Today’s Subject: Extreme Vegans (and Extreme Extremeness in General)

 

A couple days ago, I was discussing with a Facebook friend of mine the legitimacy of an article on whale hunting in the Faroe Islands–you all know the one I mean. The one with the horrible, bloody pictures and the use of the title “Her Child Was Torn From Her Body” to illicit the emotional response that makes someone interested in reading such an article. I pointed out that the article title–which appears to be maybe about abortion or something else–was misleading, and that the facts aren’t necessarily presented in fact form (this story was presented to me as an alternative suggestion directly under his post)–basically, I could never do what these islanders do, but I understand why they do it and I don’t feel that it’s my or anyone else’s responsibility to police what these guys do if it isn’t illegal, if it’s humane, and if it enhances their quality of life.

But that isn’t what this post is about.

One thing led to another, and of course because the Faroese people use the whales for food, the subject came up of the inhumane reality of how corporate livestock are handled. Basically–people are against the slaughtering of these whales because of the apparent cruelty that they suffer (which the article I linked to addresses, shedding some light on how humane the process really is in comparison to the gruesome images that are circulating the Internet), living in their natural environment and never knowing captivity, but they’re cool with our livestock living in cubicles their entire life, treading through inches of their own feces day after day, never seeing the sunlight, some of them (like chickens) being injected with steroids? They are both barbaric, but one is acceptable and one is not to Western folk, because we understand one as a food source and another as torture.

I’m not vegan, or vegetarian…I like my meat. I try really hard to buy local meat or grass-fed meat that isn’t subjected to as much cruelty while alive, just because it makes me feel better (though it is a little pricier).

The friend who I was discussing this topic with is a recent vegetarian, as of the past couple years. So, when he threw the following quotes at me:

“He who permits the slaughter of an animal, he who cuts it up, he who kills it, he who buys or sells meat, he who cooks it, he who serves it up, and he who eats it, must all be considered as the slayers of the animal. There is no greater sinner than that man who though not worshiping the gods or the ancestors, seeks to increase the bulk of his own flesh by the flesh of other beings.” -(Manu-samhita 5.51-52)

“Meat can never be obtained without injury to living creatures, and injury to sentient beings is detrimental to the attainment of heavenly bliss; let him therefore shun the use of meat. Having well considered the disgusting origin of flesh and the cruelty of fettering and slaying corporeal beings, let him entirely abstain from eating flesh.” – (Manu-samhita 5.48-49)

Well…I was pretty irritated. These are both from Vedic scripture, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, so they are indeed pretty oldschool and show that the desire to be compassionate to other creatures has been a very long-going process, for thousands of years. NOT quite as long as humans have been surviving using meat…but still a pretty freaking long time ago. I respect the origins of these, and those who believe them–however, in the context of discussing how one can kill an animal for food and not feel bad about it, these quotes definitely look like a shaming technique to make me and other people feel bad about eating meat.

NOW we’re to the point of this article!

My friend here is a RECENT vegetarian–before that, I witnessed him put away pounds of Pizza Hut chicken wings, which are debatably the WORST kind of processed meat, both humane-wise and for my own organs (I can attest to what just five of those did to me last evening, within literally 10 minutes of eating them), hot dogs, huge burgers…you name it. So when this friend, who has never before tried to “convert” me, started slinging these at me in the context of an article about how cruel whaling is…it definitely felt like shaming.

Whether or not he was trying to shame me for eating meat, despite his own history of meat-scoffing, I have encountered many a herbivore who has tried to tell me how bad eating meat is…UNSOLICITED.

“I could really go for a burger after this tattoo.”
“Ohhh, don’t do that! Don’t you know how bad they are for you? All the cholesterol and fat that’s in meat will make your heart give out…plus, don’t you know how those animals are treated?”

YES I KNOW AND I’M FUCKING HUNGRY. Yes, I love animals, especially cute ones, and I have a respect for (nearly) all animal life. But, I shouldn’t have to prove this to you by justifying why I eat meat and don’t feel bad about it. It’s not YOUR job to tell me how to eat…you can recommend it, you can tell me why you like it, but don’t try to tell me how what I’m doing is bad. That never works. Try telling a smoker how bad cigarettes are for him/her mid-puff and see how well it works. Furthermore, try offering to take a vegan out for steak and see how offended they get. People DO NOT LIKE to be criticized by people who aren’t being affected at all by that person’s decisions. Especially strangers.

I don’t know why this is, but the entire culture of veganism is getting a bad name from people who decide that their way of helping the world will be to try to persuade as many people as they can to see their point of view and take action, even if it is randomly and annoyingly. But what’s worse is when this attitude leads to discrimination against those who DON’T see things the same way–this is true not just for veganism, but for anyone trying to promote ANY cause.

One time, I posted a rebuttal to a comment on a page that promoted animal rights and to get rid of animal cruelty in the food industry. I am for both of these things, by the way. However, the comment was so extreme…it compared the enjoyment of meat as food to enjoying rape.

THAT escalated quickly! So I posted something to the effect of how those aren’t even the same thing, and to condemn someone so quickly for liking meat is going to work against their efforts to gain supporters for what would normally be a pretty justified effort.

I got immediate backlash, to say the least…I was told that I’m a horrible person, that the only people working against their cause was scumbags like me, etc.etc. My post was then deleted, I was blocked from the page, and others continued to slander me while I could do nothing to defend myself. People took it SO PERSONALLY, it was absolutely insane! I don’t know what these guys eat for food, and I don’t really give a crap (one of many differences between them and I), but I do know that someone who defames the character of someone based on one small opinion that they hold about ONE subject, is being pretty shallow and ignorant.

Does anyone remember…

The recent blog of “The Blonde Vegan” (who later changed her name to “The Blonde Veggie” and then “The Balanced Blonde), who received tons of backlash when she revealed that she would no longer be eating vegan because it had led to an obsession with her diet, which is an eating disorder known as orthorexia? Here’s a quote from her “About” page (click it to go there):

“I identified as vegan for a year and a half because of the whole plant-based eating, no animal product, ethical choices thang… but after learning that many people in the vegan community take the label too far and use it in an exclusive, all-or-nothing way, I decided to move away from labels and veganism as a whole.”

In June 2014, she had made the announcement that she was transferring away from veganism. She received a lot of backlash for this decision, with some claiming that she was making “a bad name for veganism.” This is only one example of the bad name that these sort of people make for THEMSELVES and their cause, by discriminating against others with different beliefs! I think it’s awesome when people believe in a cause and stick to it. It’s much less awesome when one’s reaction to the cause is to crush people with it. Simple lifestyle choices like these would get SUCH a less bad reputation if less of those who participated were so extreme and polarizing about their personal choices, so much so that they let it affect their perception of others.

Moral of the story: people can do what they want! If it’s not illegal, don’t knock whatever it is until you try to understand it. The best thing about free will is the ability to have different views. I’m not about to tell someone whether or not they should be allowed to hunt whales, or whether or not they should be allowed to abstain from eating meat or using animal products. I’m not about to tell people that they should listen to Vedic scripture, but I’m also not against it in any way. You want to worship sixteen gods and sacrifice your underpants to them once a week for good luck? Do it! IT’S YO BUSINESS, YO.

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I Talk About Humanity a Lot…

Humanatee

I noticed throughout my posts that I talk about humanity a lot. However, that is slightly irrelevant to this picture of a humanatee. =D But only slightly!

Once upon a time, about five years ago when I was doing my tattoo apprenticeship, I was listening to “Take the Long Way Home” by Supertramp, and, when he says the line…oh. Oh God, this isn’t a real line. I just looked it up, and he’s actually saying “Oh calamity, is there no way out?”

Well, that’s embarrassing.

ANYWAY, THOUGHT HE SAID HUMANITY. Long story short, I imagined a creature part human, part manatee, that embodied the plight of humans on their journey as part of…well…humanity. Get it? xD

…anyway. So after five years, I finally drew the humanatee. His name is Hugh (because we LOVE PUNS HERE). I was going to draw him in several different poses with witty puns involving the word humanity…and then I thought about making humanatee-shirts (OH MY GOD ANOTHER PUN…=D), but I’ve been testing reactions to Hugh the Humanatee to see if there would be an interest in such a ridiculous support of this idea. xD

So yep, there he is!

What Am I Doing With My Life?

Wow, I finally have some free time! This is unheard of! =D

And yet, this statement is ironic. Very ironic. I’m always, ALWAYS doing something–usually work, but also online college work (I’m almost done with my 2nd semester!), house work, freelance graphic design and writing work, and as of recently, moving work–painting our new rental condo in exchange for our landlord holding the unit for a month for us, and of course the joys of actually packing your crap up to take to said new rental condo, then awaiting the exciting day where we unpack it all and rearrange it in our new living space. Which is very exciting! But also a lot of work. =3

Now, if I were to say that list slightly differently, I’d sound pretty freaking impressive. =D “Ah yes…I’m working as a full time tattoo artist while going to school part time for graphics design. I’m also currently doing some freelance graphic design for a marketing company and have just finished writing an e-Book. My boyfriend and I are finally successful enough that we can afford a nice place to live, and will be moving out of our ghetto as shit neighborhood with our drunken, yelling neighbors, into a more reputable neighborhood. GO US.”

Even reading that back to myself, I feel pretty impressive. =D However, I’m also on the inside of all this information, and I see what the first paragraph states: a lot of fucking work. Work, work, work, work! Work equates to things that I should do, things I kind of want to do, but that require an extra effort of caring that makes them more difficult and less fun to do, especially when there’s a lot of these things going on at once. Because even though I absolutely LOVE my job, really enjoy school, love the fact that I can make money off of freelance work, and even though I’m BEYOND EXCITED to move out of this seedy neighborhood…it becomes very overwhelming and less fun to me.

Often, when I have little conversations with myself in my head because I’m crazy and introverted, and I work through my problems by coaching myself like a weirdo, I ask myself what I’m doing with my life, and I reply back to myself with the impressive version of the large quantity of tasks that I’ve taken on in the past several months. Part of me feel successful and proud of myself for accomplishing so much–but then I ask myself again, “Seriously. What are you DOING with your life?”

Sometimes, the answer is disheartening, because somewhere deep down, I know that there’s a chance that I’ll lose myself in my acquisition for success, in my mission to make myself be a productive member of society that people admire and look up to, that I admire.

I often fear that I’ll forget how to see the world through the eyes of a child, how to be truly creative just because I see the world in a different way. I’m afraid of forgetting how to laugh, forgetting to connect with friends and to do things that make me happy. And I absolutely hate the feeling when I’m at work, doing a drawing for someone else, and I have a spark of creativity that could turn into a wonderful idea–but then, I have to stuff in back in my brain to “save for later” because there simply isn’t enough time for me to indulge in my own ideas. THAT. SUCKS.

Sometimes, the answer to what I’m doing with my life is this, as I shake myself to try to get the stupid out…”You’re forgetting to HAVE A LIFE.”

Why, what do you mean self? LOOK HOW ACCOMPLISHED I AM, SELF.

“Let me tell you why you’re an idiot. You’re forgetting to make time for yourself and the things that make you happy, even simple things such as going for a walk and enjoying the sunshine, to complex things like creating a work of art for no other reason than because you fucking feel like it.

You’re not making time to REST, and so you’re going through your days in a haze, not really being present for them, because you don’t have the energy to really invest in the happenings of your day. You’re trying to go too fast so you can get things “out of the way,” assuming that you’ll have more time to yourself if you stuff all of your obligations into one large slot of time–but in reality, those obligations never go away because you continue to create them, and you’re actually just burning yourself out.

When you burn out, you don’t want to do the things that absolutely need to be done, let alone go out of your way to invest your time in things that you actually want to be doing. You’ve got it completely backwards! Don’t you know that investing at least some of your time into your own well-being and happiness actually BOOSTS your energy and creativity, making you more capable to handle all of your life’s obligations, and making it easier to allow yourself to be part of what’s going on around you? GET A GRIP, SELF.”

Ohhh boy…I’m right about myself. GREAT.

“It’s true though–when you don’t take time to consider the things that you truly value and that are part of you, then you’re doing yourself a great disservice and making things even harder. You may lose sight of who you really are and what you really stand for…you might give in to the materialistic, shallow plight that the Western world just loves to be part of. Are those people really happy? Do you want to be part of that, or do you want to live your life to the fullest, in the way that you believe it should be lived?”

I don’t want to be a sheep who focuses on shallow appearances, materialistic success, and who wore it better. I thought I did once, but I don’t. I want to make something of myself, but not for everyone else–for me.

“Good. Then start managing your time a little bit less stupidly. It’s okay to be human. Embrace it!”

So, as a message to anyone who might read this…ask yourself what you’re really doing with your life, and don’t answer the question with the successes that other people can measure, like your finances, your career success, or your family. Answer it instead with personal successes, and whether or not you’re measuring up to your true self. Ask yourself if you’re happy! If the answer is yes, you might be on to something…but what if you aren’t happy (and you don’t have to be 100% happy, nor do you need to feel like a complete failure to believe that your life is going in the wrong direction)?

It’s OKAY to take a vacation…I guess…I wouldn’t know, it’s been years since I’ve had one. It’s OKAY to prioritize that movie night over a work deadline sometimes. It’s OKAY to look out for yourself and your own well-being before looking out for others–sometimes, that’s the only way to get anything done anyways.