Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Home for the Holidays.

I'm not known for my patience, or for my tact. So how can it be possible for me to convey to my egregiously ignorant family the ins and outs of WHY I became vegan in the first place? Though they tolerate my behavior (and in some cases actually go out of their way to accommodate it) they in no way pretend to understand or care why I'm doing it. 

Comments like, "I just wish you'd eat dairy and eggs. It would be so much easier," and "Vegetarian's fine - but why vegan?" come and go on a regular basis. 

Now, I know my family. And I know that if I were to start to talk to them about crowded, inhumane conditions in factory farms, the fact that these farms are major contributors to Global Warming, the detrimental effects dairy and meat have on the human body, that we are the ONLY SPECIES on the face of the planet that steals other species' baby formula and consumes the nasty, foamy shit as adults, and that little tiny fact that the subjugation of species for our pleasure is just plain wrong - well, they would just tell me to shut up. 

"I don't want to hear it," my mother has said. Or, "I don't care - when I want a hamburger, god damn it, I'm going to have a hamburger!" Another statement of wisdom. 

This more baffling exchange happened just yesterday. I was telling my family that tuna are going to be extinct in five years due to gross overfishing and human greed (nice Holiday Talk, I know, but it came up somehow). "But tuna tastes good," my niece said. Now THAT I could handle, because she was just being sassy. But then - THEN - we went to lunch at a primarily vegetarian restaurant and what does my father order? A fucking tuna sandwich. 

I know they're not doing this crap to be vindictive or horrible and that those who are active in progressive movements must be ready to face many roadblocks toward their goal of success, but shit. If I can't even talk to my family about this without being ridiculed, how the hell am I going to talk to anyone else? 

People know that Global Warming is barreling down on us and is going to destroy our planet. They talk about it in dire terms. They carry their little post-consumer-waste bags and drag their groceries and other goods around in them. They wear their little green activism t-shirts and buttons and such. But they just won't give up meat and dairy - the single most meaningful and lasting act they could POSSIBLY do in order to save this planet from impending chaos, horror and doom. Saying it on a t-shirt doesn't do a DAMN thing if you don't follow it up with action.

Then there's also the fact the grain we grow to feed our livestock in factory farms could solve the world hunger crisis many times over. But we don't care, damn it. We want those Steak-ums!

Why is it so ingrained in our heads that eating meat is acceptable? I can guarantee that if 3/4 of the people who blithely cram hot dogs and ham and beef stick and hoagies and pepperoni down their throats were confronted with the gruesome reality of the meat industry, they would swear off meat immediately (just a little example - did you know that factory farm cows, vegetarians by nature, are forced to consume "enriched" grain that has been "enriched" with the guts of other animals, including cows?). 

My resolution will be to gently, kindly figure a way to talk to people about why eating meat is destroying the earth. Will I be able to do it? History says "no." But I have to try.


Sarah said...

A brilliant resolution! I think it's important to keep trying to find ways to talk to people about this stuff, even though sometimes it can seem easier to live and let live. The more people here an alternate view the more they have something to make them second guess the status quo.

Hope you get through the holiday season without too many defiant tuna sandwiches eaten!

Kathryn said...

Oh man, can I ever relate! My mother has a pepperoni addiction. She acts like she is treating herself or something. I want to die. The holidays are hard, even when I manage to educate by cooking amazing vegan appetizers. I still get the "we don't need a sales job on your lifestyle" from my sister. UGH. But she ate the whole thing! :)

Marky Mae Brown said...

Getting people to see that vegan food isn't gross or weird (necessarily) is a good place to start!