the smoking vegans

Sunday, July 31, 2005

 

The ice cream vegan

There are some dumb motherfuckers out there. I guess I've already hashed out honey as much as I'd like to, but there are one group of "vegans" who have been pissing me off more and more-- the so-called "ice cream vegan." For those of you unfamiliar with the term, these are "vegans" who indulge in a little ice cream or cheese pizza now and then. Guess what, fuckers? You're not vegan!

I had an interesting debate at work about this the other day. One of my co-workers was of the mind that even these folks are at least doing something more than your average omni or veggie. And in a way, that's true. But ultimately, that's not what I'm concerned about, at least not in this case. The problem for me is the way they paint a picture of actual vegans as being noncommittal and wishy-washy about their ethics. I can't help but wonder what the fuck is wrong with them, quite honestly. Also, if you know enough to think veganism is a positive thing and you're committed to its basic tenets, then you fucking know better! I don't go around calling myself "model parent" or some such shit, except for when I'm committing the occasional act of blatant child abuse [For the record, no I don't have children. Most of you are probably happy to know this].

The saddest part about this phenomena is its pervasiveness. There's been very few folks I've met who don't, upon finding out I'm vegan, tell me they know someone who is vegan, except they eat pizza with cheese sometimes, Ben & Jerry's ice cream every now and then, and honey basically all the time. If you're vegan, awesome. If you're not there yet, that's okay. But don't call yourself vegan. It hurts the rest of us. Plus, you're a bloody putz** if you do, and you should really just get mangled in a horrible, flaming car wreck, now shouldn't you?

**Mensch-ier?

 

Book release

The proprieters of veganfreaks.org have released their first book together. Get your copies while they're hot! Check it out at veganfreak.com.

As for business, new posts should resume at the end of the coming week, and be regular thereafter. Sorry for all the delays. It's been a crazy few weeks. Plus, even I occasionally need time to mock up a new list of things I'm pissed off about.

Friday, July 29, 2005

 

Update

I've been away for awhile trying to figure out where I'd like to go with this blog, and also making lots of cookies. There's going to be some changes, so stay tuned. But, I'm still alive. You'll notice a slight change in the blog title. I'll be taking on a cohort to co-author the blog. More to come over the weekend.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

 

I say tomato, you say tamah-toh

One of the most consistently irritating things about being vegan is the way people are never sure how to pronounce the word. Lots of omnis seem think the word is pronounced "vay-gen." Normally, a gentle correction will work. However, I've run into a few omnis who insist I'm in fact pronouncing the word incorrectly, and they have it right.

Lucky for them I don't own or carry any handguns. Seriously, I think I know how to pronounce my own fucking lifestyle. It would be like if I referred to the Jesus folks as "Chree-stee-ins" or some shit. Really, where do they fucking get off?

To remedy this situation, one of my co-workers once decided, after I corrected her on the pronunciation, that whether or not hers was right, she liked it better. "I like vay-gen. It sounds more Jewish." She was right, and I let her have that one. But a word to any obstinent little twat omnis out there who think they know better: watch yourselves. I may not eat animals, but I have no quams about eating people.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

 

Spam: the least vegan email

Last year I had the rare opportunity of visiting the Spam museum in Austin, MN. The Hormel factory in Austin was the site of the final death throes of the American labor movement, so I figured I couldn't pass it up. The experience could only be summed up in the three words "fucking creepy, man." But the luncheon "meat" isn't only type of Spam I like to consider thoroughly un-vegan.

The soulless job I'm finishing my final week at consists of answering customer service emails for an electronics company. Every morning my first job is to clean out the spam. Normally there are a few hundred spam emails at the start of the day. My boss insists there are filters in place, but I'm not so sure. Honestly, how many customers send emails with the word "v1agR@" and "c1al!s"? Anyway, after a while I started looking forward to cleaning out the spam for one particular reason: the email titles. Some of them are just fucking hysterically weird, reading like bad beat poetry (although I'm unsure if there's good beat poetry, but whatever). Today I figured I'd share some of my favorites.

Bring out the new you with gastric bypass surgery...
FR: Marvelous It is very interesting, I advise. mars
Vi-ggra is Lousy u7R
Yes...a gas mask is serious business for serious times...
Sir Rodney's Scones
NEW ST0CK:Climb Aboard the Small Cap Gravy Train
Wish you could get laid tonight?
Increase your sperm volume by 500%
Anvanced Penile Medication
How it be. it's me J-girl,,..continual
67% of members got laid
This is what you've been waiting for india
Special pricing on r-xdrugs. To be precise, put the bucks back in your pocket.
I think this is useful to many rustic
1-4 extra inches makes a massive difference
She lovves it
Meet kinky local girls
Have you been seeking fun? You can screw someone today..,..glassy
Re: With clean go blue recto
Do you like to smoke? Do you like music?
Be honest with me, Don't you very often demand talking?
Best software prices. avows whereas
Whats going on, ,my new cam schedule
We've got a powerful lawn tractor with your name on it.
Rolex is not for everyone, it`s for you Deborah
The picture of our Rolexes will attract all the eyeballs. So will our lovvprices.
They vvork as Rolexes. Not at that highprice.
Wearing Rolexes is stylish. Wearing our Rolexes is smart and stylish.
Only time will tell if you can use this melanie
Shed pounds away the Asian Way!
Whats been going on? It's only me Crystal Glass. I really miss you..,...chubby
Why won't you answer me? It's only me Hottie Crystal. I've been missing you


On a separate note, poking around the net this morning I came across a great piece on McSweeney's I thought I'd share with everyone.

Monday, July 11, 2005

 

Kvetchless



For once this weekend I did something I rarely do: I dropped off the face of the earth and fucking relaxed. It was nice. It was so nice I've even included pictures with scenic Lake Champlain on the horizon. So today I take a break from kvetching and rants about child sacrifice. For the disappointed, I promise the more bile-filled, negative, occasionally contemplative stuff will resume tomorrow.


Friday, July 08, 2005

 

The vegan mentor

Being a vegan mentor is a bit like being Obiwan, winning folks to the light side, the Vegan Order, and training them in the ways of the Soya, except without all the cool shit. Oh, and there's no Vegan Academy on Courescant. Or lightsabres-- sorry, kids. But you do get that sweet-ass hooded robe. Okay, no, you don't. Actually, you get a copy of John Robbin's "Diet for a New America," and a cookbook. But really, this is all it should take.

Every vegetarian-turned-vegan had their own vegan mentor, whether they'd admit it or not. In my case, it was a bit more removed, in the form of vegan-related music. H0wever, with other people, it's normally, well, other people. In this shortish post, I'm going to provide a few tips on how you too can be a goodly vegan mentor.

Traditionally speaking, there are two ways to make more vegans. One is the fun way, but involves paying for the little fuckers' college educations at some point. The other way is mentoring veggies.

When approaching vegetarians about veganism, here's some shit to keep in mind:

1. Don't approach vegetarians about veganism. It will just make them feel pressured.

Okay, so that was really the only tip I had about approaching them. But once they've approached you about veganism (in any capacity), here's my suggestions:

1. Let them ask whatever questions they like, no matter how trite or asinine, and answer them honestly, no matter how much the truth hurts. This means when someone asks, "As a vegan, will I have to be involved in ritual sacrifice of human babies?" you've got an obligation to say, "Yes, and it's going to need to be your first born." Alternately, if someone just asks, "So, what do you eat?" which is a slightly easier question, you're also going to need to tell them the truth-- "Your first born. Or, you know, tofu." These conversations can often happen during meals. This is a good time to invite them to try some of whatever you're eating. If they use objections like, "Um, that's okay, I'm fine with this cheese pizza," be firm. "Look, I don't care if it is your first born, you're being a big goddamned sissy." Or, if you're eating tofu, explain it's not at all bad. Many vegetarians have dabbled in tofu cookery before, and most of them have only made it once. Know why? Because they fucked it up the first time, or just ate plain, raw, silken tofu (shudder). You're job under these circumstances is to show them vegan food is yummers, even if they are a big sissy.

2. Never give them shit about eating dairy, eggs, honey, etc. This won't be productive. Instead, I suggest dosing their animal product food with small amounts of arsenic. This way they can be easily weaned off of them. Of course, the arsenic in small doses will eventually become addictive, and you'll need to continue upping the amount which will eventually kill them, but are you interested in saving animals or not? Or, if you're a big sissy too, you should avoid giving them shit because it will make them uneasy about approaching you. The key to winning people over is being approachable. If you can't be approachable about being vegan, then you might as well not be vegan at all, because you're doing squat to aid the greater cause. The golden rule here: be patient, give gentle reminders.

3. Don't make inordinate promises about the benefits of veganism. It's fine to tell your padwan learner veganism is healthier than vegetarianism, more ethically consistent, and not a difficult switch to make. But don't make promises you can't keep. Attention vegetarians: no matter what anyone tells you, becoming vegan will not make you part of an international crime syndicate, "the family," or the vegan mafia; that is, not unless you really want to get involved with PETA.

4. Your library is their library. Give your unwitting pupil lots of books, literature, and videos about veganism and AR issues. Don't frame it as something they have to examine, rather, just extend the offer. They'll probably take you up on it.

5. When they are ready, help them to construct their first lightsabre as they prepare to strike down their own father in a blaze of well-coreographed swordplay. Fuck, we totally need lightsabres.

6. If you know other vegans, hang out together with your veggie friend. Show them other vegans are out there too, and they're not all as weird as you. Demonstrating a broader base of support will make your little veggie buddy feel more encouraged. The three B's--Bolwing, BBQ, and Bloody child sacrifice--are all great ways to make your "student" feel more welcome in the world of veganism.

7. Don't give them too much too fast. Too much information too fast can break vegetarians. Their minds are fragile, and you'd do well to remember this.

8. Once they make the leap, they will need support. Think of yourself as the training wheels for your new vegan apprentice. Some day they will graduate to a real bike, but not yet. The important thing is helping them to not "cheat." Sometimes new vegans are prone to do this, and while it's not a good sign, it's not a death sentence on their veganism either. In fact, the more you verbally tell them you don't care if they cheat, the more they guilt they will feel. In this case, that's probably a good thing. The important thing they realize is that they aren't "cheating" animals, they're only cheating themselves. Also, new vegans will eat a host of non-vegan things without knowing it. This can result in a lot of guilt, shame, or embarassment when you point out that, say, the soy cheese they bought with the best of intentions contains casein. Reassure them they haven't done anything wrong, and remind them veganism isn't about purity and perfection, it's about doing your best. Most of all, it's a learning process. Even seasoned (no pun intended) vegan veterans make mistakes from time to time. While there's virtually no way around this, though, it doesn't make veganism pointless, and it's important to remind your learner of this point.

If you follow these steps, you'll have a vegan in no time. Actually, that's a lie. It can frequently take years for someone to finally become vegan. But if you're patient, you can get them there. Just be encouraging, supportive, patient. In time, they may even give up their child willingly.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

 

The good, the bad, the vegetarian

Vegetarians are curious creatures, much more curious than the either the omni or the vegan. To be a vegetarian is to wallow in a perpetual limbo. On one hand, vegetarians seek to reduce animal suffering. I've even seen a few lash out at omnis, without a bit of consideration to the suffering in their milk, eggs, and honey. On the other hand, I've caught a lot of flak from veggies in the past for being too "extreme." This I don't really get. It's not like I'm fucking white water rafting with great white sharks here, I just don't eat animal products. Regardless, vegetarians inhabit a perplexing psychological plane of existence-- they know, but they'll only take it so far. Sometimes this results in guilt that turns into anger at--surprise--vegans.

Being a Leninist and activist, I've encountered a lot of anarchists who are more anti-communist than they are anti-capitalist. Likewise, I've probably encountered more veggies who are more anti-vegan than they are anti-omni. The rest, unfortunately, regail me with asinine rationalizations about how they "love cheese too much," or how they just need that omlet in the morning. Fuck that. For one, that message is always delivered in a patronizing way. For two, I don't give a shit what you eat. You can tell when veggies give you such lame excuses, they do so not to inform you why they're not vegan, but to make themselves feel better about it. Is there anything more pathetic than a repentant veggie? If there is, I can't think of it.

I know this is going to be perceived as me ripping on veggies, and I guess to an extent that's true. Perhaps it's just a little backlash of my own for dealing with all of their bullshit. But you know what? I don't tell veggies I think they're half-assing it, and I don't expect to get labeled as an "extremist" just because I actually chose to do what they know is right.

Ultimately, however, I'm not trying to shit all over vegetarians. After all, I'm sure when they're not busy helping the veal industry they're fine folks. Seriously though, I say this as a former vegetarian myself: vegetarianism is to animal rights as recycling is to the environment. It feels good but at the end of the day it doesn't make a tit's worth of difference. It just doesn't even begin to address the whole problem, let alone the root of it.

Does this mean we should chide and berate veggies? No. Vegetarians are vegans in the making. It may take time, but with proper care and attention, most of them can make it to vegandom and stick to it. The best thing vegetarians can do not only for animals, but for themselves, is to go vegan. It's tough to live a life of total moral/cognitive dissonance. Few things feels better than a bit of ethical consistence in one's life.

Essentially, what I'm saying now will definitely not make more vegans. This is just where I get to bitch, because, well, that's what I do. And what the fuck of it? Anyway, what can be very helpful to vegetarians is to have a vegan mentor, who can guide them through a daunting--but not difficult--transition.

More on vegan mentoring tomorrow. Stay tuned.

 

Math is the work of the devil

I was never very good at math. In fact, I never took a math course after my junior year of high school. My math teachers at the time constantly stressed just how handy my developing math skills were, but I didn't care because I hated math. And you know what? I still hate math. It fucking blows. And here's why:

The population of the U.S. between ages 18 and 25 is approximately 26,917,473. Divide that by half and you get 13,458,736. What's 1.5% of that number? 201,881.04. What is that number? That's a rough estimate of the number of vegan women between 18 and 25. In fact, that's a very high estimate, but let's be generous for the sake of argument. Factor in for the number of those that are of the gay persuasion (about 5% 10,094.052), and there's about 191,786.99 straight vegan women between the ages of 18 and 25.

My chances of finding a vegan girl age 18-25 who is at least into guys and possibly cool? This is where my math gets fuzzy, but the answer isn't particularly encouraging either way.

You know what? Fuck math.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

 

It's capitalism, stupid

If there's one thing you can count on many AR folks for, it's there total inability to see or make the connections between veganism and other struggles for social justice. And when I say "other struggles," I'm actually being a bit misleading. In the end, it's all part of the same struggle.

I have to say I find it fucking unforgivable when AR assholes won't make the leap between animal oppression and other forms-- race, gender, class, etc. I should note I find the reverse to be true as well. The inability on the part of the broader AR world to make these connections speaks to a larger failure of the "social justice" movement in the U.S. Making these connections isn't an optional thing. We either all do it, or we all fail (or rather, we continue failing).

There's a war on, one that's being waged on every front, from the field to the factory, from the shop floor to the killing floor. Strategically, we can fight this war one of two ways: on many fronts, with different special interest groups tackling perceived "separte issues," and merely attacking the symptoms; or, with a unified group attacking the disease itself-- a system of political economy that values profit over all forms of life, and subsequently white over black, male over female, rich over poor, and humans over other animals.

Part of consolidating forces must come from the realization that an injury to one is an injury to all. In the end, it's all part of the class war. At what point do we get our shit together?

 

Moving targets

We all get tired of being asked dumb fucking questions about being vegan. Something I've been thinking about lately more and more, however, is how we really have to make ourselves targets. Here's what I mean:

When I first became vegan, I was a militant little fuck. That's not to say I evangelized--I didn't. But I made it known I was vegan through dress, deed, and word, and never backed down when I was challenged about it. As the years went by, I became less the billboard for veganism I had once been after being repeatedly heartbroken by a confused, confounded AR "movement."

Eventually, I slipped into a lull lasting several years in which I did just about zilch to advertise veganism in any way whatsoever. Recently, though, I've been realizing just what a perplexing existence many of us vegans lead: many of us simply want to be left the hell alone by pesky omnis. By the same token, if we care about veganism at all, we need to make ourselves into moving targets for the greater cause. Without being preachy, we need to advertise veganism, if for no other reason that people know we're out there. We're a minority to be sure, but we can be a vocal one. More importantly, if people see us walking around and have no idea we're vegan, then what's to get them thinking about animal rights in the first place? So while the peksy omnis are, well, pesky, that's got to be something we're just willing to put up with for the greater good.

In that sense, I'm speaking to all of the closeted vegans out there: come on out, we need you more than ever. You can let the world know you're vegan without being a vegangelical, and you can be another voice for the voiceless, even if it often seems a lonely voice in the wildnerness.

Friday, July 01, 2005

 

How now, mad cow?

We vegans have a few extra things we don't need to worry about that most omnis do-- increased risk of heart disease, cancer, ketosis, etc. Oh, and, and for the guys out there, impotence. Now there's one more thing we don't need to worry about either: mad cow disease! That's right, we'll have the quiet satisfaction of watching our omni acquaintences who used to josh on us for not eating meat suffer from a terminal, crippling dementia as they begin dropping like flies. I for one, intend to enjoy the experience, just as I will invariably enjoy urinating on their freshly-filled grave, wondering to myself, "How's this for an animal product, bee-otch?"

What's truly astonishing, of course, was the level of denial surrounding mad cow, otherwise known as BSE, from the U.S. government and only marginally less surprising, the beef industry. When you feed an animal recycled animal from the same species, guess what you get? Spongiform encephalopathy. It's not like this is top secret shit we're dealing with here; it's been established repeatedly in other countries. It's also been established that BSE jumps species. Oh, yeah, and we can confirm it's been here for at least 12 years, but more likely 30+. So this Fourth of July as I'm getting ragged on at a cook out for not having a big bloody burger, I'll just be able to smile and know that in the end, they'll pay, the fuckers.

You know what? Sometimes things work out all right after all.

 

Let's not call it stupid, let's just say "Southern"

"Ya'll, be honest, what do you think of the South?" This was the question I was faced with last month by a new intern at my current place of work. If you couldn't tell from the "ya'll," she's from the South--Louisiana, to be exact.

It's not the first time I've been asked this question. It was, however, the first time I had been asked that question by a Southerner. I hesitated. "Well..." She rightly figured I had Southerners (at least the white ones, anyway) pegged as backwards, bigoted, misogynist, inbred fuckwits. After some assurances this was not in fact true, I must admit I felt a little ashamed.

Then I met her family.

Her last night in town, she insisted we go out for a drink with her mother, sister, and some folks from work. After reluctantly agreeing, we ended up at Manhattan Pizza on Main & Church. Half way into my pint of Blackberry Wheat, the mother begins explaining why her daughters had to attend private school. This should be rich, I thought. But, trying to choke back my preconceptions, I listened; and in retrospect, I probably shouldn't have.

"The public schools are just so violent and drug-ridden," she told us. I felt like I knew where this was going. Then came the big red flag: "Now, I don't mean it the way it sounds, but..." Whenever someone says something, you know what it really means is, "This is exactly what I mean, I just don't want to sound like a total asshole." "Now, I don't want to mean it this way, but it's mostly the black schools."

To illustrate just how violent those schools were, the intern began to relate how she can't even go in "their" neighborhoods, because she'd be raped and killed (her words). At this point I'm about fucking ready to kill someone. But then comes the icing on the conversation. "I know it sounds bad," her mother says, "But it's not like up here. Those neighborhoods are dangerous." One of my co-workers began to interject. Finally, I though, someone would correct her. Unfortunately, I was wrong. They were just jumping on the bandwagon: "You know, really, they're just racist against white people." The mother nodded, as if to signal she knew she was in good company.

Somewhere in the back of my head, a chain reaction began to set off. Are you fucking kidding me? "Racist" against white people? Give me a fucking break! Did someone miss the whole slave trade thing in history class? Jim Crow? Segregation? I realized I would soon be faced with two options not all that abnormal to vegans: ruin everyone's dinner and start shouting, or let it go and find a convenient excuse to leave the table. As one of my bosses happened to be there, I opted for the latter. After all, I figured if I could get out before the cross burning started, I'd be okay.

This raises an interesting moral question: At what point in the dinner conversation is it okay to rain on someone's (or everyone's) parade? "Sorry, meat is really fucked up," or, "Sorry, you're a fucking racist piece of shit and really ought to go get shot." More importantly, at what point in the conversation does one have a moral imperative to speak up (in either case)?

So, what do y'all think?

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