Being a Vegan and an Animal Rights Activist in France: Difficult but Exciting

I promised my friend Carol Glasser that I would start my first blog from France with this line and I stand by it: « If you think being vegan in Los Angeles (or any other big American city) is difficult, you don’t know what you’re talking about! »

I moved back to France in July after over 18 years in the United States, mostly Los Angeles and ended up in the south of France, land of Bullfighting and Bull meat. You may wonder why I would pick such a location where you find no Vegan or even Vegetarian restaurants to eat out (although I heard of one in Montpellier) and the vegan food in supermarkets (or should I call them mini-market compared to what we have in the US) is almost non-existent, unless you count REAL food like fruits, vegetables, beans, etc… and not convenience junk vegan food. My friend Arlo Toews (of Viva La Vegan Grocery in Los Angeles) told me that it would give me an excuse to eat better since junk food would be rarer. I have to say he was right! I lost 10 kilos at least (not sure what it is in pounds).

My reasons for leaving the US are multiple and not the subject of this particular blog. But my first few weeks were, to say the least, rough. I had to re-adapt to the culture (which is quite different from Los Angeles), get back in the system, etc… I didn’t have a place, so no way of cooking, and had to rely on eating fruits, raw vegetable sandwiches and prepared foods like carrots, beets or tamale salads and baguettes (aka bread), which are about the only vegan prepared foods I found so far in stores besides soy yogurt and plant-based milks.

But what I found is that it is possible to be vegan anywhere, no excuse. In Los Angeles, we count at least 80 fully vegan restaurants in the entire county! Vegans in Los Angeles are so spoiled that when I now think of the excuses some people make for not being vegan there, I just want to give them a piece of my mind or just laugh at their ridiculous excuses.

As an activist and vegan, I felt totally isolated my first month in France. Where do I find other like-minded people who share my values. Fortunately, back in 2011 at the Los Angeles Animal Rights Conference, I met a French activist, my good friend Joelle Verdier and she happened to live in Montpellier which is about 25 minutes from Nimes (where I now live). As soon as she found out I was back in France, she was excited to have me join the activist groups she runs here in the south.

What a thrill it was then to be invited to join a peaceful and silent demo in Montpellier as part of the International Campaigns against vivisection with about 130 French activists dedicated to the cause of abolishing any form of animal experimentation.

France has a long way to go when it comes to Veganism but it does have strong, dedicated and passionate activists ready to take strong stands and even dangerous ones (check out anti-bullfighting videos like this one http://youtu.be/JvEp4EOIrxY). I have met some incredible activists in the US but I can definitely say that their French counterparts are incredible as well.

I look forward to the future and to more activism and helping to create a more humane France and I will forever be grateful to all the activists in the US who brought me to Veganism and Animal Rights. Without them, I might never have taken this road.

See this link for pictures of my album of the Montpellier anti-vivisection action here:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152475836003138.1073741872.754328137&type=1&l=2adfe41043

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Why Being a Judgmental Vegan Doesn't Win Hearts

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One of the most disturbing or annoying trend I see in the Vegan community is people who judge non-Vegans for not being Vegans (or Vegan enough) or falling off the wagon. I have struggled with this issue then came around that situation just tonight while surfing Facebook groups.

In substance, someone in a group said he tried to be Vegan for 30 days but was confronted by Vegans whom he felt very turned off by and he decided to go back to his pre-Vegan days. As soon as he announced it, he was then called words like « douche » and so on. As soon as I noticed what was happening, I jumped on the bandwagon and asked him to contact me so I could talk him into changing his mind. And he did!

We have to understand that not everyone is where we are. As Vegans, our mindset has been changed either recently or long ago by what we have learned about other animals, their suffering, diet, the environment. And obviously our perspective is one of bigger awareness. But not everyone is there yet.

After talking to this man, he recommitted to try Veganism for another 30 days. He comes to it from a health perspective and, obviously, Veganism not being about diet, it ruffles some feathers for some of us. But this man is obviously willing to learn and expand his awareness and he should be encouraged and not trashed because he has not reached our level of « Vegan awareness ». What good is it to turn him off? Every small step is a good step. Let’s cultivate this newly found awareness and help him expand his.

In 2011, I became a Holistic Vegan Health Coach because I realized that a lot of people looked at Veganism as a diet primarily and were scared (by all the disinformation in the media) about their health if they went Vegan. I started getting the usual questions when doing Vegan outreach like « where do you get your proteins? » and so on. In my early days of being vegan, my diet was a junk Vegan food one and I had no answers for them. I decided that it was important to reach people where they are and slowly expand on their current mindset by slowly introducing new ideas and new concepts as well as reassuring them about their health.

Some people will never get to Veganism through animal rights first. So what? It doesn’t mean they can’t get there eventually. I found this to be true for everyone I coached first from a health perspective.

When we open to people, but don’t judge them, we quickly make them feel encouraged to learn more.

Being Vegan is not about being judgmental of others. It is about expanding awareness in any way that works for the people we are trying to reach in order to get them to grow. After this man talked to me, he regained his enthusiasm for the lifestyle and started posting information about Vegan programs in his area! So anything is possible if we put our egos to the side.

We can do so much better and really walk the talk if we are who we say we are: kind, compassionate, aware and willing to grow ourselves. Veganism is indeed about other animals, but we are animals too and when we have to change too. When we do, we become better equipped to change others.

 

Photo courtesy of http://www.Pixabay.com

© Copyright May 2014 – All Rights Reserved. Printing by authorization only.

Illusion of Greatness

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I am often struck by the degree of arrogance I see in people around me. Of course, I am not immune to these moments of ego trips about myself but I recognize that this should not rule my life. Arrogance is a form of selfishness, it boasts itself as the answer to the emptiness found in some people. It disguises itself as charitable and compassionate as well.

The cause of helping either other animals or human animals is a noble cause but it is not meant to be taken on by boosting one’s ego. Nobility of heart is by essence humility and kindness, not arrogance and ego. I see too much of the latter unfortunately in both human and non-human rights movement.

I am reminded of this great lines by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

« If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question.

I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. 

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.

I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say. If I can help somebody as I pass along, If I can cheer somebody with a word or song. If I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, Then my living will not be in vain. If I can do my duty as a Christian ought, If I can bring salvation to a world once wrought, If I can spread the message as the master taught, Then my living will not be in vain. »

These words, although spoken in regards to his work on behalf of humans and with a deep religious faith, are applicable in the context of our work on behalf of other animals, whether we are religious, spiritual, agnostic or atheist. They speak of humility and courage. They speak of our own calling to make the world a better place.

There is too much ego in the Vegan/Animal Rights movement. In fact, there is nothing about wanting to save other animals which warrants an ego trip. It is a normal and necessary work we have to do, not a reason to feel like we are special or superior to others. When egos stand in the way, no real progress ever happens. But when it is replaced by a deep desire to put egos aside and do the work we are called for, real progress happens which awakens many sleeping minds around us.

Already, we can see it with a few visionaries like Will Tuttle, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and others, who have the courage of taking a non-judgmental position of compassion and loving kindness towards everyone, including the ones most against us. Their message reaches and transforms a lot of people.

We don’t change minds by brutalizing the minds of others and by being arrogant and self-righteous. We change minds when we own our truth with peace and compassion to all. Then more people want to embrace what we have.

If more of us understood that message, we would deeply transform our planet.

May all hear their calling with humility and truth.

 

Photography by Veronique Perrot

© Copyright May 2014. All Rights Reserved. Printing by authorization only.

True Love

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I see the work of saving other animals as I see a relationship with a soul mate. It is at once a bliss and a trauma. Being in Love with THE one is the most extraordinary event in one’s lifetime and very few people in fact can attest to having this ultimate connection with one person. It is beyond the senses and most people never move beyond just the physical and emotional aspect of a relationship and just navigate blindly from relationship after relationship without ever really finding what they’re looking for. They have not made that soul connection which makes everything else redundant and a waste of time.

Helping other animals also feels like the ultimate blessing and connection because it gives a sense of going beyond one’s ego and committing the ultimate act of selflessness for the voiceless. This is a true test of our deep compassion and ego-less love for others.

I am blessed with both in this lifetime. I both consider a particular human my soul mate (although a blind one), the one that totally completes me; and everything I do for other animals is my calling. In both cases, this is the ultimate blessing, happiness and meaning of one’s life.

But it can also be a curse. In case of loving someone, if the person has not reached the same level of awareness and sees in you what you see in him (or her), betrayal and pain also reach the highest dimensions. In the case of other animals, I feel a sense of deep sadness and pain as well knowing that I can’t save them all.

I have PTSD from previous traumas in my life. And just like one of my heros, the extraordinary animal photographer Jo-Anne MacArthur, I share with her the experience of having been traumatized (although not by the same situations) but having come up on top no matter what and still believing I can make a difference for a particular human being and all non-humans as well. I continue to give all that I have because I have faith that things and all beings can evolve.

When you love someone with all your heart, soul and mind, you also open the door in yourself to loving all living beings with the same depth. And the reverse is true. Everything is connected.

For all those who know what Love truly means…

 

Photo courtesy http://www.pixabay.com

© Copyright April 7, 2014 – All Rights Reserved – No printing without authorization

CONDITIONING, HISTORY & SCIENCE: Breaking Free to better Advocate for Non-Humans and Humans

March 2nd, 2014

The Animal Advocacy Museum presents a talk by Veronique N. Perrot, World Peace Diet Facilitator, Holistic Vegan Coach and Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition, on the power of our society to condition us and how we can break free and help others get free by recognizing the signs of our own conditioning.

Part 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ij0IRH0molw

Part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM7pB9M6980

Part 3 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgOGeyn-3bE

LINK BETWEEN VIOLENCE TO ANIMALS AND HUMANS: A Deeper Look

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« One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it. » Anthropologist Margaret Mead

One of the most often ignored links in our society is between the violence to animals and the violence to humans. The general tendency is to ignore the violence to animals committed by serial killers and other criminals which is really an important failure, yet not a surprising one, on the part of the shallow mainstream media. However, law enforcement agencies like the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) have learned to profile possible serial killers based on their past abuses of other animals. More and more coordinating is being done between animal protection agencies and law enforcement to recognize the signs of potential abuse to animals and humans.

As the New York Times reported in 2010: « …Many U.S. communities now cross-train social-service and animal-control agencies in how to recognize signs of animal abuse as possible indicators of other abusive behaviors. In Illinois and several other states, new laws mandate that veterinarians notify the police if their suspicions are aroused by the condition of the animals they treat. The state of California recently added Humane Society and animal-control officers to the list of professionals bound by law to report suspected child abuse and is now considering a bill in the State Legislature that would list animal abusers on the same type of online registry as sex offenders and arsonists. »

It is obviously progress. However, the abuse of the family « pet » is in itself a symptom of a greater issue, that is, it doesn’t address the real underlying problem of our violent society.

To understand the reasons behind the violence to animals and then humans, one has to look at the way our society raises children, particularly boys, to become competitive, aggressive, « strong ». They are taught to repress their natural compassion and instead cultivate domination habits. From childhood, they are fed foods of violence like animal flesh and animal secretions. In order to become men, they can’t show emotions, they can’t care for animals, they have to dominate women, etc… Is it any wonder then that the majority of the violence in the world is committed by men and boys? Will Tuttle analyzed this very well in The World Peace Diet. We are de-facto raising potential psychopaths.

Preventing kids from torturing animals is not just about telling them that it is wrong. It starts with completely changing the lifestyle they are accustomed to. If a child hurts another animal, you can almost be certain that he may have a very bad family environment (violent parents for instance) and of course lots of animal « foods » in his diet. Animal flesh is linked to masculine aggression and domination. Because these children feel a sense of oppression, they vent their frustration and their anger on those who are more vulnerable than they are: the family dog. It is recognized that they become violent themselves to the family pets in order to have some control over their own powerlessness in seeing the animal being abused, going as far as sometimes killing the animal themselves.

And as an article from the American Anti-Vivisection Society concludes: « Those caught in such a vicious abuse-reactive cycle will not only continue to expose the animals they love to suffering merely to prove that they themselves can no longer be hurt, but they are also given to testing the boundaries of their own desensitization through various acts of self-mutilation. In short, such children can only achieve a sense of safety and empowerment by inflicting pain and suffering on themselves and others. » A vicious circle is therefore established and even harder to change.

There are even kids who torture animals out of boredom. But is it any surprising when they eat the dismembered body parts of violently slaughtered animals since almost the time they were born? If they think nothing of eating slaughtered animals (as we taught them), why are we acting surprised as a society if they don’t care about dogs and cats?

Women and girls also inject the food of the cultural programming of death but they are taught to be more passive and subservient. We live in a patriarchal world which, as Carol Adams documented so well in The Sexual Politics of Meat, teaches women that they are still here to pleasure men and do what men want. The tendency of women is in fact to protect companion animals in the home and to suffer at the hands of men in order for the animal not to get hurt. A lot of them are afraid to leave an abusive husband because of the risk of retaliation to their companion animal and, by extension, their children.

As Carol Adams notes in The Sexual Politics of Meat: « Batterers, rapists, serial killers, and child sexual abusers have victimized animals. They do so for a variety of reasons: marital rapists may use a companion animal to intimidate, coerce, control, or violate a woman. Serial killers often initiate violence first against animals. The male students who killed their classmates in various communities in the 1990s often were hunters or known to have killed animals. Child sexual abusers often use threats and/or violence against companion animals to achieve compliance from their victims. Batterers harm or kill a companion animal as a warning to their partners that she could be next; as a way of further separating her from meaningful relationships; to demonstrates his power and her powerlessness. »

That is a of course a result of the patriarchal mindset which seeks to repress inner compassion and hides the link between our culture of oppression of other animals and oppression of women.

What are the solutions? This is not a easy answer as this mindset is so pervasive in our society. We must educate people to recognize the links between the violence of our food system, the psychological and spiritual injuries we create in our children and how serial killers and other criminals emerge in our society. For most people, the idea of torturing a dog is abhorrent, and rightly so. But no one really calls into question the idea that we torture billions of cows, chickens, pigs, ducks, goats, etc… every year, in the United States alone. No one seems to connect the dots of the violence in our lifestyles.

The law is starting to seriously address the links between the violence to other animals and the violence to humans and early intervention may prevent more brutality. Arresting people who commit horrible crimes on other animals and humans serves the only purpose of preventing them from doing it again. All of this is progress but it does not provide healing or may always prevent the next serial killer from appearing and make national news. By participating in what Dr. Will Tuttle calls « the daily rituals of violence », we are all in fact serial killers. Anyone of us could suddenly snap and end up on a killing rampage. Most serial killers are also using legal anti-depressants and therefore snap more easily. These legal drugs make it easier for their buried tendencies created since birth by society to just emerge and take them over.

Hitlers are not born, they are made. Violence is not our real nature, it is taught. We are not born with killer instincts, society molds us. The patriarchal mindset teaches violence and competition and therefore creates violent men (and women). Science in fact is starting to agree with this and even now shows the neurological damage in violent children. But science also shows that being compassionate to them increases their empathy. So there is essentially one tool which can restore the damage our society has done to children and that is to treat them with love. It is possible to repair the neurological damage inflicted on them instead of just punishing them or doing old fashioned psychological counseling. The power of meditation is also a tool of transformation which can help adults in rehabilitation as showed in the excellent documentary The Dhamma Brothers which followed a group of prisoners in a high security prison. We also have the example of the hunter who nurses a calf back to health in an episode of « 30 days ». It is not merely « light and love fluff » anymore as some people sometimes believe. The brain is in fact malleable and can be re-taught empathy. Science has caught up with spirituality.

Veganism is obviously the most important aspect of repairing psychological damage and prevent further violence. It allows us to bring back the qualities we were born with. They are not gone, they are just buried deep inside us. Obviously, for the Hitlers of the world, we can’t expect much changes. Some may be too far removed from their true selves that I don’t hold much hope for them. If more and more of us build a strong force for positive change, this, however, may help reduce the general violence we see currently but we need to seriously understand that showing anger and lack of empathy to others reduces the chances of them ever changing. Science now proves that.

By teaching our children (and adults) to be compassionate Vegans and in touch with their true natures, we can then prevent the next serial killers. We may not change people who are too far gone down the road of self-destruction, but we can bring about a new generation of visionaries who can help heal the world. Only then will we see a break in the link between violence to other animals and humans.

Sources:

– The Animal-Cruelty Syndrome – New York Times online http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/magazine/13dogfighting-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

– Carol J. Adams « The Sexual Politics of Meat ».

– The Animal Abuse-Human Violence Connection – PAWS People Helping Animals http://www.paws.org/human-violence-connection.html

– The World Peace Diet by Dr. Will Tuttle has an extensive chapter on how children, particularly boys are raised in our society.

– The Dhamma Brothers is a wonderful documentary on High Security prisoners trying meditation for a months and talking about their own inner transformation. Highly recommended and watchable on Netflix.

© Copyright February 2014 – All Rights Reserved. Printing only by permission.

Photo courtesy http://www.Pixabay.com

ON DOING ENOUGH FOR OTHER ANIMALS

After years of being Vegan and feeling deeply the pain of other animals, I went through various phases in my activism. At first, I tried to convert everyone around me by telling them my newly discovered Vegan truth. I felt very evangelical (even though I am not religious) and thought that if I got it, surely others would to.

Disappointment set in really fast when I realized that most people around me were very disconnected or didn’t care. I tried to loan documentaries, get them to see information online but nothing worked (or seemed to work). I became obsessed with wanting to make people « get it ».

After reading The World Peace Diet by Dr. Will Tuttle, I suddenly « got it ». It wasn’t about converting others, it was about being an example. That part made a lot of things easier for me. I started opening more hearts to the message and I stopped being constantly angry, which was obviously not healthy for myself either and didn’t help other animals.

But the part that kept nagging at me was the guilt I felt for missing on a protest, or not being part of an event or feeling like, no matter what, I didn’t do « enough » for the animals I wanted to save. My friend Susan Sommerset claims that I « want to save the world » and yes I do suffer from that syndrome. Until recently, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t see that I HAD to do as much as possible because I HAD to save lives.

But she gets it. Because she was there once. I had to learn to release the guilt of not being enough for the animals. Because, in truth, we can’t do it all, no matter how much we want to stretch ourselves. We have jobs, families, other responsibilities. We live in a world which makes demands on us constantly. We can’t physically, psychologically and spiritually do it all.

I sometimes wish I had a twin sister who could go on one protest while I was home writing or doing something else. It is difficult to accept at first that we can’t do it all because we are a minority of caring people trying to reduce such a large amount of suffering. The task seems overwhelming and impossible to achieve. Some days, I don’t see an end to all the monstrous torture that is inflicted on other animals (and human animals).

The best service we can give to them, however, is to be authentic with ourselves while serving them to the best of our abilities. As I told my friend Jennifer, « No one asks you to be Super Vegan all year long ». We can only do what we can according to our unique situations.

So let’s stop feeling guilty for feeling like we don’t do enough. If we do what we can, we are in fact doing as much as possible. I never liked it when people make you feel guilty if you don’t attend some protest or a Vegan event of some sort. While I agree we need as many people as possible for each, making others feel guilty is simply wrong. Not everyone also has the same level of comfort or ability to do the same. For some of us, there can be also health issues, family issues, work issues or even a basic fear of going out there. I remember experiencing it in my early days.

For some, protests are not how they choose to help other animals. Some prefer impressing non-vegans with great foods, others (I’m one of them) prefer to write. We are all unique and we all need to find the unique skills which can help other animals. There are Vegan artists, writers, chefs, singers and of course philosophers and protesters. Are some doing more than others? Possibly. But is one form of activism better than another? No. They are all valid because we don’t know what might trigger compassion in someone else. Being with others is obviously how we bond and support each other. But I do encourage you to find your creativity and not just imitate others. Veganism is about evolving too. This is not a finality.

The bottom line is: if you love to protest, by all means do it. But if that is not something you are comfortable with or you simply don’t have as much time as some, then you are probably called to talk on behalf of other animals in a different way. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this.

We are all on this journey together and we all have the same goal. How we navigate on this path, however, is unique to each of us. As my friend Kara said: « It’s about attitude ». Activism is about quality and efficiency more than quantity. So, if you do only one protest a month, do it with all your heart and mind and be the shining light for other animals.

fur Free Friday

Picture of my early days. (2008)

© Copyright 2014 – All Rights Reserved – Printing by permission only.

The Vegan Solution to the Politics of Breast Cancer

Please check out my new article published on The Flaming Vegan website today called The Vegan Solution to the Politics of Breast Cancer.

http://www.theflamingvegan.com/view-post/THE-VEGAN-SOLUTION-TO-THE-POLITICS-OF-BREAST-CANCER

Update 12/4/2013: Further evidence confirms the problem of mammograms. Check out this article on Dr. McDougall’s newsletter.

http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2013nl/nov/welch.htm

DEFIANT DAUGHTERS: A (personal) review

Having always loved Carol Adam’s « The Sexual Politics of Meat », I plunged very eagerly into this book by women who have been influenced by her and this started a fascinating journey into the personal experiences of these women of varied backgrounds.

My own feminism started after being physically assaulted in the early 90s. Until that point, I was playing into the game of what women were supposed to be according to men: desirable objects. I didn’t realize that I had become this dismembered being, wanted for certain attributes. I had fooled myself into believing that seduction led to empowerment and finally realized that this was the opposite. I was just playing into a game set up for thousands of years by men. Carol Adams’ book opened my eyes to the truth.

My food disorders also started around that time. After so many years, and a lot of self-therapy and regular therapy, I mostly found peace and I, particularly, found Veganism which I used as a tool of healing and reconciliation with myself. I am far from where I want to be, but my healing is continuing and it allows me to help others, humans and non-humans as I am able to. This book is God-sent with its true stories or women searching for themselves in a male dominated society which still calls the shots on what women are supposed to be.

From the get go, I was struck by the power of the stories presented by each author in this book. So much sincerity can hardly let someone leave the book feeling nothing. But what really grabbed me was the sense of being among soul sisters, regardless of their various background or journeys.

In each woman’s story, I saw part of myself. Having grown up in France where we have a large Muslim community in which I mingled a bit, I could relate to Ruby Hamad’s story.

Having gone through my own alcohol, cigarettes and food addictions as well as body image problems, Kim Socha’s story touched me deeply.

Jennifer Grubb’s story about breastfeeding her child reminded me of what other women I have known have confronted in a society which considers breasts as sexual and not nurturing. I personally never had or wanted children but, as a woman, this was still personal.

Colleen Martell’s struggle with being a vegetarian outside of home reminded me of my own and how I isolated myself and will only go eat with Vegans in Vegan places and can’t tolerate the non-Vegan world anymore. How do we create balance when we still are a minority that is still ridiculed by the majority? How do we deal with the disconnectedness of other people even when they are presented with the truth? These issues I have struggled with since I went Vegan in 2006 and Colleen’s story rang true to me.

Sunaura Taylor’s view of animals as disabled beings is something I had never thought off but made total sense. They are bred to become disabled and then dismembered victims. She also makes a wonderful point about the use of some words and reminded me of the importance I place on words and language in general in my own advocacy. That is something so often ignored in the animal rights and Vegan movement.

Carolyn Mullin’s story of her Mexican heritage fascinated me as, having Mexican neighbors does not obviously make me knowledgeable about Mexican culture, particularly when it comes to women and the difficulty in finding women role-models who are not domestic workers or house makers. I had no idea for instance that so many women had been enslaved during the Mexican Revolution. This was a (sad) revelation. I was also fascinated by the calendar girls’ history and it’s white domination underlying. And the biggest surprise was for me to learn that Jack London had tried to get Ringling Brothers to stop using animals in the circus. Carolyn’s vast knowledge of museums put me back in touch with my love of antiquity and visiting museums as a kid. However, I never wanted to see a museum of natural history for the gruesome displays of « preserved » animal bodies. The animal advocacy movement constantly revisits old themes.

Dallas Rising’s story of her rape by a weirdo from a Star Trek convention was strangely reminiscent of my own sexual assault by a weirdo who was a Star Trek maniac and wore a lot of Star Trek uniforms (please note that I am still a Star Trek fan in spite of it). I love Dallas’ work with Midwest Vegan Radio (and miss the podcast). Her comments about the so-called « happy meat » movement and what some welfare animal organizations spoke deeply to my abolitionist liberationist position and how I relate to the movement in general. This particular paragraph resonated deeply with me: « I worried for years that it was my fault because my rape didn’t look like that. But it was still rape and it was still wrong and it still left me traumatized and wounded. Hearing people advocate for cage-free eggs or asking people to go vegetarian instead of vegan when they know the violence inherent in the dairy and egg industries is, to me, exactly like hearing that my rape doesn’t count. I wasn’t violated to the degree that they feel is sufficient to be worth speaking out against. »

Finally, Jasmin Singer’s story is one I was excited to read as I am a big fan of Our Hen House and the wonderful work she and Mariann Sullivan do to raise awareness of animal issues and feminism. Jasmin’s story talked to me on various levels. I was bullied in school by both boys and other girls. I remember one spilling a red liquid on my bed without me noticing so that my clothes would be smeared in red to look like I was menstruating and being later humiliated in public because I had failed to notice it. I remember being madly in love with this 16 year old guy until I found out he was using me for a bet with his friends and being crushed for month. A few years later, I was assaulted by a « friend » of mine in my parents’ home and he ran out the door leaving me completely lost and terrified. I hated men so much that I turned to lesbianism for a few years and even had a couple of girlfriends. The difference with Jasmin is that I was always bi-sexual and never ended up rejecting men. By the way, I am not implying that lesbianism is a result of rape but that it was to me a way of healing and finding who I was. Jasmin beautifully makes the connection between the rapes of mother cows on the « rape racks » (which is an industry term) and women’s own experience with assault. « I recalled watching the footage of factory farming, of cows screaming, and I thought of the many times I would leave rehearsal from a play that focused on rape, and get some ice cream on the way home – a « food » that was the byproduct of, in essence, rape ». I couldn’t say it better.

And I could go on and on about all the wonderful stories in this book. Whether their stories related to mine is irrelevant in the end. We are all sisters and we all face the same ugly patriarchy and all its difficulties thrown at us as women.

I am so grateful for this anthology and the beautiful stories from everyone of these women who are not only remarkable human beings but incredible animal advocates and Vegans (and near Vegans).

Carol Adams’ books shaped most of my own writing to this day. If there was ever a second book like this one, I would apply to write my own story and add it to this necessary book’s mission of educating more women and men to feminism and Veganism.

As women of the world are raped, abused, and killed in wars started by men so are our animal sisters who are also raped, abused and killed in a war against them started by men. All this is also damaging to men as it prevents them from developing empathy and respect for both women and animals. It is impossible to not make the connection once you read both The Sexual Politics of Meat and this wonderful anthology. Everyone is being consumed by patriarchy.

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Defiant Daughters