Tag Archives: new vegan

Guest Blogger: Vegan La Raza – ¡Vegan La Revolucion!

20 Nov

Today on VBU! we have a brand new contributor who is excited to celebrate her one year of veganism. She was kind enough to give VBU! the Sunshine Award. Please meet Karla of Vegan La Raza. “My name is Karla. I am Mexicana/Salvadoreña and have been a vegan since October 2011. I started this blog to look at my identities as a woman, a person of color-specifically a Latina, and a vegan. Because of these identities I have experienced oppression in many ways during my lifetime. As someone who carries a history of injustice and violence, I choose not to perpetuate violence and exploitation towards other living beings, including human and non-human animals. Something has to change. I want to be part of that change.” We can all agree with Karla’s sentiments. Click here to find her blog and here for her Facebook account. Please welcome Karla!

¡Vegan La Revolucion!

A revolution is the overthrow of an oppressive system and replacing it with a more just, humane one.

I started this blog as a result of the cultural push back I experienced when I became a vegetarian and later a vegan. Compassionate eating felt like swimming against the current— I was made to feel like I was working against something bigger than myself.

Meat has been a part of my identity since I was an embryo and it played a central role in the happiest moments of my life through celebrations and traditions.

I was deeply moved and committed to el movimiento when I was in college and loved learning the “other history”, the non-white history of Los Angeles. I looked forward to spending the month of December at La Placita Olvera, not because I was a devout Catholic, but rather because I loved being around la raza, mi gente. I didn’t question the irony of animals being blessed in the center of the church plaza while everyone else devoured beef tacos.

Birria (goat meat) was the thing to eat at bautizos and weddings. Sometimes, I heard friends would go to church for a baptism, then to celebrate would kill a goat in the backyard and the party-goers would eat it. And yes, this all happened in Los Angeles. It’s hard to understand why learning about an animal being killed in a backyard would make a person cringe. How is that animal different from the thousands of animals being slaughtered everyday? Different from the hundreds of animals dying as I type this sentence?

Vegan La Raza was intended to be an outlet to express my experiences as a Latina vegan in a culture of meat. I’ve continually justified meat eating as a culturally Latin@ thing. Gandhi believed in leading by example not by preaching or ranting. I have successfully done that, but the other day, I was having lunch with a group of vegetarians and for once did not feel censored. This awareness made me realize that eating meat and using it as an excuse that “it’s embedded in Latin@ culture” is a weak and dismissive attitude lacking analysis.

Meat plays a central role in a patriarchal culture that objectifies and dehumanizes women by reducing our bodies to meat. Being a man consists of eating a chicken wing while being served by a woman with teeny orange shorts and a shirt that says, ‘Hooters’. Should the historical and cultural connection between men and meat continue to uphold patriarchy in our society?

World hunger could be addressed if the grains given to nonhuman animals were given to humans. Instead, we (all who exist within this system) choose to give clean water and food to animals who are waiting to be tortured and slaughtered. Should world hunger continue exist because we cannot go a day without eating a slice of bacon?

Deforestation in order to produce grazing land is a major environmental problem. So to all the “environmentalists” out there, planting a tree or starting a community garden is worthless unless we are working collectively to keep corporations from destroying natural resources to profit from factory farming.

Animals are killed by the millions in order to make money. Quality, regulation, life, workers, and the environment are irrelevant—profit is everything!

So, when people of any culture choose to uphold death and consumption in order to justify or cleanse their conscience, I hope they think twice about everything else the dead flesh they are putting in their mouth stands for — herstories and histories of oppression, death, exploitation, and capitalism.

It’s time to become conscious, empowered beings. If humans are considered (self-proclaimed) the brightest animals on earth, let’s take a step forward, put defeatist attitudes of self-control behind us and overthrow dominant cultures.

¡Vegan La Revolucion!


Guest Blogger: Jason and the Veganauts – Gateway Compassion

1 Aug

Please welcome back one of our early contributors to VBU! Jason, who has changed his blog name from Watch me lose 150lbs to Jason and the Veganauts. Here are Jason’s first, second and third post with VBU!; they have been incredibly forthright and welcomed. You can like his Facebook page here. Welcome back Jason!

Compassion for animals and even other humans is looked upon with scorn by some segments of the population. I believe this is in some part due to the meat industry and their influence in our society. It is a sad fact that Big Meat makes more money when they raise and kill more animals (OK, I’ll need a better ominous name for the meat industry- that seems like a frat brother’s nickname).

When an industry’s profit margin is a result how cheaply it can support and then end life, there are bound to be some ghastly results. However, since the PETA warriors handle all of the shock and awe tactics, I will refrain from the nauseating images and stories and let you mull that over on your own time. Instead, allow me to reflect on my own transformation and at the same try to answer a question Sheree asked.

If you have not noticed it before, there is a comment section at the end of each blog post here. I derive an enormous amount of strength from the supportive comments that a lot of the regular readers leave. I was comforted during the cravings in the beginning, I was educated on my newbie mistakes, and more recently, I was supported during a weight loss plateau. There are some who comment once every few months and others who are more consistently visible, but they all keep me from feeling like I am shouting into the void.

Sheree is one of the regulars. She is a kind, caring vegan who found her way to animal-free living years ago. She has been very upbeat and supportive throughout my nine months of being a veganaut. During the previous post’s discussion, she asked a great question about the catalyst for my change from plant-based dieter to compassionate vegan. She agrees that anyone giving up meat for any reason is a benefit to animal welfare in general, but was specifically curious about my own inner change… and I am NOT going to pass up an opportunity to talk about myself.

Rather than retelling the whole story of my dysfunctional relationship with food, I’ll summarize by saying, I was messed up. It would be fun to try and blame other people but I used my hands and my money to buy bad things to put into my body. It’s hard to shift that kind of blame off of myself.

After soul searching and researching, I came to the conclusion that a plant-based diet would be the healthiest way to reclaim a few of the decades I’d tried to steal from the end of my life. This is a selfish reason to give up meat and dairy and eggs, but I didn’t hear any animals complaining about my choice. The Earth was pleased with the decision as well, but I was not really worried about how a planet felt when chest pains were forcing me to my knees.

During the first few weeks, while the cravings were running their course, I was completely focused on how much better I felt and how relived I was that a simple change in diet could effect how I feel so drastically. I was really enjoying the payoff of the health benefits I changed for. However, it was during this time that my motivation began to morph.

For meat eaters to enjoy bacon in the morning they have to do a lot of compartmentalizing. They have to take the movie Babe and stick it in a mental jail cell that isn’t visited during breakfast. They need to take what they know about the intelligence of their pets versus the intelligence of brilliant pigs and lock that up in another mental jail cell until the bacon is done sizzling. They are forced to repress all of the images of the inhumane living and dying conditions that animals are forced to endure so that we can eat them.

I know what I am talking about here- I ate pork by the handful, beef with reckless abandon, and whole chickens at a time. Meal time was NOT a time to release all of the truths that I had in lock-down. It was the time to pretend that meat comes from a grocery store and not a factory farm. I was never ignorant about the meat industry, I was simply in denial.

An amazing thing happened as the meat-free weeks passed. Every day that passed was another day when I didn’t have to lie to myself. I didn’t need to pretend that meat isn’t a product of another creatures death. I was able to let the truths out of their mental jail cells for longer and longer walks around the yard. Eventually, these truths were allowed to have conjugal visits and that is when they began to multiply.

Compartmentalizing is a great way to cope with conflicting beliefs and overwhelming trauma. It is also a very effective tool for lying to ourselves. Unfortunately, just because we can hide certain truths when they become inconvenient does not make them disappear. It just makes us live our lives in way that is contrary to our actual belief system.

Plant-based dieting may be a selfish reason to give up meat, dairy and eggs- but it is a gateway to compassion. Celebrate this seemingly selfish motive in others because it is the first step in removing their blinders so they can live an honest and compassionate life.

A closing note to you lurkers who read silently but regularly. I see your visits on my view counter and even without you saying a word I am grateful for your presence. It is easy to imagine you all walking with me as I stroll past McDonald’s and through the meat department at my own grocery store. Your silent reminders make it easy for me to walk confidently away from my old life and comfortably into the new one I share with you here. Gratsi.

Guest Blogger: The Cold Turkey Vegan – The Power of Intention & The Advance Decision

28 Jun

Every so often I meet new vegans who have started to blog about the change in their life. This is the case with Jinnie Lee and her husband, both have been vegan for 25 days and that is a fantastic feat to go from omni to plant strong. Her blog is aptly named Cold Turkey Vegan. Here she is in her own words, “My name is Jinnie Lee Schmid, and my husband and I have been vegans for 25 days! We watched Forks Over Knives and made the switch the very next day. My blog is an invitation to follow my journey from the very first days of our vegan adventure, because I feel that if I can do it, anyone can – and I would love to support others on this important and fun adventure!” Follow her on Twitter, Pintrest and like her Facebook page here. Please welcome Jinnie Lee!

This is not the post you are expecting to read after today’s doctor visits. That post, the one in which I compare and contrast the results of my two most recent blood tests, will come a bit later. Partly because I need to work on organizing the data into a nice, readable table that can be easily updated to show my progress over time. But also because I wanted to share about a different, interesting experience that occurred on my way home from the doctor’s office.

Every time I go to or from my doctor’s office, I drive by a McDonald’s – not to mention, now that I think about it, a Chick-Fil-A, a Checkers, a Diary Queen, and a Krystal! Talk about running the gauntlet! (My previous doctor was located across the street from a Dunkin’ Donuts…one must ask, what evil did I commit against a whole grain in a previous life, to have stacked the deck so high against me this time around?!?)

Today I drove right by that ‘ on my way home, without even a “twinge.” Even thought it was nearly 1:00 pm and I hadn’t eaten yet due to the requirement to fast before my blood work.

It’s funny, and pretty unusual, to feel the lack of something. But I felt the lack of that “twinge” pretty strongly. It surprised me, because I have a long history of not only eating fast food in the car, but of rationalizing my decision to do so. Although I sometimes drove directly to the fast food joints with the intention (and anticipation) of eating a favorite unhealthy meal, many times I also ate there in a fit of desperation. And I don’t mean just the desperation of dieting and deprivation – although I’ve felt that too – but here I’m talking about that feeling of having burned my last calorie, jonezing for something to eat because my blood sugar is dropping, my head is tarting to pound, I’m starting to get dizzy and or grouchy or whatever.

I would argue that these are relatively rational, legitimate reasons to want to grab the first, most convenient food item around. Even “regular” people (non-disordered eaters, if any such things exist) sometimes let their hunger go so long that they get desperate to eat. And all types of eaters are doing the right thing when they respond to their body’s need for nourishment.

What struck me today, though, was a memory of the ways I used to rationalize my “need” to go through McDonald’s. Using those extreme hunger pangs, or my need to get to the next place, or to otherwise stay on schedule, etc….to tell myself that getting my “meal” or “snack” from Mickey D’s was a perfectly acceptable solution. Or, at the very least, a perfectly justifiable one considering the dire situation staring me in the face.

Today, instead, I drove right past that McDonald’s without even a thought (except the germ of this post). I had no idea what exactly I intended to eat when I got home. I had no reassurances that a phone call or traffic jam or other unforeseen incident wouldn’t keep me from getting my hungry self home in time to eat the meal I needed. But, I knew that what I needed to eat – my plant-strong, whole-foods, low-oil, low-sugar, low-soy selections – were at home, not at that drive-through. And I knew that’s what I WANTED to eat, even though it was a few more minutes away.

What made the difference today, I wondered?

What I think is the difference is intention. Another way to describe intention, in this case, is the advance decision. See, I made a decision on June 2nd (25 days ago!) that I was going to eat this way. As shocking to me as it is to those who know me, I haven’t wavered from that decision (*yet – see caveat at the end of this post).

Since the decision had already been made on June 2nd, there wasn’t really any other decision to be made as I passed that McDonald’s. At least not on this day. It was, today, simply another building that I drove past on my way home.

Anyone who is has committed to a significant other, to God, to a goal, or a cause, or a creature – you know what I mean. We can’t usually separate ourselves from things that would tempt us from our commitment, at least not completely. There will be always be handsome men and pretty women walking around; there will often be opportunities to cheat or lie or take advantage; there will be times we want to procrastinate or take a day off or cheat…But, on a good day, we find ourselves blinded to those temptations and able to drive right by.

I’m happy for the good days I get! Aren’t you? It’s not a perfect science or a lifelong guarantee…but, I think we get them because we took the leap of faith that is intention, the decision made in advance.

*So here’s the caveat. It occurred to me, as I drove by those Golden Arches, that I’ve felt this way during the early stages of other attempts at dieting, too. This scares me a little, especially since I’m putting all of this OUT THERE via this crazy new-fangled thing called the interwebs. I would like to think that my current state of plant-strong contentment “feels different” and therefore “is different.” But, alas, I fear I must also face reality – Day 25 is impressive, but mere mili-mili-miligrams forward on the journey I hope to travel. (The writers of the Big Bang Theory know the real name for that unit of measure, but I do not.) I intend to keep track of the milestones that have tripped me up in the past. What I remember about my most recent Weight Watchers experience is that I rocked it for about two months with no problem, then I waffled on and off for a few months (still trying but losing effectiveness), and then pretty much bailed on the plan (whether I admitted that to myself or not). That’s not a good enough reason to get scared and quit, nor to predict certain doom and failure. Instead, my plan is to watch, celebrate, and reflect on each of my upcoming Month-iversaries with this is mind. And, as always, I’ll keep ya’ posted!

Blog Review: Earth Remedy

22 Sep

Meet January and Tommy: an “average” American couple in their 30s eating an “average” American diet of over processed foods coupled by tonnes of soda. After seeing Fat Sick and Nearly Dead and Forks Over Knives they became inspired to become vegans and got hooked on juicing! Tommy lost 40lbs in one month. That’s incredible. They also started a blog called: Earth Remedy.

The results from the way they used to eat to now have been incredible and has greatly improved their health.

What does their blog focus on? Continue reading

Blog Review: Living Vegan

21 Sep

My first blog review is for Living Vegan, a blog written by Gavin from Fredericton, New Brunswick. Gavin just started this blog and he’s experimenting with a vegan diet. I find this kind of fresh start, cold turkey mind you, very inspiring and really hits home to all of us. We all started at one point or another and everyone has an unique story, this is his.

Already on Day 2 of his vegan journey Gavin runs into temptation. His mother, though informed of his choice, bought him a favourite meat stick product from a trip to the US. He stood his ground and said no. Go Gavin! Poor mom, she meant well, later made up for it with vegan ‘chicken’ and edamame, she probably felt so guilty; poor thing.

I find that Vegan.org is a great site for useful tips. I didn’t even know how much calcium you’re supposed to have until I looked at the FAQ’s. So helpful!

Though Gavin is just beginning his blog, this is exactly the point where we, as vegans, can help other vegans and show support. Say hello to Gavin everyone! Let’s wish him well.