Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Do you have questions about being vegan? Send them to Jo using this easy form. She would be happy to address your individual concerns as well as general inquiries about vegan ethics, philosophy, practical applications, and living compassionately. Jo cannot respond to questions about nutrition or answer questions that have already been addressed in the Archives

Jo will make every attempt to answer each question personally, however, due to her schedule, this may not be possible. If a reply is forthcoming, it could take up to a few weeks, so please be patient. It is also possible that your question will be answered directly in the "Ask Jo!" column rather than an individual response.

If you'd like to view previous questions Jo has answered, visit the Ask Jo! Archives.

Compassion for Carnivores

There seems to be a lot of pride in humans -- pride for our abilities to invent, create, and think rationally. But when I consider how we treat animals, it makes me feel that we are a plague upon our planet and all its inhabitants. Whatever accomplishments we congratulate our species for seem to be worthless compared to our cruelty and lack of compassion. Things that I regard as wonderful -- such as beautiful music, inspired artwork, romance, and literature -- lose their luster when their creators are monsters. I find I have very little empathy or patience for meat-eaters. Is this common?

Vegans open their eyes and hearts to so much of the world's suffering that goes unnoticed. We are acutely aware of the pain that animals endure at the hands of humans and of their needless torment and slaughter. We would have to be made of stone if these rampant and senseless tragedies didn't touch the very core of our being. The hurt we allow ourselves to be exposed to is the very reason most other people deny its existence.

Because vegans choose to live with conscious awareness, we do not turn our backs on the suffering masses. As a result, we are vividly cognizant of the depravity perpetrated against animals in the name of human greed. We have permitted ourselves to see this sordid side of life, and it is heartbreaking, especially because we know it is unnecessary.

With this in mind, it is not surprising that you feel callous toward those who eat meat. It is often extremely difficult for vegans to believe that others are unwilling to see the truths that for us are so apparent. People who shut their eyes and refuse to acknowledge this reality can make us angry, frustrated, and cynical. Yet those same feelings can bind our hearts and thereby limit our compassion.

We each have our strengths and areas of weakness. Just because vegans are willing to witness and expose the horrors of animal suffering does not necessarily make us paragons of kindness and purity. There are undoubtedly aspects of our personalities and lives that fall short of others who might display great acts of courage, generosity, and empathy but who are not vegan. Eating meat does not inherently make a person "evil" any more than shunning meat makes a person virtuous. People who are not vegan can still have powerful insights and dynamic, altruistic perspectives. Their artful expressions are no less valuable or beautiful than those created by vegans and should be appreciated with equal awe and gratitude.

When we put limitations on our empathy for meat-eaters, we are forgetting the "all" in "all life" for which veganism has reverence. Our compassion becomes stunted, hierarchical, and myopic, paralleling the meat-eaters' lack of compassion for all animals. Being merciful toward those who least understand our values is one of the most formidable aspects of being vegan. In many ways, it is much easier to empathize with the plight of animals than with our meat-eating fellow humans. Nevertheless, if our reverence for life is to be all-encompassing and sincere, then we have no choice but to challenge ourselves to open our hearts even further. If we do not, we are not fully employing the ethic to which we lay claim.




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Vegan Vittles:
Second Helpings

Vegan Vittles: Second Helpings by Jo Stepaniak

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The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

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Review by Dan Balogh

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The Food Allergy
Survival Guide

The Food Allergy Survival Guide

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