About Me

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My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I will absolve thee of thy sins...

This blog is meant as a vegan confessional, a dialogue between me and my vegan or veganish or vegan-aspiring friends.

What "vegan sins" have you committed lately?

I'll start: on the way home from my daughter's soccer game, I was dying (yes, DYING) of thirst. The golden arches were right ahead. I approached the drive thru, fully intending to buy an innocent water.

I bought a small mocha frappe. Whipped cream and all.

And I totally enjoyed it.

OK. Now it's your turn. GO!


  1. The company I work at caters lunch each Wednesday, and this week they served pizza. Instead of the cheeseless veggie, I had a slice of regular and a slice of white! I enjoyed my non-vegan treat too.

    A co-worker couldn't believe it. I said I'm eating vegan as much as possible but it's okay not to be perfect all the time.

  2. I am obviously in total agreement with you Catherine!! I eat vegan nearly all the time...

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. I'm not sure why people use the word "perfect" in these discussions. First, the appeal to "perfection" would fall into the fallacy of abstraction. The goal is so abstracted beyond concrete reality that steps to realizing it seem absurd. Second, one simply cannot be a "perfect" vegan in a society so shot through with the exploitation of animals.

    So let's avoid the absurdity of using "perfect" and ask the far simpler question: Isn't it true that by eating the non-vegan pizza when the vegan option is there you are simply being selfish and immoral?

    This isn't a "burning house" scenario; it is everyday life. And in everyday life, options abound. Some of those options are vegan, and others are not. If you select the non-vegan one, then, you must be doing so for reasons of pleasure, convenience, or perhaps tradition.

    Given that you could never use those same excuses to justify, say, being a racist, or violating someone's "rights", it seems you don't have any moral grounds to stand on when you eat the mocha frappe. You are just a selfish, immoral person, but you didn't have to be because all the other options were there. This isn't about being "perfect" after all...

  4. It's about being HUMAN and ADMITTING mistakes. I think you just revealed why so few people have commented: they don't want to be judged as you are clearly judging Catherine and me!

    I'm trying to offer a place where people can ADMIT their mistakes while on their road to veganism or vegetarianism or simply to eating far less meat and dairy.

    Yes, options exist. But yes, people sometimes do the less noble thing.

    Having admitted yourself that perfection is a fallacy, why are you so hard on people who, arguably, are doing a whole lot more than most to improve their diets, lower their impact on the environment, and improve the lives of animals by not (usually) animal-origin foods?

    Why do you feel the need to label us as simply immoral and selfish?

    WOW Alex. Just WOW.

  5. There is a difference between admitting mistakes, and justifying what you've done by appeal to "nobody's perfect". "Perfection", as a goal, because it is so abstracted, suggests that sometimes doing the right thing is simply not possible. A mistake, in this instance, however, does not pass the "stink test" because so many options abound. Therefore, in the final analysis, your "mistake" is absolutely attributable not to an inability to be "perfect" but your selfishness and immorality.

    You have chosen, not been forced, or pushed in some other way, but chosen, the non-vegan option, and that is wrong. We shouldn't support it.

    Can you imagine this discussion in any other context? Say the anti-racist who occasionally allows a racial epithet to slip when amongst friends. Well, nobody's "perfect" Mr. Racist.

  6. Alex -- Nowhere in my post did I mention the word "perfection". Go back and read it. I posted this as a hopefully SAFE place for near-vegans or aspiring vegans to admit when they mess up. A place to talk, or even laugh, about our choices or mistakes WITHOUT the kind of judgment you've brought to the table. Those of us writing about anything vaguely veganish know when we mess up; admitting it, however, is something I find few do for fear of being personally attacked precisely the way you have here.

    There are plenty of other orthodox, evangelical vegan blogs out there. This is not one of them. I'm SURE you know of those other blogs. If you feel like being mean to and impatient with the readers of those blogs, go do it there.

    Not here.

  7. I know YOU didn't mention "perfection" but Catherine did. Go back and read it. However, your final statement about "orthodox, evangelical vegan" just re-states the problem I've highlighted here. To simply be consistent is "evangelical", according to you.

    Again, consider a different context. Would we call someone who doesn't view child pornography ALL THE TIME "evangelical" or simply consistent? How about someone who opposes sexism but occasionally discriminates against women when hiring. Is this person simply NOT being "orthodox", or are they being immoral?

    You and Catherine did not make a "mistake"; you consciously chose, because of selfishness and immorality, the non-vegan option. That is NOT a mistake, by any coherent definition. It is simply bad faith to consider it as such.

    Your reasoning is self-serving and we shouldn't celebrate it. What we should be discussing are people who accidentally, for example, eat bread with dairy in it. That would be a serious discussion. But once that same person consciously decides to eat cheese pizza, they have no longer made a mistake, they are just selfish and immoral and should stop doing that.

  8. Alex -- Out of an interest in collegiality, I'd like to point out ONE thing and then drop this.

    You and I disagree about whether or not *some* animal consumption is immoral. I DO NOT AT ALL THINK IT IS. I've made this clear in a number of my other posts.

    The title of my blog, the comment note from me that commenters see before they comment, my other posts -- ALL point to my NOT taking an "evangelical" and "orthodox" vegan position. (Yes, I think those are the right words to describe your point of view because it sees itself as the ONLY right way.)

    Your comparisons of me to racists, sexists and pornographers are SO offensive that I'm not even going to touch them other than to say that to compare somebody's choice to eat some dairy (not even some meat) to these social horrors is truly beyond the pale.

  9. Alex this is a great place for advocacy but not judgement. You are not in a position to judge anyone's behaviors against your standards or any other.

    Romans 14:1-3
    As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

  10. Elaine,

    You are an educated person, right? If yes, how could you possibly infer from my criticism here that I am "comparing" you to a racist, sexist, and so on? I made no such comparison.

    My argument is a logical extension of YOUR reasoning, simply in a different context. Your outrage here simply proves your argument to be question begging because you say that inconsistency on behalf of the anti-racist is NOT acceptable, while inconsistency on behalf of the vegan IS acceptable because nobody's perfect, and hey, I am not "orthodox".

    (But you are "orthodox" when it comes to anti-racism, right?)

    Well Elaine, what is the difference? You know your inability to take my argument head-on is like people who are exposed to the debate about speciesism, find themselves unable to refute it rationally, and then end the conversation with: "I am not a racist or a sexist!?!"


    So, if you were a blatant racist, screaming about black people and this and that, I COULDN'T "judge you against my standards or any other"?

    I suspect you are going to say no, and then, just like Elaine, beg the question and argue that this moral issue (causing harm and death to nonhuman animals) is different, for some reason, than racism.

    (I'm pretty sure that "the lord" would be okay with me passing judgment on racists and pedophiles and sexists. But thanks for the bible passage anyway...)

  11. Good Lord, your arguing fascinates me much as a train wreck does!

    Here are my views:
    1. Humans are omnivores by nature (just examine your teeth to prove this to yourself).
    2. It is not a sin to eat meat or dairy.
    3. It is fine to be a veagan.
    4. Arguing about this is RIDICULOUS!
    5. Comparing veganism to racism and the like is offensive beyond measure (and Alex, you did make that comparison).

    That said, this society eats WAY WAY too much animal products and the way we raise commercial beef, poultry, etc is often without regard to the impact it has on the environment. For me, the reason to be mostly vegetarian is as much about being environmentally aware as it is about being healthy.

    The reasons, if you need them, to eat less meat/dairy and a lot more grains/fruits/vegetables has to do with lessening one's risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer, etc.

    But argue on if you must. I for one support Elaine's decision to be human and pay homage to the Golden Arches once in a blue moon.

    I ate a maple-bacon donut last week. Why don't you all just rake me over the coals for that one? Seems you guys would have a heyday! Heh heh heh.


  12. One, humans are also quite violent "by nature", and males of our species have evolved to use sexual aggression to the point of rape for the end of procreation, but morally, so what? You cannot logically derive a moral evaluation from a descriptive statement like "it's our nature" (that is called an is/ought fallacy). Your argument is illogical on this point Marilyn.

    Two, saying "it is not a sin" is totally meaningless without an argument defending that conclusion. Otherwise I could just as validly argue that slavery isn't a sin, and end it there. But that would be equally silly.

    Three, your argument that "comparing" veganism to racism is "offensive" begs the question: Why is speciesism different than racism?

    You see, if we are going to be intellectually honest Marilyn, you need to defend, not just assert, a conclusion.

    Of course you support people who are so selfish that the momentary pleasure they get from eating a maple-bacon doughnut is more important than the pig’s interest in not suffering and dying, or the cow’s interest in not being forcefully impregnated, and having her baby taken from her so you can drink the baby's milk. You support that because it satisfies your selfish conclusions about the world. It is really a simple case of confirmation bias Marilyn.

  13. *Yawn* Bullies.

  14. Alex,

    I find you rather rabid.

    I am not interested in arguing about veganism nor trying to take eating to a philosophical level. I was stating my opinions. And I commented on here because my opinion was requested, not because I particularly wanted to be abused by some anonymous pseudo-intellectual. I will not try to make you live like me and I do not like you trying to make me live as you do.

    Comments on this site should be supportive, i.e. "If you were so thirsty, buy water next time." or "If you are going to blow it and have a milkshake, for goodness sake go to Haagen-Daaz, not McDonald's!"

    BTW, I will not comment on here anymore. I prefer to discuss issues with people I know, or at least can see!



  15. "Three, your argument that "comparing" veganism to racism is "offensive" begs the question: Why is speciesism different than racism?"

    Because racism is the oppression of people based on their skin color and speciesism is a term invented by self-important animal rights activists who like to talk down to people who disagree with them.

    Everyone who eats participates in speciesism. A soybean (glycine max) is a species. Lettuce (latuca sativa) is a species. You are denying those species the right to live and reproduce by consuming them. Do they not matter due to lack of central nervous system?

    At some point, you have to decide which species "rights" you want to acknowledge and which you want to deny.

    Or, you can laugh off silly terms like speciesism and eat what tastes good.


Politeness is always appreciated.