Who are the animal friends and animal enemies in Congress? Well, I’ve smoked them out; gotten them out of their big-ass, extremely comfortable offices in D.C. into the daylight of the Internet.
And here’s a surprise: The Democratic Party is friendlier to farm animals than the Republican Party, according to a Humane Society-United States 2013 survey. OK, not much of a surprise.
HSUS gave each elected official in Congress a score ranging from 100 (the best as far as animals go) to 0 (the pits as far as animals go.) Some 19 Democratic senators and one Republican senator (Susan Collins of Maine) received scores of 100. And 36 Republicans and three Democrats in the Senate received scores of 0.
If you check out the HSUS scorecard, you’ll see lots senators trying to have it both ways — animal frenemies. (You can download it from here.)
I know, I know, over all, Congress has been quite busy fucking over animals and animal activists in the last couple of years, but there have been some important successes. The Draconian “King Amendment” in the House was defeated in January of this year, for example. That thing would have nullified the few farm animal protections laws that have managed to pass in some states, including California’s Proposition 2.
Now, there are elections coming up. Mid-terms in November. I wanted to find out which Animal Hundred Pointers and which Vomitus Zeros were up for reelection. (I’m pretty proud to say that in my state of California, both our senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein got 100 points each, but neither of them is up for reelection this year.)
The Hundred Pointers facing challengers for their Senate seats are:
Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois.
Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana.
Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts.
Susan Collins, Republican of Maine.
Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon.
Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii.
The Vomitus Zeros facing challenges are:
Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama.
Jim Risch, Republican of Idaho.
Kay Hagan, Democrat of North Carolina.
Jim Inofe, Republican of Oklahoma.
Mike Enzi, Republican of Wyoming.
Most of these people have their elections already fairly locked up. But there are some vulnerable ones.
Among the weaker Hundred Pointers are Mary Landrieu and possibly Brian Schatz – Landrieu, because she’s fairly progressive in the bright red state of Louisiana; Schatz because, although he can take some comfort in the fact that he’s a Democrat in a blue state, he’s not that popular.
The only vulnerable Vomitus Zero is North Carolina senator Kay Hagan, a Democrat. If she’s defeated by a Republican, chances are, little will change with regards to animals. But a lot might change with regards to other issues.
I KNOW some people are so disgusted with politics and disappointed that Obama hasn’t been able to put a dent in the corporate hegemony, they don’t want to vote at all. The whole “hope thing” makes my stomach hurt too. You feel like a fool for voting or trying to vote. (Hegemony, in case you don’t know, means “power.” I usually like to spell it “hegemoney.”)
But anyway, if I can make the tiniest molecule of a difference I’m willing to play the fool and vote whenever I can. It’s part of being a vegan.
A footnote on Barbara Boxer: Yes, she opposed the King Amendment and HSUS gave her 100 points for 2013. In 2007 she co-sponsored bills that outlawed horse slaughter, that strengthened existing laws against animal fighting and that called for better treatment of downer cows, but these days we noticed that she’s also billing herself as a “strong voice for California’s dairy industry” and helped convince the USDA to include a $60 million cheese purchase for its feeding program. Might send her a note reminding her of dairy cow rights and dairy industry nitrates in California water.
— A Vicious Vegan blog post —
Is there any vegan on the planet who was surprised to learn that the Nevada moocher rancher, Cliven Bundy was also a racist, liked guns and was a tad hostile to women’s rights?
Exploiting other races or other genders and exploiting other species go together very well, kind of like a “horse and carriage” or a “horse and carriage in New York City.”
In fact, some writers on the topic of animals and racism and animals and sexism, think people didn’t even know how to systematically exploit and abuse other groups of people until they started exploiting and abusing groups of animals.
The systematic exploitation of animals started around 11,000 years ago when humans went from hunting and gathering to the “domestication,” of plants and animals. Despite the fact that “domestication” sounds like such a sweet word, implying perhaps sitting by the fire with Mrs. Tiggywinkle or house-breaking Bella the new puppy, when it comes to most animals “domestication” means violence.
The transition from hunting to herding was gradual: “(the former hunters, now herders) learned how to control animals’ mobility, diet, growth and reproductive lives by castration, hobbling, branding, ear cropping and such devices as leather aprons, whips, prods and eventually chains and collars,” writes Charles Patterson, author of “The Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust.”
This ruthlessness, detachment and brutality involved in “raising” animals was built into the culture so that it was a short hop from confining and slaughtering animals to slavery and genocide of humans.
If you look at the history of American slavery, many of the “tools of the trade” such as branding and collars, were the same as what was and is used by ranchers. If you look at the history of the Holocaust, the Nazi’s first reviled Jews by calling them “pigs” and “vermin” over and over and over again, until finally the German people agreed: the “vermin” had to be exterminated.
So as a rancher, old Cliven Bundy’s been around the cruelty and exploitation block. He knows how it’s done. When he started flapping his meat hole about black people, it all made sense to him.
— A Vicious Vegan blog post —
It’s true: For some, having a cat makes life worth living. The hardcore cat freaks will even start needing more and more of the little critters. Three cats become seven cats which become 25 cats which become an intervention involving the Humane Society and the local sanitation department.
But even if you never make it to the 11 o’clock news level, cat companionship can be a problem for vegans. The sorry truth is cats eat meat. Sometimes it’s bird meat or mice meat, but often it’s fish, chicken, beef or lamb in the form of processed commercial cat food. Some cats even insist on raw eggs and cows’ milk.
When I write “insist,” I mean INSIST. I’m not sure you can talk a cat out of anything she sets her mind to. Most cats have their minds firmly set on animal foods.
(Yes, yes, yes, I know there have been cases of cats who have gone vegan, but they are not the norm. The norm wants meat NOW.)
There’s just no way the complaining feline majority is going to be persuaded by the vegan’s environmental argument, the vegan’s health argument or the vegan’s animal cruelty argument.
Animal cruelty? My cat would probably find a Mercy for Animals video amusing.
Of course, you could force your cat(s) into Meatless Monday, by leaving her (them) in the garage every Monday with water, vegan cat food and a blanket(s) while you spend the night in a motel. Problem is, she (they) would make up for Meatless Monday on Tuesday.
A vegan friend of mine has, albeit reluctantly, decided to refrain from getting another cat after her 18-year-old one dies. She believes the tragedy of the factory farming and slaughter of cows, pigs, chicken, sheep, goats and fish is worse than the tragedy of cats euthanized by the SPCA and the Humane Society.
The numbers support her contention. According to HSUS, 3 to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in this country every year, a pittance when you compare that to the 9 to 10 billion “food animals” slaughtered annually (not even counting the fish).
So here I am with Barky, the spectacularly beautiful black cat we got from the Humane Society years ago. She’s stretched out on my desk. As I pet her back and hear that tiny rumble of a purr, I’m soothed, forgetting for a while, the anguish of the billions of animals forced into unseen slaughterhouses and torturously small pens and cages all over the country.
— A Vicious Vegan blog post —
Nobody wants to get their ass kicked out of a restaurant. It’s important for vegans to know how to act if they want to get something to eat, even in California. And it’s quite possible they’ll have something without a mother or a face. Walk into practically any restaurant in the Golden State you will see veggie burgers on the menu alongside the quesadillas and the pulled pork sandwiches.
Your waiter is cool. So you politely, but loudly, say you’d like the VEGGIE BURGER. You give him the additional information that you’re a VEGAN and tell him about the HORRIBLE experience you had at a steak house in Texas. You fail to notice the blank expression on his face when you say the word “vegan.”
After a while, he comes back with your beautiful veggie burger and your side salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. You take a bite, mmmm, this IS good. You take another bite. This time you notice a whitish string of something going from the burger to your mouth. “IS THIS CHEESE?” you say, again turning up the volume.
You notice your dinner companions are now staring at you with wide eyes. One of them has put her hand gently on top of yours which doesn’t keep you from starting to yell, “Waiter! Waiter! WAITER! Is there cheese on this veggie burger? I TOLD you I was a VEGAN. Are you deaf?”
“No sir, no sir, not deaf,” mumbles the waiter.
“Well, could you make mine WITHOUT the cheese?” you say.
As the waiter scurries off, it gives you time to explain to your companions why you never eat cheese and how cheese is just as bad as meat, maybe worse. You go into the horrors of the veal industry and the distraught baby calves torn from their wailing mothers. You don’t forget to talk about the pus from the painfully diseased udders of dairy cows and how they disguise the bloodiest milk to make chocolate milk. You fail to notice one of your companions was eating the pasta alfredo, but now you see she’s set her fork down.
The waiter comes back with the information that the veggie burgers are made with cheese. “They come frozen that way,” he says.
“FROZEN?!” you yell at the now totally shaken serving person. You notice that the manager has suddenly appeared. In a soft voice he says, “How can we help you?”
You’re starting to understand that you might get your ass kicked out of this restaurant you once thought was mellow, well, mellow enough to put a veggie burger on the menu. You decide to try and play on the manager’s sympathy. “Dear sir, I’m really hungry and I came into your establishment hoping for some cruelty-free nourishment. You see, the smell of cooking animal flesh is so repellant to me, it makes me want to vomit. Cheese and milk make my skin crawl. Call me overly sensitive, but even the idea of eggs also causes the gag reflex for me. I think of all those crowded chickens, 12 chickens stuffed into a wire cage, the size of a file drawer. It’s so small they never even get to even spread their wings or take a step. It’s a nightmare!”At this point the tears are rolling down your face. Then the sobs come. You’ve lost it.
The manager suggests to your dinner mates that perhaps you need a doctor and whispers it’s probably for the best that you all leave, don’t worry about the check.
Damn! Kicked out of another place, in California no less! You never see your dinner mates again.
— A Vicious Vegan blog post —
What if one evening, you happen to be ordering dinner at the Macho Cowboy Steakhouse (I made that name up), located in Texas? As you peruse the menu you become shocked, I say, shocked to learn there are no vegan selections. Even the salads are chock full of either chicken, cow or shrimp.
If that isn’t enough blood and guts for one measly salad, you find that they’ve also added bacon, cheese and/or hard-boiled egg to each and every one of them. And for dressing? What do you think about blue cheese or maybe thousand?
“Ah, garcon, there seem to be no vegan dishes on this menu,” you say, neglecting to realize you’re in Texas and not France. You’ve also assumed your particular waiter understands the word “vegan.” He actually doesn’t understand vegan, but guesses it might have something to do with either hippies from California or the Taliban.
“Vegan is someone who doesn’t consume animal flesh or animal secretions,” you instruct. And since you’d like to educate the entire planet on the importance of going vegan, you say it really loud, secretly hoping every one of these assholes in this godforsaken restaurant, hears it.
“Secretions?” your waiter verbalizes the question that’s now on everybody’s mind. “Yes, secretions, from the TEATS of cows or the VAGINAS of chickens!” you say.
As the waiter is trying to process the fact that you’ve just used the words “teats” and “vaginas” in the restaurant, other diners are now starting to turn around in their seats so that they can get a good look at you. As they fix their stares on you, you either flip them off or say, “What’s the matter – never seen someone concerned about food safety before?”
At this point you’d probably get your ass kicked out of that restaurant. Our best advice: Do not go into any steak house anywhere and expect to eat food or expect to convert anyone. If you’re “forced” to be there, try and act civilized. The world is watching us, vegans.
What is a “Vicious Vegan?” And who is a Vicious Vegan? And I’m sure you’re wondering, “Do I qualify?”
Here’s a little test to help you figure it out:
1) Have you ever suggested to someone just diagnosed with cancer or diabetes or someone who’s recently had a heart attack that you wish they had changed their diet like you told them to?
2) Have you ever suggested a vegan diet to an overweight person you know?
3) Have you ever tried to get someone to read a vegan book (instead of a booklet)?
4) Have you ever wanted to send hate mail to the Heifer Project or actually sent it?
5 Have you ever gone to a restaurant or to someone’s home and refused to sit in a leather chair?
6) Have you ever told someone they were “addicted” to animal foods?
7) Do you have a “Meat is Murder” bumper sticker or more than two animal rights bumper stickers on your car?
8) Have you ever gotten into a screaming match over animal food consumption at Thanksgiving or Christmas?
9) Have you ever gotten into a screaming match while handing out Vegan Outreach booklets?
10) Have you ever discussed factory farming at a meal while people were eating animal flesh or animal secretions?
11) Do you regularly use the phrases, “animal flesh” and “animal secretions?”
12) Do you snub vegetarians?
13) Do stay awake at night trying to figure out how you could get this one particular person to go vegan?
Even one “yes” can qualify you as a Vicious Vegan. It’s fine to be a Vicious Vegan, but it’s likely you could be a more effective Vicious Vegan, if you learned some vegan manners. Unfortunately for vegans like me it’s easy to forget vegan manners, which can result in some missed opportunities as well as some knock down, drag out fights.
There’s quite a bit of debate about how to best approach the animal eating issue. Should you be nice or should you be an asshole? I’m voting for “nice.”
If you listen to one of my favorite Vicious Vegans, Dr. John McDougall, the author of a lot of great vegan health books, what we vegan activists need to do is “get in their faces” and “tell the truth!” We need to buy a dozen copies of his newest book, “The Starch Solution,” and hand it out to friends and family. If I did that, there would be 12 books in the recycling bins the next day.
I have to say, “The Starch Solution” is a wonderful book. It really is. It’s probably the best vegan diet/health book I’ve ever read.
Another one of my favorite Vicious Vegans is the artist Sue Coe. Have you ever looked at Sue Coe’s work? I’m guessing no. Have you seen Dan Piraro’s art work? I’m guessing yes.
Piraro is also a Vicious Vegan, but he’s been tamed. He’s been schooled in vegan etiquette. Sue Coe is a freaking genius and a pioneer, but geeze, her books sat on my shelf for almost a year, before I could actually look at them.
This is important stuff, Vicious Vegans, we’ve got to stop alienating people with our viciousness. And we’ve especially got to stop alienating vegetarians. They’re almost with us. They’re the last people we want to insult! I think it’s our mistaken belief that they’re family and we can just let ‘er rip when we’re with them. Wrong.
— A Vicious Vegan blog post —
Why do they hate us? It’s a question that has popped into every vegan’s mind at one time or another. Is it because we brag about our size 0 jeans? Is it because we call ourselves things like “ethical vegans?” Or is it because it because we tell proud Prius owners that they could have done a lot more for the environment if they’d just switched from burgers to rice and beans instead of spending nearly $30,000 on a new car? Or is it because we say things like, “How’s that corpse taste?” Or do they slaughter gluten?
When you’re trying to find out why you, Mr. or Ms. Vegan is so thoroughly disliked, it’s important to look at who’s doing the disliking. When it comes to dislikers, the list is long. Here are some of the usual suspects.
Your minister, your doctor, your spouse, other family members, your friends, your waitress or waiter, your dentist, your boss, your co-workers, your teachers, the mailman, the person standing behind you in the grocery store, random salespeople, your personal trainer, anyone on the road who can see your bumper stickers, anyone who invited you to their Thanksgiving turkey dinner, anyone who ever lived on a farm, anyone who’s into backyard or front yard chickens, anyone who does medical research, anyone who wears leather cowboy boots, anyone who gets all their information from television and/or Family Circle magazine, anyone who used to be a vegan, anyone who relies on Chinese medicine, anyone who owns or works in an ice cream store, a cheese store or a meat shoppe, anyone who’s a hunter or a gun-owner, anyone who’s proud to be a Texan and any animal eaters on your Facebook.
Chances are as soon as you step out your front door, turn on your computer or even as soon as you wake up you’re likely to meet someone who can’t stand you because you’re a vegan. Even other vegans have been known to dislike vegans!
So the basic question remains: Is it them, the carnists, i.e. the animal food lovers or is it you, the vegan?
Of course it’s them! But because “them” is probably not reading this post, we’ll focus on you. What have you done to help create this sorry situation? A situation that is not helping the environment; not helping anyone’s health, mental or physical; and not helping factory farmed animals.
There are SOOOOO many annoying and/or infuriating things we vegans do on a daily, if not hourly basis, it’s hard to know where to start.
This post is about acting nice. Vegans, please understand, it’s essential to stop arguing with anyone about eating animals.
I repeat: IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU LEARN HOW TO AVOID ARGUING WITH ANYONE ABOUT EATING ANIMALS.
You also don’t want to argue about wearing leather, wearing wool, deserted islands, going to circuses, going to rodeos, eating honey, eating animal “secretions,” medical research, hunting, fishing, global warming, bull fighting, “humane” meat, cosmetics, dolphins, soy products, polluted rivers, lakes and oceans, antibiotic use on factory farms, protein, what the cave men ate, barbecues, calcium, world hunger, heart disease, Marine World, family traditions, fast food places, cancer, tigers who kill, obesity, the meaning of Thanksgiving, essential fatty acids, what Jesus would do, Bill Clinton, what God said to Adam and Eve, olive oil, Michael Pollan, the Dalai Lama, the lives of indigenous peoples or PETA.
Each of these topics is booby-trapped. If you get hooked, both you and your adversary will dig deeper and deeper into your own side of the argument. You will actually help your debating opponent to become even more entrenched in his point of view. You might even find yourself at the family Christmas Eve dinner with another relative screaming at you: “Are you a doctor?”
Oddly, even if you ARE a doctor, they’ll still be screaming at you. Maybe it’ll be “Are you God?” or “I don’t recall you ever being MY doctor!”
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to the protest at Ringling Bros. or at KFC. I’m certainly not suggesting that you stop handing out Vegan Outreach booklets. It’s very important to go and do these things. It’s also important to smile. It’s important to listen. It’s important to be a happy vegan, even if you’re not feeling particularly happy. It’s important to laugh and it’s important to duck if someone throws a punch. It might even be important to go to jail, just leave the arguing to your lawyer.
Consider also leaving the arguing to Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society United States and Dr. John McDougall of the plant-based diet world and to the United Nations and its report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow.” These people are paid to argue, you are not! All of the arguers above have websites and books. Send your naysayers there if they want to yell at somebody.
OK, maybe you, Ms. Vegan agree: no arguing about animal foods. But what about a discussion? For the passionate among us, (And what vegan isn’t?) a discussion is usually like that first drink for the alcoholic. Please just one itty bitty reasonable talk and the next thing you know doors are slamming and tears are rolling. Again, send them to the internet if they want info. It’s 2014, most people know how to use the Google machine and the public library.