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Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

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I know that it has been a really long time since I have written a post, I guess I didn’t feel like I had anything important to say… Recently I have found myself revisiting music and writers that first gave me that desire to fuck shit up and try to make this world a much more open and welcoming place for everyone. I relived that rush that I felt when I found myself in a sweaty room with people that shared my politics, and realized that I was not alone. It is such a great thing to be able to submerge and find refuge in a world that shares your politics and where you are able to grow without fear of judgement, but I am finding that it can also have a negative effect, me being the first to admit this guilt and apathy that has blindsided me for a while now.

I fell on this great article by Amy Adoyzie that shook me. It made me really look at the scene that I associate myself with and what I am really contributing to it. The article Our Booties Ourselves is more a discourse about women and gender politics (their place in the punk rock community), but there is something that she says at the beginning of the article that I would like to share with you.

It really is about time for me to realize that all the self-imposed body criticism needs to go. But sometimes it’s difficult even to acknowledge that we’re tough on ourselves because we—as women involved in punk rock, and as women in general—have to navigate in a world that has become so increasingly self-aware to the point where we think we’re post-gender, post-race, post-all-the-fucked-upness-that-we’re-not-really-post-anything. It creates a space where we don’t discuss these things because we’re supposed to be so over it. But I’m not over it. I’m just getting to it and I don’t give a fuck if you don’t want to hear it because you can turn the page anytime.

This simple statement still swims in my head everyday as I walk to work and try to figure out when did the discussion end? It is so true, we discover these ideas when we are young and can’t shut up about it, to the point that we even start to annoy ourselves. I still remember that first time that I read Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble (thanks Jason) and I would confront everyone in my path to talk to them about how they were trying to impose hetero-normative behaviour on me or others around them, I was meant with a lot of judgment and criticism and I just didn’t give a fuck! Now I just assume that anyone at a punk show has read all the literature and is aware of what’s going on… Laura Jane Grace’s coming out as transgendered showed just how a good part of the scene was not ready to have this talk in an open and respectful space; something that should of been a given!

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Then, seeing as no one talks about many issues, we get ridiculous theories and actions like the Commensal’s flexitarian menu. This utter non-sense would not of happened with we vegan/vegetarians actually reminded why we chose a restaurant like Commensal. Now I have to enter a debate with someone about how this notion of flexitarianism is just ridiculous and a total insult to the animal rights movement. Let me explain what a flexitarian is first, it is defined as a “vegetarian” that eats meat on occasion, the last time that I checked I simply called that a carnivore. I mean, its like saying that a vegetarian only eats vegetables and tofu and carnivores only eat meat (no vegetables ever). By that definition, everyone is a flexitarian instead of vegans/vegetarians, or is this just a way to justify that the first vegetarian restaurant chain in Quebec is now like any other restaurant? The worst in all of this, when vegetarians wrote to the Commensal about their outrage, they were told that their choice was so everyone could come eat at their restaurants; because people have to ingest meat at every meal? They seriously can’t sit and enjoy a meal that honours their friend’s choice to live a compassionate lifestyle? My question is, what kind of friend is that? I am exposed to dead animals everywhere that I go to eat, except for the refuge of plant based restaurants, don’t I have to right to be the majority some times? Do I always have to be seen as a disturbance or an extra detail to complicate things? I have been excluded from many social activities because of my life choice and I don’t regret one exclusion, because I am comfortable with my choices, are you?

Also, lately I have been confronted by people, that I consider friends, to be gay because I refuse to participate in the “masculine” activity of the evening and spend time around a table with women and have a conversation. I never knew that games only belonged to heterosexual me, I am shocked to still be confronted with this kind of attitude in 2013; I thought and assumed that we were way past the idea of making activities gender specific. I have not always acted in the most skillful ways, I have even been downright aggressive, but I was so taken a back to think that someone that I consider an equal and friend would see the world like that…

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So, I think that I have bitched and ranted long enough for tonight, what is my point? A good question! I have realized that I must get back on the right path, to not be indifferent about my issues and assume that the people around have progressive gender politics, progressive racial politics, progressive food politics; I have to get the conversation going! At least, I know that I will be challenging people to look outside of themselves and what they view as the “normal” point of view! The thing that still brings me the most growth and satisfaction is to simply challenge myself and take time to wrestle with these things… I hope that you will spark a conversation with someone tomorrow that will make you both get down to the real issues, because that is were the growth and unity truly arise! I am going to leave you all now with a great Black Flag quote : ” Swimming in the mainstream, such a lame dream”… Don’t be afraid to move to the fringes and really get the conversation going!

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Seeing as how the Thanksgiving holiday is coming to an end here in Canada, I thought that it would be interesting to talk about a buddhist practice of eating mindfully. The thanksgiving holiday is usually illustrated with images of families getting together and enjoying big meals of turkey and pumpkin pies, a representation of the first meal between natives and “pilgrims” (the white people who showed up from Europe), it is also timed with the fall harvest. We are meant to give thanks to diverse things in our lives, a humbling experience, to help us realize what is truly important in our lives. With this focus on food and eating, we should examine our relationship to food and our mindfulness practice. I am sure that most of you who have been on retreat have done what is called “eating meditation”, something that we unfortunately do not do in our daily lives, we seem to shove whatever food we can between meetings and errands that we may have throughout the day. This practice, however, should be in our daily routines, by doing so, we could help control our weight (we live in a world where there are more people who are overweight than are hungry or underweight) which in turn will help us steer away from many health problems that are linked to unhealthy eating habits, and also help us have a better relationship with our food and bodies.

If we are able to slow down and really enjoy our food, our life and our health, we are able to take on a much deeper quality. It is important to sit and eat quietly and enjoy every bite, to be aware of our community, to be aware of the hard and loving work that has gone in the preparation of our food. Not only do we become physically nourished, but we also become spiritually nourished. The way that we eat influences everything else that we do during our day. To look deeply into one’s food and meditate is just as important as our sitting and walking practice, it is just another opportunity to practice and to examine our relationship to food. Everyone knows that people have been known to eat their emotions, our worries and projects consume us and we comfort ourselves by over-eating foods without taking the time to examine every bite and everything that is linked to what is on our plates. By eating a lot of stress and worries, this becomes harmful to our bodies, and most importantly our minds. Thich Nhat Hanh, in his book Savour: Mindful Eating, Mindful Living, has a verse that he recites while he eats:

In the dimension of space and time, We chew as rhythmically as we breathe, In the dimension of space and time, We chew as rhythmically as we breathe. Maintaining the lives of all our ancestors, opening an upward path for descendants. So when we eat mindfully we can be in direct contact with our ancestors as well as our descendants and use the time of eating to see how we can nourish the best things our ancestors have passed onto us and how to continue to transmit what is most precious to future generations.


An ongoing debate in Buddhist circles is what kind of diet one should have if they are to practice mindful eating in relation to the precepts. If we take the menu of Plum Village where Thay lives, it would be a vegan menu of simple foods, it is believed that the most nourishing food (nutrition and spiritually) is one that is not born out of suffering (depending what your beliefs may be about factory farming). A typical menu when on retreat is oatmeal for breakfast, a vegetable meal for lunch (grains and steamed vegetables for example), and then something light like soup for supper. It is important to eat what is most healthy, seeing as how food can, just like any other stimuli, can trigger emotions and feelings that will manifest in our minds. Food can thus create positive or negative emotions in our minds, of course this relationship will vary from person to person.

We live in a country of abundance, we have easy access to foods and drinks that are not good for us and that are served in big portions. There are very persuasive advertising that bombards our senses and we are then conditioned to crave these unhealthy foods. Besides filling our bodies with foods high in sugar and fats, we are becoming more and more of a car based culture, we are thus eating heavier and fatty foods all while moving less. Our lives are always fast paced, how are we to be mindful in our living if we are trying to accomplish seven things at a time? (talking on the cell phone, checking e-mail, watching TV, and putting some pre-made food in our mouths?) This is one of the main reasons why people can not live in the moment and are not fully aware of what they are eating and what they are doing, which is essential for maintaining a healthy weight.

The next time that you sit in front of a plate of food, Thay would suggest these five contemplations:

1- This food is the gift of the whole universe: the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard, loving work.

2- May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive it.

3- May we recognize and transform our unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed, and learn to eat with moderation.

4- May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that we reduce the suffering of living beings, preserve our planet, and reverse the process of global warming.

5- We accept this food so that we may nurture our sisterhood and brotherhood, strengthen our community and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.

If this idea of eating more mindfully is something that interests you, I highly recommend that you pick up Thay’s new book Savour and develop a practice where you will have a healthier relationship with your food and mind. We are working towards a more mindful life, this includes all activities in our lives, no matter what we are doing we must take the time to treasure every experience and be as present and aware as possible. This is how we will be able to live life most fully and to help maintain healthy relationships with others and ourselves. Take the time next time that you sit to eat and see how it feels to take the time to savour every bite! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

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Foie gras is considered a delicacy by many Western cultures, memories of special occasions past usually are highlighted with platters of foie gras. Most people who do consume this delicacy do not realize how this “fine” food is made, I feel safe to say that it is probably the most inhumane dish on the planet. It may seem harmless when we pick up the jar or can at our specialty grocer, or when we are spreading it on little pieces of toast, but the life that the goose or duck, that is the source of this food, is a life that I would not even wish on my greatest enemy.

Most people would say “isn’t foie gras just another form of pate?”, it is actually the swollen, diseased liver of ducks and geese who are force-fed just up until the point of death before being slaughtered. The birds suffer during and after the force-feeding as their health rapidly degrades when this practice is started. In a few weeks the birds livers will grow to be ten times their normal size, and the birds can hardly walk, stand, or even breathe. This technique of force-feeding originates in Egypt when people noticed how the geese would gorge themselves before they went on migration. When the Egyptians, and later the Romans, considered these fat-laden pre-migration gorged organs to be better tasting, they decided to start the process artificially and exaggerated to their captive geese. From then on, the practice of force-feeding, became the standard of this industry.

Most foie gras is now made in France, 75% of the world’s production is made there, there are also a couple of foie gras “factories” in Quebec. This dish is most linked to French culture now, but it is still considered a “treat” for many. About 24 million ducks and half a million geese are slaughtered annually for their diseased livers. 500 000 ducks are killed annually in Canada for foie gras production, about the same also suffer this fate in the USA.

Geese and ducks are confined to tiny cages where they are not able to move or even open their wings or anything that would be considered “natural” behaviour. These cages have a hole in the front so they can be mechanically force-fed and are unable to escape during the process. The feeder grabs the goose and plunges a metal pipe down its throat, it then pumps a huge amount of corn and oil mixture into their gullet within a few seconds, this mixture is usually equivalent to one-third of the bird’s weight. They are also denied access to water for them to be able to participate in instinctual behaviour, their plumage then becomes encrusted with filth and most will develop what the farmers call “wet neck” which is when their unpreened neck feathers curl up and become covered with dirt and oil.

Of course, they are not spared from the fate that their factory farm brothers and sisters, they are debeaked to avoid that they peck each other. They are debeaked shortly after birth, their beaks get sliced off, without anesthesia, cutting through tissue rich in nerve endings. They are then forced to live life with chronic pain, and having trouble eating or preening themselves.

What can we do to stop this? Many American cities have actually banned this disgusting practice and food, this was done thanks to pressure for the people. Look at the menu from your favourite restaurant; if there is foie gras on the menu, ask to see the manager and ask him/her to take it off the menu, you can even say that you will no longer be frequenting the establishment until it is done. You can also stage little protests outside the restaurant, giving literature on foie gras to the customers going in, remember that outside is public property and that this is a very effective way to convince an owner to re-consider the menu.

All the photos that are posted in this article come from Elevages Perigord which is in St-Louis -de-Gonzague Quebec, at about 45 minutes from Montreal. This is one of the biggest foie gras producers in North America, they must be shutdown. Write to them, let them know how you feel about their livelihood… Be a voice for those who suffer such horrible lives, the animals need our help. Remember, anyone that can do this for a living are also living a horrible life, to witness and create such violence is not good for any human being… Let your opinion be known by those around you, and visit www.nofoiegras.org to learn more.

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