Vegans of Color

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

Hi from Seoul, land of 10,000 meat restaurants January 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — minneapoliseoul @ 9:51 pm

I’ve been terrible at writing here, and in all honesty I am sometimes intimidated to write to such a large audience. My style of blogging tends to be more of my random thoughts and observations, so I appreciate those who are blogging about news bits and generating discussion around them.

I just thought I’d write about my last 4 months of living in Seoul, Korea. I was born in Korea, but sent to the USA soon after to be adopted. I am now 30 years old and for the first time seeing what it’s like to live day-in and day-out in the country of my birth, the one place on Earth where everyday I am surrounded by massive amounts of people who share my ethnicity. A feeling completely unfamiliar growing up in mostly white Minnesota…

Anyway, I have met a few vegetarians along the way, and even fewer vegans, but most do not live here. They come and go, after a short vacation. In general, I am finding myself still on the outside of a social circle. Growing up, and even in college, it was sometimes due to my race, but here I am finding it is because of my chosen attempt at being a vegan. The common experience here is to go out with a fairly decent sized group and socialize over meat cooking in front of you on the table, while lubricating the conversation with soju, an alcoholic Korean specialty. Not eating animals or being much of a drinker, it can leave me feeling weary about going out with big groups, especially since a lot of the restaurants are not fond of individual eating habits. I guess being in Seoul makes it a little bit easier, for I have had many of the staff at restaurants try to accomodate, but in general it has been difficult to dine out.

I have a certain dissonance living here, in a place where I fit in more than I have in various places in Minnesota, and yet I also continue to feel like the “odd ball.” I so want to ease into this foreign culture that was my once my birthright, and yet the love for meat and seafood makes it difficult when it comes to the social aspect – especially since eating and socializing go hand-in-hand here.

I am a total foody and so into good health that I hope I can find somewhere in North America where there are a lot of open-minded, friendly vegans of color, and awesome vegan/vegan-friendly restaurants where I can feel more at ease. Wherever that is, let me know so I can move there! I went to a vegan “event” in the Twin Cities a few years back and felt totally out of it there, where nearly all the vegans were white and quite frankly, a bit uptight and not seemingly aware of some of the issues that touch my life as a person of color. Maybe that scene has changed, but I’m not sure since I’m not currentlyliving there.

Anyway, just writing to say hi and to ask if others have ever experienced a similar feeling to what I have – which is a longing to fit in in a new environment, perhaps one that is of your native roots, and yet being vegan seems to prohibit that?


Eating Cat Is the Same as Eating Cow

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 3:17 pm

Thanks to Kanika for the heads-up on this one: Pet lovers protest cats on the menu in China. I’ve said it before, & I’ve said it again: it gets under my skin when Westerners criticize Asian nations for eating cat & dog. Meat eaters have no excuse; why should this be any more or less horrifying than eating cow or pig? Oh yeah, because they happen to judge that one animal is cute & one is not (I even met someone once who said she was a “cute-itarian” & wouldn’t eat pigs because she thought they were cute, but all other meat was fine to chow down on). As Angry Asian Man says:

In the face of articles like this, you can’t deny it: they eat cats in Guangdong. And they cook ’em up good. And I’ll admit, that grosses me out a little. Then again, I also have to ask, so what? How is this more or less humane or disgusting than the practice of eating any other animal?

I was glad to see that sentiment expressed on a major blog (one of my favorites!) that isn’t about animal rights; maybe it will make some folks think.

Oh yeah, & what about when veg*ns criticize dog- and cat-eating? It’s so often steeped in colonial racist attitudes. To quote Angry Asian Man again: “The insinuation is that [Chinese] restaurants [that serve cat] — and by extension, Chinese people — are inherently dirty, strange and exotic.”

The article points out that some Chinese have been protesting this practice (I’d be curious about the ratio of flesh-eaters to vegans among them), though of course it mentions that PETA has been condemning it as well.