My Name Is Prince

 

Prince, Rave

Prince was more than a musician, a rare gem in the world of celebrity who truly earned the right to become a “legend”.

Aside from being arguably one of the greatest musicians and performers of all time, he leveraged his talents to do more than sing. As he matured, he used his voice to advocate for veganism, animal rights, monogamy, feminism, independent artistry, and more.

He was not the reason I became vegan but I first learned the word through his speaking out on the subject, which, in turn, nudged me to dig further and eventually become vegan myself.

In short, Prince took advantage of his skills to do more than make money and have fun. He used his platform to make a difference in as many ways as he could. There are few celebrities who die with such an outpouring of respect from their counterparts, and story after story of what an authentic human being they are.

Prince could easily have gone the route of so many famous people who died and were mourned for nothing more than being famous. After all, he came to his fame in the hey day of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, yet he changed the lives of nearly every musician, and every person, he touched. He made, for the better, the lives of many humans and non-humans who never got to shake his hand or thank him.

The point is this… you have a voice. You have your social media accounts, or your blog, or your relationships with the people around you. Whether you know it, who you are–and who you present to the world–affects more people than you will ever meet, know, or even hear about.

A word of caution: be sure you know what you are talking about when you do speak. Your voice is also your reputation. It is the last thing anyone will hear from you.

Use your voice, like Prince did, to do more than sing.

rave lamb prince

 

Is Your Dog Vegan?

Our puppy, Oliver, is 8 months old and our cat, Rainee, is about 15 years old (this post was written in April of 2016). Nicole and I are both long-time vegans so it stands to reason our pets would be vegan, too. Many vegans, because of their personal philosophical choice, anthropomorphize their values on their pets. We are not those types of vegans.

I like to think of myself (perhaps a bit narcissistically) as an “intellectual” vegan. I made my choice based on my personal moral values and a lot of learning about food, nutrition, and the science of being healthy. After I went vegan, I started to wonder if pet food was roughly equivalent in nutrition and chemical adulteration as highly processed human food. Turns out it is. I make conscious choices about what my pets eat now, too. The difference is, that I do not make philosophical choices for my pets. I do not think it is right to assume the values of my pets inherently reflect my own. Oliver and Rainee are (and I’m not trying to be insulting here) simply too dumb to understand the complicated choices we make on their behalf. Oliver, for example, happily eats carpet and has no problem licking the butt of any dog he just met. I am just saying maybe he is not the brightest star in the sky when it comes to complex decision-making.

Obviously, some important decisions about Oliver’s well-being and safety in a world dominated by the human species is best left to humans (because we know how to read labels and use can openers, for example). Outside of practical decisions, though, I would no more try to impose my philosophy of living on Oliver than I would try to teach a two-year old human baby the virtues of Capitalism. It is outside their scope of knowledge.

 

Some words in this post you might not be familiar with, loosely defined:

Carnivore: must eat meat to have proper nutrition (a tiger, for example).

Herbivore: must eat fruits and vegetables for proper nutrition (an elephant, for example).

Omnivore: can eat either meat or vegetables, or both, and be nutritionally sound (a human, for example).

Vegan: someone who chooses NOT to consume or wear anything that is, or comes from, an animal.

Narcissist: someone who is in love with himself or herself, to a fault.

Anthropomorphize: projecting human thoughts and feelings onto another animal (like Bugs Bunny or your dog).

Adulteration: adding bad stuff (like chemicals) to good stuff (like fruit) to make something unfit for consumption (like Froot Loops, which are delicious, nonetheless).

 

A dog can certainly survive on a vegan diet, but should your dog be vegan because you are?

This is a debatable topic in the vegan community but I am not sure why. On the surface, it is debatable if dogs are omnivores at all, though many veg-friendly sites claim dogs are omnivores “by nature”. There is conflicting evidence about that, but there is no debate that most species within the dog family (Canis Familiaris and their wolf ancestors, Canis Lupus) subsist mostly through hunting and eating other animals. Personally, I think there is a clear, obvious, and striking difference between most omnivores or herbivores and dogs–look at their teeth and eating patterns. Dogs eat competitively and in packs, suggesting the hunting and bringing home of prey rather than individually scavenging for fruits and vegetables.

There is no legitimate scientific debate around cats, as far as I can tell. They are considered strictly carnivores and scientists generally agree cats are unable to thrive without meat in their diet, despite weak anecdotal support from some pet owners.

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So, I will dismiss Rainee from the debate altogether. Regardless if Oliver can survive on a vegan diet (again, debatable), let alone thrive on one (also debatable but certainly possible with strict attention to dietary supplements and fortified foods), I need do no more than look at his teeth to see it is a bad choice to make him vegan.

Canine teeth are clearly designed for ripping, tearing, shredding, and gnashing (like a tiger, wolf, or vampire from Fright Night). Human teeth, by contrast, are flatter and better suited for grinding and chewing (like a cow or horse). Even if dogs are technically omnivores, they have clearly evolved mostly as carnivores, unlike humans, and if left to their own choices, dogs will not deviate from a carnivorous diet (Oliver, for example, will not pass an opportunity to slurp up a lizard if he catches one, much to Nicole’s dismay). In other words, there might be a debate among humans whether dogs are, or should be, considered strictly carnivores, but there is certainly no ambiguity among dogs–if given the opportunity, they will not hesitate to eat meat.

To me, it is a minor act of cruelty to make your pets vegan. As far as we humans can tell, it is not what dogs want or need, and it very likely robs them of key nutrients unless you are a vegan supernerd food scientist who knows vegan dog nutrition inside and out. I don’t even know human food and nutrition inside and out, let alone the nutritional requirements of another species. Forcing my dog to be vegan would likely, and unnecessarily, shorten his lifespan in the name of my moral ignorance.

All that being said, Nicole is grossed out by pet food and treats and will avoid touching it if possible. That leaves the dirty business of feeding them to me. I won’t lie. As a vegan, it is tough some days to smell and handle canned meat, or dog bones, or treats, or to clean up Rainee’s salmon-laced hairballs. It is a moral conundrum, as well, because of course, I don’t like buying meat or having non-vegan items in the house. I understand why vegans make ill choices for their pets, but my primary responsibility to the pet, as I see it, is to the pet’s health and well-being before my own personal politics come into play.

When it comes to choosing vegan for your dog, consider two things…

  1. Maybe you shouldn’t have a dog. Borrow your friend’s dog, or volunteer at a shelter to fill that need, or get a rabbit.
  2. Does the dog want to be vegan? Is it the best choice for the dog or just the best choice to satisfy your conscience?

Nothing about pet ownership is easy and our responsibility does not stop at rescuing or purchasing an animal companion. I am glad the debate over ethical choices for pets is happening (including the debate over pet ownership itself), but when it comes to diet, I think the right thing to do for my dog is not necessarily always the thing that leaves the best taste in my mouth.

 

Feel differently? Agree wholeheartedly? Have questions? Let us know in the comments below!

Our Ancestors Ate Animals? Gross!

Being vegan is increasingly mainstream. It is easier than ever (in major cities), to find vegan options at most restaurants. Vegan clothes are easy to find and order. Vegan niche stores and cafes are popping up. Even Ben and Jerry’s ice cream has vegan options now!

It is a good time to be vegan or veg-curious. When I decided to go vegan almost two decades ago (this is Michael, by the way), the options were nothing like they are now.

It got me thinking (and others are thinking, too)… as a modern society, we look at some choices from–say, just 50 years ago–as relatively unconscionable, if not barbaric. Segregation, for example, or gender stereotyping, or spousal abuse.

What are the things we will look at 50 years from now and find nearly unbelievable that we accepted, as a society?

Will your grandchildren grow up saying, “Can you believe people used to actually carry around a hand-held computer all day and type out messages to each other? It must have taken them forever to get anything done that way!”

“Our ancestors used to kill animals to eat them for food? That’s horrible! Why couldn’t they just use molecular generators to grow meat instead of live like cavemen?”

Maybe it is a pipe dream but I think we are heading that way, and faster than ever. We are growing more environmentally conscious, ecologically conscious, and ethically conscious.

Factory farming, industrialized heavily processed food, and captive animal cruelty are all things receiving greater attention (and outrage) today than they were just a few years ago, let alone half a century ago. Factory farming, I think, will be as senseless and brutal sounding in the near future as ancient gladiator matches seem now.

I don’t know about you… but I hope two or three generations from now, I am seen as a pioneer instead of an embarrassing relic of some family’s history.

What do you want the future say about you?

 

REVIEW: Falafel Cafe (Restaurant)

RATING: B

WHAT: Falafel Cafe

WHERE: Clearwater, just off US 19

PRICE: $26 for 2 people, including tip.

2 Falafel Platters (sandwich with 2 sides), including 2 cups of lentil soup, fries, soup, and salad. 1 canned Pepsi and 1 bottled water.

ATMOSPHERE:

Falafel Cafe is a small restaurant in a strip mall. It has outdoor seating but we don’t recommend it. It’s the mall parking lot, facing the highway. The space itself is about the size of a small Subway sandwich shop and there are 2 televisions (one on each wall). When we visited, they were too loud for such a small space–one was playing sports and the other an Arabic channel. The tables were covered with cheap plastic liners but the restaurant itself was clean.

HOW VEGAN IS IT?:

Middle Eastern food typically has many unintentionally vegan options and this place is no different. If you like Lebanese food, you can’t go wrong here. Hummus, salad, soup, and at least a couple sandwiches are all vegan. One note, though… Falafel is a deep-fried chick-pea based batter. Middle Eastern restaurants almost always fry in vegetable or corn oil, but we didn’t ask. Also, whenever you are eating restaurant fried food, we think it is only fair to assume the fries (or falafel) were fried in the same oil as the chicken tenders, fish, and everything else. So, if you order something fried, you take your chances or accept that it is probably not 100% vegan.

THE GOOD:

Like any good Lebanese restaurant, they had Pepsi! Michael is not a fan of Coke and is always excited to find Pepsi when we eat out. The amount of food was surprising for the price. We left stuffed. They gave us a complimentary hummus appetizer to start, complete with pickled beets!

The staff consisted of one person running the store. Our server was also our chef, our host, and our cashier. The place was obviously family owned because the only other guests were his family. He was very friendly and the service was very good.

The food was made fresh to order, so if you go, expect a bit of a wait for your meal.

We have to offer a disclaimer here: Michael comes from a Lebanese family of restaurateurs so he is a harsh critic of Middle Eastern food and has very particular opinions about how Arabic restaurant food should taste. That being said, Michael thought this place was “good”.

The falafel was very good and it was served as described… on a platter! The fries were crinkle cut and hearty. The salad was a bit simple as far as ingredients go, but it was spiced well.

 

THE BAD:

Nicole would have liked to have seen more of the traditional vegan options that Arabic/ Middle Eastern restaurants usually offer (such as grape leaves, fattoush, or tabbouleh). They did have ful (sometimes spelled “foul” but pronounced more like “fool”), though, which makes for a great breakfast option.

This is not necessarily bad but the lentil soup was creamed (meaning “blended” not “made with cream”). Traditional lentil soup is a bit more chunky whereas this was closer to a baby food consistency. We weren’t fans of the consistency but you might be, and the taste was fine.

 

THE SUMMARY:

Falafel Cafe is a good spot for a hearty lunch if you have a bit of time to kill. We definitely received our money’s worth and the owner was friendly. We could have done without the TV’s but that is just our preference. Next time, it might be a carry-out order. The restaurant is small, clean, and convenient if you are in the area shopping. Worth a visit, especially if you love Falafel!

 

REVIEW: Love Food Central (Restaurant)

RATING: A

WHAT: Love Food Central restaurant

WHERE: St. Pete, FL (right down the road from two of our faves… Taco Bus and Community Cafe!)

PRICE: $45 for two (including tip, water to drink)

We had a Pulled Barbecue Sandwich, Love Burger with mushrooms (the mushrooms were +$2), a cheese plate appetizer, and a Caramel Sundae. They also let us try a complimentary Carmelita Bar.

ATMOSPHERE: Hipster Chic. Great interior with tables, couches, and cafe-style seating and decor.

HOW VEGAN IS IT?

Super vegan! Everything on the menu is vegan and gluten-free, so plenty of vegan options including burgers, desserts, and appetizers. And it is all delicious!

THE GOOD:

The food was great! We especially liked the onion dip served with the cheese plate but, if for no other reason, go there for the vegan caramel soft-serve sundae! It was coconut-cashew based ice cream and topped with a little sea salt. Amazing. Everything we tried, though, was stellar. There was not a crumb left on our plates. The Carmelita Bar was delectable, as well.

The staff was friendly and upbeat. Christie and Lawrence helped us, as well as chatted with each customer while we were there, asking everyone how they heard about Love Food Central. (We heard about them from the write-up on ilovetheburg.com, via Facebook.)

THE BAD:

It’s tough to offer “the bad” for this place because it is definitely one of our new favorites, but we have to offer “The Bad” for each review, so here are our nitpicks…

The prices, in our opinion, are a bit high. $45 for two people with an additional complimentary dessert left us full but certainly not stuffed. Compare that to, say, $45 at Byblos Cafe where you will have to take home leftovers after stuffing yourself to the gills. That said, the food is high-quality and worth every penny.

Love Food Central promotes themselves as “Vegan comfort food” but we think that is probably short-selling their menu. When we think of comfort food, we think of things like grilled cheese, nachos, chili cheese fries, and mac and cheese (basically anything salty covered in cheese!). We are not so sure a wholesome jackfruit sandwich and house-made artisan cheese plate quite fit the category.

THE SUMMARY:

If you are vegan, vegetarian, or veg-curious, visit Love Food Central immediately! The food is amazing, the staff is friendly, the restaurant is clean, and the quality is top-notch. We wouldn’t say they serve vegan comfort food but we would say they serve amazing, delicious vegan food and are worth making the trip! Probably several times.

 

 

 

REVIEW: Mangia Gourmet (Restaurant)

RATING: A

WHAT: Mangia Gourmet restaurant

WHERE: Gulfport, FL (2930 Beach Boulevard S.)

PRICE: About $63 for two people (including tip and dessert)

ATMOSPHERE: Urban hippie. Cozy, small interior with generous, quiet outdoor seating with nice landscaping. This is a great place to meet with friends or have a pleasant meal.

HOW VEGAN IS IT?: Mangia is very vegan-friendly but also has non-vegan options so you can bring your omnivore friends, too, and everyone can find something.

THE GOOD:

Mangia has delicious vegan desserts and every meal we have had there has been delicious. The outdoor seating is nice. You can actually chat, appreciating the quaint downtown of Gulfport without blaring televised sports in every corner. This is a top-notch vegan friendly eatery.

THE BAD:

The prices are a little over-the-top for some items, but quite reasonably for others, so maybe finding some middle-ground pricing. For example, on this occasion we had:

Coconut Kale Smoothie (16 oz) $5.50
Mulled Wine
Apricot Coconut Bar
Carrot Cake
3-Bean Chili (16 oz, $6.50)
Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms $14.95
White Bean Zucchini Burger $6.95

We didn’t catch the prices on the desserts but our total was $63, so give or take $5 each. We can say that $63 filled us up but we didn’t have to be rolled out of there. Take that for what you will.

THE SUMMARY:

We love Mangia. The food is delectable and always made with care. Their vegan desserts are fabulous and Gulfport is a cool little downtown area that is fun to walk. It’s nice that they have both vegan and non-vegan options so your “oh my God I can’t possibly try anything labeled vegan even though almost everything humans eat is already vegan” friends can find something to enjoy as well. Mangia shows up at vegan events, too, like VegFest and CL Veg-Out, so if Gulfport is a hike for you, try to catch them around Tampa.

It’s worth the drive, but prepare for it to be an expensive date (especially if there are drinks involved)!

 

REVIEW: Kite Hill Vegan Cheesecake

RATING: B-

WHAT: Kite Hill Vegan Cheesecake

WHERE: Available only at Whole Foods (Ours was purchased at the Walter’s Crossing location on Dale Mabry).

PRICE: $6 for a small 4 oz. pie

HOW VEGAN IS IT? 100%!

THE GOOD:

Having been spoiled by amazing vegan cheesecake at places like Native Foods, the Chicago Diner, and home-made, it is exciting to have another option in Tampa (the other is Daiya’s cheesecake–see that review here). It is nice just to have options. It’s tough to complain… but we’re still going to.

THE BAD:

For the money, we definitely vote for Daiya’s option, offering 14 ounces to Kite Hill’s 4 ounces of deliciousness for a paltry two dollars more. We were disappointed by the 1/4 inch or so of crust creating nearly half the dessert.

The taste was good. Graham Cracker crust. Kite Hill is one of the premier vegan cheese makers that actually make vegan cheese–not a vegan cheese replacement (like Daiya and others). Not surprisingly, then, the filling was decadent in texture–rich and creamy.

Kite Hill’s cheesecake has the light lemony zest of “normal” cheesecake but it was a bit denser. We would say it was more like super firm pudding than cheesecake.

Kite Hill, Back

THE SUMMARY:

Both the Daiya and Kite Hill desserts would be reasonably priced at half their list price, but if you want premium vegan pre-packaged junk food, then you are going to have to pony up. A lot.

In this case, Kite Hill’s Whole Foods exclusive was not bad, but we wouldn’t pay the same price to go back for seconds.

REVIEW: Cafe Hey (Restaurant)

RATING: B-

WHAT: Cafe Hey (New Year’s Day Buffet menu only).

WHERE: Cafe Hey near Downtown Tampa.

PRICE: About $50 for two, including tip. We had the All-You-Can-Eat Hoppin’ John ($9 each), which consisted of separate tins of Black Eyed Peas, Collard Greens, white rice, and corn bread. We also ordered a bottomless Mimosa for $10, as well as a lemonade, bottle of Mother’s Kombucha, and 2 Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies. You could definitely get away with a more reasonably priced meal, but we wanted to try a little bit of everything.

 

HOW VEGAN IS IT?

Cafe Hey is very vegan-friendly. They have an excellent array of clearly labeled vegan options (including desserts!) and are very knowledgeable on all things vegan. Though this review was regarding a specific meal for a specific event, in general they are one of the best vegan options around!

 

ATMOSPHERE: 

Hipster casual. Cafe Hey is a small restaurant in a run-down looking part of town on the outskirts of downtown Tampa. Expect to see lots of tattoos, piercings, and patrons who are on a first name basis with each other and the staff. The food is great. The place is clean. You will bus your own table (or at least you should). Not much for outdoor seating.

 

THE GOOD:

We like Cafe Hey a lot–they are easily one of the best vegan options in Tampa. The New Year’s Day buffet was not part of their normal menu, but we thought we would review it anyway, since we ate it.

The All-You-Can-Eat for $9 a plate is a decent price for any buffet, let alone a vegan buffet made with high-quality ingredients. The peanut butter chocolate chip cookies were delectable–soft and chewy, without too much sugar mucking up the mix of PB and chocolate.

The vegan cornbread was darn good, too, if just a little on the dry side (but it was in a buffet tin–not expecting culinary perfection here).

 

THE BAD:

The bowl of Hoppin’ John was, overall, bland, in our opinion. We are not Hoppin’ John connoisseurs so maybe that is usually the way it is, but… we would have liked a little more spice (some black pepper and cajun salt, maybe?). That said, we were sober and not nursing a hangover from New Year’s Eve so had we been coming off a bender, we might have appreciated this more.

The collard greens were excellent. The white rice was… white ricey. Michael punched up his second bowl with Sriracha, which helped with the flavor.

For a buffet, the price was good but even though there were four dishes in the buffet line, it was really just one dish with a side of cornbread. If you would pay $9 for a bottomless bowl of decent stew, then this is right up your alley.

 

THE SUMMARY:

All in all,  it was not Cafe Hey’s best, but it was worth the trip. The cookies were worth the trip by themselves! The Hoppin’ John, though, seemed a bit bland, and the Mimosas were okay.

B- for the New Year’s Buffet but don’t let that dissuade from trying Cafe Hey. Every time we have visited them previously, they have been excellent!

 

How our reviews work:
We accept no sponsors or advertisements so we can give honest reviews of everything we try. We are regular customers (but we don’t try to hide what we are doing–they can see us taking notes and pictures). If approached, we will explain ourselves and ask probing questions. We share our thoughts about the experience with each other and then each of us gives a letter grade (A to F). We take the average of both grades to create our rating and share our notes with you!

 

Review: Daiya Vegan Cheesecake (New York Style)

Daiya New York

 

RATING: A

(Michael: A / Nicole: A-)

 

WHAT:  Daiya New York Style plain vegan Cheesecake

WHERE:  Whole Foods on North Dale Mabry (the one by Target, next to PetSmart), freezer section. Not sure if available at all three Tampa locations.

PRICE:  $8.99 for 4 decent sized slices. The whole cheesecake is about 4-inches around, so a little less than half the size of a normal 9-inch pie pan cheesecake.

 

GOOD STUFF

Michael: We ate this plain, with no toppings, and it was amazing! Nicole would have preferred strawberries but I am a big fan of plain cheesecake. Daiya rocked this dessert. I seriously can not imagine a better store-bought cheesecake. The texture, crust, and taste are flawless and it is exciting to have a local source.

Nicole: It was good.  I would have preferred a topping like fresh strawberries or a little chocolate and a few nuts. Would buy again.

 

BAD STUFF

Michael: This is an amazing dessert but it is nowhere near the density or richness of an authentic “New York style” cheesecake. This is just a semantic complaint, perhaps, but I think they should have simply called it “Plain” cheesecake. The size is pretty disappointing, though I will still gleefully fork over nine bucks for another one (or five). It is about half the size of a regular cheesecake and, like most vegan desserts, priced at a premium. Also, this is really a minor complaint because I understand it is a dessert, but Holy Fat Pants, Batman! A normal size portion (one-fourth of the tiny pie) will add 16 grams of saturated fat to your rear end (or 80% of the Recommended Daily Allowance on a 2,000 calorie diet), 24 grams total fat (34% RDA), 420 mg (18%) of your day’s Sodium, and 34 grams (11%) total carbohydrates, 17 grams total sugars. You do have a little fiber in there, though (2 grams/ 8%),  3 grams of protein, 15% Calcium, and 4% Iron.

Nicole: It is priced high but when you break it down, it calculates to  $2.25 for a slice of vegan cheesecake, which is less costly than most restaurant desserts and that is based on four servings.

 

SUMMARY

Michael: I am a cheesecake connoisseur (both pre and post vegan). A plain, New York or Chicago style cheesecake is, in my opinion, one of the world’s most perfect desserts and the Daiya Cheesecakes are a home run. Obviously, a bit pricey but still considerably better value than what you would pay at a vegan restaurant. “New York Style” is a pretty big stretch if you ask me. The Daiya cheesecake is not dense and hard to swallow like a real NY cheesecake. The texture was creamy and smooth and the taste was sweet with a light lemon tartness, almost a perfect replica of the Jell-O brand cheesecake my mom used to make. The graham cracker crust is only on the bottom which I think is a nice touch. I like the taste to be focused on the cheesecake without a lot of crust but some people, I am sure, would prefer the crust to climb up the sides as well. I will definitely buy another one and will work my way through every flavor (but for me, plain is the way a cheesecake is best made and served). This is an amazing, delicious vegan cheesecake that non-vegans would never be able to guess is not a “normal” cheesecake. Delicious!

Nicole: Desserts are good in moderation. This was one of the better ones and we will have it again.  I will try to have some toppings to go with it, even if Michael snubs them.

 

Why I Went Vegan

There is a documentary being made about how regular vegans live regular lives and why they decided to stop eating animals and animal products in the first place. I shared my story with them and I thought the vegans (or veg-curious) people I know might like to hear it, too…

*****

I became vegan mainly for religious reasons. I am not religious now but about 20 years ago I remember reading the Ten Commandments and noticing there was no asterisk after the statement, “Thou Shalt Not Kill”.

It got me thinking. Murder is obviously condoned in the Bible (blood of sheep over doors, “an eye for an eye”, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.) but I noticed it was always done by men and never with God’s explicit instruction. It was always based on hearsay. Somebody said that God said… The only 10 irrefutable rules God provides in the Bible directly are His Commandments (and not for nothing, but He calls them “Commandments”, not “guidelines”, “recommendations”, or “good ideas”).

I could not help but wonder if God intentionally did not have any asterisks there. The First Commandment does not say, “Thou Shalt Not Kill***” with a footnote elsewhere that reads… ***except on burger night or if a fly is really annoying you, or if there is clear DNA evidence to support it. Other restrictions may apply.

He just says, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” Period. End of line. There is no way to dispute the commandment, no loophole, no misinterpreting it, no ambiguous double meaning. This is one of the few places the Bible and God’s demands are crystal clear and irrefutable: Thou Shalt Not Kill.

I thought also, how interesting that of all animals on earth, God chose only one–only humans–to give both free will and the choice of whether or not to murder for food. Maybe it was a test, I began thinking. Maybe God really is watching and placing a tick-mark for every one of His flies that we swat, each spider we squish, or cow that we chop to pieces and grind up into bloody patties.

The animals themselves seem to be warning us. A fly avoids a fly swatter. You have to sneak up on the fly because it clearly does not want to die. A spider jumps away from the swipe of a hand. A cow fights and tries to flee just as a human would when it smells the blood and gore of the slaughterhouse and senses imminent doom.

To put it plainly, there is no merciful way to murder something that chooses NOT to die.

Of all creatures on Earth, only humans are burdened with the responsibility of choosing and living with their actions. Interesting.

So that is how my vegan journey began.

I have since traded my Faith for Reason and Logic but the conclusion on being vegan is the same. I remain vegan for one simple reason: I have not come across a good enough reason not to be. No one has yet presented a single valid, logical argument for murder or eating dead things.

There is no vitamin, mineral, or nutrient that comes from other animals that I can not find from plants, fruits, vegetables, legumes, or other plant-based sources (even B12–the toughest of the vegan vitamins to obtain, I can easily get without killing animals). There are not too many animals on the planet. We do not need to “cull the herd” (but we do need to cull the factory farming of herds). There is no environmental reason to support a carnivorous diet. There is just no reason to avoid being vegan.

Think about this. We humans are burdened with the responsibility of being kings and keepers of the Animal Kingdom, whether we like it or not. To say we are at the top of the food chain is an understatement. We have removed ourselves from the food chain. We have no predators. We do not live in fear of being hunted and eaten. This also means, however, we are the default stewards for the safekeeping of this planet. Because we are the only ones with choice, we are also the only ones with responsibility for our choices. We are the kings of the world.

What kind of kings should we be, then? Benevolent and kind or brutal and merciless? How well has the “brutal and merciless” approach worked for any king so quick to end the lives of his subjects throughout all of history?

Unlike plants, animals have a brain and nervous system; they experience pain and emotions and do not wish to die. It is not the same for plants. They have automated defense systems against pests but their very design is to be food. When you pick an apple from a tree, you do not murder the tree. In fact, the tree is counting on you to help spread its seeds and grow more apple trees. The same is true of nearly all plants and non-animals. Our relationship is symbiotic with them.

Moreover, there are clear health benefits for being vegan, and arguably environmental benefits as well (you can Google those–to keep this post from becoming a book, I will just leave it at that–as always, though, check your sources and only accept actual peer-reviewed literature as worthy to base your opinion on).

The bottom line is, going (or being) vegan is a win-win.

 

If I can choose my diet and be perfectly healthy without killing or causing pain to other animals, then… why wouldn’t I? 

 

P.S. If you want to support or share your vegan superhero origin story with the Vegan Movie people, visit this link.