Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

Are vegetables straight? February 28, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 10:33 pm

So NYC is getting a Veggie Pride Parade this year. I heard about it a few weeks ago & I think it could be fun, & certainly interesting to see how it pans out.

I just noticed that one of the events scheduled is the wedding of Penelo Pea Pod, who has been the mascot of VivaVegie (the group sponsoring the parade) for 10 years. Apparently the “lucky guy (ur, animal? vegetable?)” is still to be decided.

I get that doing something with Penelo Pea Pod makes sense, since she’s been around a while. Something to celebrate her life, or whatever. But having that be a wedding seems really… tired, & pandering to narrow traditions, even if her spouse ends up being another girl pea pod or something (can you tell I’m tired of the increasing emphasis on marriage rights at Pride [meaning the GLBTQ one] in the past few years?), which somehow I doubt will happen.

And… I don’t know. What does it have to do with veggie pride? I get it, I really do, that the parade organizers want to have cute, fun stuff to interest crowds. Hence the costume & poster contests they’re planning. And I guess summer is the wedding season, or whatever. It still makes me wanna roll my eyes.


Excellent Blogs February 27, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 10:16 pm
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This blog has been awarded an Excellent Blog Award by Elaine Vigneault (who sometimes I feel is a one-woman cheering squad for this blog, so thank you)!

excellent blog award

The award comes with the following stipulation:

By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, I have to award it to 10 more people whose blogs I find Excellent Award worthy. I can give it to as many people as I want, but I’ll award at least 10. Thank you out there for having such great blogs and being such great friends! You deserve this! If chosen, you agree to the same information above. If chosen, also feel free to award people who have already been awarded.

This is as bad as choosing people to pass on a survey meme to! Or worse, really. I’m going to cop out & say that all the blogs over there on the side, in our blogroll? They’re all Excellent Blogs, too. They’re all worth reading.

(I get a little frustrated sometimes with sites that have blogrolls a mile long, because I feel like they’re too hard to wade through… that’s why this one is thus far fairly short. So yeah, they really are all Excellent Blogs!)


how can we cosign the brutality?

Filed under: Uncategorized — nosnowhere @ 1:50 am

thefreeslave writes:

What does it do to the spirit of a human being to eat the flesh of an animal? What does it mean that we don’t know what the system of production does to these animals – and what does it mean that we don’t care? How can the spiritual man or woman co-sign the brutality, the savagery inflicted on animals and then complain about the petty bullshit that they suffer? Can one exist without the other? I don’t think so.

Oh, I know, its easy to dismiss animals as things, we are “higher mammals,” etc. That might be true; the problem is, claiming to be higher while actually behaving worse than that which we classify as lower is an American tradition. The white man said he was superior while raping and ravaging whole populations of Native Americans and blacks, ravaging and raping the land for good measure. And the animals. So while I understand the temptation to assert my personhood at the expense of animals, how can I? And how do I know that God/Goddess/The Great Spirit don’t have plans for animals that I can’t understand, see or comprehend? By destroying animal life, how do I know that I’m not sinning my black ass off?

But the good news: The Revolution can begin this second for all of us black folks.

STOP EATING MEAT, FISH, FOWL, CANDY or any other synthetic foods.


Making Connections… or Not February 22, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 8:41 pm
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I’ve just discovered the Pittsburgh group Animal Freedom, which does animal rights work that seeks to incorporate a broader understanding of other social justice issues too.

Check out the syllabus of their Animal Rights Study Group. Lots of good stuff in there!

One linked reading that particularly drew my attention was a letter from a Korean person objecting to the way a campaign against the Korean dog meat trade (carried out by Westerners) was run.

I am afraid those pictures [of dogs destined to be eaten] make viewers hate all Korean people because I saw a lot of comments on the internet with racial hate toward Koreans…. However I don’t believe those Koreans, who see dogs and cats as food, will listen to others (especially westerners) who have also two morals in their way of living. For example, Western people are eating much more meat in daily life than Korean people….

I find this quote particularly interesting, given that the president of Kinship Circle, Brenda Shoss, recently commented on my post in November criticizing their own campaign to stop the cat & dog meat trade in Korea & the Philippines. Shoss seems to think that I missed Kinship Circle’s point, but I feel that the points I made about the colonialist nature of such campaigns still stand, & were not addressed.


Adopt Snow (Central Illinois)

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 7:53 pm
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Continuing with our semi-regular featuring of pets that need homes, here’s Snow:

Snow, the Great Pyrenees

I decided to search on Petfinder for dogs with snow-related names, because NYC is getting 6-9 inches of it today. Snow is a 12-15 month male Great Pyrenees, & gets along well with other dogs. If you, or anyone you know, is interested in adopting this big cutie, contact the rescue group at the link above.

As always, props to Elaine Vigneault for the idea. She highlights adoptable animals on her blog:

1. To remind my readers of all the companion animals who need homes
2. To highlight the personhood/personality of animals
3. To give link love to animal rescue organizations
4. To lighten my blog’s mood a bit with adorable animal pictures


Do PETA’s race-based tactics work, or just alienate? February 19, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 8:58 pm
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There’s a discussion going on here, in the Livejournal community debunkingwhite, over whether or not PETA’s latest campaign, comparing the AKC to the KKK, is racist.

The gist of PETA’s ad is that promoting purebred animals is no more morally sound than promoting racial purity among humans.

What disturbs me about the discussion so far is that everyone is basically saying that humans are worth more than dogs, thus PETA is wrong. The author of the post calls the AKC a “relatively benign” organization — I suppose that’s true if you’re not a puppy in a puppy mill, which are supported by, & legitimized by, the AKC. And I suppose, given the intense focus on breeding, you might think the AKC is benign if you’re not a dog euthanized because the shelter is full of dogs already.

I am generally not a fan of PETA. They have done a lot of sexist campaigns, & I don’t think their record on race has been any more productive (not to mention, I hate their stance on pit bulls & homeless animals generally). The thing is, I agree that it is speciesist to place human lives above animals; I think that’s wrong. So I can logically see the comparison between, say, slavery & factory farm animals.

However, as a person of color I am very sensitive to any sort of racial slur that compares people to animals. It’s been used so often, & so viciously, that I think it’s really hard to shake off the fear & anger evoked. I feel I can pretty safely say that most people of color have never been called an animal as a compliment. Thus I don’t really think it’s going to be very productive, comparing them to animals in the way that PETA does — meaning, using shock tactics to get attention, but in such a way that most folks are probably going to be put off. This is why I don’t use Holocaust analogies either. I’m not black, & I’m not Jewish, but I know that there are many people historically, & today, who would consider me, & members of my family, monkeys. And not in a positive, we’re-all-animals-together sort of way, but as in, “You piece of shit, I’m going to kick your ass.”

So that’s where I’m coming from on that one. What about you readers? What do you think of PETA’s tactics regarding race? I’m particularly interested in hearing from the vegans of color out there, but also people of color who may not (yet?) be vegans — do these tactics make you aware of speciesism? Do they make you empathize with animals? Or do they put you off finding more about animal rights issues?

There’s a wonderfully thoughtful post about this stuff on the Sistah Vegan Project blog here.


Wacky Brown People Food, Again February 15, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 9:50 pm
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Back near the beginning of this blog, I wrote about how Vegetarian Journal exotified Asian foods & seemed, in doing so, to be writing from a viewpoint that centered non-Asian — probably white — American experience & culture.

I was excited to look at the most recent issue & find an article called “Vegan Fare from India” that was an exception to this attitude. While describing common ingredients & modes of preparation in Indian food, nothing was said about how “exotic” anything was. We didn’t get the ooh-ing & ahh-ing (Those funny brown folks! Whatever will they come up with to eat next?) that makes me wanna claw someone.

So I was irked to see, elsewhere in the magazine, a blurb called “Practically Perfect Pakoras.” The frozen pakoras reviewed will appeal to “even the most culinarily timid” & serve to introduce them “to this seemingly exotic cuisine.” In fact, “[e]ven people who normally find Indian food intimidating” will like them.

Again, I ask, exotic to whom? (I noticed that the article on Indian food was written by someone whose bio & name leads me to believe she is Indian, which may explain why it lacked the annoyance factor of the pakora review.)

Look, I get that many people have never eaten Indian (or fill-in-the-blank with whatever cuisine) food. But there’s a difference between acknowledging that, & assuming that your audience has uniformly come from such a background — & that such a background is the norm.


Adopt Victor (NYC area) February 11, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 6:26 pm
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Every week, Elaine Vigneault features an adoptable homeless animal on her blog. She does this, she says:

1. To remind my readers of all the companion animals who need homes
2. To highlight the personhood/personality of animals
3. To give link love to animal rescue organizations
4. To lighten my blog’s mood a bit with adorable animal pictures

All of which are wonderful reasons, & I love her idea. So I’m stealing it. I’m not sure I’ll manage weekly animals, but we’ll see.

I plan on featuring animals from all over the US, but I’ll start with one close to home, one that I know personally: Victor.


Victor is a total cuddlemonster. I know him through volunteering with the rescue group that is fostering him. Normally, when we have the cats in cages at Petco for adoption days, many of the cats are shy or aloof, because they’re scared. Victor is the most insistent on snuggles, by far. Plus, he is one of the most handsome kitties I’ve ever seen!

Victor is FIV+, which means that he needs to be a solo cat, or live in a home with other FIV+ kitties. (EDIT: Perhaps not!) However, he is currently very healthy & could provide so much love to someone for years. If I didn’t have 3 (FIV-negative) cats of my own already, I would so bring him home — & that’s what all the other volunteers say too!

You can contact the rescue organization & find out when to come see Victor here. Spread the word to all your NYC-area friends who could give Victor a loving home!


Other Veg*n Blogs February 10, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 5:02 pm
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We’ve been added to both the Vegan Blogroll & Vegan Blog Tracker (thanks!). There are some interesting blogs aggregated on those sites, so check them out… & add your own!


If you can speak with animals, why are you eating them?

It’s a long, boring story why, but I’m on a couple of mailing lists that have a lot of animal communicators on them — that is, people who say that they can speak with animals mind-to-mind, having conversations. I tend towards skepticism in most things, although I do think that there are more things in heaven & earth, Horatio, blah blah. We know that animals are capable of communicating with each other, & to some degree with humans, of course. To me it seems just as likely (or more, really) that there are some folks who can communicate on a deeper level with animals as it is that a guy could die & then come back to life 3 days later. But the latter belief is a respected & established one in American society, whereas the former gets you branded as a lunatic.

Anyway — that’s neither here nor there. The relevant bit is that there are people who believe they can communicate with animals. So, my question is, how the hell do they go on eating them? I can tell from the e-mails to the lists that many of the communicators are not veg*n: people have scorned the idea of animal rights & sent around those crazy right-wing links “debunking” the animal welfare groups, like HSUS, as being actually deluded enough to be for animal rights (ironic since most AR folks put HSUS firmly on the welfare side).

I am so tempted to ask them all if anyone has ever communicated with a pig on a factory farm. How about a cow on a rape rack? Or a free-range, organically-fed animal on a small family farm, right as it realizes it’s about to be killed at the whim of the farmer who treated it so nicely?

I suspect, if I got any serious answer & not just flamed, they would parrot something about the circle of life. Once there was a discussion about euthanizing animals at shelters, & someone said they used to have that job, & would communicate with the animals at the end. And that, apparently, the animals understood that they had to die, & it was okay, & they would still exist as Spirit & blah blah.

Okay, that has me skeptical. I could see an animal saying, “I hate living in a cage in this shelter where I’m giving almost no care or attention; I suppose death would be better.” But I feel like the person may be projecting zir own beliefs about the “necessity” of killing animals because there supposedly aren’t homes & we have no choice. To that, I’d say read Nathan Winograd‘s amazing book Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation & the No Kill Revolution in America (my review is here). And then check out the No Kill Advocacy Center.

Anyway — I know that my relationship with my cats was part of the final push that made me become vegan (after 14 years of vegetarianism & 7+ years of near-veganism, due to lactose intolerance). So I’m finding it unfathomable that someone claiming to speak with animals — in pretty much the same manner humans speak to each other; I mean, people post transcripts! — could feel okay about the entirely unnecessary act of eating them. Talk about cognitive dissonance.