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Compassion on the Mat?

I debated writing this article for a few hours yesterday before deciding to start writing it; 24 hours later here are some simple thoughts.

Many of my friends practice yoga and some are even yoga teachers. Some are vegan, some are not. And on both sides of that, people are of course passionate about the beliefs they hold. I’m not looking to argue or offend, just looking to put some perspective on an issue I don’t think is conducive to one of the basic tenets of yoga; ahimsa. I’m not trying to preach, I’m honestly curious to understand the rationale behind this; read on.

I’m new to yoga myself and am still learning and adjusting to the ideas behind it. From what I understand, yoga is not a religion as much as it is a mindful practice; but three major religions (Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism) do pull from some of the ancient sutras (texts). As an unaffiliated Buddhist, I know a fair share of the teachings, again, most of them are the same or slight variations of one another. The “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” list 5 yamas, or ethical ideals in which to live. The very first, and this is important, is ahimsa. Simply defined, ahimsa means non-violence or not harming sentient beings. So, maybe you see where this is going.

That said, I was in a class yesterday and the teacher talked about their vacation and how their family had gone down to a horse racing track and joked about the money they lost; however minuscule the “bet” was. There was chuckling among the yogis in the room, not from my mat though as I was confused and a bit let down.

I put the word bet in quotes because I’m not really sure what was being bet on. I understand gambling, I’m not that daft. The purpose is to choose the horse that finishes first; I get it. But peeling back the layers and looking at the whole situation, where is your bet money going? Who does it benefit and what does that have to do with yoga class?

I’ve been following a group called “Horseracing Wrongs” for a while now and they’ve said what I had intended to say in a much more eloquent manner:

“To those who wager on horseracing, we implore you to reconsider. And ultimately, you hold all the cards – no more bets, no more races; no more races, no more kills. And – no more abusing unformed bodies; no more extreme, relentless confinement; no more whipping; no more drugging and doping; no more buying and selling and trading and dumping. No more auctions, no more kill-buyers, no more transport trucks, no more abattoirs. No more maiming, destroying; pain, suffering. No more.

In a landscape that abounds with other gambling options – casinos, lotteries, real sports involving autonomous human beings – hasn’t the time at long last arrived to let the racing horse be? You, the bettor, have within the capacity for mercy. We ask only that you exercise it. Please. For the horses.”

I’m not trying to nitpick, or try to say this teacher is a bad person, I just don’t see the use for this type of talk in a space that is supposed to be filled with grace, compassion and loving-kindness. I really like this teacher, I go their class each week because they teach in a way that helps me understand the motions and poses. Will it deter me from going back? I don’t think it will, but maybe I will try to talk to this person and bring it up in a passive way that is kind to both of us, and to animals affected by the lack of ahihmsa in this situation. Maybe not, we shall see.

I know some folks may say, “well that’s what they do on their time and they are free to choose to do whatever they like.” While I find that to be true and agree, again we go back to basics and look at the sutras; don’t we? That’s where it all starts and without a foundation that is truthful and unwavering how can this not go unchecked?

I despise militancy and I apologize if this comes off that way. I’m just finding more and more holes in traditional religions and practices that are supposed to start and end with non-violence yet ingest animals, wear animals or bet on animals that die of a variety of conditions being forced to run around and around in a  circle for the pleasure of a human being looking to make a fast buck.

I get it, you believe it’s your choice and you can eat, wear and do whatever. I can tell you that karmic energy is still created ingesting that suffering, ingesting that fear. When you find peace on your plate, you find peace in your soul.

I’m curious how you would handle this situation?

*** featured image borrowed from Horseracing Wrongs

The Importance of Community

I’ve been working out some personal, in my head stuff lately, just getting things “right” if you will. I have been feeling lost again. While my wife and kids are always here for me, and support me in many ways; there are other things that are missing.

I’m not super social and when I try I’m awkward at best. Rarely will you catch me out anywhere and if you do, it’s at the store and I’m headed home as quick as I can. This is all a bit odd as I work in a customer service oriented business. Although the interactions with the public are cordial and courteous, there is no connection there so it’s over and done with as soon as I leave the business or home.

This weekend I hosted my second vegan potluck here on Cape Cod. We had a great group of folks, maybe 20-25 attended. There was food and great conversation happening all over the place. There’s something tremendous happening here on Cape Cod, and this group is at the helm of it. Many people got up and talked about the things that are planning and how they pushing forward in helping this movement grow in their own way.

One of the other attendees, Jason, spoke about his story and how he got to where he is now not only with veganism, but in his life. It was inspiring hearing him talk and to have the confidence in sharing such an intimate story.

Before he got up and spoke I took a brief moment and shared a tiny bit about myself. I had so much more to say, but my anxiety got the best of me.

All that said, by the end of the night I was aware of the ease that I felt. This community, and the running group I belong too, have really helped me come out of my shell. I can talk to people while actually looking them in the eye. While a remedial task to many, those of us who are overly self-conscious it can be a big deal. For years my wife has mentioned how I need to do it more often it’s easier said than done.

The point of this post is that community, no matter how big or how often you see them, can be extremely reassuring and encouraging. It’s extremely important to come out of your shell every now and again, and I’m learning that the world isn’t the nasty place we all think it is. There are some great people out there.

I’m curious if sharing posts like this are worthy content or not? Is this something anyone is even interested in reading?

Buster and Masters Story: Adopt, Don’t Shop

Years ago we had our first experience with a Great Pyrenees (GP) specific dog. We instantly fell in love with the breed. To some they may seem obstinate at times, that’s one of the things that we like about them. I think they are a “thinking person’s” breed as they are certainly more cerebral than some breeds.

After purchasing our home, we decided it was time to start looking into getting a GP. While we were certain this was the only breed for us, we did not go to a breeder, we chose to adopt. The first search we did showed a bonded pair of Pyr’s, Buster and Master. Buster is a 4-year-old GP and Master is 6. They both came from Tennessee and had quote a rough life before being picked up and rescued. From what we understand, they were in a high kill shelter and were on the precipice of being taken from the world; luckily that didn’t happen.

Fast forward… We started the adoption process.

There was a couple of things we had to do first before being approved to adopt these beautiful boys. One of the major things was finishing the fencing in our yard; they had to have a completely enclosed yard. We got that done and had a member of the adopting group come by and approve what we had done, and approve our home for being fit for Buster and Master.

Shortly after, we were able to meet the boys as they were being fostered only two hours away from us. They had been in a foster home for two months and their foster mom was absolutely amazing. She loved and cared for them so much, it was evident. My wife, sons and I fell in love with them and knew we had to have them join our family.

A week later, after our final approval, the boys came home. They’ve now been in our home for 24 hours and we could not be happier. They are both very kind animals and have even met, and got along with, our two cats. This situation has been so perfectly orchestrated. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for these boys. One thing I’d love to see is Master gain a bit of weight. Seems he has had a hard time putting it on, but with enough love and care I’m sure he will turn around.

There are so many animals out there, even breed specific dogs, that need good homes. My family is proof that you do not have to go to a breeder to get the animal that fits your wants and needs. If you are looking for a particular breed, they are out there. They need homes too. A lot of them have horrible stories and they deserve your love and care. Please consider adoption when looking ot add a member to your home.

Thank you to the folks at the National Pyr Rescue, the process has been smooth and absolutely professional from the beginning. Thank you to the folks we directly dealt with such as Susan, Mona, Ali and their foster mom, Colleen. Thank you for taking such great care of the boys, we love them! Please check out the gallery below of their first few hours with us.

 

Yoga Challenge; Second Week

I haven’t mentioned anything here, but if you follow me on Facebook you know that I’ve recently started a 30 day yoga challenge. I’ve been following a series of videos by a guy named Tim that are 30 minutes or less and fit with my schedule just perfectly. Today is day 8 and, sorry Tim, I skipped the video for a session at my local yoga studio.

It was a great start for the second week.

The class was a Power Yoga Flow class with Bill from Power Yoga Cape Cod in Dennisport. I’ve been to PYCC a few times but it’s been a minute since I last dropped in for a class. Bill’s class was welcoming, warm and witty. The three w’s weren’t intentional but they work, haha! When I say warm I mean that in a few ways. Bill’s personality is very encompassing and makes you feel like you are hanging out with an old friend who’s teaching you some great movements. Also, warm comes from the fact the room was toasty to say the least. Within a few poses I was dripping like a siv; it was warm.

My point is not to review the class nor the videos but to talk about what I’m getting out of this practice. I think Wanderlust was a great kick-start for me to get back into a more centered practice. For years I was a devout Buddhist practitioner. Like I’ve mentioned in a few different posts though, the dogma got to me and I strayed far away from it in an official capacity. I’ve stuck with the basic premise of the philosophy and that’s to cause the least amount of suffering as possible.

Where I’ve kind of become more absent recently is the fact I’ve lost myself in a way. Dogma or not, the practice always felt like home to me. Whether I was sitting in a group or at home, being present felt real and engaged with my inner being. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been aware of what’s going on and still maintain a level of mindfulness but lacking a practice meant it took more work and effort; it was more fluid when I was “in the zone” for lack a better description.

Buddhist practice, like yoga practice, is about finding what works for you. It sounds like a very selfish thing but it is far from it. Without a solid foundation of self there can never truly be a way to help others.

That’s where vegan activism comes into play a bit here; let me explain.

While I’m not active in the sense where I’m holding up signs or working a cube, sacrificing one’s own health and happiness for a cause is detrimental to one’s health and detrimental to the ability to serve others. I’ve watched many videos or read articles where the word “sacrifice” is dangled around like it’s a trophy or badge of honor. Let me tell you this though folks, if you are not taking care of yourself you are not taking care of your cause. The animals need us to be sharp and strong. We need to have tact when dealing with others and their opinions versus the facts. If you are not centered, balanced and healthy (both physically and mentally) than you are of no benefit.

This goes for everything in our lives too. As a father, I’m learning I cannot be fully present for my children without being present with me. As a loving husband I cannot be present with the love and light my wife deserves unless I’m willing to give that same love and light to myself. This is not selfish folks, treating ourselves with love is a necessity for true happiness.

I leave you guys with the following quote and a question…

The quote comes from Thich Nhat Hanh, “The essence of loving kindness is being able to offer happiness. You can be the sunshine for another person. You can’t offer happiness until you have it for yourself. So build a home inside by accepting yourself and learning to love and heal yourself.”

The question is, how do you find your true center in order to necessitate happiness in your life?

VCG; The Podcast?

After a failed attempt at trying to put together a YouTube channel, I’m going to try my hand at podcasting. I know both YouTube and podcasting take the same time to produce, comparatively, I just felt it would suit me better to stay off screen and the amount of time I’m driving could make for some fun conversations.

I’m hoping to have the first episode live by the end of the month.

In the meantime, I’d love to take questions or ideas for future episodes. If you’ve been following me for a while, is there something you want to know about me?

Do you podcast? What platform do you use? Is it worth buying a mic and all that fancy gear?

Running Reset… Again!

A couple of months ago I got a new treadmill to train on. I normally am not a huge treadmill runner but I wanted to run more frequently, and with the winter being so cold, I thought it was a great training tool to purchase.

Immediately after setting it up I ran and I got this amazing feeling as I was running faster than I ever thought I could. I was crushing my old 5k PRs, I smashed a 10K PR and was crushing any number I had ever seen, stat wise, with my running. My previous 5k PR was 28 minutes (I think) but on the treadmill I was killin’ it at 20 minutes. My 10k time was just under an hour and now I was doing 43 minute 10k times. WHAT?

I had this feeling, this impending doom type of thing and knew I would have to come back to Earth at some point, I just didn’t think it would be an injury that would cause it. I’d rarely dealt with shin splints but I was starting to battle those and then my right achilles really started hurting, badly! I had issues with my achilles before and just took a couple weeks off and I would be good. This time it’s been over a month! I have so much going on that I have to run, I have goals to achieve.

Rather than get down on myself, I decided to do some proper things and go have my gait analyzed and look for a proper shoe; not the one’s I like but the one’s that work. I went to see the fine folks at Marathon Sports in Yarmouth. I’ve been following a local runner, Justin Torellas, for a while now and was psyched to see him working and able to help me. After making some observations, one being that I’ve been wearing the wrong size shoe for years, he brought out some shoes to try. After shooting the shit for a while and talking about some shared interests (yes he’s vegan too) I decided on the Hoka Bondi 5’s at size 9.5 not the 9 I thought I was.

I got the shoes home, laced up and went out the door. 30 minutes later, and 3 miles down, I walked back in the door. It’s a am zing what happens in a month when you don’t run or train at all. I was winded and the run sucked. I was miserable the whole time. My feet felt great though and here I am 24 hours later with no achilles pain whatsoever.

Unlike going into the treadmill training like a madman, I’m taking today off and am going to ease back into training until I can build back up to a daily run schedule. I’ve also got to shed some of the weight I added over the winter. Not only did I add some “winter weight” but I was on a muscle building program and went over my goal by about 10 pounds. Oh and eating less junk food might help too. I’m trying a more anti-inflammatory diet and may even do a 72 hour water cleanse.

We shall see though, I’m just excited to be running again!

Who’da thunk it?

You’ve all seen this meme more times than you can count, right? I know I have. Today though I saw it and wanted to write some things down about it; more specifically on how not only am I surviving but how I am flourishing while being vegan.

Now, I’m not going to boast about how awesome I eat, because to be honest, I’m a junk food vegan a fair share of the time. That said, having cut out animal products from my food my body has done some amazing things. At 43 I’m doing things I didn’t think were possible.

When I first started this I had really high cholesterol issues. In the first year alone I dropped my overall cholesterol by just under 70 points. I did not take any medications, I just ate better. I started exercising and started completing events I never dreamed of.

I was a smoker for nearly 25 years! I quit after my first year vegan and my lungs are healing rapidly. I run all the time and have no breathing issues. Sometimes if I run a bit to hard I do get wheezy but that’s what 25 years of tar and chemicals will do to you.

Don’t smoke kids!

About 6 months ago I started a weight training program. Throughout my entire life I have always had issues putting weight on and keeping it on; my metabolism is like a teens even in my forties! My goal was to get to 150lbs (I started at 142lbs). I’m not that tall ok, 5′ 5″ and 150 was a lofty goal for me. I presently weight just under 160lbs!

I didn’t do it with any animal protein or products.
Let me repeat, I did not consume any animal protein!

How am I still here?

Plant based foods have all the nutrition you need, including the ever elusive protein! Typically in a day I have oatmeal for breakfast. 1/2 cup of dry quick oats has 5g of protein, 27g carbs and 3g fat. That’s pretty decent, it’s not an abundance but you can add stuff to it like hemp seeds which have an additional 10g of protein in three tablespoons. Even adding 1/4 cup of soy milk add 2g more. That’s nearly 20g of protein, whoah!

I prep my lunches for the work week. Some examples of prepped meal are Jerk Tofu & Rice, Lemongrass Chickpeas w/ Quinoa, Miso Tempeh Chili, Andouille Sausage Jambalaya and much more. The protein in most of those are 20g or more. Dinners have a similar profile and at least 20-30g of protein.

Here’s a typical day (on the left, click for a larger version) when I was on the program and eating to gain. You will see a protein shake, and I did that to supplement what I couldn’t eat while at work. I work ten hours a day in my work-van, it’s helpful to supplement for me, not everyone has to do that. I also take a multi-vitamin in the morning and again, while lifting, was taking creatine.

If you look past that stuff I was still getting over 2,000 calories a day from food.

The point is, I’m alive and kicking. I’m smashing my goals and gaining, not losing.

Right now my training has changed and I’m on a running program so I’m not looking to add any more muscle; if anything I’m looking to trim down some of the weight while keeping the muscle. I do have two days I still use weights but 5 days a week are now spent running.

The awesome thing about being vegan is that I can tweak the foods I eat to reflect the training I’m on. For instance, my oatmeal every day now has 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of turmeric for inflammation. While I still use a protein shake for recovery, most of the other foods I eat will be to benefit the training. Can you do that and eat animals? Sure but you are eating animals and there’s a whole host of issues with that health wise and more importantly, with ethics.

No animals need to die for you to thrive.

You can get the nutritional needs your body requires being vegan.

Do your research and “eat like you give a f*ck!”

“How Can You Sit Down And Eat Your Mother?”

I’d been thinking of how to start this article for a while as it’s something I’ve already written about but I felt like adding some commentary. I also stumbled on some great talks by teachers that tackle the idea of veganism and Buddhist practice and I really wanted to share them and some quotes.

In Tibetan Buddhism it is believed that all living beings at one point or another were once your mother. This concept has some validity if you believe in rebirth. Since the universe is infinite and sentience is held by all living beings that have a central nervous system, having been born and reborn over and over it only makes sense that at some point anyone could have been your mother. I can explain more if need be, or provide a link to more info, but I think you get the idea.

That begs the question, so why go ahead and eat them?

I came upon a series of 5 videos on YouTube titled “I Don’t Eat My friends” by respected Tibetan Nun, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo. She lays out a compelling argument, from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective, on why not to eat meat. She also touches on the all beings having been our mother theory, you can view in the video I linked.

There are also videos by another respected Tibetan teacher, Matthieu Ricard. Of course his videos solidify the beliefs and teachings of Tenzin Palmo.

The venerable Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh has had quite a bit to say about it. As mentioned in the other piece I wrote, Plum Village (the center he oversees) went vegan in 2007. You can watch a video where he was asked about veganism and why it’s better than vegetarianism. I’ve included a brief quote below.

“We don’t want to eat eggs, and drink cow’s milk, and eat cheese anymore because raising cows and raising chickens creates a lot of suffering.

If you have seen the suffering of the chicken, the suffering of the cows, you would not like to eat chicken, eat eggs, drink milk, or eat cheese anymore. It seems the system has been contaminated.

So to be vegan is not perfect but it helps to reduce the suffering of animals.”

Seung Sahn, founder of the Kwan Um School of Korean Zen, has had a bit to say about eating meat. In the “Compass Of Zen” he goes on to say:

“If we want to understand ourselves and help all beings get out of suffering, we must first understand where this world’s suffering comes from. Everything arises from our minds. Buddhist teaching shows that everything comes from primary cause, condition, and result. This means that some primary cause, when it appears under a certain condition, will always produce a certain result. So what is the reason for so many beings appearing in this world, and what is the result of it? Why is there so much suffering, and why does it seem to increase every day? Perhaps the most important reason for such a dramatic increase in the amount of suffering in this world is the increase in the amount of meat-eating that humans do. Before World War II, human beings did not eat so much meat. In Asia, people have always generally eaten meat only on special occasions, perhaps only twice a year, on one of the major holidays. Nowadays, Asians eat meat sometimes several times a day. The same has been true in the west for generations. This century has seen a very big increase in the amount of meat-eating on the planet.”

I find that interesting. If karma and it’s consequences are to be believed then this makes all the sense in the world. The more suffering that is caused, the more suffering is created.

While the Buddha did not specifically say one way or the other, he did not condone eating meat. His justification was that as long as it was not killed for the consumer, or the monk, than it was ok to eat. I’ve read about the three hand rule which basically means the meat has to pass through three hands to the consumer and it’s believed to not have any karmic consequence. I call bullshit!

To be honest, this sounds like a cop-out. As much as I hate to say it, one of the most well-known Buddhist teachers, the Dalai Lama, eats meat himself all the while telling others to eat vegetarian. Similar to what the Buddha said, the Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying, “it is all right to have meat of dead animals, not those slaughtered or purposefully killed for meat.” So I guess that means roadkill is ok? Or if you stumble upon a dead squirrel out in the yard? Again, this sounds suspicious and not something a “bodhisattva” should get behind.

What’s interesting on the whole is that the very first precept in Buddhism is not to take life or cause harm. I don’t know about you but that certainly sounds like a vegan thought to me.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

Reflecting on 2017; Looking Forward to 2018

If there was ever a mixed bag of a year, 2017 was it.

Of course we saw the coronation of the cheeto in Chief, aka Beelzebub himself; Donald Trump. This 2017 recollection isn’t a diatribe on politics though, in spite of the fact 2017 has set us back as a nation so much so that I could write about 2,500 words on the subject. The only thing I will say is we can do better and we need to hit the polls in 2018 as a unified nation of citizens and reverse the damage this cantankerous administration has done.

Personally, 2017 had its ups and downs. Luckily there we more ups than downs. Here’s a brief list of the moments that stick out most to me.

1. My wife and I got to spend a well needed weekend away. A friend from SHVP was getting married so we extended the weekend and took in the sights. While NYC is not for us, we can appreciate what it has to offer. Evan and Jessica’s wedding though, in Brooklyn, was absolutely stunning and we are blessed to have been part of it.

2. My daughter got off the island (Cape Cod) and moved to Burlington, VT. If there’s one thing you wish for as a parent is that your children are happy. Xena seems to be happy with her move and she’s settling in to Burlington and meeting a bunch of friends. I could not be more proud of the person she has become and I look forward to seeing her grow as an adult and seeing where life takes her.

3. My wife and I became foster parents. One of my son’s friends was having a hard time and our son approached us to help out. We went through the grueling (no exaggeration) process of being approved with DCF to be able to house his friend. It’s been a few months, and while it’s trying at times, we really hope to see this guy succeed going forward.

4. My eldest son finally got what he wanted and we allowed him to try out for football. While it’s not our first pick for a sport that he could play, he did awesome at it. Every position he played he excelled at. His coaches understand the game and understand the players. While they push them hard they only do so knowing that the kids have individual skills to succeed. I can’t wait to see what his next season holds for him.

5. My youngest son prefers soccer and this year I volunteered to coach. Following the theme of ups and downs, our spring and fall were quite different from each other. The spring team that I co-coached went to the finals and won first place. Our fall team did not see as much success and were bumped from the first round. Regardless, my son (and both teams) had a bunch of fun and at the end of the day that is all that matters.

6. Running wise I took it easy this year and only did two Ragnar Relay races with Strong Hearts Vegan Power. The team decided to skip Cape Cod this year and did the Pennsylvania location which was quite interesting to say the least. It started in Amish country and that in and of itself was one of the many highlights of the year. The second race was a trail Ragnar, and was my first experience. We had a great team of runners for it and even won the REI camp site which was a completely furnished camping area. That made things a lot easier and we were able to just settle in and get our miles done.

7. For the umpteenth time in my life I tried to gain some weight and muscle mass. After getting in touch with Jordan From Conscious Muscle he put me on a workout routing that has been solid. For the very first time I added nearly 15lbs of bulk muscle. I weigh the most I ever have in my life and that at 43 years of age and as a vegan. But wait, as a vegan?? Yeah dude, I get plenty of protein! The plan is to shred a bit before running training starts, you will see soon the lofty goals I have for that!!

I’m sure I missed a ton of things. I’m positive I have but those were the big one’s that stand out.

Now 2018…

I don’t have many resolutions as I don’t think those truly come to fruition. There’s got to be more than a wish, there has to be a solid plan and action.

I have goals.

2018 will be a stepping stone as far as my running progress goes. 2019 will be my biggest year, see the ne tab up above in the menu titled “Run Across the Cape” for more info.

 

Besides a couple of local half-marathons I have some Ragnar Relays on the docket as well; hopefully another trail series.

 

In 2016 I did the 25k distance at the Vegan Power 25k/50k Ultra, two years later I will be doing the 50k distance. This will be my 2nd 50K and this time I plan to do a bit better.

2018 holds the promise of a new personal revolution as well. I’ve taken many things for granted these past few years and I’ve got to change that. I’ve got to be a better father, husband and friend. I’ve got to see with perfect clarity that my actions are not always about me, but about those that I love and hold dear.

So I raise my hazelnut coffee to you and cheer to the coming year.

Oh and I’m still alive and kicking even though I’m a protein deficient vegan. That’s unbelievable right?

Compassion: The New(ish) Vegan Activism

Just a few short years ago vegans were considered to be loud and obnoxious a**holes shouting at you while you shopped or dined. Now, vegans are still out there but the approach is more kind and compassionate.

image from anonymous for the voiceless websiteTake for instance the group Anonymous For The Voiceless. Quickly they’ve become a force to be reckoned with yet their approach is simple and effective. Using a method called the “Cube Of Truth”, activists in major cities (as of now over 250 cities worldwide) around the globe stand in a cube shape with signs and laptops/ iPads that are playing slaughterhouse footage. Most of them are dressed in black and they wear Guy Fawkes masks, synonymously known as the mask of hacker group Anonymous.

While it may seem intimidating to some, the “uniform” look is to make people approach the videos a bit more and not feel like they are being judged by someone. The mask gives the illusion of non-judgement since you cannot see the expression of the person wearing the mask. For some, who are still uncomfortable confronting the truth, it’s an easier way to cope. Whatever works; as long as it’s getting them to think rationally.

I think, for the most part, we’ve finally understand that veganism will never move forward if we don’t change the approach. This doesn’t mean that other activism isn’t effective. Protests against fur farms, puppy mills, horse tracks and circuses are surely worthy; they will always have a place in the movement. I think more people are coming on board because of compassionate protesting though.

image from toronto pig save siteTake for instance the vigil. While not new, the “bearing witness” vigil is getting more and more traction and more importantly, media attention. You’ve got groups like Toronto Pig Save that wait at slaughterhouses for trucks of pigs are brought in. While the trucks are transitioning the activists approach the trucks and try to show the animals inside some semblance of kindness before they are taken away. Whether it’s a loving rub on the snout or a mouthful of water, these processes are effective. What’s just as effective is the imagery created during and spread on social media after.

This may seem silly, but giving the animals that last glimpse can bring them a bit of ease. It doesn’t change the outcome, but it is worth that fleeting moment to show that animal the love they’ve never known.

There are many others ways that vegan activism is growing. Because of the kind and compassionate approach, veganism is seeing some of the strongest growth in years. Sure, there are other factors, but you have to take these things into account.

Have you ever participated in a cube of truth? How about a vigil? What was your experience like?