Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bambi is Dead, Get Over It.

I overheard a discussion about meat a couple of weeks ago. One girl had identified herself as a vegetarian. The others, who were omnivorous, somehow got onto the subject of venison (deer meat). The vegetarian responded, "How can you eat that? That's like eating Bambi!"

And then I noticed her leather boots.

Well, you know what?
If eating deer meat is like eating Bambi, then wearing those boots is like wearing Elsie the Borden Cow!

I don't know how a vegetarian can act so righteous about what's on the dinner table and ignore what's in his/her closet. It's hypocrisy, simple as that. You won't eat animals but you'll wear them. Guess what? They're still dead!

Now, I myself am a vegetarian. I am of the ovo-lacto type, one who eats dairy and eggs. I do not eat beef, pork (no mammals in general), poultry, fish/other seafood, reptiles, etc. I try to avoid animal by-products as well, including lard, beef/chicken stock, gelatin, and those found in cosmetics. (I was sorely disappointed when I found out Junior Mints and Skittles had gelatin, but I have nevertheless refrain from them. And I miss marshmallows, but at least the fluff has only egg whites). And I avoid buying clothing/accessories made from animal skins (like boots).

However, I know my habits of consumption are not perfect, and others might find inconsistencies about them. I'm not a level-five vegan. I know there might be oyster sauce in all the vegetarian selections at a Thai restaurant; I eat honey; and I know most of my clothing was probably made by a little underpaid Chinese kid on the other side of the world. There are so many factors that are out of the consumers' hands. We can rarely be sure if a product truly meets our ethical/moral standards. (And unfortunately, all the products that really do meet those standards also tend to be really expensive.)

Here's the thing. I don't give a shit if you eat meat, as long as you're not trying to convince me to abandon vegetarianism (besides, it won't work). In turn, I won't preach to you about becoming a vegetarian. I won't try to make my reasons yours. If you ask, I'll tell you my own veg story, things I've read or heard, and I won't do it while holding a big-eyed calf. The fact is, shit happens, it's the unfair-trade circle of life, and even if everyone went veg, there would still be problems in the world.

As for the girl with the boots, I don't care if you wear a fur coat to match. And I know you weren't trying to convert anyone. But don't tell or imply to people there's something wrong with what they're putting in their mouths when you're putting the same crap on your credit card.

(Edit note: the Level Five Vegan blog seems to have disappeared. [Hopefully not from malnutrition.] Here's another relevant link.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Put down the pop!

While waiting for my linguistics class to start, this guy, who we'll call Jabba (you can guess why), walks in with an eight-pack of Diet Sunkist and sits down a few seats in front of me. First, I noticed the change in Sunkist's logo design. It reminds me of Billabong. Then, I thought, "Why the hell does this guy have a pack of soda with him?" Perhaps there was a reasonable explanation. He could have brought that for some gathering of people either before or after class, maybe a student government meeting (he did have a SGA shirt on). Maybe the case didn't even have soda in it, maybe he needed the box for a project, or had put some other item(s) in it, like a gold bikini-clad princess or something. That box has multi-purpose potential. But then Jabba pulled out a Sierra Mist, diet, I believe. Okay, so there was at least one can of soda in there.

Later on during the class, I got up, walked past the case, and with my quick ninja skills, peeked inside.
Diet Sunkists! I didn't want to assume it, I didn't want to believe it, but all the soda case had was soda. I consulted with two other classmates about this, and they confirmed that the soda was indeed for him, and this was not the first time. And I thought this guy had a problem.

Why, Jabba? Are you
that thirsty for the bubbly, orangey, artificial sweetness? And what was with that one Sierra Mist? That's disloyal-- Sierra Mist is owned by Pepsi Co. and Sunkist is owned by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (yeah, I didn't know it existed either)!

But really... that's too much soda to carry around for oneself. And diet, schmiet, soda is simply not good to consume in excess, and Americans drink way too much of it. I know you all know this. Like so many things we take into our bodies, it's an addiction. A pathetic addiction if you ask me, because it's just caffeine and/or sugar. They seem like mild-enough stimulants to have more resistance against, so it's strange how one gets to that point of "needing" eight pops a day. Before it ever becomes a problem, why do we not think, "I guess I'll stop at two for the day and have a glass of juice/milk/water/gin and tonic instead"? What's worse is that the information is out there, on the news, in the papers, magazines, and on the web about the effects soda has on the body. Then again, the same can be said for crack and heroin and people will still use them. But at least those are more likely to make one lose weight. I guess addiction is addiction.

Jabba, you're not alone. These people know what it is to yearn for that carbonated bliss. Reach out to them, feel the soothing hand of empathy, and start working together toward a new day. By the way, have you tried coffee?

Born to Be (and Dying) Wild

I love these guys. The retirement home runaways. I spotted them in Deerfield Beach, like pints of ale among glasses of lemonade. They could sit at home in easy chairs and watch M*A*S*H reruns, fussing over their blood-pressure medication, what time they’re going to have supper, going to bed at nine. They could have decided that it was all a slow ride downhill from sixty-five, but apparently they’re going wherever the hell they want (I think they were heading southwest, actually). Funny that they’re in the middle of South Florida, the retirement capital of the world, when they appear to be anything but tired. These guys are usually hard to find, and I admire when “getting old” is not on one’s agenda. I may be assuming too much. Maybe they didn't party all night and shoot smack like Keith Richards. Maybe they headed back to their senior community that night and played bridge. But you have to admire that they’re still riding their bikes, doing what they love as long as they’re able to. Of course not every elder should live like a rebel of sorts, and I know not every senior is a bore. But to an extent, age truly is a state of mind, and I believe if anything is gonna slow or bring you down, it should be bad knees and incontinence, not a number.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

OMG, Obama.

So, yeah, Obama’s in. (Confetti falls down, woo. [This is not sarcasm, I really am happy about it.]) And if this has not been the biggest inauguration hullabaloo ever, I’d like to know what was. Starbucks even had patriotic cup sleeves for a day, each with squishy, heart-warming quotes from past presidents. On my way out of school to watch the swearing-in at home, I saw a big gathering of people in the library watching George Sr. and Barb on the tellie, waiting for the big moment. Of course, some people were decked out in their Obama gear. So cute. It’s great that this past election has gotten even the most apathetic people (such as myself) to take an interest in the political situation. But I’m tempted to say that it’s really another fad/trend; throughout 2008 I saw the bumper stickers, the pins, the t-shirts, the hats, but I didn’t hear much about why people sported the propaganda (for either Obama or McCain). A lot of it seemed compulsive, though ultimately, just about all of us had our reasons besides party affiliation. And if it is/was a trend in any way, shape or form, it’s been one that’s actually significant and socially beneficial-- we’re all paying attention now, aren’t we? At least more than we were before. Or maybe it’s not so much a fad as it is a reaction of desperation and fear. We know we’re in deep shit, but we’re still doing the wave for some kind of upward potential (or at least those of us who support Obama are). It’s one of those “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade” periods… as long as we can still afford the sugar.