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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Dahmer – A Vegan’s Perspective

I’m only a few episodes in so far, but the new Jeffrey Dahmer series on Netflix is definitely worth watching. What has drawn my attention is somewhat different than what a lot of other people I’ve spoken with about the series have noticed. This discrepancy in perspective is all the more fascinating to me because of the way I am able to see how this part of the story was intended to be interpreted versus how I interpret it.

More specifically, what I am referring to is the focus on the killer’s upbringing and early childhood/adolescent experiences. There are scenes that come off to me as if the director thought it would be clever foreshadowing. In a dark way, I almost find this funny because it is so obvious to me. Ominous moments in the series depict a young Jeff Dahmer fishing with his dad, practicing taxidermy, dissecting the infamous fetal pig in biology class. It’s as if the people that produced this show want this to be insightful. As if the viewers will watch and think to themselves, “Ah, one day he’ll be doing this to HUMANS!” and shudder.

For me, this is laughable because harming and/or killing animals is a known warning sign for future serial killers. Is it really a mystery to people why that might be? Is the majority of the population truly so far removed from the grotesque brutality of animal abuse in the forms of hunting, fishing, taxidermy, experimentation, dissection, etc. that they can’t see the similarity?

It’s interesting for me to see these two things side by side in the series, knowing that for some reason there is a distinction being made. One is wrong, horrific, criminal while the other is harmless, wholesome, and a hobby. What is the difference? Both acts involve suffering, robbing another conscious being of their life and bodily autonomy, and the cold, calculating mutilation of corpses. Even Jeffrey’s cannibalism to me is no different than what most human beings participate in multiple times a day. Does the simple substitution of one species for another really change everything so completely? It doesn’t change a thing in my eyes.

I think Jeffrey Dahmer’s story is an excellent example of why we should not be teaching children or anyone for that matter that it is okay to kill animals, regardless of the reason. I really don’t think it’s that wild to imagine him making the jump from these behaviors to what he later did to his human victims. I’ve made the same connection, albeit with the reverse conclusion. He was taught it’s okay to kill animals, so he decided it was okay to kill humans. I was taught it’s not okay to kill humans, and made the connection it’s not okay to kill animals either. Killing is killing. Suffering is suffering. Violence is violence. It’s only arrogance, ego, indoctrination, and delusion that creates an arbitrary separation between the perpetration of these heinous, immoral acts against other animals versus our own species.

After ten years of living this truth, that human beings are no better than any other type of animal, I truly have a hard time fathoming how this is not obvious to everyone else. Perhaps the strangest thing is, I used to think like they do. I always loved animals, while simultaneously justifying confining, killing, and eating them. I was somehow able to hold these completely contradictory ideas in my mind without the slightest difficulty. Now I can’t make it make sense. I wish I knew how the insanity and hypocrisy of it all finally struck me. I wish I could help others to understand.

At the very least, I wish other people could understand that in the same way they are disgusted, horrified, and enraged by what Jeffrey Dahmer and other killers do, I am disgusted, horrified, and enraged by what is done to farmed animals. The only difference is that I have to share a table with five Jeffrey Dahmers at dinnertime and smile and not upset and offend them with my “radical” views. I have to shop at a grocery store stocked with what the rest of the world would equate to human body parts. I have to bite my tongue every day and be polite and “tolerant” in the face of institutionalized, industrialized, mass murder.

I just wish, if only for a moment, people could comprehend how unbearable that is. How I have to perpetually shield my mind from the horror of the truth, and how guilty and weak I feel for doing so, because it feels like I am condoning this behavior, disregarding the innocent victims, and allowing it to go on right in front of me. Just put yourself in my shoes for a moment, even if you think it’s a ridiculous comparison. It’s how I and other vegans truly feel. But what can I do? What would you do? At least Jeffrey Dahmer tried to make sure his 15 victims didn’t suffer. I can’t say the same for the billions of animals.

Who Do You Want to Be?

I often find myself getting weighed down by the futility of a lot of the efforts I make in life to do good and make the world a better place. When it is so much easier to make an unethical decision than the ethical one, why bother doing the hard option if it won’t ultimately matter in the grand scheme of things? This is a question we all face regularly. I suppose some people behave themselves for fear of not obtaining an afterlife or displeasing an all-knowing, all-seeing God. But for those without religion, questions of ethics can be more complicated.

As someone who whole-heartedly believes the human race is circling the drain, it can be particularly hard for me to rationalize why I still care to do as little harm as possible while I’m here. I mean, I think we’re all fucked anyway. So why should I conserve water and electricity if it inconveniences me? Why should I recycle when most of the world is already a landfill anyway? A lot of people also use this excuse to disregard the idea of veganism. “The animals are gonna die anyway.” “Humans will never stop eating meat.” “Individuals will never be able to take down these huge industries.”

For me, veganism will always be worth it because every meal I eat that doesn’t contain an animal, is inherently opting out of the choice to cause more suffering in the world. But for people that are interested more in the environmental impact side of veganism, I can see how they might end up thinking veganism isn’t worth the effort. The world will not go vegan in time to save our planet, unfortunately.

However, at the end of the day, I think we are asking ourselves the wrong questions. Rather than wondering, “will this make a difference?” we should be asking ourselves, “what kind of person do I want to be?” Whether or not the entire earth is impacted is kind of beside the point. Our personal decisions, especially ones that have any amount of moral weight to them, impact us, and that’s why they still matter.

Do you want to be the kind of person that contributes to the suffering of animals or not? Do you want to be the type of person that puts your own personal convenience before the consideration of others? Do you want to be someone that cares about the planet and environment? These are the questions we should be asking ourselves when faced with a moral and/or ethical decision.

Personally, I want to do what I believe is right, regardless of what everyone else is doing. How about you? Who do you want to 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

The Density of Suffering

There is this weight
that presses me down
into the thick clay earth
the undercurrent of awareness
of all the souls left unseen
the immensity of the masses
subjected to bone shaking suffering
the surreal recognition of
the world somehow still turning
despite the violence that lurks
just below the surface
the colossal cruelty of humankind
how can a system so monstrous
continue to exist without consequence
how could justice ever hope
to tip the scales back from
what we've collectively done
what we continue to do
the inexplicable gravity of grief
overlooked and unacknowledged
left alone with this deep knowing
an anchor of unbearable anguish
I am helpless to lift from those I love
the gut wrenching screams of billions
kept hidden behind closed doors
cannot distill the poison these sins
spill into every particle of air
apparently no peace can prevail
until we all choke
Be Their Voice – Protect the Innocent Original, 2021

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

Formerly Vegan

"I used to be vegan"
all smiles as they say this
confident this confession
has shown me that they
are one of the good ones

"I get it" they assure me
with their eyes fixed on mine
the strange sense of pride
that emanates from
their knowing smirk

I've never quite understood
why this is believed to be ingratiating
I'll let you in on a little secret
if you're a proud former vegan
I like you less than a life-long carnist

This comradery you imagine between us
only exists in your delusional mind
at least a non-vegan can feint ignorance
most people just don't understand
but you're a different breed

You've seen what I've seen
you've let it sink into your bones
let it change your whole being
then actively chosen to return to brutality
exploitation, suffering, and violence

All I see is the allegory of the cave
Plato knew it would be hard to believe
the world we've always known was all shadows
this I can understand, because I once lived
shrouded in the same blissful darkness

But Plato didn't account for anyone
knowingly turning back into the cave
the frustration of seeing someone learn the truth
and then throw it away in favor of comfortable illusion
that's worse than never seeing the light

40,000

There is a man in Italy
with a body made black
by tiny tattooed x's
a permanent reminder
of the burden he shares
the shameful knowledge
of a horrific truth
hidden in plain sight
the blood staining
the hands of humanity
is impossible to measure
6 million bodies burned
in German gas chambers
shaken to our very core
by the unimaginable cruelty
every two and a half hours
that same death toll is met again
with silence and disinterest
the clinking of silverware on ceramic
those 40,000 tiny x's
represent a body count
the sentient lives lost each second
to humanity's greedy palate
to grotesque notions of tradition
the earth groans under the weight
of our atrocities as they continue
unimpeded, growing every day
40,000 slaughtered every second
40,000 tiny markings of ink crowding one body
a silent protest, a sadly inadequate attempt
to atone for the immense pressure of suffering
that is impossible to conceive
that chokes the lungs of the world
with the thick, black smoke of karma
with the unreal irony of
the word "humane"
do not dare ask God for mercy
we don't know the meaning