I have often complained that the town where I live proliferates with half-vacant strip malls and mostly deserted office parks, so imagine my dismay a few weeks ago when I heard the familiar drone of construction cranes scraping what was left of the grassland by the water retention pond in back of my apartment building.
You may have been surprised to see video evidence of me holding a sign and shouting "Animal Liberation" at a recent DXE protest because of this essay. Yes, that's me in the corner. That's me in the spotlight, losing my religion. What was I doing there?
As a sheltered, suburban child, I remember many public "awareness" campaigns that were designed to scare me straight. Many of these campaigns had the intended effect. I never abused drugs, smoking cigarettes never stuck, and sex was a highly-plasticized, "safe" experience.
Respect. It’s a word hoisted to near-sacred status in the press, in literature, and in song. We all want respect, despite the fact it is an ill-defined concept at best. Non-vegans use it in attempts to silence vegans, telling them “You should respect my choice to eat and exploit animals.” Thought Police Vegans (the dreaded TPV) use a loose, indiscriminate notion of respect to bully other vegans, trying to shame them into pre-conceived notions of what is politically correct.
On September 28, 2014, I personally participated in a Direct Action Everywhere event as part of a World Farmed Animals Day protest organized by young activist Alex Corrigan. I have changed my mind about DXE and I no longer think they are obsessed with Chipotle, having actually been in a non-Chipotle protest yesterday. So I will be appending my DXE essay of a few months ago and writing a new essay to follow up. Please watch for it.
Above are medical photos of little girls suffering from a rare, awful disease called Treacher Collins Syndrome. TC is one of the many horrible disorders visited upon innocent children by a supposedly all-knowing, merciful God. It is a disease marked by what is missing: TC babies are often born earless, missing part or all of their lower jaws, and/or bereft of thumbs.
I do not consider myself poor. What is poor? Poor is going without a day or more’s worth of meals so someone else in your family can eat. Poor is wearing through your only pair of hand-me-down shoes until your frostbitten feet brush snow. Poor is living out of your car because the monstrous corporate entity that took over your town cannot pay you a wage that puts a roof over your head, let alone “luxuries” like health insurance.
Vegans are a small group, less than one percent of the world population. We have to stick together. I get it. That's why I haven't always felt good about making noise in particular vegan cliques I have been part of. We are all supposed to get along. We need a unified front to stand up to the hordes of people who still don't get it that not eating animals is the most important social justice issue of our time.
You seem like a good person. I know you did not ask for my judgement; oh well. Here goes. I estimate you as genuinely good, meaning you have cooperation and altruism in your heart. You have done inspiring work, including building yourself up from nothing and using your power and influence to help women across the world. If nothing else, you are a shining example to any woman born in poverty that she can be any person she wants to be.
In the months before I went vegan on July 26, 2010, I flirted with veganism. My earnest investigations (Are all vegans weak and sickly? What really happens to momma cows?) led me to one of the largest vegan/vegetarian websites on the internet at the time. Among the other earnest seekers, warm souled activists, and few veteran vegetarians, I stumbled upon the most dreaded, repulsive, arrogant, pathetic, officious breed of people ever to disgrace our tiny planet, a person I have now come to brand as the Thought Police Vegan.