you invited them?

Aren’t you sick of them always wanting to go to a restaurant where they’ll be able to find something to eat?

Aren’t you sick of them being an ever constant reminder that what you’re doing is fundamentally wrong and immoral?

Aren’t you sick of them reminding you that something you get a lot of pleasure from comes at the price of a living thing?

Aren’t you sick of them politely declining meat that you’re only offering to them because you don’t want them to feel excluded?

Aren’t you sick of them not even telling you that they’re vegan and just sitting there quietly eating their vegetables or whatever other crap food they eat?

Aren’t you sick of them pointing out that egg-laying chickens and dairy cows are treated worse than cattle so you’re better off eating steak than a cheese omelette?

Aren’t you sick of that arrogant way they sit there eating the food they think makes them superior?

Aren’t you sick of them sitting there quietly while you tell them about that great new steak place you went to last night?

Aren’t you sick of their blogs?

Can you buy meat and be vegan?

12 Oct

This is not me.

There’s plenty of feuds on the Internet about who is vegan and who is not. It can get ugly. I’m vegan because I don’t eat honey and you do. You’re not vegan because you wear leather and I don’t. And on and on. To the point that it’s tedious. To the point that I start to feel it does more harm than good because you risk scaring off people who are just trying it out. Who maybe have started eating vegan but still wear leather. While I agree that people who call themselves vegan but then post pictures of fast food veggie burgers that are widely known to be non-vegan on their Instagrams are annoying, I also tend to think that anyone who calls themselves vegan IS, within reason.

But then there’s another issue, and it’s one that bothers me, and like most things that bother me, I’ve managed to successfully push it to the back of my mind and not think about it. Until today. Because this god damn Vegan MoFo commitment means I need to write twenty posts this month!

This is not me either.

So here goes. I’m vegan. I don’t eat honey. I don’t eat bug stuff. I don’t wear leather. Or silk. BUT… I still buy meat for my family. Okay, well not actually meat. I’ve had some effect on my family and they’ve pretty much stopped eating what is usually called meat — beef, chicken, etc. However, they still eat fish. And eggs. And ice cream. And worse, sometimes when I go to the supermarket, I buy it for them. So am I still vegan?

I will say that since I went vegan for myself, I now spend the extra couple of bucks a dozen to get the eggs that are “pasture-raised” in the hope (perhaps naive) that these animals, while still probably leading an awful existence, are at least leading a better awful existence than the ones laying cheaper eggs. Again, I realize that I very well might be kidding myself. But I also buy sushi. And milk. And cheese. And I buy it for my family at restaurants, too. So am I still vegan?

Still not me.

I certainly think of myself as vegan now. And other people think I am because of what I won’t eat. But I’m still buying it. I’m still supporting it by buying it. I’m still sending money that props up the animals-for-food industry.

But that leads to another discussion, one I’ll save for another post, if only because of that dreaded twenty. Which is: how far do I push the rest of my family to change their ways?

You’re giving me vegan food?

5 Oct

Okay, nobody ever really said that to me. But here’s what I was thinking: Let’s say you get invited over to somebody’s place. Maybe it’s their birthday. Maybe they’re having some friends over for dinner or a barbecue. Maybe it’s a party.

Now if you went to the supermarket and bought a dozen cheap cupcakes from the supermarket bakery in one of those clear plastic snap-cases and then scraped off the price with your fingernail, the recipient might think you were cheap or might be very happy with them but they probably would not think you were being selfish.

But what if you went to a vegan bakery or even a non-vegan bakery that has vegan options, and you bought a dozen cupcakes that are both vegan AND way better than the cupcakes from the supermarket. And what if you’ve only been vegan a couple of years so you remember quite well what supermarket cupcakes taste like and even what good non-vegan cupcakes taste like and you know with an amazing degree of certainty that the vegan cupcakes you are bringing are way better than either.

So you show up with your nice box of cupcakes and maybe they’re vegan cupcakes from the non-vegan fancy bakery and your host is happy to see them and thanks you sincerely and then everyone starts enjoying them until your host or another guest notices that you are eating one too.

Now what?

Something would happen like this: You’d see their brains trying to piece it all together and then someone would say: “So… these are vegan?” And you’d say “Yeah” or maybe even “Yeah, they’re good aren’t they?” and your host and their guests would probably say, “Uh, yeah, yeah they are.” AND THEN THEY WOULD ALL HATE YOU.

Am I wrong about this? Wouldn’t they think: How rude! This is really a gift for themselves, not for me! And why are they trying to force their agenda on me? After all, it’s not MY agenda. What kind of gift is it for me if they go and get something that THEY like and can eat?!

And are they right? Because what’s the comparison? Is it to the crappy supermarket cupcakes? Or is their attitude that if you went to a fancy bakery for vegan cupcakes you could have — and should have — gone to a fancy non-vegan bakery and brought me some fancy non-vegan cupcakes.

What I’m getting at is, it’s not really about the taste of the item, is it? It’s about people’s notions of agenda, and gift-giving, and defensiveness. And I can partly understand this. I can understand why the recipient would think the gift should be about them and not the giver. HOWEVER, if the giver was non-vegan and gave a box of fancy non-vegan cupcakes from a bakery they absolutely love and ate one or even two of them themselves, then I think the recipient would not have a problem with that whatsoever. And why?

Is it because they’re in the same club? They both identify as non-vegan. They’re on the same eating team. So it’s viewed as someone sharing something they like with someone they like. And again, for all of this, my premise is that the vegan cupcakes that were brought to the friend’s place are really, really good. The kind that would easily fool non-vegans.

These are the kind of things I spend my time thinking about. And I don’t even like cupcakes!

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