Vegans of Color

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

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.


vegan soul food February 1, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 2:31 pm
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I saw this article from the Washington Post a while ago & forgot to post it: “Vegan Soul Grows in Anacostia”. It’s about Levita Mondie-Sapp, a black schoolteacher who became vegan after her mother got cancer. She now has a catering business, Vita’s Eatery, & has won multiple awards for her chili in the local farmer’s market cook-off.

“People say it wouldn’t fly in Anacostia,” she says. “But the bottom line is that black people want their food to taste good. And I can make that happen.”

Awesome. Let’s keep showing folks that vegan food can be fabulous & doesn’t mean exclusion from cultural traditions either.

In my previous post, I mentioned that it seems like vegans motivated predominantly by health were more likely to fall off the wagon. It would appear that Mondie-Sapp could be an exception (neither the article nor her website makes mention of animal cruelty issues, although of course that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have any stance on them).


skinny (white) bitches

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 11:40 am
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Love it or hate it, the Skinny Bitch thing has gotten a whole lot of people talking. Sometimes even about veganism, har har!

I’ll be up front: I haven’t read the book. I don’t plan on it (so many books, so little time…). My thoughts are based on the reactions I’ve heard, both pro & con, & on the very fact that a book with such a title & design is such a hit. I feel like analyzing the reception it’s gotten, & how it’s being talked about, is pretty telling in itself.

In the recent New York Times article about sequel book Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, one explanation for the popularity of the Skinny Bitch phenomenon is given:

Kimberly Latham, a fashion publicist in New York, said: “I would never have read ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma.’ I’m not even sure I know what an omnivore is. But I know what a skinny bitch is, and I know I want to be one.”

That’s right. Let’s prey on women’s fears about being (gasp) fat, & on the catfighting among women that comes of insecurity about one’s appearance. Never mind that fat & health are not as intricably linked as most people believe, anyway (check out the Illustrated BMI Categories — pretty eye-opening, especially the “morbidly obese” triathletes!).

Is shaming women into going vegan a good idea? I feel like the idea behind the book, & certainly how it’s being talked about, definitely plays the shame game. And competition & jealousy — I mean, women who don’t care about animal rights are picking this up because they want to be skinny. The kind of skinny that makes other women hate you. How… healthy. And life-affirming. Right.

I’ve heard folks defending the book by mentioning an epilogue that says basically that the authors don’t care about being skinny, they think everyone should just eat healthily. Well, I flipped through the book yesterday at a store, & this epilogue is about 3 paragraphs long. Not only that, I almost missed it — & I knew it was there & was looking for it! It’s hidden among the endnotes & resources & all that kind of end-of-book stuff. Funny, usually epilogues come right after the text. Could it be that they didn’t really care if people read this one? And how persuasive is it likely to be, since the very title of the book (& presumably everything else in the book) argues to the contrary?

I’ve also heard folks arguing that this is a good way to get the “chick lit” crowd interested in veganism. Stealth conversion, like Latham’s quote above would seem to indicate. But from my own experiences, & from what I’ve heard other folks talking about, those who convert to veg*nism for health reasons (I’m being generous & putting the “I want to be a skinny bitch” crowd under “health” although really it’s more about appearance & weight loss) are less likely to stick with it, unless they also have a strong ethical reason for eating the way they do. Is this just going to end up with a crap ton of ex-vegans in a few months? (& we know what a pain in the ass they can be.)

Even if readers do become interested in animal rights issues as a result of the book, I still think framing it generally as a weight-loss plan is a bad, bad idea. Not all vegans are skinny, & not all vegans would be better off “skinny.”

And what about the subset of young female veg*ns who do it to lose weight? I’ve heard a lot about how sometimes this is used to mask eating disorders — not that every teenage female veg*n has an eating disorder, of course, but that because veg*nism has a reputation as a way to lose weight, sometimes it is adopted specifically for this purpose. Isn’t Skinny Bitch-ism playing right into this? I bet the pro-ana crowd loves Skinny Bitch.

Oh, & the parenthetical word in my blog post title up there? Lately I’ve had an even lower tolerance than usual for the overwhelming promotion, & preference, of white skinny conventional standards of attractiveness to the near-total exclusion of anything else. And now Barnouin & Freedman, who exemplify this really narrow standard of beauty, are the new faces of veganism to American society. (Yeah, there’s the “vegan” football player — but he eats fish.)

Meh. Go vegan because you know you can live a life full of delicious food without killing for it. Go vegan because you care about animals. Love yourself even if you’re not a “skinny bitch.”

(& please, yes, I know that men have eating disorders & body image issues too — but it seems pretty obvious that the brunt of the Skinny Bitch thing is playing to women.)