Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Meals and Such

With morning coffee comes lackadaisical googling. This morning's web-meandering led to some interesting finds, including the following:

It's apparently Meat Week, according to a CBS News article ("Carnivores, Delight: It's Meat Week") about the goings on concerning it in NYC. "We know it is stupid," the NYC event's organizer admitted.

Meat Week was conceived by two bored coworkers in Tallahassee, Fla. Back in 2005, Erni Walker and Chris Cantey were using a word generator on Cantey's Web site that came up with the "holy combination" of "meat" and "week." [...] Now the gospel of meat overindulgence has spread across the country as 16 cities have organized chapters venturing to barbecue restaurants from Jan. 31 to Feb. 7. -- with some locations drawing as many as 70 meat eaters a night.
OK, the eye rolling was a given with this one, but what actually caught my attention in the CBC article was when they continued by saying that
[i]n fact, many participants at Meat Week are vegetarians. The draw for many is the communal, family-style environment that is the hallmark of many Southern-style barbecue restaurants.

"That's why a lot of vegetarians come out, even though they are appalled by what's going on around them," Walker said.
I find it difficult to wrap my head around a reality where people who eschew animal products and who would purportedly be "appalled" by an event completely devoted to eating as much animal flesh as one can stuff into one's stomach would be drawn to its "communal, family-style environment". Could I be wrong or should I assume that the event's founder was being facetious?

I'm wondering how other vegans feel about (and deal with) food-related gatherings (involving family, work or friends) where animal products are part of the feast. Is it a non-issue for you? Do you grin and bear it, but try to minimize the number of occasions that come up? Do you sit silently, or do you take the opportunity to educate others about animal exploitation? Do you Do you defer questions that may be asked until after the meal? Do you altogether avoid participating in meals where animals or animal products are consumed?

I'm looking forward to hearing about your different experiences!


Anonymous said...

My feelings on this have changed over time. Initially, I felt conflicted by liking the familiar smells of meals I'd just renounced but being repulsed by visions of slaughterhouses I'd seen footage of online. I tried telling the meat-eaters what I knew about their food, which didn't go over well! Then I moved the the "acceptance" phase: I can suggest they eat an animal-free meal with me, but I can't force them. We have an uneasy truce.
The other day at work, I joined three coworkers in the breakroom at lunch. Each of them was eating an animal, and the smell and sight was more than I could ignore. I wordlessly took my food into another room.
Everyone who knows me knows where I stand on this, and I'm not shy about informing people, but I won't bring it up at mealtime...unless they haven't chosen what dish to order yet.

Vera said...

It is a very serious issue for me to participate in food-related gatherings that revolve around eating non humans. As I keep refusing to take part in them, most friends and relatives gave up inviting me. The few gatherings I go, despite the conflict it causes most of the time, if I get a chance I let people know the ethical reasons for being a vegan.

lauren said...

i live with all omnivores. i make all of my own food. i have tried to watch documentaries with them, give them info, etc. but i am not going to force them into anything since i don't think that it is a good way to get someone to do something. i am educating and that is as much as i can do.

for holidays, i normally have them try to make a few sides that i can also enjoy or i make them myself. and i usually roast something like a tofurkey or if i feel particularly creative, i'll make something nice. but it seems like too much to do for just myself, sadly

c said...

With my family, I try to educate them as much as possible but ironically, my sister was the one who taught me about animal rights when I was 5 years old. Although my family consumes animals and it disappoints me, I find that my family is open to it and are thinking of incorporating more plant based meals into their diet. They never gave me shit for being vegan and they enjoy cooking vegan things for me. I'm lucky to have my family understand this.

However, the outside world is a different story.

I got into an argument with my boyfriend's cousin and sister the last time we all decided to have The Vegan Discussion after dinner. It was awful. Since I'm new to abolitionism and veganism (despite that I've known about PETA and animal rights starting at the age of 5), I find it hard to be mellow when trying to articulate things verbally. I prefer writing things out because it gives me time to respond to someone without lashing out. That experience hasn't stopped me from wanting to spread the message though. I think from now on if I do go to an event like that and if someone wants to start a debate (ahem, argument) or is curious as to why I am an abolitionist vegan, I will show clips of Earthlings to everyone if there's a YouTube friendly device within reach. Apparently it silences people in the room and prevents them from trying to further debate you and answers questions that they were meaning to ask you.

As for going out to eat, I decided to only support vegan restaurants. As a last resort, I would attend a vegetarian restaurant. After hearing about the book "Appetite For Profit", it definitely turned me off of predominantly omnivorous restaurants who try to capitalize on the animal-friendly movement so that [I'm paraphrasing] "everyone can now dine together at McDonalds." I treat it as a boycott and I don't have a problem with someone who thinks that it is "extreme" and "ridiculous".

I know there can be a lot of negative experiences when it comes to food gatherings but I always try to remind myself that it is not about me nor is it about the person who is offended by me. It is about the nonhuman animals who deserve justice and who deserve to be heard through my message and through other abolitionists' message.

Vanilla Rose said...

I remember one very rude person on the internet, let us call him K. He started off hostile, like many on that board, then mellowed. Then, when he realised I was politely disagreeing with his "I used to be vegetarian" rubbish, he became hostile again. To the point of being irrational, even saying ridiculous things about vegan children AFTER, for example, I pointed out government sources that said that most of us get most of our Vitamin D from sunshine.

One of his funnier accusations was that I lived in a vegan "bubble". Later that week, I was sitting between two friends who were eating ham sandwiches and I told them that.

Don't get me wrong, I hate that they are eating meat, but I am not going to cut myself off from my family and friends. If they want to ask why I am vegan, I will do my best to answer as politely and succintly as possible.

The Voracious Vegan said...

I'm not very social, and even if there were no animal products involved I would still not be too excited to go to a party. I'm just a homebody!

But, of course, I've never gone to a vegan party so any party I've been to has been laden with corpses. And just by saying no and being vegan I draw attention to myself and then the plight of the animals. I am ALWAYS ready and waiting for an opportunity to talk about it. I don't care if they are just about to take a bite of their chicken/fish/beef whatever, I will bring it up and talk about it. Politely, calmly, but still, I talk. The animals have no voice so I speak for them.

Oh, and I always always bring one of two vegan dishes, usually a huge, decadent cake or something that will steal the show. Another win for veganism!

veganethos said...

I tend to make distinctions based on the kind of gathering. Gatherings of disparate people for some purpose, I tend to insist there be vegan food, but try not to make others uncomfortable, unless they raise the issue of veganism/meat in some way. For other gatherings I tend to be more outspoken.

With family, it is a choice between whether I want to see the people enough to go. In some cases that is a no, in some cases (my partner's aged parents) I will go. We talk a bit about veganism, and animal products, and make them nice vegan food, but avoid a confrontation. When I ate with my family after my mother died, I insisted on a restaurant with a good range of vegetarian dishes.

At work, we occasionally had meetings with food, and I and another vegan insisted that there be vegan food available. We didn't insist that others eat only vegan food. We didn't do education unless someone asked, but did whenever someone asked or commented.

If I go to a Buddhist teaching or gathering, I will complain strongly to the organisers if the food is not vegan. I don't consider it appropriate for a Buddhist to eat animal products.

With friends, I try to insist we go to a place that has at least a selection of vegan food. I don't have many friends that are not vegan.

Any gathering at my house, food is vegan, regardless of who is coming.

Jenne said...

I have a pretty hard time with events involving eating animals. I would not go to any kind of "meat week" event. Other than work and conferences, I rarely eat out with omnis. It's just too upsetting and disturbing.