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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Time for Some Context

I was feeling pretty good when I put up yesterday’s post (Vegan is Easy, part 1). It’s been my aim for quite awhile now to blog regularly about vegan topics (with an eye toward relaunching this site as a veganism + creativity extravaganza of sparkly good fun—more about that soon), and it feels awesome to be taking small but concrete steps toward an important goal.

In response to that post, I received a thoughtful email from a dear old friend. He believes that the way I approached this subject was potentially off putting to many casual readers of this blog (himself included), that I’m operating within an isolated context, and of course I honor that perspective. Through our email exchange yesterday, I realized I should probably clarify a few points.

Going vegan is more than a matter of semantics, of course, and I admit that on this blog I am writing primarily for people like the person I was a few years ago. When I say “going vegan is as easy as you want to make it,” I am speaking to someone who has the means and resources to eliminate animal products but hasn’t yet made the connections between food and personal health, food and the planet, food and the thinking, feeling animals it used to be. If you are a little bit open, a little bit curious, and can afford to educate yourself with a book like Main Street Vegan or Eat Vegan on $4 a Day, then yes, I am writing to you–and you are free to take or disregard my advice as you wish. I know not everyone will like what I have to say here, and I’m fine with that. I’ll honor your journey and trust you will honor mine.

When I say “going vegan is easy,” I am not speaking to someone living in low-income urban housing who goes to McDonald’s for dinner because it’s what he or she was raised on. I do not feel “qualified” to speak to that section of America, or anywhere else, not because I don’t believe a vegan diet is viable for everyone, but because I KNOW it is easy for someone like me to say it’s easy. I’d love to work with socioeconomically disadvantaged young people someday (in fact, that’s a huge part of my master plan), but I’m certainly not going to sit here and say that shifting their eating paradigms will be just as “easy” for them as it was for me. That said, in the near future there will be an increasing number of organizations like Dr. Ostfeld’s cardiac wellness program at Montefiore in the Bronx (as I mentioned in this post) that will make veganism an accessible concept to people who have problems I will never have to contend with as a middle-class “white” woman. Whatever race or color, rich or poor, every person on this planet deserves to be happy and healthy, right? So you see, this message IS relevant to everyone. (I’m putting that out there in a spirit of equality, not as in “THE WHOLE WORLD SHOULD GO VEGAN TOMORROW.”)

My friend believes in social justice. So do I. And I think we can agree that factory food is, to a certain extent, a capitalist tool of socioeconomic oppression, from the unfortunate souls who toil in an atmosphere of relentless horror and trauma in the slaughterhouses to the unfortunate souls who consume the Big Macs, “fruit” punch, and genetically-modified God-only-knows-what, and pay for it with their health–while a select few tell one lie after another as they profit from all this misery. On the other hand, there may very well be a section of the politically progressive community who believe that seeking justice for animals (and even the planet) is “kind of beside the point” when there are so many people suffering all over the globe. Why am I arguing for the animals when I could be down in Florida right now protesting outside a courthouse, or volunteering with an NGO in a third-world country? Because I believe that world peace begins in our own stomachs. We can’t eliminate the violence on our streets until we stop and see, truly see, the products of violence on our plates. By all means go out and engage in whatever form of activism makes sense to you, and I’ll keep on pursuing the role I feel I’m meant to play in all this; and let’s leave room for the possibility that our goals aren’t mutually exclusive.

I stand by my assertion that going vegan can be fun and easy. It might be more of a challenge than it was for me (I didn’t have hostile friends or family to contend with, for example), and it might take you longer to transition than it took me, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You CAN do it. This is about your planet, all the other creatures we share it with, and your own health and spiritual well being. Even if you don’t go vegan today or tomorrow, it’s a lifestyle worth your careful consideration, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read this through.

(Vegan is Easy, part 2.)

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.