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Oh, Hi There: Reprised

More time wasted and not enough spent here, I swear I’m trying to fix that.

The thing I’m getting hung up on is this: where do I want to take this website?

Do I want to keep posting film, food and product reviews? Maybe infrequently interview a vegan athlete or activist? Do a race write up? Those have become few and far between because of the off season. The focus has been erratic at best and there doesn’t seem to be any fluidity or even any sense of cohesion. I used to write every day for my old blog (Precious Metal), which was 5 year ago at this point.

It definitely feels like a website more than it does a blog, and I think that’s the direction I’m headed.

I’m debating on going back to that blog format, whether that be here or back on Precious Metal. It was more personal and I felt like I could share more on there. These past few months I’ve returned to some of the spiritual roots I had planted back in the early 2000’s. New growth has bloomed and I find myself searching for enlightening concepts, whether those are mental views (meditation, learning) or physical connections through movement and breath (yoga, running).

Going back to the blog format I feel like I will post more. When I was blogging before, and I had a random thought during the day, I would just share it. Nothing was planned, nothing was forced. Vegan Cable Guy feels forced. The moniker doesn’t feel as forced as the website does. I mean, I am the Vegan Cable Guy; it’s what I do. But keeping that going as a brand (wishful thinking) is not something I think I can continue with. Considering I spend money on the domain, hosting and even pay to make sure malware doesn’t infect the site (or infect your system) I just don’t see the benefit.

Sure, I see the benefit in sharing my vegan story but I can do that over at Precious Metal. All those posts I was mentioning earlier, I have friends that run sites and I’m sure I could share that info with them and their readers. I’ve recently started helping with the Strong Hearts Vegan Power website. Going back to the race report thing, it’s easy enough to just share that info there seeing as it’s more relevant.

I did reviews on Precious Metal so why not bring those over? I did interviews on Precious Metal. The thing is, there isn’t a ton of draw here for me to keep VCG going.

I’d love to read your input though.Does this site do anything for you? What benefit have you gotten from it? Anything?

If I did got back to Precious Metal, would you follow me over there? So many ideas to weigh.

In the meantime, I do have a post coming for a documentary I recently saw. So, there’s that! What do you think of all this?

Oh, Hi There!

So… umm… some time has gone by since my last post.

Here we are at the end of February and one of my major goals for 2019 has been rather lackluster; posting more on this blog. No excuses, I could be doing better for sure and am going to try. Tomorrow I’ve got a new recipe to post for some raw banana w/ oat balls, so that’s a start and this post of course.

Then I have a surprise chat with an incredibly inspiring woman to try and rekindle the “Squeals, Bleats and Cackles” series that I had been doing for a bit. I really want to push that a bit further, so if you think of someone you’d like to see featured please let me know!

One of my bigger goals for 2019 was to come out of my shell and I’ve made some huge progress. I’ve gone out and spent time with friends, which to most people would be a normal every day occurrence. I enjoy people’s company, don’t get me wrong. I just got very comfortable with my previous home life and I chose to stay close with my small family.

I’ve even been on a couple dates! Whoah! They’ve been low key and very non-committal. It’s just been nice to meet new people, share stories and learn about them. I didn’t know it but I really enjoy learning from other people’s experiences. There is so much wisdom in a simple conversation and I’m looking forward to many more conversations. I’m still not into the bar scene so meeting new people has been a challenge. Dating these days is quite different then it was 20 years ago, but I’m able to adapt pretty fast, it’s one of my greatest strengths I think.

One other thing to mention before I sign off, I’ve been on a 90 day transformation of sorts. I’m just under two weeks until the end and can’t wait to write about it. I’ve never felt stronger, nor have I felt more self-confident. It’s trivial I’m sure, but I felt like the dad-bod I was building was not the direction I was looking to go. Being a runner and somewhat active, it also wasn’t conducive to achieving any sort of success. But, more on that later.

I just wanted to check-in and say things are plodding ahead, albeit a bit slower than I had hoped. Talk more soon!

 

So many vegan things on ole Cape Cod!!

It is AMAZING how well things are going right now. I feel like I want to explode with anticipation but I’m really trying to rein it all in; it’s so hard though! I can say that 2019 is shaping up to be a good year so far and we are just over two weeks in!!

I can hint at a few things, just can’t make them super official; call em teasers!

For one, I’ve been working with a company that is promoting the film “Eating Animals” and we will be showing it at the Cape Cinema in Dennis. I am super pumped about this but am a bit nervous. In order to get this all set I have to get “x” amount of butts in seats to break even. I am hoping for more than that though as I want to raise money for Tamerlaine Farm Animal Sanctuary as well, so anything past “x” is vegan gravy! The film is a great film, based on the book sharing the same name, it basically talks about the end of factory farming. It’s a great conversation starter and some friends and I are building a nice little vegan platform here on Cape Cod that included a Q&A after the film.

With that…

I changed the name of the group I started. It’s no longer called “Cape Cod Vegan Potlucks” but instead is called “Cape Cod Vegan Events” as I hope to share all of the things that go on here on Cape Cod as far as the burgeoning vegan community goes. There’s all sorts of stuff going on. We’ve got groups like Green Nosh putting on gatherings. There’s Lori and her husband Charlie holding monthly Veg Supper Clubs. Kara and pals have pulled together and created Cape Cod Animal Save.  We’ve got Barb putting on vegan potlucks and we have a growing number of vegan makers such as Kaya aka Cape Cod Gypsea! There is so much going on here on Cape Cod!! It made sense to change the name of that group to help promote everything, we are all one community and it behooves us all to share events and cross-post; so that’s what is going on.

As far as the potlucks that I was putting on, yes I will be putting them on again and soon I hope. I’m really working on a consistent venue though and think I’ve got a decent one, just need to lock down the details. As I get more on this I will share and hope to see you guys back at a potluck again!

There’s something in the works (hopefully) for Spring/ Summer that may resemble a Veg Fest/ Vegan Makers Market. This is the beginning but with some work we can make this a reality. A very driven young vegan, Ariana, is driving this project and it’ll be great to see it happen!

Still more news? Heck yes there’s more! While I am chipping away at the first Vegan Cable Guy podcast, there may be some “radio broadcast” news coming soon. I’ve been asked to be part of a new project that will go out over local Cape Cod radio and I can’t wait to share more. There will be a few of us and we will be chatting about local things going on, sharing stories with listeners, maybe talking recipes and even some activism sprinkled in. It’s going to be amazing; this was the BIG teaser!!

I feel like there’s something missing but WOW I can’t believe the progress this amazing community is seeing and I’m psyched to be a small part of it!!

 

Activism: Writing Letters

One thing that I’m not super out there with is activism. Most of mine is done online. Right here, right now, is where most of it happens. Either with this blog or on my social media pages. As a busy father who works 50+ hours a week, it fits my lifestyle and still allows me to share my beliefs.

Would I like to do more? Absolutely! That’s where today’s post is going.

I was reminded by my friends at Cape Cod Animal Save this morning to write a letter to one of our representatives, State Senator Julian Cyr. He represents the district that Cape Cod is a part of. They shared their letter on Facebook and so I started working on mine and sent it off. I haven’t received a response as of yet and, to be honest, that was only minutes ago at this point. But I wanted to share the fact that although we think we are unable to make more time for activism, sometimes it only takes a couple of minutes to fire off a letter regarding something you feel passionate about.

Below is the letter I whipped up and sent to Senator Cyr.

“Good morning Sir!

I wanted to thank you and your office for all the assistance you’ve given my family in the past. A couple of years ago a family member was having issues with unemployment and your office stepped up for her and we had a resolution within hours. That was amazing and so appreciated as it helped our family.

Now, I come to you about something a bit different.

The past few years we’ve seen a dramatic shift regarding ethics and morality here on Cape Cod. It’s become a sport to kill as many coyotes as possible. There is a contest put on by the Powderhorn in Hyannis that has prizes for the heaviest dead coyote, the most cumulative weight for the dead bodies of coyotes and so on. I have no issue with guns, this is far from a gun issue. Our forefathers believed that every citizen should be allowed to keep and bear arms for the protection of their family and community, I get it. While I do not own a gun, I know many people that do and I will defend their freedom to keep them.

That said, this contest is barbaric and puts us back many centuries as a species. To see the glee in the eyes of the shooters as they display their “kill” is scary at the very least. We are teaching children that killing is ok. Did you know who killed animals when they were a small child? Jeffrey Dahmer! Desensitizing children to killing when they are young teaches them one thing, murder in any form is ok and they don’t have to feel bad about it; they can even smile in pictures with their “trophy.” You know who also kept trophies? Jeffrey Dahmer! You see where I’m going there, right?

I live in an area where my backyard abuts hunting land. I see wild deer in my backyard and I even see the occasional coyote, at least the one’s that have escaped the scope. I also hear shots ringing out that are very close to my home. You’d think I would be the first person advocating to remove coyotes as I’ve lost pet cat’s in the past because of them. But I cannot stop nature, nor can we humans try to do the same. It’s on me to make sure my animals were taken care of and I let them out, that’s on ME, not the instinct of a wild animal.

Please consider legislation that would ban killing contests here on Cape Cod. 

It’s the right thing to do for us, our children, for Cape Cod and for the animals we share this beautiful land with.

ps. I’ve attached some photos of some beautiful creatures that were taken to soon. I’m wondering, many of these killed were females, if they were pregnant with babies isn’t that illegal? Please enlighten me.”

I’m not telling anyone what to do. I’m not forcing you to write a letter or do any sort of activism at all. This is something that I’m finding fits the lifestyle that I lead. It’s just one other little thing I can do to share my beliefs that animals are sentient beings that deserve life as much as the next sentient being.

Activism comes in many forms, choose what works for you.

Speaking of which; what type of activism do you do?

2019: Disciplined Intention

So here we are; January 1st, 2019!

As you may or may not have read in my near chronological breakdown of 2018, it was a year that had a lot of ups and downs. Thankfully, it is in the past at this point. This very moment is filled with hope and the expectation that 2019 is going to be filled with a variety of prodigious goals and achievements. One in particular is filled with so much planning that I’m hoping the details don’t overwhelm the process but, alas, it (and the rest of the list) will be accomplished. The easiest way for me to explain to you some of those if to create a small list and then pick them apart.

Let’s go from smallest goal (most attainable) to the largest (most important).

1. Drink more water
2. Meditate daily
3. Plan more vegan potlucks
4. Start podcasting 
5. Write on this blog more
6. Be more extroverted and less introverted
7. Run more w/ Strong Hearts Vegan Power
8. Visit friends out of state
9. Run across Cape Cod
10. Spend more time with my kids

Drink more water is pretty self explanatory. I’m really good about doing it when I have races coming up, or when I’m working in the summer. That said, hydration is a year round thing and I really need to do better to drink more. I’m sure these headaches would subside and skin dryness would dissipate. How do you make sure you get enough water every day?

Similar to water, meditating every day doesn’t need much explaining. I have found that when I meditate more, my stress level is lower and my tolerance for bullsh*t is higher. This is going to be hard to keep a regimen but I will make time the best I can.

During 2018 I was able to put on a couple of vegan potlucks and they were pretty successful in bringing a new group of folks together here on Cape Cod and creating a small community. Toward the end of 2018 it sputtered a bit as I had some issues finding a place to host the Autumn event and am having issues presently doing the Winter one. I have a line out to someone, though, and feel like some big news will be coming soon on this. I would prefer to have just one place that I can book 4 solid dates per year at and be done. It’s easier on attendees, it’s easier on me and we all get yo eat yummy vegan food; YAY!!

Start podcasting? What? This one may be a bit trickier. First, I need my own laptop to do this. I only have one from work right now and can’t install new software on it, meaning no recording/ editing software. I have the knowledge to edit, I just need the equipment. Oh and I have to not hate hearing the sound of my voice being played back and maybe gain a bit more confidence in sharing stories about my life or whatever topic I’m waxing poetic about. More to come on this but I could maybe use some advice. My pal Michael Harren has told me he’d help, maybe it’s time to talk more with him.

I would love to write on the blog more, it’s been a goal the past year or two. I feel though that a lot of the topics I would cover are already covered somewhere else. Does the vegan blogosphere really need someone else saying the same stuff? Does my voice really matter that much? I guess i have to figure out what is most important to me and just start there. More to come here as well.

Being more extroverted versus being introverted; this is much easier said then done. Over the past few years I got in this mindset of complacency and comfort. My home felt like the only place I wanted to be. Yes I went out to some social things like running a Ragnar with my friends in Strong Hearts Vegan Power or to a potluck, but because of my social awkwardness, when the event was over I was always relieved to be back on my couch in my home. This all stems from the fact I am not super confident in myself. Yes, I can accomplish anything I put my mind too, I get it. But that social awkwardness thing is always in the back of my head whether you are seeing it when we are face to face or not; it’s there and it’s alarming at times. For instance, right now the thought of even entertaining the idea of asking someone to dinner is frightening. After not having dated in so long how does one even start over? I can’t stay in my concrete floored condo forever though and I have to get out. So that’s what I plan to do. When the time comes, here’s hoping she likes vegan pizza!

Running more with SHVP is going to be difficult as I will now have to arrange care for the boys when I’m away but this is not at all out of the question. For one, I have already signed up to run the Vegan Power 50k Relay with a couple SHVP friends. Since this event is held at Pittsfield State Forest I’m gonna turn it into a camping weekend with the boys and while I’m running my 5 mile loops, they will be at one of the aid stations. I mentioned this to them and they are excited to see how the process works, and to be camping away for the weekend. I guess I’ve already started adapting when it comes to things like this but I will have to be crafty a Ragnar is thrown in there. Masters division? Ya we can crush it!!

My boy Jay and other upstate New York friends are always talking about getting together, so I need to make this happen. I’ve never been to Ithaca so to see the gorges and other cool stuff would be awesome. Again, gotta just make the effort here which I hope to soon. Oh and a stop into Strong Hearts Cafe would be pretty f*cking amazing too!

What is run across Cape Cod you ask? Well it’s been a tab up above for a while now and I think I’m ready to really focus on it. This past month I’ve been on a strength training regimen and a new nutrition plan. After a full 90 day cycle I start running again and in the fall of this year I will run from one of the Cape Cod bridges to the tip of Provincetown. Why? Well because I try to set one very crazy goal each year and this year this seemed like the craziest. Plus, it’s officially a 100k distance (it’s over 62 miles) so it’d be nice to check that distance off the bucket list. More to come on that as I rebuild that site and possibly look for some sponsors who want to help and raise funds for my favorite animal sanctuary,

Lastly and most importantly, spending more valuable time with my kids. I see a lot of camping going on this spring/ summer. I see lots of hands on stuff like board games and getting away from screens. There are tons of trails here on Cape that we haven’t explored yet. This is gonna be an awesome year for the boys and I. I can’t wait to get started.

Throughout 2019 I will provide updates as I check off items from this list, but I think I got some lofty goals. Today is the first day of the rest of my life and I’m going for it!!!

Moment of Enlightenment : Privilege

Today was a rather illuminating day. From the beginning, I woke with intention and hoped to carry it until this moment at the very least. If you are a follower on Instagram you maybe followed along the “My Story” feature on my profile.

The first part of that story was posting a book I’ve been reading lately, a companion book to the film “What The Health.” I asked everyone else what they were reading and received a diverse collection from their responses. We had books about the origin of Nestle in New York, to parables about financial advice, one about treating trauma using a variety of divergent treatment options and even someone reading some J. R. R. Tolkien. If anything, it shows I know some pretty interesting people.

All the while, I was working doing a variety of jobs. The first was a decent sized install. It took a bit of time, but then all I had was some remedial jobs after that. A good portion of my time was spent driving and this gave me the opportunity to think and to see everything around me.

Shore Road in Truro, leading into Provincetown, is one of my favorite roads on all of Cape Cod. Right before you hit Knowles Heights it always seems like the skyline expands and opens up, it feels like you can see forever. If you are local to the area you know what I mean. I took my lunch at one of the beaches. I started thinking how lucky I was to be there at that moment. I also, for the first time in a long time, didn’t take it for granted.

That luck wasn’t so much luck as it was (is) privilege.

While I’ve come to the realization just how privileged I am on other occasions, today it hit me; more than once and HARD.

I’m privileged because I was born white. My skin color makes all the difference in the world when it comes to privilege. F*ck no, it shouldn’t, I agree. The sad part is that it does, and yes it’s archaic. We should have moved past this whole race things years ago but we haven’t. I could list everything that is f*cked up with this but it’s there, right in front of my eyes, your eyes and the rest of the worlds eyes to see. Racism is alive and well in this country and I am ashamed of it. But I don’t know what to do about it.

I’m privileged because I was born to a family that cared for me, fed me, educated me and many more things. We may not have been the richest family but we truly never wanted for much more than we had. Sure we would have loved a pool in the backyard, but the pond down the street was good enough; my Dad always brought us there in the summer after work, even just for a quick dip to cool off. Sure we wanted a dessert every night but we got excited when maybe we got lucky enough to get an ice cream in the middle of the hot summer.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I was born a man. Why that should even be a privilege in this day and age is beyond me, but regardless, the world is certainly easier if you are male. We are still paid higher wages for doing the same jobs that woman do. We are hired more often than a woman for the same position, one that she may even be more qualified for. I do not have a better understanding of all this but I do support all of my friends who are willing to teach me in a kind and compassionate way, because I will kindly and compassionately fight for you in return.

There’s also the fact I was born a straight man, that ups the game a bit. Even though a “city in the sky” like Provincetown exists, hatred for my LGBTQ friends still exists. I remember back in school that my friend Tom came out to me. He was scared that he might lose me as a friend. I remember looking at him and saying, “dude, I already knew.” Sure, it meant the world to me that he would tell me but I also could tell it took courage for him to tell me. He was my closest friend in the world and he was scared to tell me who he was. That was in the late 80’s and yes, there is still fear like that today. It breaks my heart that we live in a world with so much cruelty that we judge a person because of who they love, regardless of gender or color or whatever. Love is love.

To top all that off, for whatever reason karma decided it was my good fortune to be born human. While human beings suffer, and I’ve outlined many of those reasons, to be born in the animal realm is torture; literally and figuratively. Sure if you are born a cat or a dog your life might be a bit better than a mama pig who spends her life in a gestation crate, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. Dogs and cats are beaten. They are dropped off in the middle of nowhere to die by “caring” families and all sorts of other sh*t. To be born an animal in this day and age is almost a curse. That’s part of the reason I stay a vegan and the main reason I can never go back to not being vegan. Could I do more to bring attention to this, sure; I’m working on that too!

I sat on that beach wondering why I was given the fortune of this life and the convenience of all that privilege.

Today felt like a starting point. A real moment of clarity.

In that moment it lead me to wonder just what am I going to do with this privilege. How will I make something positive come out of it?

I’m not 100% but I am working on it and I’m not going to just co-exist with my privilege; I’m going to use it to benefit as many sentient beings as I can.

I ended my day on another section of Shore Road from the dock picture at the top. I watched the sun set and was filled with purpose.

Veganism: The Cure For E. Coli and More Preventable Illnesses

image from Dallas Star

Where to begin?!

I guess let’s just get into it.

The romaine recall was caused by one thing; animal agriculture. Shocker right?

If you don’t believe me then understand where E. coli comes from. Per the CDC website (https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/etec.html) “Infection occurs when a person eats food, or drinks water or ice contaminated with ETEC bacteria. Human or animal wastes (e.g., feces) are the ultimate source of ETEC contamination.”

There’s also this from the Mayo Clinic:

“The most common way to acquire an E. coli infection is by eating contaminated food, such as:

  • Ground beef. When cattle are slaughtered and processed, E. coli bacteria in their intestines can get on the meat. Ground beef combines meat from many different animals, increasing the risk of contamination.
  • Unpasteurized milk. E. coli bacteria on a cow’s udder or on milking equipment can get into raw milk.
  • Fresh produce. Runoff from cattle farms can contaminate fields where fresh produce is grown. Certain vegetables, such as spinach and lettuce, are particularly vulnerable to this type of contamination.”

Romaine lettuce gets contaminated by animal feces when sewage lakes seep into the land or into rivers that feed farms. Those literal pools (lakes) of piss and shit are also sprayed on crops “to help them grow.” Don’t believe those lakes exist? How about you go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayGJ1YSfDXs and see for yourself! If that’s a little to slanted for you to the left, then how about this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z9a2dvsEWQ by the crazies over at InfoWars (this is the only time I will EVER share anything from those lunatics).

Smithfield, one of the largest pig farming companies on Earth, was recently sued and had to pay out millions and millions of dollars to people who were down wind of these farms. All that sprayed shit caused all sorts of health issues for those people and they actually beat Smithfield in court. That doesn’t fix the asthma, cancer and other issues they have but it sent a message.

People are not going to be complacent anymore.

Don’t be fooled into thinking eating meat is safe, it’s what caused this!

Tomorrow is the day when Americans eat an exorbitant amount of turkey. This year though there is also a recall on those as well. See there’s been a salmonella outbreak with them and a bunch of other products. Similar to E. Coli, Salmonella is an illness caused by, you guess it, animals and animal agriculture. You can see more info at https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/general/prevention.html

Once animal agriculture is a thing of the past so will these illnesses be. This is not a partisan issue. It’s not political at all, EXCEPT for the fact that these big corporations continue to pay off weak minded politicians. When we expose those people though, we just vote them out. That day is coming and they know it.

The easiest way to keep yourself, your family and your friends safe is to go vegan. If I can help, just ask!

Life and Its Eternal Transience

“If you suffer, it is not because things are impermanent. It is because you believe things are permanent.”

I’ve been staring at the line, from the venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, for over an hour and a half. Between glancing at the screen constantly, catching random scenes of “It” (the movie by Stephen King) all the while going back and forth deleting / restarting this post numerous times thinking I’m ready to proceed. “It” was meant as a mind-freeing, or mind-numbing distraction so I could write this but, well; that hasn’t worked out too well.

The unenviable truth is that this past few weeks, better yet months, has seen suffering rise to a level I thought I had once absolved in my life. Things had gone really well for a while. Home life had been great. We bought a house. I keep progressing at my job and am privileged to earn as much, or as little, as I want to as I work for a fantastic company. We had recently adopted a couple new dog friends. Everyone seemed to be happy. With all of that, I finally felt like everything I had been working so hard for was finally starting to come to fruition.

One day I left for work and our cat Agatha was laying in her usual place, behind the mailbox in the front garden. I took a pic of her since the light was hitting her just right and she looked full of life. That was the last time I saw her. Later that day we couldn’t find her. She wouldn’t come in at night like she usually does. Things didn’t feel right and I knew she wasn’t coming home.

She never did.

Last night our other cat, Itsy, was meowing at the front door to come in. I let her in and instantly I could see she was limping. She was a lot more vocal than usual as well. I picked her up and she didn’t struggle, which was unusual because she hates being picked up. Her front right paw felt a little cold so I thought maybe she was sleeping under a bush and the paw had fallen asleep. I gave her about another 10-15 minutes to not only warm up, but hopefully get the circulation going back to the foot.

That never happened.

I called Leah at work and asked her to come home so I could bring Itsy to the all night emergency vet clinic. When she got home, my son Alex and I took Itsy to get help. The cold paw was indicative of something tragic, and we were about to find out it was not something we would want to hear; at all. It was a blood clot brought on by advanced stages of heart disease. This blew my mind as Itsy was an extremely healthy cat. Minus check-ups, she never had to see a vet for anything and never presented any signs of distress. This blood clot was in her lower leg, per the vet, the next one (which would come soon) may not be as forgiving.

The next clot could present anywhere. It could show up in another leg. Her lungs. Maybe it’d show up in an eye or even her brain and cause seizures. That was when we were given the bad news that the vet recommended euthanasia. Leah and Colin came down to say their goodbyes and then they went home, Alex also went with them.

I had been given a box with Itsy’s lifeless body inside and a bill to pay for the visit including the diagnosis, some pain medication to make her feel better until a decision could be made, then the cost of the euthanasia. All the “we are so sorry” comments were helpful and appreciated from the staff, but it felt so cold and blasé.

Early this morning, I buried the box in one of her favorite spots. She loved to soak up the sun in one of the gardens. I hope she can still feel the warm sun.

There is so much more to say, there’s so much more to share. That will have to wait. For now, I reluctantly internalize this suffering and cope with the impermanence of it all.

Life is not static, it changes and I get that.

THAT I can deal with.

…more to come… some day

 

Ragnar ADK 2018: The Impact

PREFACE: This is the second part of my race report, you can view part one at http://vegancableguy.com/ragnar-adk-2018-the-race/

To say this race was a success wouldn’t be the half of it. This race was amazing not only for the running and camaraderie but for the advocacy. Every race we get the usual “but bacon bro” calls and my team had someone tell us how his team would be “Carnivore Power.” Even though we had some of those comments this one felt different, at least for me. People seemed more open to approaching us and questioned how we were all so fast. They were greeted with kindness from each and every one of us.

I believe wholeheartedly that we represented the movement in the best way we could. There was no militancy or condescension. There was plenty of cordiality, thoughtfulness and informed restraint. That said, there was one defining moment for me and those of you on the team already heard Peter speak about it after the race, but for readers I’m going to explain what happened.

One of the exchanges was at a farm. Not just any farm though, a full-blown working dairy farm; King Brothers Dairy. You can imagine how disheartening it was to roll up on this place and know what was going on. While the workers were happy to walk around and talk about how “kindly” their animals were treated, the fact is that no matter the amount of subterfuge, the cows still don’t want to be forcibly impregnated, have their calves taken away and then be painfully milked for the pleasure of human beings. We all know the cycle continues until they are of no use and then are sent to slaughter. The males have no use from the get go so they get placed in small crates; veal crates.

Peter and I walked over to the side of one of the buildings and noticed a calf was walking around. We both looked at one another kind of perplexed. We wondered if it was maybe some sort of mascot that was allowed to roam, but we quickly figured out it was a crate escapee when we saw the crates just behind him. He was walking around frantically looking toward a spot where some older cows were. Those cows were knee-deep in water and were tied by a rope to a bar; obviously they weren’t allowed to roam either. The calf started walking toward us and got really close to Peter before he turned around, took a couple of steps and let out a heart-wrenching bellow. A chorus of bellows followed coming from the crates as the other babies started crying out for their mothers.

I was overwhelmed with emotion.

My heart was aching.

I have never EVER witnessed anything like this before.

Quickly some farms workers came over and corralled the calf and took him away. I will never forget that moment. I’ve of course seen the videos of this stuff and have been disheartened by them, but to witness it goes beyond that. It was real and it was raw; I will never forget the sound those babies made.

Now onto something a bit more lighthearted…

Our Sunday celebration was once again held at Tamerlaine Farm Animal Sanctuary.  We shared pizza, stories and tons of love with the animals of the farm. It’s always amazing to me how settled in the animals are. Considering the fact most come from abusive situations or from factory farms or even from the Kaporos ritual, their trust in humanity is still there.

Peter, Gabby and all the volunteers do such a great job caring for these animals. Whether the animal needs rehabbing, veterinary care or just a hug they get everything they need there on the sanctuary. The animals are unconditionally loved and are treated equally and fairly. They live out their lives in an environment that is worthy of their lives.

After such a debilitating experience at the dairy farm, it was nice to decompress and see what vegan activism and advocacy can do. I left the farm feeling good about the weekend but also wondering what can be done to help close places like that dairy farm down. No baby, regardless of species, should be forcibly taken away from their mothers so another species can steal their bodily secretions.

The most logical answer is to go vegan; it’s that simple. There are so many different kinds of milks to drink that do not cause any harm. I prefer soy but others like almond milk. Maybe you like oat milk, or hemp milk. Hell you can have flax milk if you like or even coconut. The fact of the matter is this, you don’t need to drink the bodily fluids of another species when you can drink plenty of other products. For one, you are not a baby cow and that stuff doesn’t belong to you in the first place.

Go vegan!

Please enjoy these photos (below) from the celebration at Tamerlaine and if you can please donate to them by going to their site at https://tamerlainefarm.org/donate/

 

 

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