Giving Vegan Thanks

stanley-park-fleetwood-092As the Thanksgiving holiday rolls round, it highlights many of the dichotomous ways we humans think about things. In order to celebrate surviving a desperate winter in a new land, a group of invaders once counted their blessings, or so the story goes, by eating and giving thanks. Not much for the locals to celebrate though – their future was to be short and painful as they witnessed, generation after generation, destruction and disrespect of all they treasured. As a vegan, this holiday is always heavy with double meaning and grief, too. It is a time of slaughter for many, many gentle animals that harm no one. It is a time many over-eat, over-consume, and participate in an increase in festivities that result in animal suffering. It is the start of a season of waste and overconsumption that will culminate in the end of one year and the start of another. It is also a difficult time for many American vegans who are often excluded, marginalized, or unappreciated at their family’s table. Many of us try to bring delicious vegan fare to share with others; some of us prefer to avoid the holiday altogether, unable to bear the sight of tormented flesh gracing the table. Thanksgiving, for vegans, is not always an easy holiday to embrace.

Vegan Blessings

For this vegan, though, it is going to be a good time to reflect on my vegan blessings. In the past year I have joined the ARZone team as an administrator. Being able to belong to a small group of devoted, passionate vegans who believe in open communication, open dialogue, and a safe place for everyone to listen and share has led me to discover so many innovative and intriguing thinkers, people who are seriously and thoughtfully working to build a better world. I have also come to appreciate the depth of inquiry of some of our wonderful members. Fellow admins include founder Carolyn Bailey, Dr. Roger Yates, Tim Gier, Jason Ward, and Kate Marples; also on the team now is the legendary Ronnie Lee, who joins us for podcasting. We are not at all alike in our thinking, in how we express our concern for others, or how we react to criticism and personal attacks, but we are united in our respect for one another and the importance of the work at hand. I am the senior member of the team by age, but not by far when it comes to experience. To learn from those who have been working for years to end speciesism is a rare privilege and one I do not take lightly. I am grateful.

I have also spent a good portion of the year getting a local animal rights group, Animal Rights and Rescue of North Texas, off the ground. Joining me as part of the executive team is Adam Little, who is helping with social media, and is a constant source of innovative ideas.We now have over sixty members, and each one is someone who cares about other beings. Our group believes in the inherent worth of each individual animal and is working to increase respect for all beings. We have done leafleting, began developing a Speakers Bureau, looked into tabling events, discussed recent films about veganism and advocacy, and began building a group of local vegan and animal rights advocates. We participated in training for disaster rescue work, so that any animals found in harms way in various parts of our nation might have a better chance of survival with our hands on deck. We have  been called on to help save local animals and have been networking with other animal advocates in our region. Not all rescues or animal advocacy groups are yet vegan, but most are willing to listen to our pleas on behalf of animals. We are learning to collaborate without compromising our positions; and we are learning to appreciate the work others are doing on behalf of animals, too, even if we might prefer a different emphasis. We attended a State Veggie Fair – and although we might have wished it to be named a Vegan Fair – it still exceeded our expectations for such an event in the DFW metroplex. And, the food was all vegan and in high demand!

Giving Thanks for Respectful Others

One of the primary tasks at hand is to increase respect for other beings, to end the speciesism that ends all too tragically in domination, commodification and slaughter. In order to increase respect for other animals, we need to be able to respect other advocates, too, even if they disagree with our ideology or perspective. Collaboration and sharing is necessary in order to tap into the wisdom of many. It means accepting the radical inclusion that is mentioned by Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet. This year, too, I felt the pain of exclusion, of being disrespected by some groups and even by a friend. But rather than being a negative, it was positive information about the various ways we advocates process our journey. I am very grateful this year to have been accompanied by too many people to acknowledge here, but know that your understanding, patience, and support have meant the world.

The other animals in my life have always been a source of comfort, affection, and delight. Whether it is the squirrels that scamper across my roof, the birds that beckon us in the greenbelt, or the tiny little aging feline that shares my office chair, these animal friends have always added immeasurably to the magnificence of life. To them, I give many, many vegan thanks.

Three Years In

IMG_8080Blogging is an evolving pursuit.  When I began, I would rush to the computer every day to see where my readers were located; I had a map that logged each reader by adding a dot in that country. Watching that map grow darker and darker with dots was exhilirating! It also made me consider carefully what I wrote. I was very new to veganism and, like the blog of my journey, just a fledgling; I had much to learn. I still do.

Bubba the Vegan

I originally balked at starting a blog. I did not want to spend all my time in front of a computer screen. It was something my adult children asked me to do, to make vegan recipes available to the public. They suggested I call the blog, “Bubba the Vegan,” since Bubba is the name my grandkids call me and since that name usually means a big guy that eats a lot of those I am trying to protect. They liked the irony. Veganacious was only a place-saver, a name I had used to keep the beginning blog saved while I decided on a more permanent name. I am still waiting for the lightning bolt of inspiration that will signify just the right name to capture just what I wanted to say, the perfect name for my blog. Meanwhile, I am still Veganacious – a tenacious vegan.

Last year I promised these changes:

  • Many, many more recipes
  • Printable recipes
  • Feedback for recipes
  • New categories

The printable recipes, feedback system and new categories all happened. But the number of recipes, while there, are still in draft form. I joined the ARZone site admin team a little over a year ago, and coupled with the start of our local animal rights group, Animal Rights and Rescue of North Texas, I was ill prepared for the overwhelming demands on my time. I was doing pretty well until ARZone went to podcasting. At that point, my blog, directory, the podcasts, and my recipe site all took a hit while my energy was dissipated among far too many activities.

Making Time for Change

This year, after resigning my post at ARZone, I have plans to pay more attention my own pursuits. The recipe site has a brand new look and, while it is still incomplete, there are dozens of recipes in draft form that will surface this year. My emphasis has moved towards building our local AR group and getting the word out about animals here in the DFW area. We have just completed our first tabling event, which was a collaboration with the UTA (University of Texas at Arlington) Vegan Club. Someone estimated we reached over 3,000 people during that event on the UTA campus. Starting that group has meant starting yet another blog, Facebook page and Twitter account, too.

Goals for this year include:

  • Completing the recipe site and keeping the recipes coming
  • Posting more frequently about the movement: the people, the issues, the challenges
  • Podcasting at least monthly, hopefully more frequently, and including more people in the shows
  • Continuing book reviews and adding the occasional film review
  • Profiling some of the interesting people in the movement
Three years in, I am no longer the newbie I once was. I have learned so many things the hard way and met so many amazing and dedicated activists. While still not so steady or confident on my feet, I have gained strength and knowledge these past three years. I have witnessed the destructive force of negativity and focused a lot of my podcasting efforts in trying to help our movement heal and individual activists become self protective. I have had to change myself a lot. I have been sorely disappointed in some people and amazed at others, and I have felt both of those emotions towards myself, too. It aint easy being green, or being vegan, or being me. Not easy, but rewarding and never, ever boring. Ever.
The Fascinating World of Vegan
Thank you to everyone who helped me learn and grow, to become a more effective activist, who shared so generously with your time by being on the podcasts, inspiring a recipe, or sharing an idea that became a blog post. Thank you to the ARZone team for letting me spend time with you, for working to increase understanding about animal rights. Thank you to the ARRNT folks for supporting our mission and helping us make changes locally, for your willingness to step forward in the fight. Thanks, too, to everyone who reads an article or leaves a comment here on the blog.
Who knows? Anything might happen this year; the possibilities are endless!

Our Year of the Dragon

dragonOn the way to school yesterday, my middle grandson reminded me that soon it was going to be Chinese New Year. It was time to open the windows to let the old year get away. In our households, this means that numerous small red envelopes will begin surfacing, with two crisp new bills tucked into each. The boys will be the beneficiaries of this tradition and look forward to this each and every year. This is of particular interest to middle grandson, though, as he was born in The Year of the Dragon, a status he wears proudly. He was given a golden dragon charm when he was only a toddler, which he wears round his neck on a gold chain, and has dragon symbols all over his room. He loves being a Dragon.

Honoring Pigs and Roosters, Too

I am a Pig. When I first came into the family, there was much support for my inclusion – the family, it seems, needed another Pig. I was unsure how to receive this information since there is so much disrespect and misunderstanding of this animal. Pigs, it seems, are symbols of fidelity, honesty, and are symbols of peace and harmony; they are said to be the best friends around. Oldest grandson is also a Pig.

Youngest grandson is a Chicken or Rooster. Chickens are wonderful, civilized, gentle animals with a fierce protectiveness and display great bravery, but they are possibly even more mistreated in the real world than fellow beings, the pigs. Youngest grandson would prefer to be a Dragon and does not wear his gold chicken charm. His room sports no Rooster symbols, even though Roosters are believed to be handsome, independent, with the ability to exorcise evil spirits. One of his smiles can certainly get rid of any personal demons I am carrying at any given time, but I cannot vouch for his other traits just yet. It is easy to feel underappreciated when you are a Chicken and your brother is a Dragon.

What Year of the Dragon Means

From Travel China Guide:

dragon2The dragon enjoys a very high reputation in Chinese culture. It is the token of authority, dignity, honor, success, luck, and capacity. In ancient China, a dragon was thought to speed across the sky with divine power. Emperors entitled themselves exclusively as ‘dragon’; their thrones were called ‘dragon thrones’, their clothes ‘dragon gowns’.

Chinese are expected to be particularly prolific in this year of power and wealth, believing that it will bless their families. In an era of ballooning human overpopulation, this is not good news for the environment or other animals– particularly since China is increasing their consumption of animal others. Following ancient traditions is a double-edged sword. While it is respectful of ancestors and generations, it may also keep people trapped into prejudice and irrational beliefs. I think of kindergartens, filled with children of perceived matching traits — what a prospect for their teacher!

I love being able to be part of this ancient tradition and enjoy the colorful imagery of animals, even a mythical animal like the dragon. But I will not be able to celebrate the Year of the Dragon fully until such a celebration is actually done with respect for the real animals of this world, the ones whose traits have been employed to represent human characteristics. I will celebrate when The Year of the Pig actually honors all pigs and when the Year of the Chicken honors chickens everywhere. And, when all those goodies prepared around the world to celebrate days like today will be vegan. Until then, as a Pig, I am going to do all I can to be an effective advocate for peace and harmony among all beings.

May The Year of the Dragon bring peace, prosperity and happiness to you and to all our fellow beings!

________________________

Want to discover what your Chinese Zodiac sign is?

Here is a vegan Chinese Won Ton recipe to get you in the mood. And here is Vegan Dad’s version of the same. Need more? Here is Chow Vegan’s idea of a feast for Chinese New Year!

World Vegan Day 2011

birdEstablished in 1994 by Louise Wallis, then President & Chair of The Vegan Society UK, World Vegan Day, November 1st, now includes celebrations around the world and sets off the entire month as World Vegan Month. As someone who has found a new world of delicious plant foods and began to recognize the beautiful and varied characteristics of all animal life, I am eager to share my awakening with others who are still not aware of the plight of animals or the peace and beauty of a vegan lifestyle. Like many of my fellow advocates for animals, I look forward to the day when all animals are respected and appreciated.

Growth in Veganism

If local events prove anything, it is that the movement is gaining traction. And gaining traction means veganism is becoming more accessible to more people. Over the past year, the Mid Cities area of North Texas has experienced some real vegan landmarks including:

  • an all vegan cafeteria at UNT
  • an active Vegan Club at UTA
  • an all vegan restaurant (Loving Hut) in Arlington
  • an abolitionist vegan animal rights group
  • three local vegan meetups, two of them brand new.

The Future is Vegan

If you do not know what vegan abolitionism is about, please see last year’s World Vegan Day post. Find support in your area, online, or consider starting a group yourself. If you need ideas, please contact me:veganacious@gmail.com. I would love to share my experiences and support anyone who needs help transitioning to veganism or starting a vegan group.

Next year is bound to reveal further growth from this movement, with more notable recruits, new vegan products, and more and more vegan restaurants and services. There are now so many excellent vegan guidebooks and cookbooks that there is no excuse not to eat a healthy plant-based diet. Why go vegan? For the animals, the earth, for your own health, to end hunger, for the environment, to conserve water, to save the soil, to stop climate destabilization, to prevent violence and cruelty, to end unnecessary suffering. With so much to offer the world, veganism is the right choice. What is stopping you from joining us?

Veganacious at Two

rosesAs our children grow and develop–whether human or nonhuman–we tend to celebrate their landmarks. So, too, with our online babies – and this blog has required all the time and attention any other new life requires. On our first birthday, we promised a new website, which is now up and running, although still in the preliminary stages. That site is the international directory of vegan businesses, products, and services: The Vegans Directory. Feel free to browse, rate businesses you have used, and make suggestions for those not yet listed.  As the vegan world grows, this site too will begin bursting at the seams with new vegan products – a sure sign that the vegan world we envision is beginning to develop. Changes to look for on The Vegans Directory this year include:

  • A submit button so anyone can suggest and enter vegan products they discover, or vegan service providers who should be included
  • More international business and restaurants
  • Many new vegan service providers
  • Innovative new businesses and products – all vegan, of course!

vdlogo

Another change during the past year was the completed migration to this new, bright red site; the inclusion of the new recipe blog, and the podcast part of the blog, too.  Plans for the coming year include:

  • Many, many more recipes
  • Printable recipes
  • Feedback for recipes
  • New categories

Expect more book and product reviews, more articles on the animal rights movement, and commentaries on things discovered online. Expect, too, more collaborative efforts — it is a significant part of building a vegan world. It keeps this busy blogger at the keyboard when thinking about the thousands of visitors who stopped by from all over the world during the past year. Thanks so much for sharing time here!

Veganacious Reaches First Birthday!

Celebration with Balloons, Confetti, and CupcakeApril 1, 2010 is the first birthday of the Veganacious blog.  A lot has happened in the last year for the Vegan Revolution as well as for this blog.  Veganism is spreading, more vegan products are showing up, more vegans are coming on board, and vegan critics are getting louder. We have had thousands of visits to the blog and have been read in over ninety countries.

The podcasts were added in March. We now have lots of new subscribers with plans galore for future interviews and programs.

Thank you Veganacious Followers!

We love our followers on Twitter, our fans on our Facebook page and appreciate each and every one of you who browse on this site.  A vegan community is growing and there are so many plans for the coming year: more recipes, more commentary, more profiles of incredible people, programs and places, more books and food to review. There is even another website under construction — the domain name has already been purchased and we are just working to get it set up.