Veganism is a Boycott

I can still remember when I first time I learned what a boycott was in elementary school. It honestly might have been in history class. If it wasn’t, it might as well have been, because boycotts seem to be just a part of ancient history now. I never hear or see anyone actually refusing to buy products or services from a company when they disapprove of. For example, despite every single person I know despising Comcast, they all still choose them as their internet and/or cable provider even when they have other options in their area, which I unfortunately do not. I can’t even fathom paying Comcast if I didn’t have to. I’d happily even take slower internet speed just to prevent them from getting any more money and to avoid their price hikes and abysmal costumer service. It is as if everyone has just completely given up on one of the actually good aspects of capitalism: voting with our dollars.

It dawned on me the other day, that veganism is essentially a boycott though. I am hopeful that the next time someone tries to use the argument, “but they’re just going to keep killing the cows/making the hamburgers anyway,” I can explain why that is an irrelevant point even if it were 100% true. If you decide not to buy from Walmart because they criminally underpay all of their employees, that probably isn’t going to stop them from continuing to do so. Should you just go ahead and shop there anyway? Of course not. It’s a moral stance. It is a protest. You shouldn’t stop marching for women’s rights just because misogyny will always exist. Maybe if I were to explain it to be in those terms they might finally understand.

So no, I don’t care if McDonalds throws away the burger that I don’t buy from them every day. That still wouldn’t make me buy it. I still refuse to support and/or be a part of the animal agriculture industry regardless of if my abstaining from their products makes them go bankrupt or not. Just because there have always been child molesters throughout history and they will continue to exist in this world, that does not make it any more okay for ME to molest a child. Just because people have always, and will most likely continue to abuse and eat animals, that does not make it any less morally objectionable for me to participate in that. It’s that simple.

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Animal Spirit

the body loves me
even when I don't love it
this animal spirit inside
is fighting tirelessly
to keep me alive

Intricate networks
of blood vessels and veins
muscles and sinews
and breathing stardust
cleverly conspiring to keep me safe

I poison its efforts with casual harm
cutting and gagging and straining its limits
imperfection is not justification for punishment
blinded to the enormous, exhausting efforts
of a body trying its very best

This quivering creature that cradles my soul
only craving compassion and care
the bare minimum of reciprocation 
for non-stop, selfless service
offered in a myriad of unnoticed ways

I cannot fault it for not following vanity
and dangling me just above death
to fit in a smaller dress
it doesn't understand that desire
true love is keeping me healthy

The fierce physical innocence of this form
continues to create blood and breath and bone
to buoy me forward in this life without thanks
the precious animal that is also me
doesn't deserve such callous disregard

The mind and the body are wards of one another
it's time my mental faculties begin
carrying their own weight in the ways
of consistent loving-kindness
for this creature doing the best it can

Jealousy

A poisonous worm eats away at my heart
excreting the thick slurry of selfishness
that runs through my veins

Sudden flare of fierce emotion
at the disclosure of others' good fortune
leaving me feeling ashamed

The wretched sensation of anger
that suffocates more appropriate emotions
choking off a chance to celebrate

A friend's success could be shared
by relinquishing comparison and competition
fed with heavy spoonfuls of self-doubt

The fear that another's joy might threaten my own
as if there is only so much happiness to go around
and my chances of winning that lottery are now lessened

What a sad state of affairs
to let the luck of a loved one tear at me
instead of fill me up

What kind of person am I
that my first instinct is to be unkind
to someone that is thriving?

The best I can muster is to remain silent
when I should be smiling and adding
my positivity to their blossoming abundance 

Slow Descent

Someday not far off from now
this body will truly fail me
when that day finally comes
I'll wish I had forgiven it for
all these small imperfections

I'll wish I had been kinder
and offered compassion
to the many parts of me
that make me cringe
just to acknowledge

I'll think more gently about
the things that now seem unacceptable
about this ever fading physical form
it's hard to face the fact that
future changes will all be for the worse

All the more reason
to not waste this glorious season
of youth spread before me now
to not spend one more summer
ashamed of my soft tummy

I already look back and wish
I had loved myself more freely
and lament all the energy I've spent
disowning and being disgusted
by my own body

When the winter of my life arrives
how can I hope to embrace my decline
and not crumble with every new crease I find
when I've been unable to enjoy myself
even when I was at my very best

I want to be grateful for what I have now
so I don't discover someday that 
the treasure I've lost slowly through the years
was one I never knew the true value of
until it was all gone

Overwhelmed by Imagination

Mental illness is a side-effect of great intelligence
the convoluted, crippling creativity of an aimless mind
consumed by endless possibilities others cannot conceive
a life held suspended in anticipatory anxiety

A feedback loop that becomes incapacitating
a simple fear can become compounded tenfold
fearing the fear, fearing the fear of the fear, and so forth
spiraling into a paralysis of infinite indecision

Stuck in the self-deception of finding a solution
trying to think your way out of overthinking is absurd
salvation lies in the surrender to sensation instead
forsaking the mental landscape for the physical body

What does this fear feel like? Where is it held inside?
a jittering energy of dis-ease beneath my chest
the dizziness that sets in from a blood pressure spike
an unsettling static nestled deep in my stomach

The fever of neurosis is broken by awareness
how strange it seems to have survived the sensation
I've been running from all of my life
the cure of quiet curiosity

Being present in the storm as it passes
acknowledging the connection between
frightening delusions and flowering imagination
the balance between benefit and burden

Learning to embrace the full scope of being
this incredible entity with boundless potential
finally finding gratitude within the fear I carry
my best qualities sprout from that same seed

Passenger

A coyote cuts across the foggy highway
a life held inside indecision, a moment's hesitation
could be a violent end of everything all at once

Sulfurous air that once shrouded out the sun
a sudden impact that swallowed the earth
in many decades of dark, lifeless winter

Time has a way of emphasizing
the absurdity of right and wrong when
final outcomes are impossible to predict

Half the suffering I've known has been
an inner upheaval of moral outrage
resistance to the evils of this world

My stormy turmoil subsides if only
I can learn to surrender all judgement
and accept my place as a humble passenger

Who am I to hold dominion over
the way life is supposed to unfold?
I prefer the role of patient witness anyway

To watch with curious eyes and an open heart
ready to embrace all of life with equanimity
a grateful submission to existence beyond understanding

To play my small part with a soft hand
extending a gentle, hopeful intention of pure love
prepared to let go of any and all expectations

Tender feet along the balustrade, balancing
between engagement and surrender
too often falling into indignation and anger

The perpetual repetition of life can be tedious
but it offers endless chances to keep trying
precious lessons linger behind a door that is always open

Every failure is an opportunity to find grace
there is no permanence, perfection, or wasted effort
everything is as it should be, everything is as it should be

5 Unexpected Benefits of Going Vegan

By now I think most people are familiar with the major benefits of transitioning to veganism. Many, like me, are initially drawn in by promises of weight loss while still eating large quantities of food. Then they wind up staying for the animals and the myriad of other bonuses you notice along the way. Other people do it to be healthier in general or to contribute less to the destruction of planet Earth. There are tons of posts out there that will tell you about the same handful of positive changes a vegan diet brings into your life. After being vegan for over 10 years, I’d like to shine a light on the somewhat stranger, less discussed benefits a vegan lifestyle offers.

One: Level Up Your Cooking Skills

I hate to cook. Or at least… I used to. Now although the amount of time it takes and the mess it makes frustrates me from time to time, I can’t help but get an immense sense of satisfaction from the incredible, healthy dishes I’ve learned to throw together so easily. In the beginning the increased necessity for cooking your own meals may be daunting to new vegans. In a small area like the one I live in, going out to eat every night or buying pre-made vegan food items isn’t really an option (even if I could afford it.) I can’t just go to the deli and buy a rotisserie chicken for dinner when I’ve had an unexpectedly long day. On the other hand, I honestly have no desire to let others make my food. They simply don’t do it as well as I am able to now. I’m quite surprised and proud of my newfound cooking ability and can genuinely say I prefer the meals I make at home over the expensive vegan restaurants’ dishes. If you’re interested in the types of food I prepare, you can find links to all my most used recipes in this post.

Two: Expand Your Food Repertoire

After ten years of hearing, “But what do you eat?” I’ve grown quite perplexed by the question. Imagine trying to answer that as a non-vegan. Am I supposed to list dozens of food items and meals? I eat so many different things! I feel like simply responding, “What do you mean?” I once heard someone on a podcast who explained it perfectly. How many different meats are there really? Maybe three or four that people eat regularly, then cheeses and milk. That really isn’t much variety. On the other hand there are thousands and thousands of different plant foods available to us to eat. Non-vegan meals now look quite sad and tan-colored to me, very bland and unappetizing. Since going vegan, my experience with new, interesting, and exotic foods has expanded beyond the wildest dreams of the normal, American meat-eater. I’ve tried dishes from many different cultures, mastered the art of utilizing spices, and tasted fruits and vegetables I never knew existed before! I assure you I eat a more exciting and varied diet than any non-vegan I’ve ever known.

Three: Bye-bye Common Cold

While I had a vague awareness of this before, the Covid-19 pandemic really brought it to the forefront. I think we’ve all gotten a bit more paranoid around anyone who seems to be sniffling or coughing in the last few years. What’s surprised me is just how often everyone I know experiences cold symptoms like these. It’s almost as if everyone around me is perpetually ill. There are people I’ve noticed who are literally always congested, dripping from their noses and eyes, and have a cough that won’t quit. And these aren’t people with long Covid. Many of them never got it to begin with. Hopefully I won’t be jinxing myself by saying that in my ten years as a vegan, I’ve never gotten sick. Seriously. Not once. And before you go attributing this to luck or good genes, I used to get sick all the time. At the very least, I could expect a few days of serious battling with a stomach bug every year and being plagued by the pesky common cold every fall/winter. I never even realized how badly my body felt at a baseline level until I went vegan and experienced real health for the first time in my life. I thought regular sickness was just how life was supposed to be. I’m here now to tell you, it’s not. Veganism is your ticket to not only long-term health, but daily wellness.

Four: Faster Recovery Time

Not only does a vegan diet prevent you from feeling achy and sluggish after a big meal, it also helps your body recover more quickly from a workout. A vegan diet contains absolutely zero cholesterol, so the heart benefits are usually a big focus. But in addition to a stronger, healthier heart, the rest of the body’s abilities are also bolstered by eating plant-based. I can’t help but laugh when I see fitness bros proclaiming vegans are weak and can’t build muscle for lack of protein. Not only are there world-class, record breaking athletes that are vegan, the diet is also a great help to the average fitness enthusiast like myself. You are not only just as capable of building muscle, but the process will be much less painful. Inflammation in the body wreaks all sorts of havoc, but it also is the culprit when you notice sore, tired muscles after an intense workout. While I still get a satisfying sense of soreness from a challenging leg day, my body recovers and replaces those aches with new, stronger muscle tissue much faster than it ever did before I went vegan. If you’d like to learn more about the effects of veganism on athletes, I’d recommend watching The Game Changers. Or you can read about this specific aspect on their website.

Five: Brain Fog Finally Lifted

Before the pandemic, this aspect of veganism was also a bit harder to explain to people. With so many long-covid patients reporting the now common term of “brain fog” I feel I have a better chance of helping people understand what I mean. It’s been so long, I can’t really remember what it used to feel like inside my head. Still I’ve never forgotten the experience I had after about a full month of vegan eating. I woke up one morning and everything just felt clearer. It’s hard to describe exactly. I’ve always said it was like a cloud had lifted off of my mind. I could think faster, more coherently, more easily than ever before. It’s not like I had been struggling or anything. I had always been a straight A student and prided myself on my above average intelligence. Even so, this was something different. Almost like I had been carrying a heavy weight that was suddenly dropped, allowing me for the first time to move at my full potential. When you and every one you know have been living in a perpetual state of mild illness, you don’t really understand what it means to truly be healthy and well, physically AND mentally. But I promise you, give it a month, even if just as an experiment. You’ll be blown away by what you discover.


I hope that this has given you a bit more insight into the nearly infinite reasons to go vegan. I’m sure there are many more that I have accidentally overlooked, but these five are the ones I’ve been thinking about lately. I’m no saint. I went vegan in the beginning for selfish reason, not for the animals, as I wish I had. I’m hopeful that personal gain will be a motivator to other people as well. Regardless of what aspect of veganism you look at, there is some incredible benefit to be had whether it be to your health, daily lifestyle, cognitive function, the Earth, or the animals. Please consider giving yourself, everyone else, and everything on this planet this amazing gift.

County Fair

My favorite part of the county fair was always visiting the animals. My mother, grandmother, sister, and I would spend hours visiting each barn and spending time introducing ourselves to each and every animal. I always especially liked the rabbits and the chickens even though they wouldn’t let you pet them 99% of the time. I’d usually still risk a peck or a nibble for the chance.

As a vegan, I’ve never really known whether or not it was okay to go to the county fair. Was paying for general admission making me complicit in the live auctions as well? Was I paying to prop up the 4H program, teaching children to short circuit their empathy and stamp down their natural love for the gentle animals they are forced to raise? Probably.

Still, I can’t help but go to the county fair most years. With hardly any food I can actually eat and no rides that seem safe enough to get on, I go solely for the animals now. $10 seems like a small concession to make for the chance to offer a few gestures kindness to beings in their last moments of life. I try my best to send them love as they prepare to leave this world in the most brutal of ways.

It’s interesting to notice how everything about the cow barns are set up to discourage connection. Each cow is tied with its head turned away, hind legs facing the aisles. They are not even given the measly amount of space to move that the others get in their small pens. The most they can do is turn their heads slightly, pulling against the ropes that tether them tightly in place. It’s obviously not wise or safe to walk up behind a frightened two ton animal. Still, I try my best to spend time with the few that I can manage to get reasonable access to.

I hope that the small crumbs of affection I am able to offer them is worth something. I fear it may be the only compassion they have ever or will ever receive in their bleak lives. Tears well up as I gaze into their big baby eyes full of fear. How quickly they overcome their distrust and surprise at my soft words and gentle touch. How hungry they seem for the smallest source of love. It breaks my heart when they tug at their ties as I have to finally walk away. I try to take heart in the knowledge that I’ve done all I can and at least allowed them one solitary experience of true love. I tell them that I see them. That I love them. That I’m so sorry. I pray for mercy. I pray they will be the last beings to suffer this heinous fate. Even though I know that they will not be. I know what I am able to give them is not enough, but it’s all I have.

At least this year there were a few in the “petting zoo” area.

Opting Out

Why should I have to opt out of violence?
brutality and bloodshed shouldn't be
weaved into the very structures of society
I hate proclaiming "I'm vegan"
like it's something special and exotic
othering myself in the eyes of those around me

Why am I the odd man out for not killing animals?
it feels like I'm living life upside down
having to justify myself to those with
viscera and flesh stuck between their teeth
receiving weird looks for eating a plum
rather than slitting the throat of another being

Why is it my responsibility to explain choosing peace?
compassion and kindness were supposed to be the default
but in reality they are so far from the norm that
I am a sensation, a social pariah for caring for others
for simply trying to exist without victimizing those
not even worthy enough to be considered victims

Why is it my job to not ruffle any feathers?
years spent learning how to make myself small enough
not to offend the inhumane actions of the masses
choking off my own inner sense of justice and morality
just to share a meal with those I love
as they grin between bites of slaughtered babies
and mock me for not partaking in the carnage

Why am I the one left to make sense of this madness?
the surreal sensation of a sinking stone inside my stomach
as I snuff out the ever swelling righteous rage before it spills
out of my tight lips and separates me from all the "normal" people
that I desperately want to share my life with despite
their conditioned participation in egregious daily cruelty

Why is it weird and sentimental for me to cry
when the realities of this world come crashing down on me?
when I can't help but remember the shuddering suffering
of billions and billions of precious innocent beings
being exploited and mercilessly tortured and confined
on behalf of my own friends and family

Why do I have to opt out of violence?
why am I part of a pathetically small minority
of people who live by the values we all pretend to have
I'll never understand why it's even up for debate
whether we should subjugate and slaughter
or take the life of another for a fucking flavor
Omnivorous Irony – Protect the Innocent original 2020

Freedom

Love
an enormous expanse of field
is closed in a few playful bounds
a sacred innocence we can all recognize
the halo of protection found within
a mother's unconditional embrace

Curiosity
big black baby eyes gazing from behind a fence
cautious steps slowly closing the gap
gently leaning toward the world beyond
timid retreat into the shelter of the herd
ever watchful and wondering

Joy
silent laughter embodied by the sight
of swift hooves chasing geese through
the tall grass at the edge of the pond
the silly, light-hearted mischief of childhood
the ecstatic freedom of first movements

Grief
the unending low bellow of a mother
robbed of her beautiful new born child
no form of personification could mimic
the unbearable pain of this deep ache
sinking into the bones of all who can hear

Shame
how dare humanity shun and ignore
the inner experiences of other beings
a disgraceful denial of the inherent value of life
the relentless drumbeat of bound, bleeding hearts
demanding their unalienable right to be free