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.

Combatting Cruelty

I am a new vegan. Through research I have been learning more and more about the animal cruelty in our world. I am so anxious to help! Please let me know what I can do to get involved. I want to bring awareness to people and help understanding spread throughout our world. It is so important to me that I do something to stop these horrific actions!

A loving heart is one that senses the suffering of others and feels compelled to alleviate their pain. This is called "compassion," and it is what motivates people to the vegan way of life. Once a person's eyes are open to the anguish of others, it is difficult to close them again. As a result, vegans often experience a heightened sensitivity to the cruelties that pervade the world.

The atrocities perpetrated by humans against animals are not only interminable, they exceed all horrors that humans commit against each other both in kind and quantity. Adding to the extensiveness of these "crimes against nature" is the vegan's awareness that the animals have no recourse -- no means of escape and no way to fight back. Powerless to combat the evils of humanity, animals -- all animals -- are vulnerable and at the mercy of our species. For many vegans, this defenselessness makes the plight of animals a priority over all other forms of suffering. This doesn't imply that vegans cannot and do not work to alleviate human travails; they do. Rather, it means that vegans tend to reach out to those individuals with the greatest need and the least resources.

Your exuberance to help animals is admirable and not uncommon among new vegans. Most of all, it is greatly needed. The number of animal activists is few, but the aggregate of animals in distress is incalculable. It is for this very reason that you must carefully assess your interests, abilities, energy level, and willingness to commit to the long haul before taking action. So often eagerness turns to apathy when activists discover that progress and personal reward are disproportionate to the efforts expended. In other words, burnout and depression can easily set in when it becomes apparent that attitudes and cultural conventions are slow to change. It is also startling to realize that the abominations so evident to vegans are virtually invisible to the public at large.

To ward off discouraging feelings, be selective and pace yourself. Choose only one group or project to work for initially and plan to devote a predetermined amount of time to it each week. There are countless animal issues to pick from, so try to get involved with one that sparks your passion. Some of your options include hunting, animals used for entertainment (such as rodeos, circuses, sea animal shows, racing, and zoos), vivisection, companion animal abuse and overpopulation, wildlife preservation and rehabilitation, and the various "food animal" industries, which account for more animal brutality and death than all other causes combined.

You can function independently, start up or join a local group, or work for a national organization. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, so it really comes down a matter of personal style. Grassroots efforts can be very powerful and offer the benefit of knowing the area and audience you are trying to reach. In addition, working locally allows you to directly survey the impact of your actions. You can campaign, write letters, coordinate educational programs, invite national experts to speak, raise funds, hand out literature, volunteer at an animal shelter or spay/neuter clinic, host a vegan potluck, teach vegan cooking classes, and so forth. Ascertaining what to do will depend on your interests, time, and talents.

Because vegans are so keenly attuned to the suffering in the world, it is tempting to try to do everything all at once to stop it. Unfortunately, this is not only ineffective, it can be enervating. It is maddening and disheartening to be aware of flagrant atrocities while simultaneously acknowledging our limitations to relieve them. Nevertheless, this is necessary in order to maintain sanity in the face of such depravity. It is also essential to preserve balance by nourishing your spirit in positive, joyful ways. Exposing oneself constantly to misery can be stifling, so occasionally take a breather away from it to refresh your perspective, clear your mind, and simply have fun. Don't allow yourself to get so caught up in "saving the world" that you squelch your individuality, joie de vivre, and humor. Laughter imparts strength to nearly all situations, especially those that seem bleak and hopeless. Too frequently, loving people take on the burdens of the world and lose themselves in the process.

The animals need you. Give what you can, as much as you can, as often as you can. But don't forget to enjoy your own life while you are working to save the lives of others. Whenever your arms reach out to embrace the animals, make sure you wrap them around yourself, too.




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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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