Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Few Thoughts on Conflating External Criticism with Infighting

Welfarists/regulationists are desperate to deflect our criticism of their advocacy when their advocacy falls short of condemning the exploitation of others. They insist that this criticism is tantamount to "infighting" and that it should thus be disregarded or dismissed as baseless whinging or nitpicking. They insist that it interferes with The Movement's integrity and solidarity and that it sets The Movement back. They say that our criticism of advocacy that doesn't plainly condemn animal use somehow gobbles up valuable time and energy and thus harms other animals. Welfarists/regulationists try to shame abolitionist animal rights activists into shutting up about teaching/asking/begging others to reject animal exploitation and to go vegan. When we don't shut up, they sometimes even go so far as to insist to the non-vegan public that our teaching/asking/begging them to go vegan is unreasonable and extremist--that they should dismiss us, too. We're just pesky trouble-makers, after all.

The undeniable truth which I think we need to face at this point is that we are, in fact, two separate movements. One movement seems somehow too mired in its own speciesism to accept that other animals simply aren't ours to use. If its members do see this, it's most certainly not reflected in their advocacy. The second movement--my movement and hopefully *your* movement--consists of individuals who respect the rights and interests of others to not be exploited and and of comrades who accept that the very least we owe those others is to use veganism as a starting point for our own choices, as well as for our advocacy work.

As for accusations that criticism of welfarism/regulationism is "hurting The Movement"? Which movement? The welfarist/regulationist movement? So what? As long as they continue to promote the myth of "happy" animal exploitation, applaud so-called flexitarianism and teach the public that not eating flesh one day a week--or shuffling out one animal product for another--is somehow morally relevant, they're teaching the public that some other animals are more OK to exploit than others and we're left struggling to undo this damage. We're focused on teaching people to go vegan as a starting point, while they drag them several steps back, telling them that veganism is just one of the several things they can do. Why on earth would we not want to criticize, interfere with or "hurt" a movement which facilitates and often encourages and applauds the continued use of other sentient beings? 

I truly hope that our criticism does indeed hurt their movement and that instead of constantly having to undo the damage they cause, we can instead focus 100% of our own time and energy on spreading a clear vegan message. Hopefully some of them will hear it too and eventually come 'round and join in. Until then, we should allow nobody to shame us into shutting up on behalf of other animals.

Monday, January 28, 2013

What This Vegan Eats

I've grown really irate over Blogger's recent changes to how folks can upload images to blogs. They seem to have grossly limited flexibility where sizing photos is concerned. If not for that fact that I'm currently exploring a different web-based advocacy project altogether with a vegan friend, I'd be spending more time looking at shimmying My Face Is on Fire over to WordPress or another blog hosting site. I may still do so. Meanwhile, here are some photos I've shared on Facebook of things I've gobbled up over the past while. Veganism doesn't mean restricting yourself in terms of diet; if anything, it allows you to really branch out and try new things and to eat so much more healthily (if, of course, you choose to do so. Knowledge is power an' all that jazz, right?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Visting New Friends

It's been a while since I've had a chance to update. I've been busy trying out recipes for cookbook reviews, planning a new animal advocacy project with a friend and (perhaps best of all) traveling. I recently spent a little over a week in Virginia, DC and Maryland to visit a vegan pal and to meet a few others with whom I've been corresponding or interacting online for years. I got to sample Ethiopian and Burmese food for the first time ever and enjoyed such a wide variety of vegan fare that it's a puzzle how I was able to roll myself into my plane seat to make it back home.

Perhaps the best part of my whole trip was an afternoon we spent walking around and meeting the furry and feathered residents of the 400-acre Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville, MD. I was also introduced to the two vegan humans -- Terry Cummings and Dave Hoerauf -- who also call it home. Earlier in the week, I'd met Deb Durant who writes the Invisible Voices blog and who also volunteers at PSAS. She'd offered to show us around a little the following weekend, but we ended up scheduling a visit during the week instead since I was flying out on Sunday. It would have been great to hear each of the residents' stories. Dave shared a few when our paths crossed and Deb's filled in some blanks since then. I've also been spending time reading up on them over on PSAS' website and Invisible Voices (and you should too if you'd like to learn more about the place or would consider sponsoring one of their residents).

It's heart-wrenching to know what some of them have been through.  Then again, it's heart-wrenching to think of the lot of each and every other animal who ends up bred for exploitation and slaughter. Meeting these individuals and seeing the joy with which they're now living their lives left me grateful more than ever that I yanked myself out of that cycle of exploitation by going vegan.

Mini Moo

Chelsea was a sweet walking companion during our visit.

Duchess, precious sentry who held me at bay for several minutes.
Napoleon, who along with his buddy Sebastian off to the left, is a pygmy goat who was rescued from a hoarding situation.
Sal, who is blind in one eye, was rescued from a hoarder a few years ago.
Harley was rescued as a piglet when he fell off a truck heading to an auction.

Lance was rescued from a reptile show last April.

Ainslie was rescued as a calf before being sold for slaughter at a "veal" auction.
Enjoying the sun on an otherwise chilly day.

My host, Gary, enjoying a cuddle with Zachary a baby who arrived at the shelter less than a month ago. Zachary was seized by animal control officers after someone heard him bleating from a small cat carrier outside on a neighbour's porch. He was going to be killed in a sacrificial ritual and the only reason they were allowed to take him is that it was illegal for residents to keep "livestock" in the area in which he was found. Now he'll get to spend the rest of his natural life at PSAS.

As the afternoon neared its end and it was time to go, all I could think of is how beautiful it had been to see the sanctuary's residents finally living out their lives in comfort, no longer victims, but instead sheltered refugees.