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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Snooping is defined by Webster's dictionary as "to pry in an intrusive manner." This theme lends itself to the consideration of people's obsession with reality television, celebrity gossip, and sensationalistic news. Why are we so intent upon knowing what Julia is wearing, or who will be the next Survivor to get the tribal axe? And perhaps more importantly, is our fixation on this inane information averting us from more meaningful pursuits?

The concept of snooping tends to suggest negative connotations. This need not be the case. I contend that we might consider turning this inquisitiveness inward. After all, isn't this explicable obsession with other people's private lives indicative of an avoidance on our part to deal with our own lives? Okay, maybe that theory is a little too psychophilosophical, but it makes sense. Instead of coveting what others may have, shouldn't we focus our energies on identifying and attaining our own goals?

In order to live our best life, that is, to be the best person we can possibly be, and to do and achieve that which is meaningful to us, we must take a proactive approach to our lives. It is alarming and disheartening to think about how many people waste years or decades of their lives employing a reactive approach. We must effectively "snoop" into our own psyche. Is the way we live our lives in line with our values, morals, goals? True soul-searching is a daunting prospect. Few are comfortable with the task of admitting to themselves that they may be falling short of being the person they imagine themselves to be. Sometimes it is difficult enough just to face reality without being distracted by the angst associated with excellence.

If people gave serious thought to the way they live their lives, and engaged in thoughtful consideration of the consequences of their actions, our world would be radically different. Every day, people engage in the routine activities of raping and pillaging the earth and torturing and slaughtering countless innocent beings. Of course, most people accomplish this inadvertently, and many aren't even aware of the havoc they wreak simply by living according to so-called cultural norms. But nonetheless, the lifestyle that most people have adopted as the norm is contingent upon suffering and death. When confronted with this information, otherwise compassionate individuals claim they cannot stop, that they've been indoctrinated into this way of life by their parents, peers, and society, and that change is too difficult. The excuses are endless.

Something is seriously amiss in our culture. I think it was Linda McCartney who said, "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would become a vegetarian." If I'm attributing the quote to her erroneously I apologize, but it's a compelling quote nonetheless. Animal rights is a non-issue for most people in the world. Conversely, it is such an enormous and impacting part of my life that I'm terrified when faced with inevitable confrontations of others' indifference and/or ignorance. It is frustrating to consider the possibility that everyone is so busy becoming cultural casualties and engaging in some futile work-a-day rat race, that simple concepts like health and compassion are considered secondary, or worse, not considered at all. EarthSave founder John Robbins pointed out the following irony: People who make lifestyle choices that are healthy and compassionate are considered radical, while people are considered normal whose eating habits promote disease and are dependent on enormous suffering.

But why?

Animal rights is a reform movement, and like any reform movement, change is slow and gradual. Only a century and a half ago, slavery was commonplace. A hundred years ago, women could not vote in political elections. Fifty years ago, racial segregation still existed. All of these abhorrent practices have been abolished because they were either archaic, inhumane, or both. I long for the day when people will be revolted to consider that the mass slaughter of millions of frightened animals was a government advocated industry and consuming the corpses of these beings was considered a suitable choice for a meal. It did not take much research on my part to make the determination that eating animals should not be considered a "choice."

In the early days of my vegetarianism, I used to be more tolerant. I would try to sympathize with the ignorant or narrow-minded individuals who would relentlessly attack my decision not to consume flesh. But now, maybe due to age or cynicism or both, I can no longer indulge the uninformed opinions of the meat-eating majority. The information is out there -- people are dying from illnesses related to meat and dairy consumption. It's inconceivable that we can continue to deny the danger and risks inherent to agribusiness when there exist diseases with names like "Mad Cow" and "Hoof and Mouth." These are avoidable diseases perpetrated by an industry whose business is to propagate death and unimaginable suffering.

I suppose I've digressed somewhat from the assigned topic of "snooping." But I reiterate my self-snooping theory, and highly recommend it to anyone seeking to lead his or her best life (and who isn't?). Self-analysis paid off for me. Living a cruelty-free life keeps me grounded. The critical nature of these issues puts everything else into perspective. My commitment to animal rights and veganism is how I identify myself -- my character and my values. Being a vegetarian is an empowering experience. It provides a means by which to voice opinions on compassion, kindness, and acceptance of all fellow beings. Essentially, it led me on a path to a more intelligent, well informed, and enlightened life. I'm a work in progress...but I'm progressing, and that's what is important.

Victoria C.

- n e x t   e s s a y -


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