I want to share something personal with you. I am a Vegan. Earlier this week, I was with someone who said “I am not a vegan. I am plant based. I hate the word Vegan. I wish they would just get rid of it.” His reasoning is that the word vegan turns people off to trying this new lifestyle which is so healthy.
For a minute I almost agreed with him. He said saying vegan sounds so extreme. I disagree. People also hate words like feminism and liberal. But I think when we start to water down things by making the names more “palatable” we are doing just that . . . watering it down. I don’t like my oatmeal watery and I don’t like my movements watery either.
Being a vegan makes me proud. I am trying to do something healthy for me and my family. I am trying to draw attention to the horrible livestock industry and animal cruelty. I am trying to save the environment. I feel like the work I am doing and the lifestyle I live is important and good. I am not ashamed of it.
Being a vegan is about more than just the food I put on my plate. It is about the cleaning products I use, the clothes I wear, the shampoo I use. It is about commitment. The NRA doesn’t try to water down their message. And I won’t either. I’m happy if people come to the movement because of food. I’m happy if people want to call it plant based eating. Every little drop counts. But I refuse to be ashamed of the label Vegan.
It is more than that. Labels can help us develop a cohesiveness. Something to get behind. A group identifier. I have a lot of conservative friends. I often try to gloss over my points of view in order to keep friends and the peace. But I am a feminist. I am not ashamed of that. I am a liberal. I am not ashamed of that. I am a vegan. And that makes me so proud.
My blog is normally a feel good, love yourself type of blog, but one way we can love ourselves is through empowering ourselves and those around us. Actions ALWAYS speak louder than words.
I have been reading a very interesting book on Feminist theory. Before you boys and girls turn off, I have discovered an interesting dynamic that expands so much further than the stereotypical idea of a bra burning feminist. bell hooks (yes she prefers her name to be lowercase–and it is a pen name) said in her article “Feminism: A Movement to End Sexist Oppression” that to look at Feminism as an identity diminishes the true goal of the movement. Instead, it is better to look at it as advocating on behalf of feminism. She also explores how feminism is directly related to the causes that look at ending all discrimination and oppression whether it be based on sex, race, class or any other determining factor.
Bonnie Kreps further develops on this idea when she says, “We . . . do not believe that the oppression of women will be ended by giving them a bigger piece of the pie. We believe that the pie itself is rotten.” How profound is that? The pie itself is rotten. Just chew on that.
Isn’t that what we are all grappling with right now in America? A rotten pie? And how do we overcome the odds of getting food poisoning while being spoon fed rotten pie? Well we need to look to forming social groups based not on our perceived identities while social aims that benefit only our group, but we need toward benefiting society as a whole. Women in particular face a hard road because we are divided by our loyalty and attachment to the men in our lives and to our social status. There so many other factors that play into our lives. Not only that, in this recession, women have more and more been looked at to be the sole provider for their families and to provide emotional and parental support.
I am a horrible culprit of talking the talk, but not walking the walk. I see MY plight and the plight of those who are like me as superior. Our concerns are paramount and any other concerns interfere with our own struggle, but this is just a confrontational way of thinking that just perpetuates that current system. I know that we are better than that–there is no reason we can’t fight sexism and racism while trying to fight against poverty. They all are related… they intertwine, and we can address them at the same time.
But this still leaves the problem what do we do? What can we do? Well I don’t know your personal views on issues that are affecting women today, but we can talk about real reproductive health measures not just hear but in the world at large. We can urge businesses, our government, and others to advocate on behalf of oppressed women. We can speak with our dollars. Support a Women’s charity, give to charities that support women in impoverished countries, support a charity that tries to end female circumcision.
But like I always say, it starts by being the ripe tomato. I am going to join my local chapter of the NOW organization, and I am going to start being an advocate on issues that matter to me through the auspices of this organization. I am going to advocate to stop human trafficking, to support reproductivehealth and rights, and to focus on better wages and standing for women in our community.