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Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

Surprising Speaker

Posted by tinako on July 8, 2014

The audience’s reaction is what’s interesting to me in this video about food marketing.

I’ve never seen anything like this and really wasn’t expecting her closing.  Sometimes I think surprise is the only way to get through.

Posted in Animals, Social Justice | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »


Posted by tinako on June 23, 2014

I went out leafletting today.  In case you don’t know, to leaflet you get hold of some educational handouts and then find a place to hand them out to people.  I table a lot (which is setting up a table of materials at an event and letting people come to you) but I’m new to leafletting.

compassionate_choices_leafletIn my case, I’m doing this because a book I read, Matt Ball and Bruce Friedrich’s Animal Activist’s Handbook, suggested leafletting about farm animal suffering as one of the more effective ways to reduce suffering in the world.  They’re associated with Vegan Outreach, so I chose one of the leaflets VO offers (“Compassionate Choices,” the one with the more pleasant cover).

When I table, I am usually tabling for the health or environmental reasons to eat less meat.  This is because most mainstream venues such as towns and colleges won’t invite someone to discuss slaughter or animal cruelty.  But I feel as though I would like to offer this information to people.  I am so grateful for the person who handed me a Farm Sanctuary brochure about veal 26 years ago – thank you, wherever you are.  I am glad to know the truth.  So I hit the street.

I was going to leaflet at Rochester’s International Jazz Festival, and grabbed a pack of 50 brochures and hopped on my bike to go to an afternoon venue, but I was late and everyone was already inside.  Undaunted, and determined not to go home with the brochures, I looked around and saw a lot of people on Main Street, about a block away.  So I rode up there and parked.  It was noontime on a lovely day in the business district right where all the bus lines meet, and walking along I was able to hand out all 50 brochures in 36 minutes within four blocks.

More than half the people accepted them (though I didn’t ask every person).  Some people were really happy, pleasantly surprised, a few wanted to talk, one informed me she didn’t need it since she wasn’t cruel to animals, one took a flyer and then offered to sell me some drugs, a few were mentally ill, but no one was mean.  A lovely man who seemed homeless was so grateful to get one.  I wish now I’d sat down and talked with him.

Posted in Animals, AR, Social Justice | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Energy Fair Tabling

Posted by tinako on June 22, 2014

Water Beef Infographic

I find that I don’t like the picture of packaged body parts on my blog.

For the 6th year in a row, I tabled at my town’s energy fair on the topic of livestock’s effect on the environment.  Here’s a post about what I say, and it includes a closeup of the main display I made for the first energy fair; this year I removed the rather confusing information about choice of car vs. choice of diet and instead put up a graphic showing how much water is used for beef.  That got some comments.

I had tried to update the pie chart on causes of Amazon deforestation but couldn’t find anything more recent than what I had, 2006.

Really, though, I barely need my display any more at this event.  Of the dozens of people I talked to, almost every one knew about the livestock/environment connection.  I’m kicking myself for not asking them where they found out, although several volunteered that it was covered in a 6-week course they took on plant based diets, offered by our vegetarian society’s co-presidents, one of whom is a doctor.  When I first put up this display at the first energy fair six years ago, not a single person knew.  Some of the people I recognize as repeat visitors, but most are finding this info somewhere else.  Great!

So my display was used as casual reference instead of an informational talk, but I also have a tableful of handouts provided by the veg society and a few I pick up at Farm Sanctuary, which has one of the only fliers on the environment issue.

I want to mention that I am aware of and considering the point made by some that to encourage people to eat less meat because it is bad for the environment is a betrayal of the animals, a betrayal of my values.  That is, I would not tell people not to eat children because their production causes greenhouse gases (or because it’s not healthy for you to eat them).  I keep this in mind.  However, it is a fact that I will not be allowed to come to this fair and talk about animal rights.  They do not allow our local AR group to table there.  I’m allowed there because they know me and while I don’t pull punches, and will talk about whatever my visitors bring up, my materials and talks keep on topic (my original pitch to the committee tied in the livestock/environment issue).  Our vegetarian society is invited to health fairs at schools and so forth to talk about health – if our argument is instead all about animal suffering, we won’t be invited back.  We reach a lot of people this way, and I see the same visitors year after year, making progress both personally and in their families.

I also hope that once people are cutting back on meat for environmental or health reasons, they will have less excuse to ignore the suffering.  I think a lot of people avert their eyes from suffering because they don’t want to change their behavior, but if the behavior is already changed, they are free to express their compassion.

These thoughts are in transition (you may see from my posts that I am thinking about AR a lot), but that’s where I am right now.

Posted in AR, Environment, Social Justice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Gandhi Institute Nonviolence Intensive

Posted by tinako on June 21, 2014

gandhiAs a peace activist, I feel so fortunate to live less than six miles from the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence.  A few months ago I attended their seminar on NVC, non-violent communication.  I had read the book, but felt overwhelmed by the task of finding the wisdom to respond in different situations and overhauling my habits of speech, and so it was great that the seminar was half small-group practice session.  The main speaker also discussed race and status.  NVC, in addition to making me a better person in my community and family, can make me a more effective activist for social justice in the areas I focus, primarily, but not exclusively, animal rights.  I’ve thought a lot about the comparison between NVC and Buddhism, but I’ll hold off on commenting for right now.

So I am excited that I am able to attend the Gandhi Institute’s 2014 four-day all-day workshop, their Nonviolence Intensive.  They’ll spend time discussing the lives and teachings of Gandhi and King (whom I have been studying), NVC (I am happy to have more instruction and practice in this useful skill), “tools for inner change based on mindfulness” (I like tools, I like change, and I’m Buddhist!), and “Deep Ecology and the Work that Reconnects” (from a superficial Googling, Deep Ecology encompasses AR, though an AR friend told me he was troubled by it, so we’ll see; and as for work, as my kids are needing me less, I am in the process of deciding what to do with the rest of my life).  So this seminar seems perfect for me.

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Our Struggle

Posted by tinako on April 17, 2014

mlkI have been reading Martin Luther King Jr.’s writings.  I’m doing this for several reasons: He’s one of my top four heroes, I remember being moved when I read his “Letter From Birmingham Jail” in college, race relations are being highlighted this year in the newspaper and other forums, and I want to understand the history of racism, bigotry, and civil rights better, but my foremost purpose is that I want to know how the lessons of the past can be applied to the present issue of animal rights.  How can this man’s struggle to shame people into recognizing their better self help those of us today who want to bring another truth to light: speciesism is not a more logical or reasonable a position than racism.

I’m not going to explain speciesism here; I refer you to the first chapter of Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation for an argument which is difficult to deny.  No, here I’d like to share some of King’s words which seem particularly suitable for scaling up, or are at least food for thought.  For example,

In their relations with Negroes, white people discovered that they had rejected the very center of their own ethical professions.  They could not face the triumph of their lesser instincts and simultaneously have peace within.  And so to gain it, they rationalized. – MLK, “Our Struggle

This resonates with a quote from Kafka, as he looked at a fish in an aquarium: “Now I can look at you in peace.  I don’t eat you any more.”  Can you hear the compassion of King’s words?  His writings are filled with compassion for those whose psyche’s are torn, a wall between their values and their actions so that impossible simultaneity is avoided.  Surely we can see this dissonance in people who say “I love animals” and “Pass the pork.”

King continues, “They argued that his inferior…position was good for him.”  King is referring to rationalizing segregation due to believing black people would not succeed if they set their sights too high, but we could just as well apply it to animals when we rationalize that animals won’t survive in big, bad nature, and so we must protect them by exploiting them on farms – it’s good for them! – this argument is taken directly from Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

White people “quickly were conditioned to believe that [segregation’s] social results, which they had created, actually reflected the Negro’s innate and true nature.”  We take animals out of any sort of natural environment, separate them from their parents, deny them their most basic needs, and terrify them, and then they are called stupid when they don’t seem to understand how to get on or off a transport truck quickly.

King continues that black people, immersed in racism, came to believe they were sub-human and accepted “an uneasy peace in which the Negro was forced to accept injustice, insult, injury and exploitation.”  It is one of the few consolations in the situation of animal rights, that animals don’t know they don’t deserve this.  I’ve walked past polluted rivers and new housing developments and, sad as it makes me, I find a small relief that the displaced and injured animals don’t know about injustice, don’t know about our selfishness, don’t know it’s Man, Man, Man.

In the case of animals, they never will.  One enormous difference between the civil rights and animal rights movements is that the oppressed cannot rise up.  They are utterly helpless.  They cannot march in the streets or refuse to enter the slaughterhouse.  One by one the exploiters will have to face that triumph of their lesser instincts.  Who will help them see?  Who will open the doors?  Who will have the courage to testify for those who can’t?

Posted in AR, Social Justice | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

American Vegan Artist

Posted by tinako on March 21, 2014

I’m told an article about my art has appeared in the Fall 2013 edition of American Vegan.

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Say No to Animal Gifting Hunger Organizations

Posted by tinako on March 13, 2014

I have no problem recounting statistics about the environmental problems caused by livestock here in the U.S., and taking into consideration that Americans can choose to eat a healthy diet containing no animal products.  But when it comes to countries where marginal farmland and subsistence farming may make the issues more complex, I stayed out of it.

This article, “10 Reasons to Say No to Animal Gifting Hunger Organizations,” dives right in.  Have you been told their land will support nothing but grazing animals?  Have you been offered the image of cows and goats wandering around the homestead eating plants that were of no use anyway, producing free milk which is healthy and nutritious for starving people?  Find out.

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Curry Fries

Posted by tinako on February 26, 2014

001I made another recipe from Isa Does It: Baked Garlic-Curry Fries.  They were really good.  I used red potatoes instead of russet and 1/2 t garlic salt in place of garlic and salt.

With this we had Beany Burgers on Whole Wheat Buns, steamed kale with balsamic vinegar, and another marvelous salad.

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Vigil for Squirrel Massacre

Posted by tinako on February 23, 2014

Some friends and I held a silent vigil yesterday during the Holley, NY Fire Department’s “Squirrel Slam.”  Friends of Animals from NYC came to Holley again for an all-out protest, but we attended last year and some of us felt it didn’t reflect our values.  We’re on the same side when it comes to animals, but not so much when it comes to anger.  When it comes to anger, I think FoA and the hunters are on the same side.

I’m really proud that I brought this issue up in our local group and got the conversation started.  And I’m incredibly proud of our group that others agreed and we made it happen.  Sixteen of us lined a very busy corner outside Holley for an hour in gale force winds, hanging onto our yellow signs in silence.  I’d have to estimate that the number of cars we saw yesterday was 30 times what we saw the year before in the center of Holley, where most passers-by probably already knew what was going on.  Most of our signs spoke of our sorrow for the squirrels instead of protest to the hunters (pictures of squirrels, candles, hearts, paw-prints, RIP).  All of us maintained silence.

Some of us wonder whether standing holding signs is effective; I doubt it changed the minds of anyone with an already-formed opinion, and what we really need is a law, but a whole lot of people definitely know what was going on that day in the neighboring town, and that somebody cares.  I’m proud that we did that without adding our anger to the world.  I went home knowing that while we hadn’t impacted the number of squirrels killed that day, we had stood up to say small creatures matter.

There was a fair amount of beeping, whether friendly or not we couldn’t tell, and weren’t really interested – we were there to express compassion, not take a public opinion poll.  Despite the presence of an eleven-year-old girl among us, several passing gentlemen expressed their thoughts about our silent vigil via obscene gestures and shouted expletives.  But mostly no issues.

The FoA protest was later – we didn’t want to compete with it, our group promoted it, and several of our vigilers planned to attend it.  Don’t know how it went.

UPDATE – I heard from attendees that it was about 10 people including a FoA leader, apparently silent on our side, but very, very noisy counterprotesters outnumbering the protesters.  If FoA really put away the bullhorn, I wonder what prompted that – they had been very insistent with us that anger and shouting was the way to go, even frustrated that we felt otherwise.  One attendee said the other side wasn’t really nasty, just having a great time yelling what I’m sure were witty bon mots such as “tastes like chicken.”  I’m not Christian, but I can’t help thinking of the people who mocked Jesus as he suffered with the cross.  I didn’t feel that way when our side was shouting, too.  There is an echoing, enduring power in quiet suffering laid bare.

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Posted by tinako on February 11, 2014

A friend shared this short video with me.  It’s Cesar Chavez accepting an award from In Defense of Animals.

I liked Chavez’ quote, “The basis for peace is respect for all creatures.”

Unfortunately, a lot of people who exploit animals feel that they are respecting them just because they are careful and serious while they do it.

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