Saturday, December 6, 2014

A new direction

Not long before starting New Vegan Age, I painted New Direction, a modernist, falling swoop of texture that twists into a steady uplift. In retrospect, I believe the downward trajectory of its bold stripe represented the five years of my life before that time; its concentrated redirection stood for all that happened (including this blog) in the next few years; and that the steady, upward movement of its final line is the new direction of contentment and accomplishment I'm now enjoying.

Four years is a good run for a blog, and I'm pleased that New Vegan Age continues to receive thousands of visitors each month—even without promotion or new updates. Though I'm moving on, I'll leave its articles and interviews posted and may still return for an occasional "guest post" from time to time.

Thank you to our readers, to guest writers Kim, Nikki, and John, to our many wonderful interview subjects, and to friends (like Vegan Bloggers Unite and Spiritual Pop Culture) who will continue to make our New Vegan Age a success!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A perfect time to stop eating animals

This deliciously-seasoned, nutritious,
colorful holiday stuffing is just one

of thousands of recipes that prove
giving up meat isn't a sacrifice. 
Would you be able to kill an animal? If not, and you still eat meat, you're not living in alignment with your values.

I know, I know. People sometimes say, "Animals kill and eat each other. We're no different."

Well, as one of my heroes, Harvey Diamond, first pointed out to me in his brilliant Fit For Life books, could you kill an animal yourself? Could you do what other animals do—chase it down, strangle or smother it, tear it apart with your bare hands, and swallow it raw?

If you react to this question with disgust—and couldn't or wouldn't yourself actually go through with killing a living being—you're already a vegetarian in belief, if not yet practice. In addition to the growing number of health and environmental reasons to turn exclusively to plants for nutrition, many vegans and vegetarians stop eating animals because they would not ask someone else to do for them what they themselves would not do.

"I would not kill a creature," said another of my heroes, Peace Pilgrim. "And I would not ask someone else to kill it for me, so I will not eat the flesh of the creature."

Other signs that you might "already" be a vegetarian or vegan include:

  • You find the sight—or even idea—of a butchered animal or slaughterhouse unsettling
  • You sometimes sense a "vague uneasiness" when you buy, order, or eat animal products
  • You sometimes feel like you're not living in alignment with your "true self" 
  • You've wondered why some cultures eat certain animals and not others, and why they're not always the same animals
  • You've stopped and thought about how eating horses, cats, pigs, dogs, chickens, fish, or cows is any different—especially if this happened when your beloved pet was gazing at you

After Thanksgiving 1997, I realized I no longer wanted to have others kill on my behalf, and I declared that Holiday the last time I'd ever eat turkey. A month later, I made Christmas the last time I'd ever eat ham. That New Year's Day's became a natural time to celebrate the "good luck" tradition of pork and sauerkraut with the resolution to never eat animals again. (In the years since then, delicious vegan alternatives for all of these products have become available.)

You know, the Holidays are the perfect time to give yourself, the planet, and animals this gift. It's already a time of reflection, of renewal, of gratitude, of introspection, of compassion, and, of course, of commitment. If the thought of killing your dog or cat—or any animal—gives you a lump in your throat and a knot in your stomach, you're already a vegetarian in belief, and you're ready to take this exciting next step.

Best of all, there's no sacrifice at all in being vegetarian or vegan—only the rewards of a rich variety in food, improved health, and a much lighter spirit.

A version of this article originally appeared on this site on November 21, 2011.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

U.S. tour for Growl author Kim Stallwood

Later this month, longtime animal advocate Kim Stallwood is returning to the United States—almost exactly 24 years after his first speaking tour here—to promote Growl, his widely-praised new autobiography (Lantern, 2014).

In the Introduction to the book, Stallwood writes that, while animal rights is "about our relationship with nonhuman creatures, it's also about locating meaning in our lives and finding out who we truly are." Many passages in the book mirror my own experience as I went vegetarian in my 20s, then fully vegan in my 30s (for example, "being squeamish about certain forms of animal bodies and relishing others was illogical and inconsistent").

Though I've followed his LinkedIn updates for a few years, I was surprised to learn about his culinary training, and I appreciated his hope that future chefs would be able to pursue their creativity without having to use animals—indeed, that they wouldn't even have to use the word "vegan" to describe their entirely cruelty-free cuisine. It'd be a future where vegan food is just food—kind of like "Italian food" is just "food" in Italy and "Indian food" is just "food" in India.

Much of Growl is a personal chronicle of Stallwood's work within organizations—the infernal and exhausting work of managing infighting, politics, power struggles, internal disputes, and bureaucracy. He describes how some vegans simply give up and retreat to spending too much time in what Stallwood calls our "Misanthropic Bunkers"—our safe havens, our vegan sanctuaries, our vegan blogs. 

To hear Stallwood speak in person, visit the most updated list of his upcoming U.S. appearances in the Events section of his website. The list below is a guide, but please confirm before attending.

October 30
Presenting ‘The Animal Rights Challenge’ at a public meeting hosted by NYU’s Animal Studies Initiative

October 31
Interview with Caryn Hartglass of REAL Radio

November 4
Presenting ‘Growl’ at Professor David Cassuto’s Animal Law Class, which is followed by making the same presentation to Professor Len Mitchell’s Business Ethics Class at Pace University

November 5
Second ‘Growl’ presentation for Professor Mitchell’s Business Ethics Classes at Pace University, which is followed by a meeting with Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan of Our Hen House

November 6
Speaking at the launch party for the anthology, Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals & the Earth, at Bluestockings bookstore, NYC

November 7
Meeting with attorneys Sarah Griffin and David Wolfson about Minding Animals International

November 10
Presenting ‘Growl’ at the vegan cafe, Grindcore House, hosted by The Humane League in Philadelphia, PA

November 12
Presenting ‘Growl’ at Red Emma’s bookstore and vegetarian cafe in Baltimore, MD

November 13
Lunchtime presentation of ‘Growl’ for the staff, volunteers and trustees of Alley Cat Allies, Bethesda, MD, which is followed by presenting ‘Growl’ at a public meeting hosted by ACA at the Washington Humane Society’s Behavior and Learning Centre

November 14
Consultation with Dawn Moncrief, A Well-Fed World, which is followed by an afternoon presentation of ‘Growl’ for the staff of the ASPCA’s Washington DC office

November 15
Evening presentation of ‘Growl’ hosted by Maine Animal Coalition at University of Southern Maine

November 16
Evening presentation of ‘Growl’ at the vegan Grasshopper Restaurant hosted by the Boston Vegetarian Society

November 17
Evening reception hosted by GREY2K USA Worldwide at their offices in Arlington, MA