Strange – Lettuce and Carrots Can Make You Sick

Here is an odd story. Apparently lettuce and carrots have been making people sick.

Washing salad vegetables to avoid bacteria
Always wash your vegetables before you eat them

In early October, the Ministry of Primary Industries got two reports from ESR updating them on over 120 cases of yersinia pseudotuberculosis (including 38 hospitalisations) that they believe most likely trace back to lettuce and carrots.

According to the Ministry of Health, yersinia pseudotuberculosis is a nasty little bacteria that gives you a super nasty tummy , but is usually quite rare in New Zealand.  Lately though there has been a very noticeable upswing in the number of cases.

Continue reading Strange – Lettuce and Carrots Can Make You Sick

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“I forgot you had gone so extreme!”

We are sitting outside at Jack’s Cafe.  I have finally worked out that the vege breakfast without the egg and the mayonnaise based sauce on the lentil patty is vegan. I am trying not to think about the egg my friend cuts into.  I appreciate the gesture – she is eating the vege breakfast too.

Continue reading “I forgot you had gone so extreme!”

Narcissistic Autobiography

I wrote this earlier at the beginning of the month. I wanted to get back to this blog, but was feeling overwhelmed by the feeling of … everything. I didn’t know how to talk about it. But over the time I have been doing so much investigation and now feel like I am starting to make sense of things even feel something close to normal again. I am going to start writing and posting. I thought I would still post this: 

Why the Hesitation?  [written 3 October 2014]

I have avoided writing this blog. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say. I think I have too much to say, and I don’t really know how to say much of it. I thought this blog would be about me and my exploration of a topic. I don’t know how to write this blog. I don’t know what this blog should be.

I have been doing a lot of reading – blogs, books, listening to podcasts, watching videos. This is tough going sometimes. Parts of it I have to do in small chunks.

I am currently reading Melanie Joy’s Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows as an audio book. I can only cope with it in small pieces. I dread putting on the headphones – I force myself to listen.

It crushes down on top of me, this huge, horrific, overwhelming horror that I am (or have been) contributing to. How did I ignore all this? How did I not even notice? How did I not connect the dots? What the hell did I think was going on?

Sometimes it is a struggle to get through the day with my “normal” mask firmly in place. It takes a concerted effort to not be different in my interactions with people. I feel a deep need to sort out all this chaos and turmoil behind the mask before I do or say more in my daily life. I don’t want to say things or do things I might later regret.

While searching online I found this blog post that hits me where I am at:

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/mornings-agree-email/#.VCjT8GeSx8E

Someone sent Gary Francione (the blogger) an email:

“I really like your abolitionist position but I think you are too judgmental. I am a vegetarian and I know that going vegan is the right thing to do. I am on the journey towards being vegan. I think it’s wrong that you don’t give positive reinforcement to people like me and I think it ultimately hurts the cause.”

Here is part of the reply:

“Going vegan is not about anyone’s “journey.” It is remarkable how, in 2014, the observation of the most fundamental moral principles gets presented as a matter of narcissistic autobiography.”

I thought this blog would be my “narcissistic autobiography” – my own personal intellectual and behavioural experiment. I feel ashamed of myself for ever thinking like this.

The Joy of Food

Today we said Bon Voyage to a colleague off to Europe on his big OE. The lunch table staggering under the weight of brightly decorated cakes and spreads, of cheese, dips, chips and crackers. I looked at the table and realised there was nothing I wanted to eat.

How did we get this way?  We put animals in everything we eat. Why did I once think this was food

The thing I didn’t expect when I started this was to rediscover food and the pleasure of making it. Knowing that I would be changing my eating behaviours I decided if I was going to go to all the effort of changing my diet, why not change it to be healthy?

On the Process of Going Vegan

The past month has been – interesting and difficult, but not difficult like I imagined it would be.

While I have a rough plan to go completely vegan over the next 18 months, I’m starting to wonder if I’ll need that long.

Before starting this process, I thought the hard part would be emotionally letting go of eggs and dairy. That it would be hard to phase these foods out; I would need to give myself time.

Instead, I have found that I just don’t want to eat it. It is no longer enjoyable. It no longer brings me pleasure. I look at the plate of eggs benedict at our local café. Six weeks ago I would have loved this. Now, I can’t bring myself to eat it. I regret ordering it. I look at all the shiny yellow sauce and the bright green of the cress. If I cut in, the brilliant orange yolk will bleed against the stark white of the egg. I look at all this egg. I look at all this misery. I used to think the food on my plate was about me. I was wrong.

Eggs are cruel, regardless of how they are produced. It is all so unnecessarily cruel. I no longer want to participate.

The same goes for dairy. I may live in the heart of the Waikato, but nothing justifies separating day old calves from their mothers, just so we can consume their milk. Calves, the male by-products of the dairy industry, fed to make them anaemic for white meat and slaughtered a few months later. Even if the steers are given a couple of good years in the high country, they still end up at the slaughter house. What happens to the milking cows when they are no longer producing?

Cream, yoghurt, butter – none of it looks the same any more. I no longer want to participate.

The thing I thought would be difficult isn’t. I can no longer separate my food from how it is produced. When I think about what I eat, I am ready to be vegan. I have already let go. Now, I have to work on fully changing my food habits and educating myself on what I need to do to make this work. I am relearning how to eat, cook, shop and eat out. Learning new ways of doing things is challenging, but also interesting and kind of fun.

What is difficult is trying to navigate social situations and dealing emotionally with what it feels like to know what I have been participating in for over 40 years. I will write more about these two things later.

When I say it is “difficult”, I have to ask myself – Who is this difficult for? I have to inconvenience myself a little to change habits and lifestyle. What about those whose lives my food habits have directly inflicted harm upon?

On or Off the Menu – Thinking about a Debate

Starting where I am

My first goal is to change what I eat.

Although I’ve been a sort of vegetarian (some fish) for several years now, what I’ve mostly tried to do is not think too hard about what that means. I like to think of myself as giving some sort of a dam about animal welfare – if something doesn’t have to die in order for me to eat then I’d rather it didn’t. But does this go far enough?

And does this even make sense? While I may not consume animals as meat, aren’t they still tagged for slaughter anyway, even if the eggs are ‘free-range’? It’s hard to believe I never asked this question before – What happens to the roosters?

Vegetarian is the word I use for social situations. It means, “Please don’t feed me meat”. And for the most part people are good about that. They don’t put meat on my plate. They give me the cheese sandwiches instead of the ham ones at the work lunch. We look for a restaurant that has at least a couple of things on the menu I’ll enjoy eating. But I think most of all vegetarian is the word I use so I don’t have to keep thinking about what my food is and where it comes from.

 

Which leads me to the debate

Information about the debate can be found here.

I found the video below uploaded at a site called the Vegan Atheist, which has several other videos I also want to watch.

The debate took place at The Wheeler Centre, Melbourne, April 2012.

Specifically, this debate is over meat consumption. Should animals be off the menu? But it raises important questions for me on the total vegan perspective.

These are my current thoughts in relation to each of the speakers:

Opening Remarks
Peter Singer
Fiona Chambers
Philip Wollen
Bruce McGregor
Veronica Ridge
Adrian Richardson

Question and Answer Session

Closing Remarks
On the Menu
Off the Menu

Getting Started

I am writing this blog to document my exploration into veganism.  I’m not yet sure if I am a vegan, but I want to learn.

I want to explore the answers to two questions:

  • Should I be vegan?

 

  • How would I live as vegan in a society so clearly set up not to be vegan?

 

How did this start?

Originally, I had planned only to answer the first question. I would do some reading, join a couple of online forums and hopefully engage a willing vegan or two in conversation.  I would think about it as logically as I could and arrive at a thoughtful, well-reasoned conclusion … and then proceed from there.

The best laid plans … as I started looking for research material I began to feel like I was sliding into an ethical quagmire that I didn’t even begin to understand. Worse, although I hadn’t realised it, I was already neck deep in the mud. I wouldn’t be able to do this one from the side-lines.

To arrive at a credible position on veganism, I would have to become vegan.  Using animals as ‘products’, while trying to figure out if using animals as products is morally wrong wouldn’t work for me. I’d have a vested interest in not being honest with myself; a built-in agenda not to engage with the nuances of the situation with a clear head. The only way to do this fairly was to go to the other side and look back.

Okay … Plan B

I would become vegan for 12 months.  I would think and act as though I were vegan. I would reflect on my actions and thought patterns.  I would try to unpack my cultural baggage and see it from the other side.   At the end of this time I would hopefully have an answer to my question. Probably, a complicated answer, but still a well-clarified ethical position on the relationship between animals and humans, and I will know how I need to respond to that knowledge.

Which brought me to the second question; deciding to go vegan and actually doing it, well … FUCK!  As I started to investigate the behaviours that would have to change, the assumptions, the ingrained thought patterns, the day-to-day logistics, just the practical stuff alone that I needed to research, I realised that jumping straight into a vegan lifestyle was not a viable option.

Okay … then so … Plan C

I’ve made a rough 18 month plan of what I think I’ll need to do to go fully vegan.  Chances are it won’t go to plan, as I learn more, but for now it’s what I am doing. At the end of that time, my goal is to be fully vegan – if I can successfully work out what that means, and then spend 12 months as vegan.

I don’t know where I will be two and a half years from now … but this is where I am now.

 

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