Four or five months ago, Adella and I stopped eating not just meat, but also almost all animal products, such as eggs and dairy. We also started cycling out everything we had that was made from leather, wool, and other animal-based materials. Vegan, for those who know what is. I’d say Ital
, but since even vegan food here in the States that doesn’t have all sorts of fake crap in it is more expensive, I can’t call it that.
Since then we’ve lost some weight and generally feel a little healthier, but our real reason was that we were aware of and just couldn’t keep not considering the truly wretched lives and hideous deaths suffered by animals used for meat, eggs, dairy, wool, and other products. Since we don’t need that to live, we decided that in the interest of compassion that we would do without them.
Adapting our diet hasn’t actually been all that difficult. What’s been more interesting has been the responses from other people. I didn’t make it a point to bring it up with other people, not being much of a proselytizer, but eat with or near other people and eventually it comes up. What we’ve noticed is that people are sometimes simply indifferent, but surprisingly often are hostile, making sarcastic comments, or asking in an annoyed tone whether we’re “still doing that”. It may seem strange, but I’ve received more negativity explaining to people that I’m vegan than I ever have telling mentioning that I’m an anarchist.
So anyway, yesterday was the American holiday of Thanksgiving, which commemorates the “first Thanksgiving” in Massachusetts where the Pilgrims (English settlers) and Wampanoag tribe had a big festival together. The modern observance of it is centered on thanking God, having a huge meal at which eating turkey is the centerpiece, and remembering importance of the Pilgrims in American history. So all this got me thinking exactly which aspects of this holiday really still apply to me at this point.
Let’s start with God. While what I think on that probably deserves its own post, the executive summary is that I don’t believe in one. That doesn’t mean that I’m an atheist, since my problem is that I don’t have enough information to draw a conclusion, but I’m pretty skeptical. It also doesn’t mean that I think people who believe in a god or gods are all fools. I just think that history suggests that organized religion ends up being more about the organization than the religion. Anyway, with a holiday like Thanksgiving, it raises the question of thanks to whom.
Then there are the Pilgrims. European colonization of the Americas didn’t exactly consist of a long list of virtuous acts, and I have to wonder how things might have gone had the Wampanoag and other tribes recognized the threat and resisted contact with this bringers of war, alcohol, pestilence, and death. And maybe it’s from listening to Jay Winter Nightwolf on the radio, or maybe it’s from the history reading I’ve been doing since recently taking on a course design/teaching gig at LCO Ojibwe Community College, but a legacy that would make the Nazis blush just doesn’t seem like something to commemorate.
And turkey’s obviously out, of course. So what’s left? Well, this year it was unseasonably warm for this late in the year (Native American Summer, if you will), and we went with Mom, my sister Abi and her family into town to drop by the Smithsonian, let Noah and his little cousin run around on the Mall, see a few of the strange monstrosities in the sculpture garden, and ultimately return to Mom’s house for dinner. And while Mom thinks our vegan lifestyle is weird, she’s supportive in not adding dairy or egg ingredients to things other than turkey so that we can still eat them. She even tried the tofurkey that we brought. It wasn’t all blissful, since this year it was my ex’s turn to have the three older kids, but it was pretty good.
So they’re what’s left when God, history, and turkey are taken out of the equation. Family is still there, and in the end, that’s all that really mattered anyway.