Tag Archives: vegan thoughts

Guest Blogger: The Passion for Compassion – Dark Side of the Vegan Moon

24 Mar

Let’s welcome our newest blogger Fern Demeo, author of The Passion for Compassion, to the VBU! fold.

Here she is in her own words, “I’ve always found it difficult to write about or describe myself to others, after all we are such complex creatures with a vast range of strengths and insecurities! I am (obviously) an animal lover and have been my entire life. I grew up as a single child and my animals were like my siblings, except far more accepting and unconditional! I remember scolding other kids in the play ground for frying ants with magnifying glasses; catching injured birds who had flown into the classroom and trying to rehabilitate (unsuccessfully!) baby mice whose mother had been killed by the neighbour’s cat. The truth is, I found a considerable amount of solace, peace and acceptance with the animal kingdom. I was raised by my Mum taught me strength and gentleness, respect and concern for all life. Always concerned for the underdog, mum taught me to advocate for those who were voiceless and vulnerable.

When I lost my mum in 2007, life as I knew it changed forever. The grief and despair is beyond what words can describe. Part of my ongoing journey towards wholeness after losing mum has been re-aligning with my passion- to be of service to the animal kingdom in whatever way I can. This fills me with a love so deep that it begins to shine some light into the gaping hole that grief left behind.”

Please join Fern on her blog and new Facebook page. Welcome Fern!


The other night whilst taking a few moments to enjoy the silence, I looked up and saw a gigantic Godzilla spider (ok it wasn’t that big- maybe a 50 cent piece in diameter- but for a long term arachnophobic, that IS equivalent to Godzilla). Fear filled me, adrenalin pumped through my veins and my fight or flight mechanism went into overdrive. Fleeing was seriously contemplated, though the thought of not knowing where Godzilla was lurking, forced me to confront the fear.

But then another fear came online- If I am wanting to live a truly compassionate life and extend that to all beings… what was I going to do with this fricking spider? I was terrified to get too close to it, unlike the countless creepy crawlies I capture and release outside. And in my own darkness- I ashamedly admit that I was seriously considering spraying it, despite having always hated the thought of spraying another living being (such a prolonged and agonising death). But then a sobering (and slightly unwanted in that moment) epiphany – Why does humanity seek to destroy what it is fearful of or misunderstands?

All of a sudden I was flooded with images from World War Two where nearly six million Jewish people were murdered under the Nazi dictatorship, in Hitler’s racially motivated ideology for a superior “Aryan race”. I was then transported to Cambodia where a close friend and I had walked in absolute horror through the killing fields and Tuol Sleng, a former high school which was used as a place of torture at the notorious Security Prison 21 (S-21) by the Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime. Memories and images which still haunt and sicken me today.

Many other heinous historical moments –towards both mankind and the continual assault on our sentient animal relatives- rushed through me as I stood and stared at this helpless ‘Godzilla’ spider. I was deeply ashamed at my initial instinct to kill what I was afraid of, to eradicate a life which I did not fully understand. As Friedrich Nietzsche so aptly said “Man is the cruelest animal” to walk this earth.

What made me superior to this being, to sentence it to death because I was too fearful to confront my own fears and insecurities? There was only one alternative- capture it so I could set it free and in doing so, acknowledge the dark side of my own humanity.

My methodology for doing this was long, terrifying and quite honestly, ridiculously comical. Thank goodness for empty plastic containers (with opaque walls so I couldn’t see inside), thick cardboard and a dose of courage to make me look at the deeper message of this unwanted visitor. And so as I write this, I am both comforted and unsettled by the Buddha’s wise words: “It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways”. Perhaps the world would be a safer place we could all acknowledge our own darkness?




Sorry about all the weird text formatting- am trying to do too many things at once here with my zoo of crazy animals!

Thanks so much for all that you do 🙂



Guest Blogger: Eclectic Dialectic – The Deer

6 Mar

Our newest contributor is Tonya, author of Eclectic Dialectic. Tonya is an aspiring writer who loves to write, reflect, and edit; refine the creative process; and explore language. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude with bachelor’s degrees in English (honors) and Women’s Studies, earned a graduate certificate in Social Theory, completed the coursework for a master’s in Geography, and attended law school for a bit. Hobbies and interests include reading, writing, yoga, activism, meditation, documentaries, foreign and classic films, music, Kentucky Wildcats basketball, and being open to whatever life and the universe place in her path. Veganism is an integral part of her worldview; she has been vegan since May 25, 2010 and was became vegetarian in June 1998. Follow Tonya on her blog and Twitter account. Welcome Tonya!

I was never much of a meat eater. When I was a kid I was a persnickety eater. Vegetables were always eaten before meat was; meat was pushed to the side or pushed around on my plate. This was years before I learnt about factory farms or began to examine ethical ramifications of subsisting through the suffering and perishing of a sentient being. For whatever reason I was repulsed by meat. When I was growing up I never handled raw meat and subconsciously did everything whatever I could to avoid the horrifying reality of animals’ slaughter.

My maternal grandparents kept chickens. Some were used to produce eggs and others raised until they were “fat enough” to kill for that Southern delicacy of chicken and dumplings. When Mamaw had to wring a chicken’s neck, remove its feathers, and harvest parts deemed suitable for consumption I beat a hasty retreat. At the time I groused that I couldn’t watch because the work was “gross.” Now I wonder if I was too sensitive to witness the ending of a life and protected myself from the horrors of death by removing myself from the scene of the slaughter. When Mamaw made chicken and dumplings for Sunday dinners I tried to not think too much about where the chickens had come from. I was disconnected from the source of my meat.

Years later I was forced to make that connection. Papaw and many of the men in my family were and are active hunters who regularly “bag” a buck or few. Meat is always processed and parceled out to any family member who wants venison. For years I adored venison; the sweet, gamy, pure, lean taste greatly appealed to me. It was the exception to my take it or leave it approach to meat. Eating venison was almost orgasmic. Never mind the cuteness of Bambi. I loved my venison chops, steak, sausage, burgers, and chili. I often saw deer my family had slain; they were displayed while points on antlers were counted and hunter(s) congratulated. I never really thought about how those deer had felt as they pirouetted and pranced until their lives were cut down with a crossbow.

My apathy and appetite shifted when I was confronted with the visceral, textural proof of a life cut down. Mamaw was cooking dinner on a typical summer day, and I was helping her. When she asked me to handle the venison burgers I reluctantly agreed. When the tender, cool meat touched my palm something shifted in me. Handling the bloody venison awakened something in me. I saw the deer’s life and death. Images of a buck protecting, feeding, and loving his family were juxtaposed with him running, shrieking, and taking his last breaths. My vision startled me. I sobbed, nearly fainted, and vowed to become vegetarian on the spot because I couldn’t be part of and live through his death.

My family was understandably startled, amused, and confused by my reaction. I didn’t tell them I had connected to the buck’s spirit on such a profound level. They chalked my reaction up to typical teenage weirdness and teased me. Being a vegetarian in meat and potatoes country was definitely a novelty. They didn’t think I would last a week. My initial dalliance with vegetarianism lasted for well over two years and took me throughout much of high school. It was the impetus behind my refusing to dissect animals in anatomy. At that time I didn’t know anything about factory farms or how to balance my diet and cook delicious, nutritious vegetarian meals. Considering what I was up against lasting as long as I did was quite a feat. Years later I permanently recommitted to vegetarianism and eventually transitioned to veganism, and I can thank that fallen deer from my youth for being the light that illuminated the darkness.


Guest Blogger: Rachel in Veganland – Not Skinny

15 Feb

It always makes me happy to see another lover of Alice in Wonderland. Everyone, please meet Rachel, she is the author of Rachel in Veganlnd and this is her first guest blog post. Here’s a bit about her: Rachel Fesperman is a vintage loving crazy cat lady living in the High Country of North Carolina. Her blog, Rachel in Veganland is just over a year old and chock full of (vegan) food, photos, and antics that range from rants on food politics to the adventures of Beans the Wonder Rabbit. You can follow Rachel’s posts through email, and find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Welcome Rachel!

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Lately, I’ve been feeling frustrated with the emphasis on weight loss, skinniness, and veganism as health craze. For me, my veganism has always been multi-factorial. Here on Veganland I’ve taken a pretty bold stance on animal rights, that has left little if any wiggle room for my reasons for this lifestyle. This is why I find the health fad surrounding veganism to be so incredibly frustrating.

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No, I don’t eat refined sugars, fats, or carbs. Yes, I do include alcoholic beverages in my lifestyle, as long as they are cruelty free. I do salt (some of) my foods during preparation, but rarely at the table. Of course I am concerned with health, but I’m not monitoring my food intake rigorously. I choose the foods that are best for me and Maddie, and I don’t pick anything that I wouldn’t give a scrap or two (or three) of to Beans the Wonder Rabbit.

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Processed foods tend to have complications that far succeed health. These foods are often very cheap, and if something is low in cost, it means that someone somewhere is bearing the brunt of that cheapness, usually animals, and workers both in the food processing/packaging industry as well as in the farming/growing industry. So why isn’t this our focus? Why aren’t basic safety, wellness, and (human/animal) rights at the center of our discourse? Why are we so compulsively attached to this health-based obsession centered on skinny=healthy=better?

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While I am happy that people choose to go vegan, and am glad to see more and more people adopting a cruelty free lifestyle, I’m frustrated that our vegan community (especially the blogosphere) seems to focus almost solely on the healthy foods/lifestyle side of things. I’m glad that people will eat Daiya over cheese, broccoli nuggets over chicken, but I’d like to see our focus shift from counting calories and eliminating saturated fats to the exploitation of the beings who have to give us those lipids in the first place. I am glad to see healthy vegans, I am inspired by healthy vegans, but I am more inspired by a healthy vegan who has a healthy outlook rather than waistline. I fear that Naomi Woolf’s fabled “Beauty Myth” and our distinctly Western cult of thinness control the vegan psyche.

When you become vegan, you change your relationship to food. Well, now it’s time to change it again.

I am not a “skinny” vegan. I am a happy, healthy vegan not just in form but in mind and spirit. I care about issues far greater than my own body and health, though I know that the intersectionality of veganism and human health is not solely coincidental.

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What kind of an example are we setting for the people who read our vegan based literature and for our (vegan) children? If we are compulsively healthy, won’t they be too? What kind of self-esteem does this build, for adults and children alike? Unfortunately the health-centric world leaves a lot to be desired, and often readers and others who watch from the wings might feel that they come up short.

I believe this dominant healthy obsession over the vegan blogosphere continues and upholds the fixation on women’s bodies. It is an obsession that enforces smallness and being tiny, slapped with the label “healthy.” Such a paradigm forces thousands of women to struggle with their relationship to food. I believe that our (vegan) blogosphere should focus on abundance not deprivation.

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I invite you to comment, and if you’re a blogger I invite you to (re) blog about this issue. Please add to the discussion by sharing your thoughts, ideas, and responses via Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere.

Guest Blogger: Afro Vegan Chick – Hair Journey

8 Jan

Vegan Bloggers Unite! is about all types of bloggers getting together and sharing experiences. One such blogger is our guest blogger for today – Janyce from Afro Vegan Chick. Janyce has appeared on VBU! a few times: Acorn Squash Stuffed With Maple Brown Rice And Green Peas, Warm Brussel Sprouts Spinach Chickpea and now for her hat trick she’s letting us in on her hair journey! Follow Janyce on Facebook, blog and Twitter. Welcome back Janyce!

From salon visit: July 10, 2012.
Other side view.
Swirly back! I love it. 🙂
Curl pattern from a braid out.
Drinking almond milk & loving the twists.
Getting a little big.
Feeling fro-tastic!
A wink for the masses!
July 21, 2012. Taking down of braids that were in for almost 2 weeks.
After 1st time washing hair with karite soap, feels squeaky clean, & look- length is coming!
A great etsy shop for vegan natural hair products here: Vital Goods
Team Natural! Woot! Now off to do the olive oil treatment. It’s an every other night thing.
7/22/2012: Curlier twisties….
Enjoyed with a Black Cherry Almond Clif Bar! Yum!!! 😀
7/30/2012: Wash day. Trying to look gorgeous. Not working….
8/1/2012: Play sleeping. One never lays down without a scarf wrapped tightly.
8/3/2012: First Friday night fro! Why yes, I did put on tights. Never leave without them. 😀
8/13/2012: Healthy twists!
9/6/2012: Hair wash day.
9/8/2012: Clean hair parted and braided in a simple twin Grecian style.
It’s my favorite hairstyle obviously.
But I’ll get better with these. Braiding takes a lot of time & finger patience.
9/16/2012: Hair wash day pout face. Personally love this photo…
Ready to be washed.
9/17/2012: Miracle homemade cream! A blend of raw shea & cocoa butters mixed with olive & coconut oils.
9/29/2012: Shameless workout progress insertion! Always keep my sweaty hair covered.
10/10/2012: Continuing to experiment with braiding creativity. Not very easy.
Raising my hand for aide!
More progress coming soon! 😀
It is December 9, 2012 and here’s my look for the Dayton Society Of Painters & Sculptors Christmas Party attire- a $2 olive green top from the Village Outlet, a $3.99 lace topped tank top from Clash Consignments, & a cute purple bow jumper dress from Goodwill for $4.99.
Hair style- twisties that were curled up in hair rollers after last night’s shampoo & conditioner. Added a bit of my raw shea & cocoa butter, olive & coconut oil hair concoction for a touch of shine & softness.
A texture close up.
I just love, LOVE this whole entire look! It’s quite festive.
12/15/2012: Making myself vintage.
With a touch of nerdy appeal!
Looking subdued. A twist out with two messy fat braids on the sides.
12/17/2012: A full on twist out! Love these curls, but alas, it is a Shampoo/Conditioner Day!
Pre pick out.
December 28, 2012: Looking the quirky artist tonight in side braids, bold red lipstick and yellow ducky tie, floral printed blouse, black/gray cardigan, & patterned denim skirt!
The tie is awesome.
Natural love…..

* I now put all the latest hair pics at the top. For some reason Blogger won’t let me edit….
Oh well. Feel free to scroll down and walk throw hair memory lane…

Circa 2005: Hairdressers loved giving me relaxers and “Halle Berry” cut.
Circa 2007: Kinky braids to coincide with natural journey.
Unbraided most of it and hid badly itchy scalp under a hat!
A wig.
2008: Straight backs with extensions. Not a good idea.
Fall of 2008: First and last sew in.
Another wig.
March 5, 2009: Strange straight back extensions for Paris trip.
2009: Sure thought I was something.
I love this owl shirt. That is all.
May 15, 2010: Had a lot of new growth after braids were taken out…
May 15, 2010: Unfortunately due to hair shame, I went and got these terrible braids for graduation.
(pictured below)
June 2010: More braided extensions for 3 months in Denver.
After the braids more covered hair shame for rest of the year.
As of right now, I still only wear my hair out at home.

My hair has always been a secret for years to people.
Natural since 2007 and never sticking to one proper formula, I have made a lot of unfortunate mistakes and experiments along the way.
The above pics illustrate what I’ve done wrong.
Starting off with one of my last relaxers first of all….
Hidden underneath hats, scarves, cotton bandannas (bad! bad! bad!), wigs, braids, and sew ins, it took me quite a while to realize why the length of it never grew out how I wanted.
It was always a bit behind the ears.
Never farther than that.
Back to back extended braids are never a good idea, especially when they are super duper tight, but I kept going back to the African braider because I liked how they looked. Though she complained, always saying, “you need to get this nappy hair straightened.”
Oh well.
Thankfully, I no longer visit her.
The braids I am giving up on for the time being.
Though they did make it grow out a lot!
In between rounds of trying to cover up dry, damaged locks that broke off like crazy, I wore a bandanna or hat to cover the shame.
This year, I’m going to change all of that.
So far personal olive oil treatments have been helping my badly damaged locks.
I’m seeing a hair dresser soon!
Hopefully she’ll allow me to take pictures! 🙂

Circa October 2010: Awesome fro right?
Picked out and massaged with oil, I thought I was well on my way somewhere- you know, towards the world’s biggest fro?
Sadly, I’m still at the same length.
Likely due to cotton bandannas and wearing hats for twenty four hours a day.

For the time being, I’ll just stare at this picture of Aevin Dugas, the current Guinness Book of World Record owner for world’s biggest afro! Thanks to my sweet Twitter pal, Sarah, I have found the inspiration needed to keep my hair healthy, natural, and free-spirited just the way God intended me to be.

As of right now, still rocking a short look.
Just started a new regiment of shampooing, adding an apple vinegar diluted with water rinse, and then conditioning. After t-shirt drying, I rubbed in olive and coconut oils and made tiny twists!
Feels incredibly soft and moist like cake!
Though, I need to work on the smell. Hahaha!

Great news! Hair appointment is booked for Friday morning and I’ll be sure to post pics of the big blowout. As for the actual style, I’m getting braids and my hairline remedied finally! (insert happy face).

February 10, 2012: Salon Visit

I absolutely love it!!!!
Got my hair shampooed, conditioned, and cornrowed this morning using Carol’s Daughter products (which I am running very low on!). A soft, smell good fro updo that I hope will last for a week or so.
Didn’t get a big blow out, but maybe that’s for the next visit!
Also, had more hair than originally thought.

It’s been up a couple of days and I may leave it longer because the cornrows still look relatively nice and lovely. I turned the little fro into mini twisties. Heehee!
My daily routine: massaging and gently brushing in pure coconut oil twice a day on the stray baby hairs and around the scalp to keep it softened, shiny, and itch free and having a satin cap on at night for bed.
I do plan on taking them down before next Friday and looking forward to showing off a new style.(Praying hairdresser will give me a blow out!)
Stay tuned! 🙂

Alas, it got itchy and needed to be taken down.
Bad news: there were like 30 tiny black rubber bands in there. DO you know what that means?
Lots of hair breakage and ugly end knots! Boo!!!
Ugh, the back is growing towards the center of my neck, but the rest is still up top, with the middle being the thickness supreme.

I got too tired to pick it out, lol.
Sheesh, those rubber bands got me hot, angry, and filled with anxiety man.
But I did wash, condition, and coconut oil this sucker!

It shrank! I swear it did!
Maybe that’s just my imagination….
Back to twisties- no harm, no foul and thankfully- no rubber bands!
I’ll curl these up with hair rollers for Monday’s hairband day.
But braids for the next time. No cornrows, I’m hoping……

Instead of twisties, I braided random sections of hair and have worn these for two weeks now. Using raw, unrefined shea butter has been much more beneficial than pure coconut oil alone. The baby hairs are much smoother and softer to touch as well as my whole head. It’s wonderful.
I actually like this style more because for one thing- takes less time!
Leaving these in until tomorrow.
Shampooing and conditioning- may make fatter braids?
Until then, psyched for my upcoming art show on April 6th- hairdresser day, I suppose. I’m drawing up a special hairstyle for that…..

After shampoo and conditioning on a Saturday night, I attempted the Grecian cornrow around the head. This took me several attempts to get this even almost right! Never said I was a professional hairdresser- hahaha!
Kind of okay isn’t it?
I should have taken her advice and waited for the hair to stretch out a bit more, it’s harder to grip tightly curled hair that’s clean and a bit too moist.
Still. A fun do to try!
It’ll be better next time……
Here’s the tutorial from xxbeechbarbeexx’s channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BY3YiC1RdhI&feature=related
*goes back to study more natural Youtube video gals*

April 6, 2012: Salon Visit

After a shampoo and condition, got my hair beautifully cornrowed into lovely twin plaits on each side with an awesomely crafted part on Friday for Dayton’s First Friday events and a girl’s night out!
Seeing that these pics are taken five days later, this hairstyle can last me a good few more weeks or so.
I’ve appreciated every last compliment on the streets!
It’s so sophisticated and elegant! 😀

May 4, 2012 Cutesy Mini Twists!

Salon Visit: May 18, 2012

This sketch was all Lynette went on and she rendered it perfectly!

When I came in today, my sweet hairdresser, Lynette mentioned that I had a bit of growth and asked me the routine- oiling twists with shea butter, coconut and olive oils of course!
After a shampoo, got a deep conditioned treatment of conditioner mixed with olive oil and sat under dryer for ten minutes. Hadn’t gotten one of these since last year and hair felt even softer!
Always a nice plus if you ask me.
The idea for the style was for front, sides, and back to be braided up into one thick braid.

End results: such an elegant updo if I say so!
The back is so very beautifully crafted, especially with the addition of bobby pins holding thick Grecian inspired braid in place.
A perfect wedding style too.
I could stare at this all day…

Ma’s Do- May 24, 2012

Mom didn’t exactly enjoy the scraggly, stray hairs and wanted to redo them.
How could I say no?
It was her birthday.

Now while she was doing my hair, I didn’t have any hair oil or creamdress on handy, but she kept saying that it was much too dry. I have been putting shea butter, coconut oil, and/or olive oil from day to day.
Sounds like my hair may need more than that and more often too.
Plus the reason for stray hairs and loosened braids was due to my scarf not being on too tightly while I slept. Yes, I admit there were nights when it slipped off and I was too tired to put it back on….
Solemnly promise to take better care of my scalp and tendrils.
They are too lovely to keep destroying.
My beautiful hair and I- we’re going to continue on this enlightening path of healthy gracefulness together!

May 30, 2012

Pouty due to irritating itchy sensation. Burns like a bad perm.
But it’s kind of cute.
The middle grows faster than the sides as apparent here…
Freshly washed, conditioned shrunken violet.
The gentle stretch pull….
Not feeling simply fantastic.
Yes! I am the curly fantastic.

It only held up for five days.
I suppose that’s a while, but according to a close friend of mine braids are usually supposed to last up to three weeks.
The longest I’ve held so far- a week tops.
Last night, took them down due to extreme scalp irritation- hurts as painful as a relaxer and causes my fingers to rub excessively hard to keep from scratching.
Believe me- a decent night’s sleep didn’t occur. 😦

Hair Goodies with one missing product.

Regiment this morning- using remainder of Carol’s Daughter Dry And Damaged Black Vanilla Shampoo (which does not really seem to work at all for me and can’t wait to find a new shampoo, preferably vegan of course!), sat on scalp for five minutes vegan Jamaican Coconut Milk Conditioner from etsy shop Vital Goods (formulated for locs though it states that it’s good for most hair types), and Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk (almost out of this too! Thank heaven.)/coconut oil/shea butter for styling.
An hour later- hair though not itchy, is not as moist as it should. At least it’s shiny.
Now coconut oil is fine.
Shea butter kind.
Yet it’s olive oil that usually has my hair softer than its ever been (used it as a replacement for conditioner a few weeks ago & hair felt incredible!).
Sadly, I happened to use the last few drops on Monday and must add it to this week’s grocery.
As of right now, strands feel somewhat manageable and a bit oily.
Gonna have to fix this dryness issue ASAP…. 😦

A part and bobby pin.

May 31, 2012

Yes!!!! I received olive oil.

Curls were beyond overjoyed to be touchably soft.
One excited, very relieved face.
June 1, 2012 Twin braids on the side plus part and happy for olive oil softness! :)June 3, 2012:

Took out the two braids and had fun experimenting with finger curls using Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter Protective Cream Hair Dress. Almost out of this too and still searching for a vegan replacement to this. Or perhaps I should make my own because these vegan ingredients- shea and cocoa butters, jojoba, olive, sweet almond, and coconut oils, rosemary, lemongrass, and orange, and lavender oils are easy enough to come by. It’s just all in the chemistry of blending them all together to create a lasting, perfect hair product!
But look at that shine, that great texture, and softness in these curls. Loving it so much right now!

Guest Blogger: The Beet-Eating Heeb – Witness to a Goat Killing — A Sad Encounter with Kosher Slaughter

27 Dec

This is a different kind of post for VBU!, it hits close to home for vegans, as to reinforce why we are the way we are. Our friend Jeffrey Cohan, the Beet-Eating Heeb, explains his reaction to a goat being slaughtered. Please feel free to reach out to any of our guest bloggers. Send feedback to beeteatingheeb@gmail.com and follow The Beet-Eating Heeb on Twitter @BeetEatingHeeb and on Facebook. Do look up Jeffrey’s other contribution on VBU! Please welcome back Jeffrey!

It takes a lot to make The Beet-Eating Heeb cry.

He can chop onions and watch Brian’s Song, simultaneously, with dry eyes.

But he shed a tear last week at the Hazon Food Conference.

What caused this stoic beet-eater to show some emotion – at a conference, of all places?

The killing of a goat.

Hazon did not permit photography at the schechting. But this is about what the goat looked like, just before he was killed.

Hazon did not permit photography at the schechting. But this is about what the goat looked like, just before he was killed.

On a cold, dreary morning, Hazon presented a demonstration of the schechting (kosher slaughter) of a young goat in front of about 30 conference attendees, including The Beet-Eating Heeb.

It is true that the goat was raised humanely and that he suffered for only a few seconds.

But BEH still found the slaughter of this beautiful, golden-furred animal to be troubling. Deeply troubling. On many levels.

It was particularly disconcerting to see Jews killing an innocent, gentle, affable animal – in a completely Jewish context, no less.

Judaism is about celebrating life, not about causing unnecessary death. At least as The Beet-Eating Heeb understands his religion.

But here were Jews, taking a goat in the prime of his life and slitting his throat. Panicked and anguished, the goat immediately lurched forward and dropped to his knees as blood gushed from his neck. The shochet’s assistants then threw a tarp over the goat – and a tear streaked down The Beet-Eating Heeb’s cheek.

The goat’s corpse was then strung up in a shed, skinned and disemboweled.

Savage. How else could you describe this entire scene?

And to think this was the gold standard of slaughter. As good as it gets. Try to imagine the scene in an industrial slaughterhouse, where the vast majority of farm animals are killed and dismembered, often by the thousands in a single day.

But, ironically, had BEH witnessed the slaughtering of an animal in that kind of slaughterhouse, it would not have bothered him as much.

To see Jews engaging in an act of unnecessary violence and chilling betrayal . . .

Yes, betrayal.

This goat had been raised by young Jewish farmers who had engendered the animal’s trust with their humane care. Then, in an instant, these same Jews turned on the unsuspecting goat and killed him.

If that isn’t an act of supreme betrayal, what is? Is this any way for members of a religious community to act in relationship with one of God’s fellow creatures?

And for what purpose was this animal killed? That’s an easy one: Because some people like the taste of goat meat. Never mind that we live in an era and in a country in which an incredible variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains are available – all you need for optimum health.

Don’t get The Beet-Eating Heeb wrong. He supports Hazon’s decision to conduct a slaughter at the conference, if only because meat-eaters should be confronted with the reality of their dietary choices.

The demonstration helped BEH realize that the whole kosher- meats business is a morally problematic enterprise, to put it mildly.

So what’s the solution?

Should Jews get out of the slaughtering business and eat non-kosher meat?

Of course not.

The only solution is for Jews to abstain from meat altogether, which just happens to be the Torah ideal, anyway.

Guest Blogger: Barefoot Essence – I am removing a 4-letter word from my vocabulary

19 Dec

Please welcome back the lovely Jackie from Barefoot Essence. Jackie has contributed many times to VBU! and I HIGHLY suggest you search for her blog name on VBU! to see her many posts. This particular post below reminds me of an “a-ha” moment. I know you’ll enjoy reading this and sharing in her insight. You can follow Barefoot Essence on: Facebook, Twitter and of course the blog. Welcome back Jackie!

A few months back you may recall I removed a certain 4-letter word from my vocabulary. It is not what you are thinking. That word was ‘busy’. After hearing myself and others overuse this term to death, I replaced ‘I am too busy’, ‘I am so crazy busy’, ‘life is just too busy’ with what I was actually doing, or not giving any excuses at all.

Busy is a choice

This turned into ‘I forgot to call you back’, ‘I can get together next weekend’, ‘I was running errands’. In that post I also threw in some stakes to hold me to it and help keep me honest. I said that if anyone heard me say ‘I was too busy’, I would donate $50 to their favorite charity. This worked for me, and I was happier to be more honest with people. Read the original post here – I am removing a 4-letter word from my vocabulary.

This post is along the lines of freeing up time. I first read of this idea in the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Who offers up dozens of ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ palm to forehead moments.

The four-letter word here is news. In the essence of minimalism to be bombarded with constant news from the world and from friends all day can be overwhelming and extremely unproductive. I used to subscribe to dozens of newsletters and blogs, delivered straight to my inbox. These messages were jamming up my email, and my brain.

Go on a news diet

I decided about a year ago to go on a diet. I was not going to try out this diet for a week. This was a lifestyle change. As news feeds started landing in my inbox I asked myself if that tidbit of news changed my day, or my life in any way. Did I act any differently? Did I really need to know this? Usually I didn’t. Hit that magical unsubscribe button. Done! I also used to watch both the morning and the evening news to ‘stay in know’ of world happenings. There were stories of mayhem and murder in far off places, what some Kardashawholigan wore to the grocery store yesterday who left the house without makeup. The horror. I generally avoid tabloids, in Lisa Bloom’s words ‘garbage in, garbage out’, but even so called credible or ‘serious” news sources report copious amounts of fluff.

If news is that important, I will hear about it.

Doing this frees up a ton of time and energy. Direct my thoughts elsewhere. Earthquake in Japan? Terrible, but do I need to know this as it happens? We are obsessed with information, having this burning need to know the latest information first to impress our friends. I am more content and focused on the present moment not knowing what things are going on in the world. If I want news, I will seek it out on my own terms instead of letting it constantly bash me over the head.

I started drafting this post earlier last week and made some additions based on a mind-numbing tragedy that occurred on Friday. I heard about the shooting through reading through my Facebook feed. I am happier than ever that I am not constantly tuned into the ‘news’. I did not seek out any news after this happened. All I knew was there was a shooting in Connecticut at a school and kids were killed. That is ALL I needed to know. I do not need to know the ins and outs of who did it, who his family was, what the current gun laws are, what could have been done. Doesn’t matter, it is done. I tear up at the thought of what the families are going through. I could not tune into the news to hear more about it. If you are interested, I posted my initial thoughts on the event in a brief post on Friday.

I put ‘news’ in quotes, because I have heard from talking to people that the ‘facts’ have been misquoted constantly throughout the reporting of this story. Another reason I am happy that I tuned out of the news a while back. Any time I hopped on Facebook over the weekend, it was worse. Reading misguided and inaccurate posts and watching picture after silly picture be posted left me disheartened, frustrated, and embarrassed. I tuned out of Facebook for the rest of the weekend.

If you have never tried a news diet, try it for just a week. If any week to start it, this is the week. How many ways do you need to hear Friday’s terrible news reported? How many inaccuracies do you want to hear? How many spins and opinions do you want to hear?

Do you think any news reported this week will change your life?

Start today, right after reading this. Part of my job requires I am on top of certain news, if this is the case, keep it at that. Outside of your job, turn off the news channels, take a break from CNN and MSNBC. If you need to know what is happening in the world ask someone if there is anything exciting happening in the world today. Notice you are talking to people more? See how you feel. Did you miss anything? Did you regret not knowing something three seconds after it happened? Did it have a negative impact on your life? Once your week of no news is wrapped up, try minimizing the noise in your inbox and only let in information that you really need to know.

Tips to get less ‘news’:

  1. Unsubscribe to newsletters or blogs you no longer read, even if that means this one
  2. To save your inbox from tons of news, sales pitches and ads, set up a separate email address just for this purpose. Have news automatically forwarded to another email address or folder so you are not distracted by these messages as they roll in.
  3. Cancel magazine subscriptions you no longer read. If they pile up on your ottoman and it feels like a chore to read them, eliminate it.
  4. Talk to human beings, face-to-face and on the phone. You will get all the news you need.

I would love to hear your experiences. Let me know how taking a break or scaling back on ‘news’ worked for you. What did you do instead? How did you feel?


Guest Blogger: AusVegan – If Not You, Then Who? If Not Now, Then When?

27 Nov

Always happy to welcome another vegan blogger to the VBU! family. Cameron Blewett is a very busy vegan blogger. He has contributed to VBU! with a post from his blog AusVegan. Here’s his bio, “Based in Brisbane, Cameron is a prolific blogger with a number of sites relating to different subject matters. This one is dedicated to his passion for veganism and Animal Rights. His main site CameronBlewett.com.au is where he does most of his posting, along with his new site VeganSexual.com.au which aims to challenge the common held misconceptions of being male and vegan. Make sure you don’t miss a post on AusVegan.com by subscribing to the mailing list here. You can find Cameron on Google+ , Twitter, or Facebook” Welcome Cameron!

If, as a vegan, you aren’t going to take a stand and promote veganism, then who do you think will?
If you aren’t going to promote it now, when will you?

I was sitting down last night, pen in hand, going over the various discussions I have had with people over the past few days to get ideas for coming blog posts, when the sound of a freight train in the distance broke my concentration.

For some reason I decided to pay a little more attention to it, and see if by just listening to it I would be able to tell if it was a standard freight train or a cattle train heading out to the Dinmore slaughterhouse.

At the time and possibly out of denial, I made the assessment that it was just a regular freight train because there wasn’t the distinctive ‘rattle’ of the gate on each wagon, and there was a noted absence of the lingering smell that usually accompanies these trains. Continue reading

Guest Blogger: black. female. christian. vegan. – Giving up on Veganism

13 Aug

This is an unique first guest blogger post from Valerie, author of black. female. christian. vegan. blog. Here she is in her own words, “Vegan mom of four grown kids and one very cool six year old boy. I went vegetarian way back in the Spring of 1990 and vegan in 2007. My choice to go vegan came as a result of great authors and podcasters who ripped the lid off of the cruelty involved in all animal products. This affected me both spiritually and emotionally as I realized I could no longer call myself a follower of Jesus while continuing to be a part of such horrible treatment of His creatures.” You can find more about on Twitter and through her blog. Please welcome Valerie!

So I recently checked in to one of my favorite vegan cooking blogs to discover that the author is no longer vegan. Several life changes brought them to their current path including a new relationship, working around animal products and of course, the love of cheese.  Also, another reason(probably the main one) cited for giving up the vegan life was just coming to a point of being jaded about life on this planet.

There’s so much suffering around that apparently it became too overwhelming to think that they could really do anything about it by continuing to refuse the consumption of animal products.

This really got me thinking.  I wonder how the abolitionists of the nineteenth century felt when they saw around them what appeared to be the irreversible suffering of slavery. Or the men and women in the Suffrage movement who fought for women’s right to vote?  Or those in the modern civil rights movement like Martin Luther King Jr and others?  Or Mildred and Richard Loving?   I wonder what my life would be like today if they had given up? 

If they(heroes and agents of God in my opinion) had grown weary of the fight, where would I be today?  Would I still be a slave on some plantation in Georgia somewhere? Maybe.  And I most assuredly wouldn’t be voting in the next election or married to my husband of almost 9 years.  And speaking of voting..  

Would we ever have had a black(or biracial) president in the White House right now?  Or possibly a woman in the near future?

I admit, I felt a bit sad when I read that blog post. Especially when I just came off the heels of watching a new documentary that shows family farmers, not big impersonal agribusiness, coming to a point of no longer wanting to participate in the cruelty and suffering that is inherent in animal production.  

But I do understand feeling overwhelmed, so I’m not judging my fellow blogger. I will not unsubscribe from their blog  or Facebook page as some have posted. (after making all kinds of declarations of how selfish they feel the blogger is now)   That’s something I have noticed in this vegan world online.

When you “leave the fold” so to speak, there is sometimes quite a backlash. And it can get nasty.   But I think I understand that too.  I mean, if we were living in nineteenth century America and someone who was once a fierce abolitionist, fought tooth and nail for freedom for blacks and then decided that it was just too overwhelming and decided to give up and in fact buy themselves a few people to work their farm and as a bonus satisfy their “night time needs” , I would imagine others in the movement would feel a bit betrayed, including their new slaves.

Do I hope the blogger becomes vegan again?  By all means yes!   I honestly hope this is a temporary season in their life and at some point the eyes of their heart will open again and believe that they indeed can make a difference.  

Just like the social justice struggles of the past and present, they depend on enough of us to care and never give up.

What do you think?

Guest Blogger: Vegan Farm Girl – People Say the Strangest Things to Vegans

31 May

Every so often I find people tend to say rather strange things to me as a vegan. Today someone insisted that tapioca was an egg and that I shouldn’t eat it as a vegan. I’m pretty sure tapioca isn’t from an egg; what bird pray tell is the tapioca bird? Here is a post from Fianna, author of the blog Vegan Farm Girl about such things that have been said to her. Here she is in her own words, “I am a vegan blogger at Vegan Farm Girl in the City. I’ve been a vegan for 36 years and have lived in every region of the U.S. I am currently working on a second master’s degree in Human Rights and live in New York City. And I make everything from scratch.” Please welcome Fianna!


I had thought that being vegan for 36 years was enough time to have heard every moronic vegan comment on the planet. I was sooo wrong. It continues to amaze me what people say about and to vegans.

1. Veganism costs twice as much as eating a “normal” diet. Where are you shopping? Clearly, you aren’t doing it right.

2. Vegans are pale and weak because they don’t eat meat. What? Yes. You’re right. Try not to step on our ghost-like sickly bodies on your way to McDonald’s.

3. Vegans don’t get enough calcium or B12 or protein or vitamin D or whatever in their diets. You’ve been reading Yahoo! News again. That is horse shit. Once you know where to get these nutrients from, it isn’t a problem. And by the way, vitamin D comes from the sun shining on our skins, and has little to do with diet, you idiot.

4. Vegans are destroying the economy. Really? Cool, I didn’t know we had that kind of power. There are so many things on the list of potential destruction. What to work on next…hmmm…

5. Vegans are spreading lies about the meat industry. None of that stuff actually happens. Yeah, okay. Keep telling yourself that.

But my favorite so far was one I read two days ago. I am writing a couple of cookbooks so as one of the most research conscious people on earth, I was looking online at a couple of new agents and publishing houses that publish cookbooks. This is what I read:

Don’t bother sending us a vegan cookbook. The field is overcrowded.

Seriously? What have you been drinking? There are never going to be enough cookbooks on veganism. It isn’t a fad or a celebrity diet that is going to go away after a couple of years. It is so amazing how non-vegans see veganism.

What’s the strangest vegan comment you’ve heard?

Guest Blogger: Red Glitter X – Vegan Is

2 May

Please welcome back the multi-talented Red GlitterX! Follow her with links located at the end of the post.

Animal Liberation = Earth Liberation = Human Liberation

The word “vegan” (/ˈviːɡən/) was invented in 1944, by Elsie Shrigley and Donald Watson, who founded the UK Vegan Society. The British Vegan Society defines veganism this way:

The word veganism denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

Anyone who is involved with Animal Liberation or Animal Rights Activism today can see how since 1944, the word has been twisted and pulled in all directions, and in some instances, ignored all together, an exception here, an exception there.

However, the UK Vegan Society founders invented the word, if this is their definition, then this is what VEGAN means. If someone chooses to live differently to this, perhaps they should invent their own word, and start their own movement.

This definition has 3 parts:
: the first part describes what it excludes, all forms of exploitation, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

ALL animals: it does not say mammals, it does not say except fish, nor except invertebrates … it says all animals. And, there are also no exceptions for Bees. Bees are animals, honey is not a matter for debate. Honey does not come from plants, any more than milk comes from grass or grains (or more likely what cattle actually eat, the rendered bodies of their fallen comrades, plastic, sludge, toxic and radioactive waste). It is not possible to use an animal for any purpose without exploiting it. Just as it is exploitation of people to use them without the consent or paying a wage (we call that slavery), since animals cannot give consent, even if we think they are happy, all animal use is exploitation.

for ANY purpose or reason: eating animals because someone thinks animal corpses taste good is not a reason for cruelty and exploitation; wearing animals as clothes or jewellery is not reason for cruelty and exploitation; torturing them in labs for profit is sadistic and gives inaccurate results and is not a reason; using animals for sport by forcing them to race or fight is not a reason; entertainment in TV shows, circuses and rodeos shows our lack of creativity and is not a reason; crush films are not a reason; hunting for sport is not a reason, and it is not a sport, unless both sides are armed; canned hunts are not a reason either, regardless of how much money someone spends, and not very sporting; skinning animals alive and turning their skins into fashion that will become landfill in six months while their bodies are turned into floor cleaner and mascara is not a reason; slicing a rhino or elephants face off and letting it die, for horn or ivory as a sex powder is not a reason, nor does it work; slicing fins off sharks for soup and throwing the shark back to drown is not a reason; anger management is not a reason, don’t take your frustrations out on an animal; sex is not a reason despite what the author of ANIMAL LIBERATION has to say.

There is absolutely no defensible reason for using any animal for any reason.

: the second part goes on to describe how vegan is more than just excluding or avoiding products from your own life, it involves by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. Does this mean that if a vegan isn’t actively out there promoting veganism, encouraging veganism, and seeking alternatives for animal products to replacing current products on the market they aren’t vegan? It would suggest so.

This also suggests that working to protect and save the environment is an integral part of the (original) definition of vegan.

If someone merely avoids bringing suffering into their own life by avoiding animal products they personally purchase, but do nothing to prevent the exploitation and cruelty of animals which they know is going on beyond their own little life, it would seem to more easily fit the criteria of ‘welfarist’, which isn’t vegan.

Vegan is active about ending exploitation, it is not merely passively avoiding it.

: the third part, reiterates the dietary ideals, in case people are still confused about the whole ‘not using any animal for any reason’ part, In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.
It does not mean a little bit of cheese now and again is okay, it does not mean it is alright to eat fish because they swim rather than walk, it does not mean it is fine to use honey because some people refuse to accept bees as animals, it does not mean home-collected free range eggs (which I once saw a fruitarian describe as “chicken fruit” and acceptable on a fruitarian diet).

Vegan is not hyphenated, unlike vegetarian. A person cannot be lacto-vegan (lacto=milk), ovo-vegan (ovo=eggs), pesco-vegan (pesco=fish), mel-vegan (mel=honey), pollo-vegan (pollo=chicken), porcine-vegan (porcine=pig), ovis-vegan (ovis=sheep), bovine-vegan (bovine=cows).

If you choose to consume any of these things, you are not a vegan-hyphen-something, you are a necrovore (‘death-eater’), you may be transitioning, in which case you are becoming vegan, but, when non-vegans label themselves as a ‘vegan’, it waters down, and eventually renders useless the meaning we already have.

Vegan means vegan, if you have to add a hyphen, you are no longer vegan.

If a person decides to eat cheese, fish, honey, and free range eggs, it is their choice to do so. However, they should stop calling themselves ‘vegan’ because it fails to meet even the most basic definition of vegan diet which excludes all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

Being vegan is also more than just changing a diet, if someone eats a vegan diet, but continues to ab/use animal products in the rest of their life, they are not a vegan, they are a strict vegetarian.

Similarly, there are no part-time vegans. There are no shades of gray. Either you are vegan or you are not. Once someone starts redefining Vegan to meet their personal lifestyle choices (But I love my leather jacket) they are not Vegan.

Nor are there exemptions for ‘cocktail parties’. Being Vegan is not a lifestyle choice, it is not like a uniform, you put on for work, and take off when you socialise. If someone is only vegan when it is convenient, it is more evidence for detractors who say that veganism is privilege of the white, wealthy, Westerners.

Vegan has been redefined and reinterpreted so much, that sometimes when someone explains what their Veganism means to them it bears no resemblance to what Vegan means.

Maybe I should form my own movement – VGN: vegan without all the crap.

No exceptions, no clauses, no loopholes, no hyphens. If it is an animal product, it is not vegan.

What vegan ISN’T… is isn’t feminism, anti-agist, anti-semitic, pro-semitic, christian, atheist, anti-homophobic, pro gay rights, anti-racist, anti-transphobic, anti-ableist, pro-multi culturalism or pro peace, it is not Left or Right. It is none of these things. And when people try to claim that a person is required to be feminist or anti-racist in order to be a vegan, it is missing the point completely. What they are trying to sell you is not veganism. But some bland blancmange of rights and justice dressed up in “animal rights” clothing.

Veganism is end the exploitation and cruelty of animals, and animals only. All these other liberations will flow from widening our circle of compassion (A Einstein). It does veganism a disservice to transform it into one-size-fits-all movement of liberation.

Although, the original 1944 definition of vegan says that alternatives to using animals says that must benefit humans and the environment, these are part of veganism. But veganism does not replace these other movements. Veganism does not usurp or invalidate other environmental, ecological, human rights movements. Other rights movements do not need to be vegan in order to continue to fight their fight.

Other liberation movements or civil rights activists are not required to free the world, why is this a necessary for animal liberation and vegans?

I have seen vegans say you need to read certain books in order to call yourself a vegan. Sorry, wrong! illiterates can be vegan too, as long as they exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals.

That is it. That is all there is to it. All we need to know is there. Each of us can read that, or have it read to us, and decide for ourselves the most effective way we can apply this to our own life, in our own circumstances.

Do we really need leaders and gurus and experts to tell us how to live as vegans? Do we need to debate and philosophise about veganism? Do we need to be told what do in the fight to end exploitation and cruelty? Do we need priests interpreting The Word on our behalf.

How much money is diverted from saving animals to propping up and lining the pockets of groups and leaders who use veganism and animal rights to push their own agenda.

We don’t need the authority or approval or leadership of anyone to be a vegan. As long as we stick to the definition, set out in 1944 and hardly been improved on since.

Vegan has a meaning, let’s use it. And not try to transform it into something that it never was and shouldn’t ever be.

One thing that is not including in Shrigley-Watson definition is the means or method of how the end of exploitation and cruelty will be achieved. It does not specify ‘non-violence’, nor does it advocate ‘pro-violence’. It simply encourages us to do it, not how.

The ‘How’ we achieve that is up to each and every one of us who choose to take up the fight on behalf of animals. There is no right way or wrong way. As long as it doesn’t harm animals, humans or the environment, how can a tactic or method be not-vegan.

Some people may advocate for one method over another, and say those who use only the other method, (whether education, direct action, baking, or anything in-between), the definition of Vegan does not tell us How, it just tells us Do. Anyone who tries to convince followers their only path to veganism is through them and their books, should perhaps take another look at Shrigley and Watson’s definition of the word.

For social media vegans, some add the Ⓥ to their profiles or names. While this is simply a V in a circle, it has been adopted by some to represent vegan. This is made either by copy and paste or Ⓥ.

So, let us not complicate things, how does someone go vegan…

The only way is to be vegan, is to BE vegan.

@redglitterx for Vegan Animal Liberation Alliance