A Pagan and a Vegan on Sustainability Ethics

My older brother and my best friend are having a birthday. I was making mesquite smoked baby back ribs and chicken with rosemary-peach glaze to celebrate the occasion—my brother just loves those. A friend of the family offered to help, but I wasn’t very comfortable with the idea. I just don’t like people hovering over me when I’m cooking, and her case made things a bit more difficult. I was cooking meat and poultry under the constant disapproval of a devout vegan.

I tried my best to ignore her constant wind sucking. I was ready to prepare the glaze for the chicken, so I approached my rosemary plant and thanked her for the sacrifice.

“What are you doing?” the vegan said.

I turned away from my rosemary plant and looked at her. “I’m going to make the glaze.”

“Yeah, I know, but why are you talking to the plant?” Good, I thought, she isn’t blind or deaf. Yay me!

“I was thanking the plant for the our meal,” I said.

“I guess that that makes sense, if the plant could hear you or actually feel what you were doing. You know—”

“You have a lot of nerve,” I said. “I don’t know what type of vegan you are. I have a lot of vegan friends and they are nothing like you. They love all life. They don’t eat animals or consume any products that involved animal suffering because they respect life. Most of them are so passionate about the environment, that I’m almost positive that if they could survive on oxygen alone they probably would, just so they didn’t have to kill plants.”

My mind was begging me to remember my manners, but the girl was insufferable. She had blabbered the entire day about how every living thing was precious, and asking me things like “How do you feel about having a dead cow for a handbag?” How could she be such a hypocrite? Yes I could probably do without the bag, but don’t call me heartless for eating meat, when you are munching on murdered trees.

I sustain myself with a balanced diet of everything Nature has provided for me. I don’t waste, and I give thanks for all the living things that keep me physiologically alive; whether they run on blood or chlorophyll is beside the point. This girl has horrible pictures of ill-treated animals as proof of the cruelty of omnivorous behavior. But where are the pictures of all the plants she has digested? Is it my fault that she is so disconnected from the Earth she claims to protect, that she is deaf, dumb and blind to the sorrow of a living rosemary plant? 

What gives her the right to decide which life is precious and which one isn’t? Not so long ago, human ignorance determined that certain people didn’t feel pain the way they did; today we all know how stupid of an idea that was. I hope for the time when we, as a race, look back and say “Goodness, I can’t believe we didn’t know that everything in Creation feels pain on its own way!” My wish has nothing to do with trying to be right. It is just hope that one day humanity can step out of its arrogance box, in order to value all life equally.

My apologies if I sound a bit harsh. I’m just a bit pissed off right now.

30 comments:

  1. Preach on sista! The planet is interconnected and life depends on balance. Animals eat other animals--it's part of the circle of life. As I understand it, most vegans find eating animals morally reproachable because of the cruel methods used for breeding, keeping and killing them or for the impact that breeding animals has on our environment. Of course these are valid concerns, but eating only veggies and fruits purchased commercially is also problematic for our environment. Land is cleared and biodiversity demolished for commercial plant farms, and shipping fruits and veggies around the world causes pollutants to be released into the atmosphere. As far as I'm concerned, the only way to really, truly eat sustainably would be to eat from your own organic garden. While this may not be feasible for most of us, we can try to live/eat as sustainably as possible, but we shouldn't tell others (who are also acting responsibly) that they are wrong for choosing to eat meat, wear leather, buy exotic produce, etc.

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  2. Well said! I had a similar 'discussion', well it was probably more like an argument, with a pagan who believed and preached that my consumption of meat wasn't a life loving 'pagan way'. Funnily enough my counter about the value and life within plants wasn't something she could argue with, nor do I think that she truely had even thought about this truth, which makes me seriously doubt her 'life loving claims'. Life is in all of nature, animals, minerals and vegetables and it is no more precious and no less of a gift in either. You go girl! :)

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  3. M.J. & Michel, I'm glad you guys understand my outrage. Life is all about balance, that is why I don't go around messing with lions because guess what? They would eat me if they are hungry. I would love to be able to have my own organic garden or raise my own animals, so that I can be sure that they were not maltreated, but I'm not in a position to make that happen. Like Michel said, life happens in a circle and in order for that circle to remain we need to practice balance.

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  4. Ugh, I hate a hypocrite or any flavor. I respect everyone's views as long as they respect mine and don't try to push their agenda on me!

    I don't blame you for getting pissy!

    (And I would LOVE if you guest blogged for me in October!!)

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  5. Exactly my thought. Do as you will, as long as you are not expecting I'll do it just because it works for you. I'm sure she means well, way deep inside. Bu she needs to leave ma alone until she finds a better way to project all her goodness.

    (I'll definitely guest blog for you in October. I'll send you my proposal soon ;)

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  6. The amount of arrogance you experience is incredible to say the least. Nothing to do with this but today I witnessed a verbal fight between 2 colleagues and guess what THEY SIMPLY WERENT LISTENING TO EACH OTHER!!! if only they did they would have known earlier and without arguing what the problem was---misunderstanding!!

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  7. I was framing my comment, and realized that what I was thinking of saying is long enough to be a post on my blog. lol I guess I'll have to write later about why I'm vegetarian and stuff! (And the exact reasoning has evolved over the couple years I've been vegetarian.)

    However, to put it briefly, some people do need meat to survive (my mom was sick all the time when she tried being vegetarian) and humans are naturally omnivores anyways, so I don't complain when people eat meat.

    Also, my closest friend is vegan, but she doesn't complain about me eating dairy products. In fact, we'll go to someplace like MoonStruck chocolates to get something tasty, and while a vegan hot chocolate is being made for her she'll drool over all the non-vegan stuff saying "If I ever stop being vegan, THAT is what I will eat..." lol It's sort of funny to see.

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  8. Equidae, you are correct. Listening and trying to understand is a big part--if not all the problem. My issue with this person started a few days before the cooking. You see, I'm not a people pleaser, but I do have the tendency to try really hard to make people happy. I spent a few days telling this person how I thought that she was really strong to be vegan. I don't eat a lot of meat, but I do like it every now and then and as much as I run, I would need a heck of a lot supplements to keep up. She would just make a face and do that wind sucking thing that was driving me mad. I know that as soon as my annoyance diminishes, I'll try to make peace, but right now I just need her away from me.

    Sarita, I can't wait to read your post. BTW, I'm by no means a vegetarian but one month and 13 days out of the year I go without meats. I'll write a post about it, probably on Sept 2nd, which is when I start. Most of my vegan friends are like you and your mom. We have a nice meal together, which I cook most of the times, and they eat their things and I eat mine. If I'm in the mood I'll eat the same. We respect each other's taste and, like your friend, most of my friends are always making plans of what they would eat if they weren't vegans. It is funny indeed ;) Now I'm going back to Stripped lol

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  9. Sadly, this is the problem I have with most vegans that I'd met. I don't think that they're all like this, but I have met several that just rail on about animals and how I'm such a horrible person because I eat meat and am supporting the abusive meat industry, yet they don't give a second thought to all that the plants they're consuming. And that those plants, too, have a life force and are living things as well. I hope more vegans read your post and remember that caring about life and considering it precious shouldn't be blind based on whether it's a plant or an animal.

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  10. That is extremely sad. She is the only one I've met who acts like that, at least around me. I have a few friends who are vegan and most of the time they lust after my burgers and eggs *poor things* I think that some just go into it for the wrong reason, and pretending that they are better than everyone else comes to mind *sigh*

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  11. I loved reading this.

    I have met so many sanctimonious vegans and vegetarians it makes me sick. They preach about how horrible eating meat is, yet give no though to the massive salad they are eating is full of once living and "breathing" plants...but because they do not have a face, then it is ok to rip them up and consume them.

    I am not a vegan by far, although I do go without eating meat at times...my body tells me at different times that I need to lay off the extra protein I guess, and I listen.

    I to give thanks to my food, my garden, and my herbs for helping to sustain my family...and I am well aware than plants feel and hear in their own way, hell, they have scientific studies to prove that plants 'hear', so for that chick to say that just pisses me off to no end.

    I am glad you put her in her place, even though people like that are to wrapped up in their self image to hear what any one else says.

    Thanks for sharing this!!

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  12. I think I scared the poor girl a bit to be honest. By the time I was done talking she was looking at me like I had lost my mind. Oh well. I go without meats too, for about a month out of the year, for cleansing purposes. I like surprising my body every now and then. I'm glad you thank your plants, too; more people should take a few minutes to acknowledge the green lives around them. Hm, I think my rosemary plant was cheering me on lol. She is looking mighty pretty right now ;)

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  13. I gave up being a vegetarian many years ago when I had just that vision of all life having equal validity and that we live off each other constantly. I too thank the various herbs I use when I take a leaf and would like to thank the animals I eat too. That girl got what was coming to her by the sound of it. My regards to your rosemary :)

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  14. Heron, you always manage to put a smile on my face :) I find it so interesting how many of us changes our behavior toward plants once we become Pagans. One strange thing that happened to me, is that I no longer like to get flowers as gifts. I prefer planted daisies and if I get any flowers at all, I want them to be edible, so that they won't be wasted.

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  15. If you have a compost pile you can just put the flowers you do get as gifts in the pile. That way they return to the earth, and don't hang out in a landfill.

    Hmm, or if your yard debries get picked up along with your trash/recycling (oh wait, not everyplace does recycling...) you could do that.

    I'm not trying to convince you to change your mind about flowers as gifts, I'm just suggesting something to do when you do get them.

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  16. Ditto on what Sarita said. I am happier, healthier, and more energetic as a vegetarian; my significant other, however, becomes quite ill and literally wastes away before my eyes without meat.

    On a lighter note, a friend of mine was working a trade fair a few months back, selling sheepskins and hides. A very well dressed woman approached her booth and started screaming about how cruel it was to sell the hides of sheep. My friend took one look at her leather pumps and asked "when did Gucci start using pleather?" :)

    I guess the years have mellowed me out a bit. While I'm a strict veggie, I do carve bones that I find while hiking the mountains. It feels like I'm giving them a second life, and has become an interesting meditation and spiritual exercise.

    A luthier told me once that building a violin or guitar is akin to alchemy. Taking a dead thing and making it live once more, with the knowledge of it's journey through death and rebirth.

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  17. Sarita, you are so cool! I never really thought about it, you know? But that is a great idea. I will never be stuck with the guilty--but still trying to look please--look of getting flowers ;) Thanks!

    Lodestone and Ladys Mantle, you are so right about the hypocrisy of certain individuals. There are some who are so quick to go ahead and point out other's faults that they forget to examined themselves; this usually ends up making them like fool. After this situation happened, I often looked back to see if I could have done something different when it came to this girl and the thought of telling her to leave comes to mind. But what's done is done, I guess next time, huh? I really like your approach to the circle of life; I think I'll do some more research on it. Thanks for sharing such invigorating words.

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  18. nice blog and have lots of stuff here....

    http://envrionment.blogspot.com

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  19. First off, why did this chick bother to help in the kitchen if she couldn't stand the food? That makes no sense. That's like walking through a garbage pile and complaining about the scent instead of taking her behind around it.

    Secondly, she didn't think it was important to talk to plants and give thanks? If so, then both of us are us are crazy because I talk to the plants all of the time...assuming they live long enough for me to get a word out. I have a black thumb. ;-) I don't see anything wrong with thanking them for sacrificing for a meal. In a way, it's not very different from Christians giving thanks before feasting on a meal. The only difference between the two is the recipient. And as far as I'm concerned, both are living, breathing, and can hear everything we say.

    Anyway, I think you handled the situation perfectly. Had it been me, I would've thrown a piece of chicken in her face and had her running out of the kitchen screaming. I'm evil like that. >:-) It's great that she wants to embrace the whole vegan concept and all, but it does no good when she's living like a hypocrit.

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  20. Marcia you are too much! I can actually picture you beating someone up with an uncooked chicken leg lol. You know, I talk to my cousin about her and the things she said while we were shopping and my cousin told me the same thing you did. She said I should have thrown her out a long time ago. I don't know, I just like to give people a chance to do the right thing, but now that I know the way she is, if it happens again she will get assaulted with the chicken leg.

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  21. I may be the only commenter who will disagree with you Magaly :)
    I am a Vegan, however there is a way and a way, to approach meat eaters, and a way to be down right annoying. The girl was extreme and annoying, yes I agree, BUT...if she has talked all day about animals and leather and death et al, there could have been a " nicer " way to make her shut up or to let her understand your point of view. I don't agree with neither of you.

    Perhaps there could have been an more gentle and easier way to explain it to her and in the same token, she could have been more understanding why you've talked to your plant, why you like to cook what you did.
    I think, if you see her again, maybe try to explain to her why you were stressed, why she annoyed you and so on. It is not good to have friends over ( even if disliked ) and leave the whole thing in an angry ending.

    On a sidenote, I know many vegans and I always see people saying how vegans push their beliefs upon others ( radical etc ). Which I have never ever seen, and I have been a vegan for a very long time. This to me seems the typical excuse of an meat eater to stirr the vegan issue onto a whole different level, kinda like liberals and conservatives debates.
    I would never push my beliefs upon others, but when asked " what do you eat if you dont eat meat", I let some info roll of my tongue, and to me, it is an almost "religious experience " when someone tells me, they would like to try " out vegetarian cooking, or ask me how to start out etc. It is like someone asking you for "help/ guidance" and why deny it?
    On a 2nd sidenote, yes I also beat myself up for eating plants, it bothers me so much, knowing this is life as well which I consume, to the point where I sometimes only eat once a day, because when I cut a plum and see the " juice" that comes out - is basicly the " blood of a plant", which is equal to the blood of an animal.
    I may be extreme in my thoughts, but I am sure some other vegans feel the same way I do. This is why many of us vegans lean torwards dried rice, beans, well legumes of all kind.
    Am I extreme? Yes I am :)

    Noor~

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  22. OMG! This is what I was talking about! They don't realize taht plant have feelings and how this all affects all out eating habits.

    Magaly, thank you so much for this.

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  23. Noor, thanks for such an insightful response. I must confess that most of the vegans I know are like you and not like the girl on this post, which is the reason why I gave her the benefit of a doubt. My post starts when we are in the kitchen, and it mostly stays there, but I did speak to her while we were shopping and after we got home. I told her about how many Pagans are vegans and about the reasons why they have chosen that lifestyle--mostly because they grow what they (when possible) and they try to honor the Old Powers that provide for them as much as they can. But she was not hearing it. I gave up after a while because I didn't want to ruin the day, but even I have my limits. I'm not very proud of the way I pretty much exploded, but I'm human and I take responsibility for that. I also tried to apologize for my ways, but she told me that she is "used to my kind and the apology was probably fake". That hurt my feelings a bit and I just left. I'm in peace with myself and hope she is as well, although I doubt that someone that narrow minded can ever be. I admire vegans like you as well as any omnivores who understand that we take life to sustain our own and we should be thankful for the creatures who keep us alive.

    Kim, thanks for acknowledgement. Maybe we can spread the word and more people will realize that plants are alive too. They might not speak to them, but many of us do hear their cry.

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  24. OMG! This is what I was talking about! They don't realize taht plant have feelings and how this all affects all out eating habits.

    Magaly, thank you so much for this.

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  25. First off, why did this chick bother to help in the kitchen if she couldn't stand the food? That makes no sense. That's like walking through a garbage pile and complaining about the scent instead of taking her behind around it.

    Secondly, she didn't think it was important to talk to plants and give thanks? If so, then both of us are us are crazy because I talk to the plants all of the time...assuming they live long enough for me to get a word out. I have a black thumb. ;-) I don't see anything wrong with thanking them for sacrificing for a meal. In a way, it's not very different from Christians giving thanks before feasting on a meal. The only difference between the two is the recipient. And as far as I'm concerned, both are living, breathing, and can hear everything we say.

    Anyway, I think you handled the situation perfectly. Had it been me, I would've thrown a piece of chicken in her face and had her running out of the kitchen screaming. I'm evil like that. >:-) It's great that she wants to embrace the whole vegan concept and all, but it does no good when she's living like a hypocrit.

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  26. I may be the only commenter who will disagree with you Magaly :)
    I am a Vegan, however there is a way and a way, to approach meat eaters, and a way to be down right annoying. The girl was extreme and annoying, yes I agree, BUT...if she has talked all day about animals and leather and death et al, there could have been a " nicer " way to make her shut up or to let her understand your point of view. I don't agree with neither of you.

    Perhaps there could have been an more gentle and easier way to explain it to her and in the same token, she could have been more understanding why you've talked to your plant, why you like to cook what you did.
    I think, if you see her again, maybe try to explain to her why you were stressed, why she annoyed you and so on. It is not good to have friends over ( even if disliked ) and leave the whole thing in an angry ending.

    On a sidenote, I know many vegans and I always see people saying how vegans push their beliefs upon others ( radical etc ). Which I have never ever seen, and I have been a vegan for a very long time. This to me seems the typical excuse of an meat eater to stirr the vegan issue onto a whole different level, kinda like liberals and conservatives debates.
    I would never push my beliefs upon others, but when asked " what do you eat if you dont eat meat", I let some info roll of my tongue, and to me, it is an almost "religious experience " when someone tells me, they would like to try " out vegetarian cooking, or ask me how to start out etc. It is like someone asking you for "help/ guidance" and why deny it?
    On a 2nd sidenote, yes I also beat myself up for eating plants, it bothers me so much, knowing this is life as well which I consume, to the point where I sometimes only eat once a day, because when I cut a plum and see the " juice" that comes out - is basicly the " blood of a plant", which is equal to the blood of an animal.
    I may be extreme in my thoughts, but I am sure some other vegans feel the same way I do. This is why many of us vegans lean torwards dried rice, beans, well legumes of all kind.
    Am I extreme? Yes I am :)

    Noor~

    ReplyDelete
  27. If you have a compost pile you can just put the flowers you do get as gifts in the pile. That way they return to the earth, and don't hang out in a landfill.

    Hmm, or if your yard debries get picked up along with your trash/recycling (oh wait, not everyplace does recycling...) you could do that.

    I'm not trying to convince you to change your mind about flowers as gifts, I'm just suggesting something to do when you do get them.

    ReplyDelete
  28. nice blog and have lots of stuff here....

    http://envrionment.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  29. I was framing my comment, and realized that what I was thinking of saying is long enough to be a post on my blog. lol I guess I'll have to write later about why I'm vegetarian and stuff! (And the exact reasoning has evolved over the couple years I've been vegetarian.)

    However, to put it briefly, some people do need meat to survive (my mom was sick all the time when she tried being vegetarian) and humans are naturally omnivores anyways, so I don't complain when people eat meat.

    Also, my closest friend is vegan, but she doesn't complain about me eating dairy products. In fact, we'll go to someplace like MoonStruck chocolates to get something tasty, and while a vegan hot chocolate is being made for her she'll drool over all the non-vegan stuff saying "If I ever stop being vegan, THAT is what I will eat..." lol It's sort of funny to see.

    ReplyDelete
  30. The amount of arrogance you experience is incredible to say the least. Nothing to do with this but today I witnessed a verbal fight between 2 colleagues and guess what THEY SIMPLY WERENT LISTENING TO EACH OTHER!!! if only they did they would have known earlier and without arguing what the problem was---misunderstanding!!

    ReplyDelete