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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

The Grass-seed Radical: Thirteen Years of Vegetarianism

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

The Grass-seed Radical: Thirteen Years of Vegetarianism

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dont eat the animals
Thirteen years ago today my cousin Trish had her high-school graduation party. How do I remember this? Because thirteen years ago today, I also became a vegetarian.

I was twelve years old at the time, and for a twelve-year-old, those sorts of family parties are always boring affairs. So I brought a book--okay, a stack of books--with me for company. My family had recently rescued two neglected dogs, and I found myself keenly interested in animal welfare on a sudden, so I'd checked out of the library Ingrid Newkirk's Save the Animals! and Peter Singer's Animal Liberation, expecting--in my twelve-year-old's naivete--that they would mostly be calls to spay and neuter one's pets, bring them inside when it got cold, and feed them regularly, the latter two of which had been problems for our dogs' previous owners.

What I found, instead, was an exposé of a world few civilized people like to consider: What happens to our meat before it reaches our plate? And no, I'm not talking about whether the cook at Outback ascribes to the five-second rule--although that as a former kitchen manager, I think I'm safe in saying that what goes on in many restaurant kitchens also doesn't make for civilized conversation--but what happened up to the moment when our meat went from being "animal" to being "food." Because who likes to think about those sorts of things? And isn't meat a necessary evil?

I didn't--and really, I still don't--like to think about those things anymore than anyone else. But I've always had the failing of being unable to ignore something once I'm aware of it, and once I was aware of factory farming, I couldn't look at meat without seeing ... well, what it was before it was meat. And how exactly--in excruciatingly gory detail--it got from there to my plate.

So I swore off of meat that day, unable to continue supporting an industry that is as cruel as the factory farming business. Over the next thirteen years, my reasons for remaining a vegetarian have changed somewhat, given the increased availability of free-range and cage-free meats, but my determination has not. People often ask, "Do you ever see yourself going back to eating meat?" And I suppose that for many Americans, what I do does seem like a terrible sacrifice. I've never denied this when talking to others who consider becoming vegetarians: It's hard in a culture like ours, where meals center on meat, to adjust to forgoing it entirely. But I can confidently say, after thirteen years, it's hard to see it as that way. It's not so much a choice and certainly not a sacrifice. It's simply the way that I live. It's like moving to a new city. At first, the streets are unfamiliar, and all you can think about are the familiar and much-loved people and places from the old city. But after a while, you get used to it, and it's strange to think, "There was a time when this wasn't my home." And the idea of going back, while momentarily appealing in a nostalgic way, seems strange and perhaps a bit distasteful.

When I was twelve years old, I think I would have been proud of this day: the day when more than half of my life has been spent meat-free. I'm sure I would have loved to hear the rhetoric that thirteen years of vegetarianism has taught me. At age twelve, I was a good little radical. I went to animal rights' marches and belonged to PETA. Things are nicely black and white at age twelve, and like any radical, I knew that I was on the side of What Was Right. However, I was also still shy at that age, and I did maintain something of a grip on reality, most unbecoming to radicals, that kept me from fully realizing my radical potential. For example, I was never the type for confrontation. I was simply too shy. Oh, my family heard plenty out of me. It's probably no surprise, then, that my sister and my two closest cousins followed me into vegetarianism. (Sharon is still a vegetarian and one of my cousins is a pollo-vegetarian.) But radicals always want you to approach everyone. To make them aware. They have this idea that people want to be made aware, that we're all always just sitting and waiting to hear the awful truths about what is simply a part of life for us. And I could never get into that.

Which isn't to say that I didn't try. Radicals are also creative in the ways that they "get the word out," and when you're an insider, this creativity seems hilariously clever. In a way, radical groups are like fandom: To a member of the group, it's the center of the world, and those who exist at its most extreme boundaries are worthy of the utmost respect. To an outsider, though, you seems like a group of nutjobs spinning your wheels over something pointless. Jokes that seem hilarious to insiders are lame or even insulting to those outside of the fold, like those clever animal activists who made themselves some enemies when they compared statistics about how many animals are killed as part of experiments to the number of human beings murdered during the Holocaust. And of course, those who dare mock the Noble Cause are immediate enemies.

Save the Animals! is primarily a book of ideas about "getting the word out." This book--and its author's organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA--advocate show-stopping, creative ways of advocating for animal rights. For example, an activist could go into the forest on the first day of hunting season and blare "The Star-spangled Banner" and watch all of the hunters stand up. (Or, more likely--especially where I live, which is close to D.C. and, hence, Dick Cheney--get shot.) PETA loves stickers. They sell rolls of stickers to their activists that are supposed to go on everything from packets of ground beef at the grocery store to fur-trimmed coats to bottles of shampoo that were tested on animals. "WARNING:" they read. "Animals suffered to make this product!" I still have a roll of these stickers moldering somewhere, though as far as I know, they were only used once, by a friend of mine and fellow activist, to remind me that the boots of my rollerskates are made of leather. The residue from that sticker is still on my skate, a funny/sad reminder of what was. What I was.

I did try. Newkirk's Save the Animals! hammers home the importance of phone calls. Call companies that still test on animals to express your disapproval. Call companies on moratorium to express your support ... unless they go off of moratorium, at which point, you'll be back to calling every day to express your disapproval. Now, anyone who knows me in real life knows that I despise using the telephone. For a long time, I was a radical vegetarian with a big guilt trip because good radicals call anyone and everyone about The Cause, and I was afraid to.

So one day, I girded my loins and picked up the phone to call--as suggested by Save the Animals!--the USDA's Meat and Poultry Safety Hotline to protest the oxymoron in their name: meat and poultry safety when we all knew that meat and poultry is far from safe, especially for the animals. Save the Animals! gave a list of suggested talking points. I remember one: Ask why egg-laying operations smother male chicks en masse in plastic garbage bags. However, as I still ate eggs (and still do), I felt that this would have been hypocritical of me.

But, voice a'quiver, I did my radical's duty to the poor woman on the other end of the USDA Meat and Poultry Safety Hotline and pointed out that meat and poultry is not safe. Twelve-year-old me would not have been happy to know that one of my most important--and favorite--responsibilities as a kitchen manager, ten years later, would be teaching food safety, especially how to safely handle meat and poultry. I don't know what calling the Meat and Poultry Safety Hotline was supposed to prove. Convince the woman on the other line--just doing her job--to give up good guv'ment benefits in protest of the fact that egg-laying operations smother male chicks en masse in plastic garbage bags? Certainly, she wasn't in a position to effect policy change, if that is even possible, considering the expensive voice that the agribusiness has bought themselves in the American political system. And as awful as smothering male chicks en masse in plastic garbage bags is, it really has little to do with meat and poultry safety.

After hanging up the phone, I was for some reason mortified at what I had done. I assure you, that mortification exists to this day.

That was the last phone call that I made for The Cause.

So I suppose that--unwilling to pick up the phone or put stickers on everything or blare "The Star-spangled Banner" in the woods to save deer--I was stuck not even with grassroots action. No, I was lower than that. It was more like grass-seed action. I was left only with the option of talking to people I knew about The Cause. And in truth, most people don't know much about the testing of cosmetics on animals or the benefits of vegetarianism or the execution by anal electrocution of animals raised for fur.

By the time I realized that I was stuck at the ugly and unformed grass-seed stage of effecting radical change, I was in high school. Now it's probably not hard to imagine that in an institution where a person can be ostracized for wearing the wrong brand of jeans that my vegetarianism was the subject of considerable, shall we say, discussion. Because I advocated for animal rights, I was asked if I supported the spanking of monkeys. I was told that I was a hypocrite because I wore a fish-shaped hair barrette. (This all calls to mind another topic that I've considered blogging about: Why the fuck do some people call high school the best years of one's life?) Actually, one of the defining moments in my adoration of my one-day husband Bobby came when he "rescued" me  after lunch one day from relentless harassment by an older student about my vegetarianism. But in the way of any good radical, all of this pain and harassment I suffered was really a good thing: It was yet another chance to "get the word out."

And this was a defining moment for me. Already, I'd been reduced from grassroots to grass seed by virtue of my shyness. I'd found a venue where others were gladly starting the conversation for me: high school. And heck, starting the conversation is the hardest part, right? Around this time, my best friend was a fellow activist, like me. She often forgot that I was the one who had changed her life by making her realize the suffering others endured for the satisfaction of her palate because she was a better activist than me. She wasn't shy about arguing with anyone. (Our friendship later ended when her ex-hippie and über-progressive mother wrote a letter to my mother calling me a whore for sitting on Bobby's lap at a shopping fair where we were trying to raise money for the high school animal rights' club.) But my friend took the life of a radical right in stride. Sitting at lunch, she would wrinkle her nose as a friend unwrapped a ham sandwich. "Do you know what some poor pig went through to make that? Don't you know that pigs are as intelligent and friendly as dogs? Would you eat dogs? Do you know that they chain pigs up by one foot and cut their throats? Isn't that gross?" and so on. She was getting the word out, I guess. She was also diminishing the list of people willing to sit with us at lunch.

After the whore-letter incident and the end of our friendship, a year later, my stand partner in band class said something profound to me. "You know, Dawn, I like you. Even though you're a vegetarian."

Keep in mind that, in high school, this is not only a perfectly logical statement but somewhat amazing that I might, in fact, be likable despite my non-conventional lunch-line choices. I grinned. "Thanks!" I said.

"You're not at all like Lily," he said of my old friend. "She gets really annoying with it."

And what I'd sort of felt all along--call it a gut feeling--about activism suddenly clicked then. Grass-seed activism--the kind that grows only under the right conditions--isn't such a bad thing. Though I wasn't the sort to call out friends on their choices in lunch sandwiches or telephone Proctor & Gamble five times a day to blather to some hapless telephone operator about the evil of the corporation for which she worked (which as an employee, doubtlessly, she knew firsthand), when my stand partner mentioned this to me, I'd managed to convince about a dozen people to try vegetarianism, including my friend, seemingly without effort. How many had she changed? Not one.

Twelve-year-old me doubtlessly would have expected that, thirteen years into the game, I might have some harrowing stories to tell of protests and marches and civil disobedience ... or at least giving some poor USDA hotline employee a piece of my mind. Twenty-five-year-old me cares more that the last thirteen years have made me healthier, (ethically) wealthier, and yes, wiser too.
  • I firmly believe that PETA sets the cause of animal rights back further every year. Their stunts are so clownish, so over-the-top, that they lead to people not taking the ideas of any animal-rights group seriously.

    There's much to be said for defining your lifestyle and then sticking to it, quietly, not making a big fuss out of it. For one thing, it shows the world that you're serious, and not just making your choices to attract attention. And it makes people take you more seriously, too. Back at Ye Olde Real Job, one of my friends was a good radical vegan, which everyone knew. She was political, but not obnoxiously so, and so everyone got along. But it was the "not obnoxiously so" part that really appealed to me about her, and made me want to engage her in debate about the state of the world*.

    There's a fantastic episode of Dykes To Watch Out For from way back in 1989, when you were just a little shaver, in which a bit character named Milkweed, a refugee from a radical lesbian farm, comes to visit. She's invited to sit in on a dinner between friends, but turns down the offer with a wonderful display of over-the-top vegan political correctness:

    Lois: Milkwee, you're welcome to join us if you want.
    Milkweed: Thanks! What're you having?
    Lois: Tunafish-hijiki-arugula casserole! It's my own recipe.
    Milkweed: Tunafish?! At least it's albacore, I hope! Do you know how many dolphins are slaughtered annually by the tuna fishing industry?
    Lois: Oh. . . yeah, I heard something about that.
    Milkweed: Well, I wouldn't have it anyway. . . I don't eat flesh.
    Lois: Um. . . there's leftover quiche in the fridge. . .
    Milkweed: No thanks. I don't do dairy.
    Lois: Bread?
    Milkweed: Or wheat. Don't worry about me. I'll just have some of this rice. It is organic, isn't it?
    Lois: No! It was grown with toxic pesticides in a hazardous waste dump by oppressed migrant laborers!

    The conversation goes on from there, and Milkweed manages to piss off Mo, the strip's most politically radical character, and that takes some doing.

    Sounds like your high school friend was kind of like that.

    *that, and the fact that she could see my point in arguing that America's overseas school for assassinations should be closed only after I'd had a chance to go there and learn a few assassination tricks. Then we could do the right thing and shut it down.
    • I'm glad that I realized fairly young that PETA was pretty moronic. Or maybe it was because I was young that I did. I couldn't immerse myself in that community, where such tactics would have been applauded. Instead, I saw the reactions of the average shmoes in my life; saw the way that PETA activists were mocked for what they did. Certainly, no one ever was made curious about animal rights/welfare issues because of PETA.

      (That, and when I was only eight years old, we took a class trip to D.C. and there was a PETA anti-vivisection protest that involved a large cartoon bunny being shot up with green goo by a mad scientist. That scared the bejeebus out of me, so I was sensitive afterwards of the first impression that a movement can make.)
  • (no subject) - morelindo
    • You're welcome! I wondered how other veggies would like and relate to it. It's always fun to share experiences about these things. :)

      I didn't know about the Body Shop (though I don't shop there anymore anyway, as there's none convenient to me). Do they test ingredients on animals? I've noticed that a lot of "cruelty free" products are now very specific: Finished products are not tested on animals. Which says to me: Ingredients are.

      I agree about the activism. These days, I live my lifestyle quietly. If people ask, we talk about it. But I don't preach; I just give my reasons for my personal choices. I don't pretend that my lifestyle would work for most Americans. And on making dishes for friends ... absolutely! It was kind of funny because right after we moved, Bobby and I hosted a big Super Bowl party, and Bobby made his chili recipe with fake ground beef "crumbles." Only he didn't tell anyone it wasn't made with meat ... and we laughed as people who would have turned their noses up at "fake ground beef" went back for seconds and thirds! :^P
  • It's much like with religion--hard to see how people are going to be tempted to change if you keep calling them dirty sinners and acting holier-than-thou. ;) What I can say is that, at least for someone who's been wanting on and off to be vegetarian since age 10, you do a lot more to tempt me than anyone who gets in peoples' faces about suffering animals--I don't think everyone in society would be sworn off eating meat just because they know how an animal has suffered (unless they see it for themselves), but there are definitely at least a few people out there who would like to be vegetarian but just don't know much about the food choices and don't have the initiative to go looking for them without a conversation starter like, "This is vegetarian, but tastes just like real chicken!"
  • I personally find it funny how some non-vegetarians have no idea where there meat comes from. Having grown up in the country, having relatives with a big-ass farm I have no illusions about what I'm actually eating and thus find it a bit silly how a lot of (non-veggie) people don't eat meat with bones, red meat, don't like cutting meat etc. I mean, let's face it, we talk about dead animals, there's no denying it.

    That said, I like eating meat, but I'm not actually eating much of it. If I buy meat I tend to so in places where they sell stuff from organic farms. Same goes for eggs and milk, even though this is usually twice as expensive.

    (And yes, I'm back. Wheehee! :))
    • You're back! {{{{{you!}}}}} How did everything go? Have you posted to LJ yet? I've been on self-imposed LJ exile, so I haven't read my flist in two months, but I'll be sure to check in on yours. :^D

      I'm very happy to see you back. You've been missed! (And I'll be posting a new Caranthir story soon too. ;)

      *ahem* Okay, now back to my attempt to post something serious to LJ. Rural life is a distant truth for many Americans. A lot of it, I think, has to do with the fact that most American meat is factory farmed, so even the idea of raising chickens, a hog, and a steer and slaughtering them when the need arises isn't common anymore. When my mother was growing up, this was done on our family's farm. I grew up in a rural community, and I've never seen an animal slaughtered because it's all part of the "factory" system now, done behind closed doors, out of sight, and out of mind.

      I'm not sure how that compares with Germany. In talking to satismagic once about meat, it seems that much more comes from family farms than here in the U.S. Also, I know that factory farming is much more strictly regulated in Europe, where you don't have the agribusiness lining the pockets of every elected official to keep their disgusting (and unsafe) practices swept under the rug.

      Even as a vegetarian, though, I have no delusions. After all, I was a cook for some years. Meat bleeds; it has bones and veins. Ironically, of all the cooks at the restaurant where I worked, I was considered the best at cooking burgers and steaks. People would request me to cook their meat for them ... and I was the only one on the kitchen staff who could never taste the results of her labor!
  • Congrats on the Vegiversary (I guess that's how you spell it)! I can personally attest to your dedication, and I think it's quite awesome that you have stuck with this for that long. I think you have the right attitude though, preaching always turns people off towards a cause (why do you think the religious whackos piss me off so much), and you certainly aren't preachy.

    I agree with everyone's negative feelings towards PETA as well, talk about an interest group that in my opinion degrades an issue by the use of silly tactics. I mean, there are better ways to support a movement other than chaining oneself to a laboratory door in the nude, or dressing up like a chicken. In my opinion, that makes people think of you as a whack job, and not a serious person with a serious issue. I also have problems with PETA's negative stance towards aquariums/zoos, because how else do you think people will care about there world unless they see with their own eyes what they are destroying?

    Anyway, congrats, you know I think you are awesome :)
    • Awwww, sweetie ... *loves you* :)

      We've discussed this one thousand times before. But for the benefit of the flist, who aren't so lucky to live with us ;) , you know that I totally agree. I've always believed that awareness and education are more valuable than the melodramatic tactics PETA uses. They draw attention to the issue, yes, but what kind of attention? What does a person witnessing one of their demonstrations come away with? An understanding of this issue or fear/hatred/scorn for those who are protesting it?

      And awareness, too, I think requires a person to want to hear it before it does any good. Studying psychology has taught me how easy it is for the human mind to believe what it wants, against all logic and sense. Some people simply aren't ready to face certain facts or consider certain ideas, and I fear that forcing them too soon can do more harm than good.
  • *attests to the fact that high school is sure as hell *not* the best time of one's life*

    First off, way to go! Thirteen years and not being facey about it- you rock. I do admire vegetarians very much, but having someone look at my food, roll their eyes, make a face, and say, "How can you eat that stuff- blech!" really annoys me. (One of my Hindu friends said that- kind of took me by surprise, since I was about to comment on the wonderful variety of lunches she brought.) Being bashed over the head with anything is annoying.

    That being said, there's a lot of vegetarianism in my school- a lot Hindu and Sikh students- and it's very nice. Especially all the vegetarian choices in food. But people still act weird when they hear someone (without religious reasons) say they're vegetarian. One of my teachers is- and everyone went, "A vegetarian? Really?" (Noooo. She's just lying.) "What do you eat?" (... Hello! What do you *think* she eats?! Yeesh.) It went on and on and on and on until I verbally lost it on the lot of them. ><

    (Or, more likely--especially where I live, which is close to D.C. and, hence, Dick Cheney--get shot.)


    • Oh, the "what do you eat?" drives me crazy! Actually, I'd intended for this post to be a humorous piece about that very question, but I got off on the "grass-seed radical" tangent, and the social psychology of niche communities (like animal activists or Silmficcers :^P) is always irresistible to me. Well, there's the 14-year anniversary ...

      I like to answer that question with "Every kind of food that isn't meat." Of course, in the U.S., it's hard for many people to imagine what that is. Just look at an American menu and everything has meat, meat, meat. But in my years of vegetarianism, I've tried so many things that I probably never would have even considered if I was still eating meat. So it always sort of baffles me that people whose menus are limited to beef, chicken, and fish look at me and ask what I find to eat!

      But I agree with you: being bashed over the head with anything is unpleasant. And maybe I'm just a unique case, but I've "converted" more people by just peacefully living my lifestyle and honestly answering questions when they arise than those who preach and turn up their noses at the choices other people make. Which is pretty intriguing, considering that "conversion" is never even my intent! :^D
  • I would gladly become a vegetarian, but, to my shame, I love eating chicken and fish too much to give it up. Anything else I won't eat unless the only other option is starvation. What's worse is that I know where the meat comes form. As a child, I grew up in my grandparents farm-like household, where we had all sorts of critters from chicken and ducks to pigs and sheep. I have seen animals being sacrificed so that we could eat them and, if I thought about it each time I am eating something with meat in it, I would probably starveto death.

    I am too lazy to become an activist, I'm afraid. And I don't live in a country that gives much of a damn how animals are treated. We aren't even close to getting stray dogs off the streets and building enough shelters.

    I'll tell you what I tell just about everybody who cares to raise this type of subject with me. I would rather kill and eat a human being than an animal. A human being would, at least have a chance to defend itself.
    • "I would rather kill and eat a human being than an animal. A human being would, at least have a chance to defend itself."

      Well, that's something I say when I'm under anti-vegetarian attack - especially that human meat is supposed to be sweet and the most delicious in taste. Unfortunately the closer meat you eat to the meat your own body is built from the shorter you live so I wouldn't advice such diet to anyone.

      And I think you shouldn't force yourself - it must be wise decision without regret.You do something out of an internal need, not because someone talks you to it. I saw dying animals too while visiting my distant family farms,but it didn't make me stop eating meat (not that I had anything to say being 6 or7) but I believe that's one of reasons why I never really liked it and never regretted deleting it from my diet.
    • (no subject) - dawn_felagund - Expand
  • Let's have a little confabulation. Way toolong one :)

    "the execution by anal electrocution of animals raised for fur."

    That sounds horrible, I didn't know that O_o

    While I liked high school times, I hated my primary school and uni years were the best :D And the time till I was 6 when the first death of a close family member came. Things had changed drastically for me since that and I finally came over that with leaving primary school but I guess I'll never really be the nasty kid fighting with boys I used to be in the kindergarten. Pity, these were fine times ;)

    "You know, Dawn, I like you. Even though you're a vegetarian."

    And that could fit to any extremists - religious, fannish, vegan etc - people too aggressive in putting their believes on others stigmatize the whole group. *sigh* When will they learn that people can't be convinced by force? That it will only bring opposite reaction? Idiocy.

    I used to be quite aggressive type when I stopped eating meat, too - as every one - a part of convincing oneself that it was a right choice is to convince others to make the same choice. As you know it well as a psychologist. But I was never really active anywhere, it was rather targeted at people who wanted to argue with me and talk me to eat meat again or show me their "betterness" as meat eaters, which turned in me the need to show them my "betterness" as a vegetarian, leading to the animal holocaust in slaughterhouses speeches.

    It has long since passed, especially that I was very shy kid at that time - primary school - ha, we've started at quite similar age. If I had any real 'educational' talks it was with my school pals or someone asking about it - and family of course, fighting with some of family members to not feed me with meat. I remember till today my grandma forcing me to eat meat and some horrible fat with it. She has forced me to eat that fat smashed with potatoes, I will never forget it. Arggh. But it made me stronger and now I am not forcible to eat anything I don't like - not only meat.
    Yet I would eat it if that was the only choice to survive. But not because someone has been preparing a meal for ages and will be sad that I will not eat it.

    Now I rather stay away from any talks and discussions on the net and in real life. Will talk about it only when someone wants to learn more or simply discuss it in civil manners. I will contr-attack if someone can't stop attacking me but I'm really not a desperate teen anymore to be that easily provoked ;) I rather say nothing on vegetarianism, Tolkien or any other of my passions if I don't talk with people interested in such things. Yup, there are Tolkien extremists out there, too.

    Ah, about the age - I believe I was around 10 when I started to deleting meat from my menu, but it wasn't immediate. Since my whole family was turning into vegetarianism - my parents and me - my mum was in control. She herself stopped eating meat after a starvation she had, me and my dad had to eat some fish and other random stuff from time to time, like twice a week in the start, than twice a month etc. We were never forbidden to eat mat as my grandma - the one who forced meat on me - tried to say, my dad's mum. No, in fact if that was up to me I would cut it off once and for ever, I never really liked meat. But my mum wasn't sure it's healthy for a growing kid. Today we know more and we would get rid of meat faster but it took me several years to stop eating meat totally.

    My extremism shows today as forbidding meat in my fridge, unless it's Fidelius' food. Forbidding putting meat in my pots or using my forks for that etc.- while I was living in a students flat. Some silly things, I know but I hate such details. Fidelius has got his own spoon to melt food in his bowl for example,not used to anything else. I'm also moving plates on a table when family gathers and someone places fish or sausages in front of me, I can't stand the smell. I hate people eating meat too close to me for that reason, either, but I don't attack them while they do it.

    I still hope I am wise, though, even I hate sausages placed too close to me on a table ;)
    • Re: Let's have a little confabulation. Way toolong one :)

      "the execution by anal electrocution of animals raised for fur."

      That sounds horrible, I didn't know that O_o

      They can't damage the fur, so they can't shoot or cut the animal to kill it. As such, fur animals--over here anyway--are usually bludgeoned, drowned, or electrocuted. :(

      You changed to vegetarianism a good while before I did, so I can only imagine the challenges. Of course, I'm speaking as an American too; I have no idea how well vegetarianism fits with Polish culture. But when I changed thirteen years ago, it was pretty much a choice of salad or tofu, and even tofu was thought to be exotic enough to be gross by most people. But these days, we have all sorts of substitutes that are just as good as the real thing: chicken, sausage, beef, meatballs, riblets ... it's quite amazing how far things have come in thirteen years!

      And I remember too what you said about being thought to be "too young" to give up meat, back when it seemed unthinkable and people were still talking about needing to match amino acids to be healthy. These days, I think it's generally accepted that vegetarians are healthy people.

      Is vegetarianism difficult in Polish culture? I ask because Bobby and I are each 25% Polish, each with paternal grandmothers who are children of Polish immigrants. And it seems that the Polish foods I am familiar with are even more "meat-centric" than American foods. (And American foods are pretty meat-centric too!) My first real food as a baby was gołąbki, for example! :^D (And I still miss it; it can't be replicated without meat, that I've ever found.)

      I never had anyone force me to eat meat, thankfully. Though I did have people who thought it would be fun/funny to sneak meat into things to see how I'd react. Of course, it's not a violation of my vegetarianism if I'm told that what I'm eating is vegetarian and then, later, someone confesses that it was not. But luckily, those immature stunts are part of the past now.

      I'm okay with being around meat. I was a cook for several years, so handling meat was part of my job. I will admit, though, that the first time I saw a burger bleeding all over a grill, I was glad to be vegetarian! There have been times when restaurants have messed up my order, and it comes out with meat mixed in, only I don't realize until I take a bite and ... bleh! The feeling of flesh is not a pleasant one, once you're used to vegetables and grains.
  • In a way, radical groups are like fandom: To a member of the group, it's the center of the world, and those who exist at its most extreme boundaries are worthy of the utmost respect. To an outsider, though, you seems like a group of nutjobs spinning your wheels over something pointless.

    Very true, I think the whole strikethrough '07 is a very good example for this. I know some people went like (in the comments at LJ news posts by the CEO)... okay, that's way too fanatic. That was intriguing to follow, but on a larger scale in life... I was musing about that with Trek the other day. I have the same feeling when I watch the news regarding the G8 summit and when they film the activists.

    For example, an activist could go into the forest on the first day of hunting season and blare "The Star-spangled Banner" and watch all of the hunters stand up. (Or, more likely--especially where I live, which is close to D.C. and, hence, Dick Cheney--get shot.)

    *giggles* Now that's what happened.

    (This all calls to mind another topic that I've considered blogging about: Why the fuck do some people call high school the best years of one's life?)

    Good point, maybe because of the holidays and breaks compared to a working life?

    I believe that the body takes what it needs. When I was expecting Kevin and the midwife asked how much meat I ate, I said.. well when I feel like it or when I think about it. To her it was important that I ate meat every day. Which I did (a bit reluctantly since I wasn't so good at keeping food down to begin with), but now I am back to the old routine, I often just don't feel like eating it. But no, I am not a vegetarian, but I respect those who are. And Dawn, every wee bit matters, after all even the smallest stone in a stream can alter things (said by Hegel but probably not the full or correct quote).

    • I believe, like you, that every small bit matters. For example, Bobby is a quasi-vegetarian: He continues to eat meat of all varieties, but he makes a conscious choice to limit what he eats. He had an Italian sandwich tonight; he'll make dinner for us another night with "fake chicken." Every bit does make a difference, and I wish that more people would understand this. There are 6 billion of us on this planet. Even a tiny change from each of us could make such a huge impact.

      For example, my boss teases me about saving my plastic bottles to recycle. He doesn't think that one woman and five bottles a week makes a difference. Well, now, if every American followed my lead ... there are about 300 million Americans. (Scary!) Times five plastic bottles each ... 1.5 billion bottles each week. Times 50 weeks in a year (we'll exclude vacation weeks) is 75 billion bottles each year, with each person only recycling five each week. That's a small step but a huge difference.

      Still, I don't look down on people who don't really cut the meat from their diets. From an American standpoint, it's tough. Our dietary culture was focused completely on meat; it sits at the center of every meal. The number of people aghast that I can spend the Thanksgiving holiday without eating turkey is a good example of that. Slowly, that is changing, largely because it is estimated that 6% of Americans are vegetarians. Still, it is not an easy decision to make, and I respect those who feel that they can't do it. I'm tempted every year into eating steamed crabs again. ;)
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