4 misconceptions about veganism and vegans

There are tons of misconceptions and prejudices about veganism and vegans, here are four that seem to keep popping up:

1. Vegans eat only salad
There’s so much plant-based foods out there, and so much you can do with these foods, still many people believe vegans eat only salad. Vegans eat tons of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds, but also plant-based meats, cheeses, yoghurt, ice-creams etc. Contrary to what many people believe being vegan is hardly limiting. I write about vegan foods in the ongoing “What do vegans eat?”-series.

2. Veganism is a diet
Many people have during the years thought I’m a vegan as a way of keeping myself slim and healthy, that it’s a diet just as any other. But veganism is not a diet, for most vegans it’s a lifestyle that includes so much more than just eating healthy food. It’s an ethical decision made out of compassion for animals and humans and a concern for the environment. That it’s healthy is more of an extra plus for most vegans.

3. Vegans are weak and skinny
I’m not a very big person, and some people give veganism the credit for that. And maybe it plays a role in the fact that I don’t really gain weight even though I eat more than a lot of people who I know, but far from all vegans are skinny. Being vegan doesn’t either mean that you are weak, there are a lot of vegan athletes out there (not to forget the world’s strongest man is a vegan!), and building muscle mass on a vegan diet is not really a problem.

4. It’s difficult to be vegan
Just as any life change, becoming vegan is hard. You have to change habits and routines and learn new ways. You have to encounter social situations and answer questions. But once you’re over the initial phase, it gets easier, and eventually it’s not hard at all. For me, the difficulties were never really a big concern, even as a new vegan, because the reason I chose to do it was so much bigger than me. If I would have done it for myself only, maybe I would not have stuck to it, but since I’m doing it for a bigger cause (animals, humans and environment) it’s so much easier.

The problem with factory farming is not the individual cases of abuse

When I stood in the city one afternoon several years ago informing people about the conditions of pigs raised for food as a part of an ongoing campaign, one person came up to me and said something like “That’s nothing weird. That’s how it looks like” (pictures in the campaign included pigs living in dirt and sometimes even together with dead friends, wounded pigs etc.). The attitude of the person commenting was that this is normal and that there is nothing we can do about it, so we shouldn’t talk about it or even care.

Is it not exactly this that is the problem? It’s so usual that the animals are suffering that no one reacts anymore, it’s just “normal” and “okay”.

The issue is bigger than just farmers treating their animals badly, there is a problem in the whole system. Raising animals is not simply raising animals, so to speak. It’s an industry where living creatures are held and slaughtered on assembly lines like they were products. There’s no time, no space, no resources for well-being among the animals in an industry like the animal industry today (I don’t believe animals can be happy in any kind of situation where they are used for our purposes, but that’s another story). Animal “products” are cheap, even though the cost of production may not be, and people consume more and more of certain products, which leads to a faster and faster spinning industry. It’s not good for anyone’s well-being – not ours, not the animals’, not the nature’s. Something has to change.

This is one reason why I’m an activist. “Activist” may sound very ugly in some people’s ears, but that does not make me want to stop being one. I’m not ashamed. Prejudices are not a reason to stop fighting for things you believe in. I don’t want to live my life just watching the world get darker, if there’s something I can do to change this world to the better, I will fight to do it. I hope you will too, whatever it is that you believe in.

ChooseVeg

Some time ago a worker at Mercy for Animals contacted me, asking me to share about their website ChooseVeg. Since I’m all for helping spread the word on veganism and like to help others that have the same mission, I of course checked the page out.

ChooseVeg is a site with information and recipes for people who are interested in becoming vegan, who have just started their vegan journey, or why not for the seasoned vegan who just wants some inspiration. It’s stylish and simple to use. It doesn’t contain much in-depth information on the issue of veganism and animal rights, but seems like a good site for the new vegan. In-depth information can always be found in other places once you have become acquainted with the basics.

In summary, if you want “going vegan” simplified, this is a good site for you!

Compassionate reading: Vegan’s Daily Companion

As I told you before, I love reading – especially books – and there are so many books out there on veganism, compassion and animal activism. So many that I most of the time find it hard to know which one I should read next. However, I’ve read quite a few already and feel it could be a good idea to write about some of them to give you guys a tip on what to read.

Vegan's daily companion

A book on the subject that is great even for those of you who are not crazy about reading is Vegan’s daily companion by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. The book consists of short essays, one for every day of the year, divided into six different categories depending on the day of the week:

  • Monday/For the love of food
    Talks about different vegan foods, their origin and use.
  • Tuesday/Compassionate communication
    Talks about techniques for speaking on behalf of veganism, such as typical questions vegans get and their answers, and alternatives to violent animal idioms.
  • Wednesday/Optimum health for body, mind and spirit
    Talks about staying healthy as a vegan and an activist, in mind, body and soul.
  • Thursday/Animals in the arts: Literature and film
    Talks about and gives excerpts from books and films that in some way tangle the issue of animals and compassion.
  • Friday/Stories of hope, rescue and transformation
    Gives stories of rescued animals and people changing into becoming vegan, both written by Colleen herself and by others.
  • Saturday & Sunday/Healthful recipes
    Provides healthful vegan recipes.

All the essays are maximum one page long, easy to read and provide information on many different subjects concerning veganism, compassion and animal activism. It is truly a companion for someone who is not a vegan but wants to know more about veganism, or for someone who is already vegan but would like to learn more and become strengthened in their beliefs.

My favorite category in the book is definitely the “Stories of hope, rescue and transformation” one, because while there is much sadness in being an animal advocate and witness of the suffering of animals, these stories give hope and happiness to me. They prove that things can change and become better.

I highly recommend this book!

The connection between veganism and feminism

I wrote this post quite a while ago, but for some reason I never posted it. Since the issue don’t really get outdated I decided to post it now instead:

There’s quite a debate about whether being a feminist also means you should be a vegan. This blogger claims that the two issues are deeply connected, mainly because the animal exploitation industry is highly dependent on exploiting the female reproductive system (even if this industry also exploits male animals in a high degree). Some feminists don’t agree at all, and feel that making such a connection is degrading to human women and to feminism.

I’m not really sure where I stand in this issue, but for me one thing is sure; veganism and animal rights are definitely connected to feminism, just like they are connected to other social rights issues. Some would maybe argue with this too, and claim that the struggle for animal rights cannot be compared with the struggles for equal rights no matter of skin color, gender, sexuality, or any other similar social issue, because one is about humans and the other about animals. I don’t think this matters, it’s all about changing our perceptions of the world, looking outside what is most convenient for ourselves and making this world a better place. The resistance we see against animal rights is the same resistance that was seen when people were fighting to for example end slavery and allow women to vote, and is also seen in the fight for other social issues, like feminism, still today.

What are your thoughts? Are feminism and veganism connected? Does being a feminist mean you should be a vegan?

Thousands of years of ethical vegetarianism

“It is not how we breed, keep and kill animals for human consumption that has been the impetus for vegetarianism for thousands of years. It is that we breed, keep and kill animals for human consumption. Throughout the centuries the common thread in the arguments against eating animals is the fact that since we have no nutritional requirement for the flesh or fluids of animals, killing them to simply satisfy our taste-buds or habits or customs amounts to senseless slaughter, and senseless slaughter is no small thing.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Personal library

I’m a person who is very hungry for information, it seems I can’t have enough. I read books and articles and watch documentaries. Most of all I read books, anything from easy-going novels to philosophical works. There’s no stopping me.

This has led to that I have started building a small library of my own, of books on animal activism, ethics and vegetarian/vegan cooking, as well as some of my favorite novels. I borrow a lot of books from the library as well – most novels that I have read have been borrowed ones, I only buy the ones I really like – but some books are not available in the library, or then I just prefer buying them so that I can make my own notes and go back to read the book later on.

books

I have a long list of books I haven’t read yet but that I want to read, just a few days ago I got a package with a few of those books – a birthday gift for myself. I own books in all the three languages that I speak; Swedish, Finnish and English.

R sometimes says I read too much. I think he’s just jealous.