Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

This blog has been up for a while, and I haven't proselytized at all. In fact, I haven't even mentioned why I'm vegan. Not even in the About section.

That's because this is meant to be a resource for people interested in trying inexpensive, fast and simple vegan dishes, and I don't want anyone to feel judged. As people so often do, even by the mere presence of vegans, even if we don't say anything.

(Here's an interesting study from Stanford U. about that phenomenon. The subtitle itself, Resenting Those Who Do the Right Thing, should annoy plenty of people with its implication that they're doing the wrong thing.)

But today is Mother's Day, a holiday which many have pointed out has activist roots.* My own mother is not an activist, but is someone who quietly goes where she sees a need, and does something about it, day after day and year after year: helping a friend move, sending money to family members, babysitting for neighbors, bartering her services as a family therapist for flowers or artwork, visiting someone who can't get around much, lending an ear to someone who needs to talk, and of course always being there for her children and grandchildren.

She's taught me that being there for others is just what you do. Not so you'll get something in return, not because you owe them, not to get into heaven or to prove anything. It doesn't drain your resources or distract you from your own life: it is life. These daily acts of generosity are not exactly activism, but are squares in the same quilt: they're part of making the world a better place, not for any other reason than that we all want the world to be a better place.

I've also learned from her, and from how she talks about people who influenced her, that acts of kindness are seeds that often grow where they're planted, and make more seeds, which also grow. A small good thing you do can have endlessly multiplying repercussions.

I can think of several people who have moved towards veganism partly as a result of things I've said or brought to their attention. To me, that's huge. Even if it were only three people, and even if only two of those influence two or three others, before long, you have change. Of course there are organizers and filmmakers and celebrities who are influencing hundreds and thousands of people, so compared to theirs, my contribution is tiny, but that doesn't mean it doesn't matter.

But I still haven't mentioned why I'm vegan! The truth is, I hardly know how to talk about it. Why wouldn't I be? Why hurt and confine and kill billions of thinking, feeling animals, our cousins, who want to be happy and to live and to raise their little ones, when we don't remotely, at all, have to? Why? Do people think that the very idea that pigs in gestation crates are unhappy is some sort of vegan propaganda--is that why? Do they think that animals don't really have feelings? But they know their dogs and cats do--so how could they think that?

I believe there are two main reasons most people aren't vegan: ignorance and habit. Habits are horribly hard to break. These can include eating and cooking meat, but also habits of shutting off the urge to compassion--telling oneself that the things we do to animals, like taking calves from their mothers at birth, are really okay, and the animals don't mind as much as they seem to with their bellowing and struggling; or if they do, it doesn't, somehow, matter. As for ignorance, most people don't have any idea what goes on in factory farms, or any kind of farms. And many don't want to. I know and love several meat eaters who are happy to admit they have no desire to know about the messy end of meat production.

I have a lot of compassion for people who have trouble changing their habits. My kids are mostly vegan, but they eat some cheese, as I did until a few years ago. I buy that cheese for them. Me! Someone who thinks about this stuff all day! If it's hard for me to break the habit, I can understand how hard it must be for other people.

I have compassion for ignorance too, since I became vegetarian as a child, yet had no idea until I was in my thirties that animals in the egg and dairy industry are killed just like animals raised for meat. The only difference is that the productive ones--the hens and cows, the mothers--are kept alive to suffer for a few years first.

My recipes are meant to help people who want to break out of old eating habits. Today in honor of Mother's Day and the idea of helping make the world a better place, I'd like to help fight some ignorance too, by linking to this Mother's Day piece by Ashley Capps at Free From Harm:

7 Ways Eating Meat, Dairy and Eggs Destroys Motherhood

I give you this information not in a spirit of judgement, but as a fellow fallible human being who has no idea what struggles you face and what seeds of good you daily plant in this world--but I am sure you do have struggles, and I know you do plant seeds. This is my own attempt to plant a seed.

But if you post "Mmm bacon LOL" in the comments section, I hope you burn in hell.

(^This is actually a joke. I don't really want anyone to burn in hell. Vegans just get sick of seeing that all the time.)


*In fact the route from activism to the establishment of our current holiday is a little circuitous: It actually was intended by its founder, Anna Jarvis, to be a sentimental recognition of motherhood and not a day of agitating for justice. Wikipedia has a good overview. Still, her own mother, Ann Jarvis, who she wanted to memorialize, was a pro-peace community organizer. And there's Julia Ward Howe's famous "Mother's Day Proclamation," but that had a different title when she wrote it, and Howe's dream of a world-peace-centered holiday in June was never realized; she doesn't seem to have had anything to do with the creation of the modern Mother's Day.

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