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Dangerous Compassions

vegan

vegan

Hello, how are you doing?  I’ve been thinking about vegan stuff, especially ethics.  It came up because of the goats.  I love animals, and I love being an animal.

grateful

You know I was vegan long ago, for years.  I’m glad I did that, even though I don’t do it now.  I’m grateful for what I learned as a vegan person.

Kinda like how I’m grateful I worked at the cafeteria at the university I attended.  I don’t do that kind of work anymore, but I’m so grateful I learned about sweeping, dish washing, making salads, and serving food, all on the clock.

Being vegan, there’s so much I learned about culture and human nature, and about plant-based cooking.  I love what I learned about values and judgement.  About fatness and how people demeaned me as a fat vegan.  About how livestock animals are treated in the US by default, vs how it could be in a better world.

I think about vegan product-food too.  I ate this very tasty vegan white chocolate recently–wow.  Ming liked it very much also.  White chocolate doesn’t give me a bad drug trip like the regular brown chocolate.  So grateful!

Here are a few things I learned from being vegan for some years.

people can be nasty and take it personally

A lot of people love animals, and it’s obvious to them, not to eat their friends.  If they love dogs and cats, then cows and pigs are similar.

Other people love animals and are indignant about veganism and vegetarianism, like “how dare you ask me not to eat food.”  They create rigid distinctions between livestock food and beloved pets, and then entrench themselves in that mindset in order to feel like they’re not doing wrong.

Other people recognize they’re not doing the best possible practices, but they do what they can do, considering the huge range of what’s going on in their lives.

That’s like me–doing my best to help the world in multiple ways, in this unique body with its specific needs.  Expending energy being vegan is not the best use of myself, considering my unique combination of needs and gifts.

hate

There are mean vegans who think humans who aren’t vegan are despicable.  They feed their hate of non-vegan humans with expose videos of meat plant horrors and terrible statistics, then band together for demonstrations.  Some have an all or nothing mentality, where being 100% vegan is the only good choice, and all other choices are equally horrible.

Ming and I had a good friend like that.  He was more angry with me and Ming for being vegetarians than with omnivores who eat meat every day.  His idea was that vegetarians should know better–the omnivores are just ignorant.  The friend didn’t acknowledge the good that Ming and I do for the world in other ways, our disabilities, or our specific health needs.

Felt painful and vulnerable to be attacked by our friend, for being different from him and making a choice different from his.  I mention my dietary preferences sometimes, but I don’t want to attack anyone.

However, sometimes people feel attacked when I’m doing no such thing.  I can’t control how people react, but I can do my best to state my truth in a chill way that I never mean as mean.

purist

A purist, all or nothing vegan mentality is silly because there’s no such thing as a vegan car, or vegan travel at all.  Plowing a field kills mice, and soy farming does whatever to animals in the rainforest.

Vegan purist attitudes can only be maintained if you carefully define veganism and draw the line where you want to.  Someone who was trying to never kill an animal including insects, spiders, snails and slugs, mice, squirrels, rabbits, and rainforest animals could never travel in a vehicle, never take store bought medications, and just live on foraged foods?  That would be very difficult, like it would become your whole life.  I would rather do a variety of things.

Judgmental purists define veganism in a way that includes them and defend the borders.  They draw the line in a way that they can live within and condemn those who choose something different, not admitting that where they draw the line is somewhat arbitrary.

I’m fine with people being vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or whatever.  It’s the self-righteous “I’m doing right and the whole rest of the world is bad” that bothers me, when the boundary is actually idiosyncratic and can be self-serving.

health

A lot of people hear that vegan bodybuilders exist and use that fact to declare “Anyone can be vegan.”  Then they disregard evidence to the contrary.

I have an issue with my connective tissues and hypermobile joints.  It causes pain and disruption to my life.  If you have ever seen me walk down stairs sideways, that’s why.  Going downstairs sideways, I don’t fall.  My shoulders half-dislocate sometimes, and that’s no fun.  I’d rather trust my arms to do what I ask them to.

If I eat eggs, my shoulders stay in their sockets.  I guess it’s collagen that helps with my joints.  This has nothing to do with body builders or morality.

If I found a supplement I could take so I wouldn’t need to eat eggs, I would love that.  But I have other health issues also that mean I need to eat protein with every meal.  Beans are difficult for my particular stomach.  You know I had that ulcer bleed that almost killed me, three and a half years ago.  I need to be kind to my stomach.

respect

I could go on, explaining health issues, but could you just trust me, that if I could be vegan, I probably would?  It’s not good for me.  I’m pro-choice about the foods we eat.  I draw the line for myself where I don’t eat mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, arachnids, amphibians…

When people eat insects like crickets, I actually think that’s kind of cool.  It’s not for me.  But if that’s a workable way for them to find protein, they can knock themselves out.

Fish, animals people hunted, animals they raised on their farm, or even factory farmed meat–I know that’s not for me.  But I’m not going to hate on people for that.  I figure they have their reasons and move on with my day.  To me, that’s basic respect.

cheese

Vegan food can be delicious, but it takes some skill.  Vegetarian food–just put cheese on almost anything, and it’s good.  Vegan food can be more of a challenge, especially vegan whole foods, made with real ingredients.

I’m up for the challenge!  I love cooking vegan food.  Garlic, olive oil, spices, browning things, fermentation, coconut milk, fresh veggies, savory sauces, and exciting combinations are how to do it.

Most of what Ming and I eat is vegan.  I’m drinking a smoothie at the moment that’s blackberries we harvested and froze, banana, hemp seed, and oatmilk.  Vegan food is default, in our home.  This morning I ate quinoa with Earth Balance and garlic for breakfast, a lovely vegan breakfast.  My beloved pesto I make is vegan every time.

zines

I made two vegan cookzines, about a decade apart from one another– Please Pass the Plants and Please Pass the Plants #2: Disabled Eating.  Vegan food is my favorite when cooking for groups.  I hope I always love vegan food.  And I hope I always model: this is my truth, and I don’t need everyone to share my truth.

I love all kinds of people–folks like me and unlike me.  Love to many needs and choices.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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