Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Baby Steps

When beginning on the adventure of animal rights and the quest for equality for all sentient beings, it is common for people to believe that people need to be encouraged to take baby steps.  Often when they say this, they are referring to encouraging people to go vegetarian first and hoping they will go vegan later.

I understand this thought process for two reasons.  Firstly, I understand that telling people they need to go vegan to stop animal suffering is no easy task.  But when I consider the alternative for the animals, I force myself to think very careful about what information and options I present to others.  This brings me to my second reason and that is, I was a vegetarian for 12 years before I finally went vegan.  So, when I first think about the idea of vegetarian first, vegan second, the idea makes sense.  But when I think about it again I realize that the one thing, the one thing, that made me go vegan was very simply just being given the information.  Information: BOOM!  I was vegan!  That was it!  End of story!  End of me saying, "I'm just vegetarian, but I could never be vegan!"  I use to say that!  And so I say with love, respect, empathy, and knowledge that while I understand where all you, "Go Veg!" people are coming from, I think you couldn't be more wrong.  Yes, people should make baby steps but the first step should be veganism.

To illustrate my idea and to go along with the cliche baby steps, I will use potty-training.  Imagine you're potty training a child.  The point of this training, is so you don't have to clean up shit anymore, no?  (Of course, it's good for the kid, as well.)  You wouldn't teach the kid to shit on the rim of the seat first, and then, eventually the toilet, would you?  Of course not, because you would still be cleaning up shit.  In the same token, you wouldn't teach the kid to sometimes go in the toilet but other times, maybe when he/she is out of the home, enjoying a meal with friends, relieve him/herself wherever they may want.  This would be ridiculous.  As long as you are working on potty-training lessons, you work on it with them until the child gets it, and until they get it right.  Once kids are properly potty-trained, it's no trouble or sacrifice.  They only want to use the toilet anyway.   


Teaching people about animal rights is more or less the same.  While you have people's attention, talk to them about how to take animal rights seriously from the get-go.  Just like using a diaper or the rim of the toilet creates the same mess, vegetarianism does not solve any of the problems inherent with animal use anymore than being an omnivore does.  If you are vegan, you know that milk, eggs, and all other animal products cause the same suffering and death that you once thought only meat was responsible for.  This knowledge is why you went vegan in the first place!  So pass it on!  The majority of people will want to go vegan if they have the knowledge.  "What about the people who won't?" you ask?  Don't worry about them.  They shouldn't be the ones who get to frame our campaign

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Don't Hate, Educate!

At my new job, I am sometimes lucky enough to be given "animal" jobs to do.  While my employing law office doesn't focus on animal cases, the office still has a big heart for animal right issues.  Recently, I was given a task to call all the local pet shops from the phone book, pretending to be a curious kitten costumer.  I was to ask questions like, "Do you sell kittens? How old are they?  Are they fixed?"  The purpose of this task was to get an idea or static for Philadelphia Pet Sale vs. Pet Adoption.

In the beginning of my mission, I expected to be disgusted by the pet shops and their consumer driven ways.  In my vegan mind, cats nor any other animals are commodities so they shouldn't be treated as such.  I was pleasantly surprised at how many pet stores agreed with me.

Most places I called only sold pet supplies and some did pet adoption.  There was even a large handful of people who answered by ditsy questions in teeth-clenching disdain.  I could hear their quiet, stone-cold anger on the other line.  I wasn't prepared for it, and I wondered if I should "break character" to tell them, "Hey, this is just a survey!  I'm on your side!"  I didn't but looking back, I wish I had.

I understand these angry pet shop people really well.  They were thinking, "How can this woman be calling around, asking to buy kitten when MILLIONS of cats are being KILLED everyday?!"  But they thought this.  They didn't say it.  And so, my hypothetical, kitten-buying self, still had no idea at the end of her phone calls and she went out and bought a kitten.

My following advice is easier said than done, but as a movement, we need to all work on kindly, but firmly telling people the facts rather than hating them for not magically knowing them.  If someone is participating in something you feel they shouldn't be, just ask them, "Hey, did you know what happens because of _______?"  Chances are, they haven't.  The other chance is, no one has questioned them about it before and therefore they have never questioned themselves about it.

Yummy Vegan Food!

Since nothing can ever be too simple, I think it's important to mention that while we all need to talk to others about veganism, talking to people about it during meal time helps no one, least of all, the animals.  During meal time, people are understandably too defensive to be able to think about veganism in any meaningful way.  If someone asks you questions about veganism over dinner, kindly tell them you'd love to talk about veganism when they aren't eating and then later, start up the conversation in all its leafy-green glory!

Once the people in your life learn about your being vegan, some will be determined to cover their ears and sing, "La La La!".  Some will ask questions but seemingly, not give any real thought to your answers.  Some will project their guilt on to you in the form of, "She pushes her beliefs onto others." when all you have done is give logical reasons for why you are vegan.  Some will go out of their way to make you feel like a welcome guest by preparing vegan-food despite their own non-vegan-ness.  But most importantly, if you give everyone the facts and a chance, some people will go vegan

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Eight Things I Love About My Adopted Cat

A List for Meemers

1.) She says hello to me when I get home.

2.) She doesn't eat the rabbits I foster.

3.) She is playful.

4.) She always winks at me (she only has one eye).

5.) She hangs out between my feet as I wash the dishes. 

6.) She waits for me outside of the bathroom while I shower.

7.) She sleeps with me.

8.) She reinforces my thoughts and feelings on veganism by always proving that every animal is an individual. She reminds me that every animal has an unique personality, as well as a desire to live and be loved. She is someone I would never intentionally harm or kill. I wouldn't pay someone else to harm or kill her either. Why should any other animal be any different?