Thursday, May 17, 2012

My approach to veganism

I’m not very good at being an animal right’s activist. I support animal rights, but I’m not on the front lines protesting (much), handing out literature (much), taking part in direct action (at all), and the like (at least not on a regular basis). I do volunteer for things that I think improve my community, but I was raised in the South, and was taught that you don’t make a show out of the good things you do. Contrary to popular belief, the wave of self-righteous Evangelical Christianity is a relatively new thing. My great grandparents were very religious, devout Christians, but lived by the Biblical principle that you don’t make your piety and your self-perceived righteousness the first thing people notice about you.

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 -Matthew 6:5-6 

I’m not a religious person, but I do think that there is some wisdom in this principle. You can do something because you truly believe in it, or you can do something the show everyone else how great you are. I’m far from a perfect man, and I have had my self-righteous moments, but I can genuinely say that I try hard not be a holier-than-thou douchebag when it comes to my support of animal rights.

I’m not big into animal rights philosophy or ideology. My support for animal rights was a journey of self-discovery based on one fundamental truth I could not ignore: the animals we consume are sentient beings, capable of feeling pain, happiness, and fear, and that no matter how much I liked meat or dairy, their right to live free from undue suffering FAR outweighs my craving for a double bacon cheeseburger and a strawberry milkshake. (And I LOVED double bacon cheeseburgers and strawberry milkshakes!)

I try to be openminded, but I am skeptical of notions like speciesism and abolitionism. I know there are some very dedicated and good people that strongly believe in these concepts, and I don’t want to question their motivations in any way. I do, however, question the efficacy of some of the more hardline approaches to animal rights. Getting people to change their minds about something is one of the hardest things to do, period. And one thing I think most vegans – the more and the less ideologically inclined – can agree on is that in almost every society today (especially American society) we are raised to ignore the suffering of animals. Overcoming this socialization is, to put it bluntly, really fucking hard! It took me a long time to come around to finally embracing veganism as a lifestyle, so who the fuck am I to judge someone who hasn’t?

People are often surprised when they find out I’m vegan. In many ways I’m a normal guy. I like to drink more than I should. I have a sick, twisted, and caustic sense of humor. I appreciate Kenny Powers on a more than ironic level. Unlike “typical” (stereotypical) vegan men, I’m not into eating healthy – which is kind of the point of this blog. I’m not anything close to being a hippie or a metrosexual. Politically, I don’t consider myself a liberal or a leftist, and I don’t think to appreciate the sentience of other species you need to be. I also have a huge college football problem.

I once posted a joke on one of my favorite sports message boards about my recipe for vegan eggnog. It was two ingredients: Johnny Walker Black in a coffee mug. It was (obviously) meant to be a joke. I got a response something to the effect of, “That’s the first vegan recipe I’ve ever seen that sounds awesome.” I’m under no delusions that I converted anyone to veganism with that silly post, but I possibly did make someone (or maybe even more than one!) think that vegans can be likely anyone else. Veganism can and should be relatable to most people. 

I think the best way to help end animal suffering is to make people think and understand that consuming animals is a choice, as that is best accomplished by being a salient cultural force. Vegans being present and visible, but not in-your-face is the best way to do that. What we need is not more animal rights ideologues. What we need are more vegans!

Okay -- the rest of this is a bit tangential, but relevant. This has become longer than I intended. I have tried my hand of humor writing before (here and on an LSU blog) I kind of think what veganism needs is a good humor writer, as opposed to yet another blog on animal rights philosophy. I'm not saying I'm up for this, or good enough, but this is my idea – a brief snippet where I will point the guns away from my vegan brothers and sisters and toward the meat industry. The subject: fast food chicken nuggets. Go!

What the animal right activist says about them to a non-vegan:

They are usually made from chickens who are kept in cramped conditions, with beaks chopped off, unable to move, genetically modified, sad, suffering, and hopeless. They are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, then brutally slaughtered by people who work in subhuman conditions with no safety standards, mechanically separated, portioned back together piecemeal, and artificially pressed into nugget shapes. This process is cruel, inhuman, and a sad commentary on our society.
Oh, how inter-uhhhhhh

Now all of that shit is true, but I would put it a different way. Check it:

Most people think chicken nuggets are made of actual chickens. This is true in a nominal sense. They are more like blind, crippled, suffering creatures that happen to remotely genetically resemble what we casually think of as a chicken. These miserable things are shot up with that same shit that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens took for decades (so it’s gotta be safe, right?), while having their DNA fucked with to the point that they have three heads while being able to be successfully grown upside down in a garbage can right outside the basement of an unsavory rural Chinese train station. After being “harvested” they are then pureed into something that resembles soft-serve strawberry ice cream. 

Mmmm.... Delicious! 

That's how I roll bitches.


  1. For what it's worth, I read here because your posts are on point and witty. I have no interest in veganism and really, I'm not looking to convert but... every time you post you get a chance to try, again, to convince me.

    Being from (and living in) the south caused the blog title to grab my attention... in fact, it gave me exactly what I was looking for when hosting an old fashioned southern cookout that included vegetarian friends.

    Personally, I'm a serious carnivore not because of Genesis 1:26 but because I, very simply, like meat. It is what it is. Still, I think your approach is a decent one. As I noted, I read here regularly because I like your writing style and the blog theme. It reminds me that veganism (or vegetarianism for that matter) doesn't have to mean "lettuce sandwich". Thanks for that perspective.

  2. Thanks a lot for that awesome feedback jinksto!

  3. fine job ... keep up the good work.

  4. Thank you! It's like I wrote paragraph 4 myself. Completely describes my vegan-ism.