Friday, January 29, 2010

We're All Made Of Meat

I had the strange experience last night of using my arm to illustrate to Anna what meat is.

I had her squeeze my arm and told her that all animals have skin and muscle and fat like we do and that's what people call meat. The animals are killed and then their skin, muscle and fat are cut off of the animal and that's meat.

I think her expression during this explanation (which I tried to strip of overt emotion (not that there's anything wrong with emotion)) could accurately be described as grossed out. I actually grossed myself out while explaining it to her.

Anyway, this reminds me of a photo series I recently saw by Ashley Watson. Check it out. It's not safe, but it's safe for work.

Last Friday Liam #31

Sometimes you've just got to throw your kid in the snow with his sister's boots on.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Veggie Nugget #32

"In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted."

-Bertrand Russell

I came across this quote over at Dan Cudahy's excellent blog Unpopular Vegan Essays, in his post On Chance, Choice, and Character.

And, by the way, I have shared that post via Google Reader.

Just in case you haven't noticed, there's a box in the upper right of this blog which contains items I've recently shared. These are other peoples' blog posts that I think are great. Not whole blogs, just individual posts.

Feel free to take a look every once in a while. You can also view my Shared Items page here, and, if you're feeling so bold, subscribe to the feed in your reader.

One more thought: I firmly believe the above quote should be applied across the board. I've been vegan long enough that it's something I take for granted now. It helps to occasionally question the foundations upon which my veganism rests. It's a good exercise. One that I think we should apply to every aspect of our lives.

This doesn't have to mean constant questioning of ourselves, of course. I think that's why Russell chose to include "now and then" in his statement. Constant self-questioning would drive anyone crazy. Even philosophers.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This is Not a Post About Milo & Otis

Anna was given the movie Milo and Otis some time ago. She watches it once or twice a week and loves it.

The first time we sat down to watch it I was mortified. It was obvious to me that the animals were at the very least put into some pretty horrible situations. They threw a cat off a cliff. Seriously, there's no other way to get that shot.

There is no concrete evidence out there that animals were harmed and/or killed in the making of the movie, but there are plenty of rumors and I'd be surprised as all hell if some of them weren't true.

At any rate, it was given to Anna and she watched it and now it's one of her favorite movies and I'm conflicted over it and sort of wish we never watched it in the first place.

But we did. And there's a part where the cat wonders if a crab is something he could eat.

(Here is what this post is really about.)

The last time we watched the movie, Anna said, "I wonder if Tony eats crabs."

Tony is one of our best family friends. He eats meat, milk and eggs, but I honestly didn't know if he ate crabs. So I told Anna that she could ask him next time he came over. She said OK.

So he came over, and I reminded Anna that she had something to ask him. She got all shy and said she didn't want to ask. I said that's fine and changed the subject. I was tempted to ask for her, but decided to respect her decision.

Later that day, I asked her about it.

Me: Why didn't you ask Tony if he eats crabs?

Anna: I just didn't want to.

Me: Why didn't you want to?

Anna: I was afraid that he wouldn't say that he didn't.

Never mind the double negative, this is some pretty deep stuff from my daughter.

First off, I am positive that she didn't mean afraid as in "scared". She meant it more in the sense of, "Oh, I'm afraid that the deflector shield will be quite operational when your friends arrive."

She might have been saying that she just didn't want to know whether or not Tony ate crabs. But I think the more likely interpretation is that she didn't want to start a potentially uncomfortable conversation. So she opted not to bring it up.

This makes me proud and sad at the same time. I'm proud because she's starting to get some social graces. Back in September, this exchange occurred between Anna and her aunt:

Anna: Is that vegan?

Jessica: No.

Anna: But you’re drinking it?

Jessica: Yes.

Anna: Oh. You not be vegan?

Jessica: No.

Anna: Oh. That’s wrong.

So not saying anything is an improvement. She's learning to function in a non-vegan world.

Of course, that's also the reason it makes me sad. I don't want her to be silenced. I want her to ask anyone any question whenever she wants. But then, that's what her parents are for. She asks us anything and everything and we always try to give her honest, age-appropriate answers.

Anna: Do you know if Tony eats crabs?

Me: I don't. But I do know that he eats meat, milk and eggs. You know that he's not vegan, right?

Anna: But why isn't he vegan?

Me: I'm not sure. But we still love him no matter what. Just like our other friends and family who eat animals. You know that almost all of them eat animals and milk and eggs. They aren't vegan, but of course we still love them and they love us.

Anna: It makes me a little bit sad though. But just a little bit.

Then I told her about how her mom and dad used to eat animals, milk and eggs and how different people think differently about it. Some people don't think it's wrong to kill animals, so they're not vegan. Some people think it's wrong, but eating meat, milk and eggs is what they've done their whole lives and it can be really hard to change when you've done something your whole life. And some people, like mom and dad, think it's wrong and decided to change.

This is oversimplifying things, of course. But I think it's about as complicated as she's able to understand at this age. She knows the basics of why we don't eat animals, cow's milk and chicken's eggs. And now that she has the basics down of why we don't eat those things, she's just trying to understand why other people do.

What do you think?

To my vegan readers: What do you tell your children when they ask about your non-vegan friends and family.

To my non-vegan readers: what would you like me to tell Anna when she asks why you aren't vegan?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Song, Cuddle, Monkey Pile

Liam's almost a year old! Here he is with his big sister.

Now that he has, for the most part, stopped pulling Anna's hair, they tumble around a lot more. Monkey piles are now regular occurrences in the Piggy household.

Friday, January 15, 2010

One Planet - Animals and Us

The BBC program One Planet recently aired a two-part series called Animals and Us by Victor Schonfeld.

Schonfeld produced The Animals Film twenty-eight years ago.

I've never seen The Animals Film, but it looks like it was one of the first of its kind. It seems to me that it was Earthlings before Earthlings was Meet Your Meat.

So now Schonfeld has produced a two-part radio series, "to give a very personal view on what, if anything, has changed since then."

Listen here:
Part 1
Part 2

Gary Francione (who is interviewed in each broadcast), Roger Yates and Elizabeth Collins did post-show commentaries which can be listened to here (review of part 1) and here (review of part 2). I have to admit I haven't listened through both commentaries yet, but I know Gary's podcasts (not to mention his guests) are always insightful and thought-provoking, so I feel confident in linking to them here.

I felt that Animals and Us was well done. Shonfeld, largely by virtue of interviewing Francione, gave quite a bit of air-time to criticism of the use of animals (as opposed to just focusing on the treatment).

Schonfeld is clearly taking an activist stance in these broadcasts, which I find refreshing. He states early on in each broadcast, "Be warned. This is not balanced dispassionate journalism. I'm opposed to animal suffering for human needs and pleasures, as are most of the people we'll be hearing from."

Given his activist stance, my main qualm was that there was too much of a focus on lab animals in the second broadcast (pretty much the whole thing). The overwhelming majority of animal exploitation occurs within animal agriculture. That's not to say that we shouldn't also care and talk about vivisection, fur, circuses and zoos. But when all you have is two 28 minute broadcasts I think the most productive angle to take, from an efficient activist point of view, is to focus on the use of animals for food.

Not a huge qualm, but a qualm nonetheless.

Did you listen to Animals and Us? Have you seen The Animals Film?

If so, what did you think?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Anna's Original Music

Liam's almost one year old already. When Anna turned one I made a 15 minute slideshow of photos and video. In my attempt to give Liam as much media-exposure as his big sister, I'm putting together a slideshow of him, too.

There is significantly less time to do stuff like this these days, but I'll be glad I did it down the road.

Anyway, while going through the video from the past year I came across this and was shocked that I didn't post it at the time. Here's Anna singing a made-up song back in June.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Anna (First) Wednesday #30

Anna and her cousin Zach at my parents' place, all dressed up and ready to go on their first snowmobile rides.

Fun was had by all.