Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Letting my freak flag fly.

Over the weekend, I posted Stephanie’s piece about what eventually happens to pregnant dairy cows (and their calves) on my Facebook page. I didn’t watch it, because I don’t feel the need to. I’ve seen enough slaughterhouse and CAFO photos and videos to last me the rest of my life. Still, I was feeling a little aggro and posted it to let people know what, exactly, is wrong with dairy. It’s a question that vegans never seem to be able to escape, right up there with, “But wheeeeere do you get your proooootein?”

So. Yes. Disturbing slaughterhouse video documenting an all-too-common atrocity. Watch it if you will. Red did not watch it, but he did ask me if all dairy cows are treated in such a way. I admitted that I didn’t know for sure, but that I expected that the vast majority of them are, given that the industry isn’t going to let unproductive mama cows settle down in a nice pasture somewhere to give birth, then live out their remaining years (did you know that a cow’s natural lifespan is about 20 years?) in peace. It’s just not done. They’re viewed as commodities, not living beings. When a commodity is no longer useful, it’s disposed of. End of story, end of life.

Red was frustrated and felt that by Stephanie’s logic (and that of many vegans), he is evil for loving cheese and ice cream. “What am I supposed to do?” he asked in exasperation. Here, I sighed. *sigh* It’s never my intention to upset him or make him feel less than I am simply because I’m vegan and he’s omni. I am over-the-moon excited that he’s taking PCRM’s 21-day vegan challenge next month, and he’s not doing it for me, either. (I dared him, then his co-workers really dared him, and that sealed the deal. Vegan for 21 days he shall be.) I’m thrilled that not only is he willing to give it a shot, but that he’s committed to succeeding. Look for both of us to blog about it extensively! We bought an awesome new cookbook, 30-Minute Vegan, in preparation for the challenge. Last week he decided to quit eating beef after learning from Jenn’s thoughtful post that it takes 2,500 gallons of water to make a single pound of beef. He says he’ll go back to eating other animal products after the challenge is over, and maybe he will. What am I gonna do, stop loving my husband because he’s addicted to cheese? I married a guy, not a pizza. It’s hard to make this change. He’s gotten flak from coworkers and family members already, and he hasn’t even started yet. People are threatened by others who are willfully different.

That’s never been such a big deal for me, but it is huge for Red. Once I got to college, I grew to be comfortable with myself—the weird, artsy girl with short hair, glasses and a pierced nose whom everyone assumed was a lesbian. (Sorry, ladies.) Adding “vegan” to the list of other-nesses was not a big trauma as far as my identity was concerned. Red has always been happiest when comfortably integrated into a group. It’s made him very perceptive to the needs of others, but it’s also making his life more difficult as he tries to move away, however experimentally, from the dominant meat-eating culture. I have to remind myself of this whenever I feel impatient. I am very much okay with letting my freak flag fly, if you will. Call me crazy, stupid, anarchist, tree-hugger, whatever you got, and it rolls off me. I know it’s just your defense mechanism talking, and I’m not losing any sleep over it. It’s a frightening new experience for him, however. He doesn’t want to be seen as alien.

Can I just take a break here to reiterate that he isn’t even vegan yet? All he’s committed to is a three-week vegan immersion. You can bet that no one would be disparaging him if he was going on Atkins for three weeks. It’s really brought home to me just how threatening even the idea of veganism is. I must seem like Osama bin Laden with an artichoke grenade. Jesus.

Obviously I’ll need to do a follow-up post. I just remembered that I want to address Bob Torres’ “Vegan Isn’t a Dirty Word,” which deals with the freak-flag issue head-on. In the meantime, I am learning about patience, Red is counting down the days to his Vegan-palooza, and we are both tinkering with new recipes.

Awww, we got maaaaarried.


  1. I love reading your posts! And to think, all those years ago, you befriended ME?! I bet there have never been two people so different, yet, your friendship has endured and I am forever grateful for it-and your hummus-making-teaching skills!

  2. We are two strange peas in a pod, Lib. You sure you're not afraid Isabel won't want to eat animals when she gets older? ;)

    P.S. Let's do hummus and wine soooon!

  3. Ha. Do you know how many times I've had to assure, uh, a few people that you do, in fact, like the peen? Srsly, folks, just cuz the girl has short hair doesn't make her gay.

    Anyway, being vegan must be hard. I can appreciate that. I totally feel Red's pain on the cheese issue. If there's one food I don't think I could ever give up (or even compromise enough to go low fat on), it's cheese.

    And I'm not going to watch that video, because I really prefer willful ignorance in this instance--I'll admit it. It's interesting though, because I find myself really hearing both sides of the argument; I get to hear the tree-hugging hippie side from you (which I find very interesting, and I am still considering going at least veggie for a month or so, just to try it) and the farmer/producer side from my brother, as most of his friends are from farming families and are going into that business themselves. Also, that whole farming school and agricultural major thing.

    Anyway, this is long. I'll shut up now.

  4. Aw, Lizzie, did your mom think I was lesbo-licious? Bless her. ;)

    If you wanna take the plunge, even for a month, I got your back! And tons of recipes.