Monday, March 22, 2010

Answer a Question and Maybe Win a Book! (And now candy bars!)

UPDATE! This may be the first time you're reading this post, but I already have a kick-ass update for you. The fine people at Go Max Go Foods have agreed (after I shamelessly asked them on Twitter) to kick in some candy bars to literally sweeten the deal! More info at the end of this post.

The time has come for a giveaway. I haven't given away anything for a couple years. And last time I did it, we all had a lot of fun.

This time around, the subject isn't going to be quite as light-hearted as eternal damnation.

But first, the prize: The Vegan Monologues by Ben Shaberman.

I'm going to be honest with you, I simply did not like this book at all.

First off, the title is misleading. Most of the essays have absolutely nothing to do with veganism. Taken individually, the essays collected in this book are OK. They're fine, but far from great. Toss them all together in one book though and one is left wondering, "Why?" Most of these essays have nothing to do with each other. The only continuity comes from the fact that they're all written by Ben Shaberman. That's about it.

Who knows, maybe you would like it. For you non-vegans out there, you might like that it's not really about veganism at all. For all you vegans, you probably would like that it's free and the word "vegan" is on the cover of the book.

So... I feel like I should add something to the prize. Sweeten the pot a little, ya know? How about this?

Naked Pictures of Famous People by Jon Stewart.

I haven't even read this. Picked it up at a garage sale last summer for a dollar. I'm sure it's good, I just haven't had the time to read it.

Anyway, here are the questions:

For those who are vegan: Why are you vegan?

For those who aren't vegan: Why aren't you vegan?

And here are the rules:
1. Answer the question that applies to you in 25 to 100 words (or more if you must).

2. I want the comments on this blog to stand alone. I will refrain from starting a dialogue within the comments and I ask that all commenters do the same (just this once). I want every reader to feel free to answer their question without trepidation.

3. If you're reading this on Facebook, please click on "View Original Post" and comment on my actual blog. I really want all of the answers in one place for everyone (not just my Facebook friends) to read.

4. If you comment on this post without using a profile, please at least sign your first name (assuming you want to be entered into the giveaway).

5. If you comment, but have no desire to read the book, let me know and I won't enter your name into the giveaway.

6. The Piggy household has not budgeted for international shipping, but oh well. Giveaway is open to anyone anywhere (except for, maybe, the International Space Station ... I haven't checked rates to the ISS yet, but I assume they would be prohibitive).

7. The winner will be chosen at random by my daughter on April 1st (UPDATE: April 6th). I will probably post a video of the drawing. Should be fun. I'll notify the winner in the comments and (probably) in a new blog post.

So there you go. I look forward to reading all of your comments. This is a perfect opportunity to de-lurk, by the way. Come on lurkers, you know you want to answer. Come on.

And if you have a blog (or are on Facebook or Twitter or Chatroulette) and want to spread the word about the giveaway, by all means do that. Thanks!

UPDATE CONTINUED: So yeah, Go Max Go Foods totally rocks. The first time I took a bite of their Jokerz candy bar, which is a vegan version (and a damn close one at that) of Snickers, I nearly cried. I didn't go vegan because I didn't like the taste of candy bars, or hamburgers or cheese. In fact, I loved the taste of all those things. (In case you're wondering, I went vegan because I don't think that animals are ours to use.) So when I can get my hands on food that closely resembles something I cherished before going vegan over 7 years ago ... well, it almost makes me cry. Especially when it's a candy bar like Jokerz (and the rest of them are awesome, too).

So they're sending me three of each of these:

So the rules are changing a bit. Now Anna's going to pick three (3) winners at random. The first winner picked will get both of the books, plus four candy bars (one of each kind). The second and third winners will each get four candy bars (one of each kind).

It's been two years since I've had a giveaway. What can I say, I'm feeling generous.


Hase said...

-> I am vegan because I can't see how people can draw the line between an animal that they call 'pet' and another one that they call 'dinner' (or lunch, or breakfast, or whatever!!).

-> I am vegan because my body is thankful for it, too.... it wouldn't like to be fed with meat or dairy anymore.

-> I am vegan because it simply feels right, because it's fun and because it makes me happy.

-> I am vegan because I couldn't even imagine NOT being vegan anymore.

Rebecca Stanger said...

I've been vegan for 10 years now, and I couldn't imagine living my life any other way. I was vegetarian for 4 years, and when my mom went from veggie to vegan I decided to give it a try for a week. During that week I read how the insane cruelty of the veal industry exists solely because of the dairy industry--and decided then and there to remain vegan--and have done so!

To me, being vegan is more than just about not harming animals. It is a political issue, it is a moral issue, an issue about real, absolute justice and ceasing ALL exploitation, to humans, to animals, and to the Earth. We all share this planet--every acre of forest that is logged for toilet paper or chopsticks or housing developments is another acre of real, wild habitat that is lost to wild animals. Cell phone towers contribute directly to millions of songbird deaths every year.

Being vegan isn't about being perfect, because I am not. But it is about always questioning how our everyday actions contribute to the suffering of others, and thinking about how we can change this and make a difference.

Denise Glover said...

I am vegan because I believe being compassionate in my life should not stop at just people. ALL beings are deserving of life and the chance to live it without our interference.

Erin said...

I'm a vegan because I can't get past the fact that there is an allowable level of pus, blood, hormones, and antibiotics in U.S. dairy products. I don't want to eat meat that comes from sick livestock who have been cheap, subsidized corn instead of grass, or protein-rich animal parts. I prefer to put my health first, and build a strong, reliable body that will last me a good long while and provide a nurturing home for my future bebbies. --Erin

Heather said...

I'm vegan because to me, there is no other option. I cannot fathom taking my lovely pups on a walk and then coming home to eat another equally intelligent, sensing, caring animal.
I'm vegan because it's better for my body.
I'm vegan because I can enjoy my dinner without any guilt.
I'm vegan because we have pretty kick ass treats - lookin' at you there Jokerz bar.

Bryce said...

I am vegan because at some point in my life I couldn't figure out a good reason not to be.

Amanda said...

I'm vegan because animals are smart and sentient living beings that deserve to live independently of what humans can or want to use them for.

sinead said...

I went vegan because I think unnecessary violence is wrong. Being compassionate is something that I aspire to, and I can think of few things less compassionate than enslaving and killing someone for no reason than your own tastebuds (or fashion sense). So I stopped. I stayed vegan because I realized that other sentient beings (be they human or non) are not mine to use.

Linda said...

I'm vegan first because I will not eat the dead bodies of animals or any products they can squeeze out of their tortured bodies. Second, because I now do not fear the major diseases of our nation. A plant-based diet helps prevent heart disease, cancer, obesity, and a long list of other diseases that so many think are an inevitable part of aging.


I was a long time vegetarian, but I became vegan because my husband. I stayed vegan because I educated myself about the abuse inflicted upon farmed animals. Once I knew the facts I never looked back. Now I spend my time as an ambassador of the lifestyle. I am changing the hearts and minds of people one meal at a time.

Anonymous said...

I am vegan because I have a conscience.

Samantha said...

I'm vegetarian because I didn't enjoy meat and realized that I could live without it. I have not gone full vegan due to my husband's nut allergy. He became vegetarian for me, so I can't ask him to go vegan and risk eating anything with nuts in it that could cause his throat to close up. We do eat vegan meals when we can, but we are as careful as possible.

Brendan Cowley said...

I am not vegan or vegetarian, I am an omnivore. I am a hunter, a fisherman, and a small time chicken farmer (11 hens and 1 rooster), and a responsible father. I live with 3 dogs, 2 cats and a handful of tropical reef fish.

I don't see my cats or dogs as dinner and I don't see my chickens as pets. I do however love and respect each animal in or outside of my household. My chickens are primarily used for egg production, they are fed high-quality grains and free range whenever the snow isn't flying.

When I hunt, I only take what I will use to feed my family for the year. When I fish, I primarily catch and release. I butcher my "harvest" myself as I feel it is necessary in order to fully connect and appreciate the. . .circle of life, for lack of a better phrase.

Taking an animal's life is no small feat. I am a man, but sometimes I cry a little bit when the adrenaline wears off. Someone once told me that when that feeling of remorse or sadness stops it is time to stop hunting, because you have lost the respect for life.

But, for me, I would rather feel that connection with my food than have it stolen away by someone in a factory, killing and processing my food for me. I have seen the huge animals processing centers, the chicken "farms" where the animals aren't allowed to move and sometimes force fed. The abhorrent conditions that these animals are kept in are shameful and disgusting.

But, being a meat-eater doesn't make me a bad guy. We are a responsible omnivorous family and we primarily eat only what we can take from the land ourselves. Therefore I hunt and fish and farm. I believe it is important to know how our food makes it to our tables, and I am glad to be a key part in my family's understanding and respect for all things living.

Celeste said...

I am vegan because I do not need to consume animals and animal by-products in order to live. Refraining from these practices prevents needless suffering and death. Along with this, a vegan diet has in significantly lower environmental impact. Lastly, it is a healthier way to eat, though this is the least important reason for me.

Doug Rohde said...

I grew up as a hunter, and around farms - I know where my food comes from, and I respect the animals that give their lives for my sustenance and pleasure. I am aware of the abuses of the industrial food industry. I try my best to eat responsibly. I do not eat meat every day, and often do not plan my meals around it.

But I am not a vegan because good food is one of the greatest joys of life. Fresh bread with too much butter. A perfectly cooked walleye fillet. Honey. Cheese. Bacon! These things are not needed to live, but doing without, to me, is not a life worth living.

Brij (from VF) said...

I'm vegan because I have a conscience, and because really respecting someone means not ending their life for my own pleasure.

I'm vegan because I love to cook, and to eat, and to wear pretty clothes, and to be happy. Using animals would spoil those things for me. To get a little poetical, I don't want to be another link in the chain of exploitation.

Candy? :-P

Jennifer said...

I’m an omnivore.

We all make imaginary lines about what is right and moral fueled by our cultures and experiences: animals, fish, birds, insects, trees, plants, fungi, bacteria, viruses– we decide what is acceptable to eat, grow, keep as pets, kill, etc.
This is my line.
I enjoy meat.
Our bodies are designed to consume meat. It’s better to eat steak than a processed imitation.
I don't think using animals for food is inherently abuse.
As a consumer, I encourage free range, hormone-free, etc. Hunters are an integral part of wild population control. I think it’s irresponsible to not eat what has been killed.

Not consuming the work of animals is fantasy. Plants rely on animals and insects to grow and propagate.
I think it’s ridiculous to not eat honey because it’s made by bees, similarly eggs or milk. Beekeepers, chicken farmers, etc. aren't decimating those populations, nor are animal farmers in general.

To a lesser extent, but in all honesty, it's hard to be vegetarian. I don't have the energy or desire.

GraceP said...

I was a vegetarian for 20 years. I started about one week after my daughter was born..I remember eating meat while I was pregnant with her and I got a whiff of the blood of a cow from the steak I was eating. That feeling of nausea will never go away. I made the promise to myself that I would never eat meat again. I started slowly - eating fish for a few months - then I went for it!

The quest to become vegan seemed a simple one but it certainly isn't. It's amazing how many food products contain eggs and dairy! It's an effort and it takes work and thought and planning..but doesn't everything that is worth having and worth doing?

I don't do this just because of my love for all creatures. I also have a little bit of a germ phobia. I want to know what I put into my body: Where it came from, who touched it, did they wash their hands? ha ha. For me, it's just easier to make it myself, keep away from processed foods with ingredients I can't pronounce and fight aging with healthy food that still tastes great.

Allison, The Busy (Happy!) Vegan said...

I'm vegan because I can't imagine being anything but, because I loved the dogs that lived with us when I was growing up, because I love the cats that live with us now. I'm vegan because I believe that flying, nesting, rooting, sand-bathing, scratching, pecking, galloping, and mooing, are all just as special as speaking, reading, & writing. I'm vegan because I want my daughter to learn what equality really means.

Thanks for giving me a reason to write that down!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a vegan, though I try, because I spend most of my life in a third world country where one eats what one can. I am, in general, a vegetarian, and support (to an obscene level) sustainable dairy farming -- I get my eggs from a lady down the road in exchange for legal advice.

In the USA, I eat tempeh and tofu, mostly Korean spiced. And lots of spinach.

Alafair (

Peace, Love and Veganism said...

I'm vegan because our bodies do not need meat to survive, nor were they originally designed to eat it(and in fact, it harms us greatly, leading to cancer, calcium depletion, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease). Being vegan has allowed me to be a half-marathoner, a mom-to-be, and a vivacious, healthy person. I am vegan because there are just too many delicious things out there to drool over and enjoy, which sustain our bodies while doing no harm.

I'm also vegan beause of the harm that raising animals for food does to the environment (from excessive pollution, to land degredation, to land waste, to waste of other grains as food, to the extinction of native species, to global warming (methane)).

But I'm mostly vegan because animals are sentient beings, and I don't believe that humans are "above" them (we are, in fact, animals ourselves), and we don't deserve to take their lives, as much as we don't deserve to take the life of another human being (which is called murder). I am vegan for compassion, peace, and a healthier planet and cannot imagine any other way.

mmg said...

I am vegan because I couldn't justify ending a life (a permanent state) for the pleasure of my taste buds (a temporary state).

I am vegan because I am so in love with my dog and cat that it became impossible to eat other animals and not think of them.

I am vegan because it makes me happy.

radioactivegan said...

I'm vegan for a lot of reasons. I feel healthier now than I did before; I don't think that the current distribution of food is equitable or sustainable; I don't agree with the treatment of animals (or factory workers) in the meat and dairy industry. There are so many good reasons to be vegan, and I've yet to hear a compelling reason not to be!

Keri - I Eat Trees said...

I'm vegan because it's brought me happiness and peace. I feel compassion for all living things, not just humans, not just animals, but all life.

Some guy thinks his life isn't worth living without steak, while another guy is aghast at how he could possibly eat a cow; that guy is enjoying his horse burger or steamed cat and the steak guy thinks he's awful. And they both think I'M the crazy one for being a vegan.

Beauty Vibes said...

I'm not a vegan, I do cook vegan sometimes and I don't eat a lot of meat, but I'm not living a vegan lifestyle. I could say no to meat, but I can't stay away from eggs, milk, some sorts of candy, honey etc. as well. I use those ingredients a lot in the kitchen (well besides the candy of course)and I just can't imagine never eating/drinking them again.

I study Nutrition and Dietetics, I'm aware of what food does to my body. Being vegan isn't bad for you, but not being vegan is certainly not bad for your body either. You do need the meat, milk etc. There are alternatives yes, but meat or milk itself is not some sort of poison.

I'm certainly not trying to say that I made the better choice, I think people who are vegan (or vegetarian) are admirable. They obviously have values and stick to their decisions, if I could be that strong myself I might have decided to follow them. I understand why they say no to certain products.

Emily said...

I am not a vegan because I can't afford that lifestyle. fruits and vegetables and organics is so expensive. I hope sometime in the future i can make this change because i know it is so much healthier
emmy1981 at aol dot com

Megan: said...

I am vegan because I want to protect our environment, I want to support family farmers and not factory farms, and I want to care for my body and my health.

Gina said...

I'm vegan for the animals.
My grandmother lives in a farm and every summer I go visit her and I spend most of my times feeding the chickens and pigs. It just feels like there's a part of me there. They joke and say everytime I visit, the pigs gain so much weight! It just tears me apart to think about hurting these animals or any other, they do feel pain just like us!

Anabell Georgia said...

Im a "practicing" vegan. i eat a vegan diet about 97% of the time (about 2x's a year, i'll treat myself to some goat cheese..) . I'm vegan because of mostly environmental and sustainability factors. The meat we produce uses soo many resources, and is just an insanely sick and inhumane practice. I was vegetarian before being vegan and have been vegetarian for about years, and vegan for 3. The health benefits of having a vegan diet are also insurmountable and I plan on living a long, healthy, fun, disease free life, and know that a vegan.plant based diet is the way to do that!!

Marci J said...

I'm not a vegan, though I am a vegetarian and am considering going vegan. I'm not sure if I'm quite ready to take the plunge, but I do think I will someday to see if I truly do it.
june_spirit2628 at hotmail dot com

Ashlee said...

I'm not a vegan because I don't have the willpower. I've been a vegetarian for 8 years and thats as much as I can do. I cook vegan often and buy lots of vegan products, but not exclusively. I envy those who are.

Heather said...

I'm not vegan, although I read a lot of vegan blogs, collect vegan cookbooks, only cook vegan food at home, and have lived with my vegan boyfriend for nine years. It's hard to say why, exactly, I am still not fully vegan, or even vegetarian. I love animals more than anything. I especially love sea creatures, yet sushi is my favorite food. I think partially I am not vegan because I don't like making things hard on myself. I hate the idea of going out to eat and only being able to get french fries -- this has happened to my boyfriend many times. And I don't want my relatives and friends to have to go out of their way to make food for me. I want to be able to eat whatever they're serving. I don't think my excuses are particularly good ones, though, and I often ask myself what's keeping me from taking that last step. My diet is 95% vegan already, after all. I guess it boils down to fear, when I think about it.

NIH said...

Well, I have very recently moved to a vegetarian diet (about 6 weeks now) and I seem to be moving moving towards a fully plant-based diet.

Why did I move in this direction? When I realized, when I REALLY became aware, that there is enough food to feed everyone on the planet, but so much effort goes towards feeding animals that in turn feed people. What if we were to redirect a good chunk of the effort and resources that go into North American Factory Farming to growing food for hungry people in the world's most impoverished places? I credit Peter Singer's book "The Life You Can Save" for helping me SEE this.

Another reason for walking down this path came from learning about factory farming. Singer's book above piqued my curiosity to learn about this. I also have some vegan friends who have shared information about this. I couldn't "hide" from it any longer. It was time to learn.

Here's a quote: "When the motivation is shifted from profit to decency, anything is possible" Hazel Harrington, 2009. How on earth do we shift that motivation is the big question?

Why am I not vegan? Well, it is challenging to find foods that are completely free of animal products, and that is probably what is keeping me from becoming totally vegan. That, and the fact that I have 3 young kids, and up until a month and a half ago, we were all eating meat as part of our diet. So, I am being forgiving to myself and my family and not beating myself up too much if I include some eggs or dairy in our diet while we are making the transition. (I will say that I have reached the point where cracking an egg just feels yucky, yet they are still so familiar to me that I can eat them.)

Maybe I can just live with more cognitive dissonance in my life than your average vegan!

As an individual, I might make it to vegan, but as a family, maybe near-vegan is a good goal to aim for, for now. One of my kids is particularly connected to dairy at the moment. Maybe she will come along, but it will take some time.

I'm also not completely sure that a global population on a vegan diet is the best way to go for the whole planet. If all of animal agriculture were to disappear, what effect would that have on our capacty to produce a strictly plant-based agriculture capable of feeding the world? What kind of agricultural inputs would be involved? Would that kind of a food producing system be better than the input/output system on a diversified farm like the one in section 2 of Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma"? We've been doing animal agriculture for 10,000 years. It's only in the last century we've seen the horror show of Factory Farming come into being. Wouldn't the whole world on a vegan diet be creating another kind of factory farming? Will profits supersede decency? I don't know!

In some parts of the world a vegan diet just wouldn't work (I am thinking arctic/subarctic cultures in particular) Think of the costs of transporting a plant based diet to Canada's Inuit.

Ooh... a great reason to become vegan though is to eat those candy bars you're giving away. I've had one of them before, and they are REALLY good. (I'm not at all interested in the book, though)

Good luck with the project, Al.

Wendy said...

I am vegan because after seeing what happens on factory farms across the nation, I could no longer reconcile that with calling myself an "animal lover." Now my love for food and my love for animals can co-exist.

Lisa said...

I'm a vegetarian because I was seduced by how delicious the food was - all these new flavors, opening up to me!

I'm a vegetarian because I made the connection between world hunger, suffering, and factory farming.

I'm not a vegan because I can't take a step forward until I find a safe place to stand. Vegan cookbooks obsessed with imitating meat or milk don't do it for me.

I do love vegan recipes in vegetarian cookbooks though.

Christian said...

I started eating a plant-based diet when I found out that my wife was pregnant with our first child around the same time I found out I had a high cholesterol. My father died at 55 from a heart attack and I would like to live long enough to see my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren grow up.

Al said...

All right, the winners have been picked and there is a new blog post up with video of Anna picking the names.

And just in case you don't want to watch my adorable daughter pick out your name and spell it to the camera, the winners are:

Alafair (books and the candy bars)
Ashlee (candy bars)
Peace, Love and Veganism (candy bars)

Please click on the "email" link on my profile page and send me your mailing address.

Big thanks to all who took the time to answer the question. I've got to tell you, it was hard to follow my own rules and not comment on some of the non-vegan answers. I may devote a blog post or two in the future to some of the points raised in those comments.

Thanks again!