In case anyone’s interested, I still feel immensely benefitted and buffered by my veganism, amid world events. Changing up diet continues to be the last thing on most people’s minds right now, which I understand, but I’m in the mood to introspect on this topic a little.
Why should you consider going vegan in the middle of an alleged pandemic and overlapping dismantling of our country’s basic premise (not white supremacy, but nice try — I’m talking about the imperfect, but basic freedom to sink or swim)?
Here’s an anecdote. Last week, Nick and I were at this fire, right, with the mobile shower unit. When it’s dinner time, we gotta walk alllll the way across the country fairgrounds to where the caterer’s set up — so our operation is a converted 53’ trailer surrounded by battered astroturf and EZ-ups; the caterer is a series of converted 53’ trailers in the distance, decorated with blue and white striped awnings upon which they’ve printed their slogan: “We Feed On Disaster” (I was like ‘omg, is it the New York Times?), everything in between is some kind of diesel engine variation on a theme to get a variety of jobs done, just to set the stage.
Normally dinner is the funnest part of a fire because you get to all sit down in a big tent dining area, meet lots of new people, hear about the fire, and best of all, avail yourself of an enormous, elaborate salad bar. Thanks to COVID, though, every single good part about the experience of dinner has been surgically removed. I mean, the caterer is just holding on to their contract with both hands, at this point, so I can’t blame them. You have to mask up, and then be handed a mystery dinner in styrofoam, tell a masked catering employee which condiments and drinks you want because you can’t touch them, and get outta dodge, back to your own area. No socializing allowed, or even possible.
So Nick and I were back at our area, with our styrofoam meals. We’d managed to secure at least a veggie version of the dinner once again. We’re out of the wind, behind our smaller trailer, just enjoying the view and eating our quinoa. Up swaggers RC, our potable water driver. He backs his truck up to our trailer several times a day to fill our big tank, so people can continue taking showers. RC wears a big stetson with Vietnam Veteran insignia embroidered all across the front. He channels his inner John Wayne a bit too much, at times — but then again one evening, the night after summer solstice in fact, he pointed out every major star and constellation in the sky to me, complete with info about how this one big triangle thingy would always point south under these circumstances, etc. I like RC.
Anyway, he swaggers up and, quite observantly, notes our styrofoam containers are sans carne, and makes some quip about how we didn’t climb to the top of the food chain to eat plants. I would have just left it alone, because my history of conversations such as this stretches back far longer and contains more childhood trauma than Nick’s, but Nick just sallies forth: “Nope — that was our ability to make fire, not the fact that we ate meat.” RC switches tactics and says something about living simple, not paying $100 every time he goes to the grocery store, which Nick dealt with handily — “Well, any Libertarian worth their salt is vegan.”
RC goes, “…excuse me?” It was funny because it was the first time I saw him at a loss for words, the whole fire. I’d see it a second time, in moments:
“The government subsidizes meat and dairy,” Nick clarified. “If they didn’t, you’d pay $40 for a hamburger. Unless it’s something you hunted, you’re having your ass powdered by the government every time you eat meat. I mean, you may as well consider yourself to be on welfare.”
RC stood there like a short-circuiting robot for a moment. With the deadly speed and accuracy of a plant-based viper, Nick had struck at the heart of RC’s ideas about himself, leaving him no recourse but to change the subject entirely.
I was just dying of amusement. If I say things like this — which I rarely have the presence of mind for, in any case — it’s less impressive because, in normal clothes, I just look skinny. Nick looks like someone having a fight with his own t-shirt, and the t-shirt is losing.
Anyway, the point stands that, without a heavily manipulated market, we’d all be vegans, albeit economic ones. And it’s a shame we’re not — a diet of primarily beans, rice, and salad would do wonders for the American populace. These government subsidies of meat and dairy have acted to eliminate, in the United States, the one single, solitary silver lining that’s persisted throughout human civilization, relative to poverty. It’s always, always been that poor folks eat low on the food chain, by necessity, and rich folks eat high. Poor people have by no means enjoyed good health or generous lifespans — their livelihoods alone were enough to kill them, generally speaking, when they weren’t dying in childbirth or being conscripted for wars — and while they did die of varieties of malnutrition, they did not die deaths of overconsumption, as virtually all current American medical deaths are. Throughout history, those were the diseases of wealth — think King Henry VIII, here. Big, fat, “stove up” as my dad would say. Well, thanks to meat and dairy subsidies, chronic diseases of consumption have been effectively democratized. Now we can all enjoy it, and poverty’s one saving grace is no more.
Which brings me to my second point: I cannot emphasize enough how exiting the meat narrative destabilizes all the other toxic narratives you’re subscribed to, but don’t even realize. You probably have one of two reactions, reading that — either you’re thinking, “How could it be that big of a deal?”, or, “That’s way too counter-culture for me.” Look, if there has ever been a time to look at the ways the Powers That Be might have you in a mushroom farm situation — kept in the dark and fed bullshit — now is that time. I think we all tended to look askance at, for instance, the CHAZ — the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone — when they posted their list of demanded supplies: clothes, ice, cigarettes, backpacks, tents, cell phones, laundry bags, sunglasses. I mean, they were a bunch of school kids on a field trip that forgot to pack, apparently, a goddamn thing. If you’re like me, you were probably thinking: wow, this is the least autonomous thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
Well, think again — eating meat, the American way, is like walking around thinking you’re a free agent when, in every meaningful way, this system has you by the balls. Recognizing the insane propaganda around carnism and then cutting ties with it is the most radical, healthy, quietly powerful thing you can do, and you can do it in the privacy of your own home, as a Dem or ‘Pub, without setting shit on fire or toppling any statues or declaring your area no longer the US and then asking the US for sunscreen. And I know — the residents of the CHAZ asked for vegan meat specifically, and there hasn’t been a bigger collective desire to affirm the opposite of whatever that was since Hitler went veg, but keep your eye on the prize, here.
Medical health experts: COVID will kill you!
Every teacher and church lady ever, my whole life: If you don’t eat meat you’ll die!
When you go for a period of time doing something that everyone assures you will kill you, and then you don’t die, you become a little more philosophical about it all. You begin to ask some deeper questions. As someone who unwittingly hacked one of the nation’s biggest, deepest, most comprehensive lies at the age of five, simply by looking at the animals around me, engaging the process of my own heart-head logic, and saying, “um…no?”, I think it might be accurate to say ‘conspiracy’ is the operative paradigm, here.
As one of my blog commenters put it recently, “The instinctual trait of pattern recognition has been marginalized as “conspiracy theory…”. Consider that you may be a dog on a very short leash relative to something much closer to home than COVID, BLM, or Trump. It seems nearly impossible to commit yourself to an ethical, logical course of action against the recommendations of experts and the inclinations/sensibilities of the entirety of your social circle, but I’m sorry — that’s a brand of discomfort you need to get used to. We all need to get used to it, if we’re to be of any use to ourselves and each other, because the experts and the sensibilities of our friends are no longer any kind of guidance, if ever they were.
Now, in my family of origin, the word ‘expert’ was only spoken with a sneering tone, with all the self-licking ice cream cone momentum of the scientific gentleman’s club which Charles Fort so brilliantly critiqued implied in that one word; and I’m thankful for that because I was constantly returned to my own devices, my own sensibilities, as they emerged and evolved. I do subscribe to a small, rotating cast of emergent experts relative to my own interests — Jordan Peterson, Teal Swan, Abraham Hicks, Seth, etc — not all of them vegan — and I have no qualms calling them experts because they demonstrate an ability to suss the complex roots of a subject in their area with at least as much sophistication as myself, and reliably more so, which leads me to a place of interested receptivity.
Let me put it this way: when someone who doesn’t have what I want tells me how I should live, I’m skeptical. 2020 has been nothing if not the year of people who don’t have what I want telling me how I should live. So I’m skeptical. Fortunately for me, I’ve been able to take the experts and the entirety of my social circle (minus the ideological ninja Spell gals) with a grain of salt, because my history of vegetarianism has immunized me against mushroom farm thinking, to a large degree. I mean, there’s no gaslighting like every authority figure in your world, all throughout childhood, telling you something, in somnolent, mantra-like fashion, you know is not true.
Fortunately, there are many paths to pattern-recognition, of which an exit from meat culture is one, and by no means am I saying the only one. I just can’t help but feel that this early and ongoing inoculation against the invasive, double-talking perspectives of subject matter experts per se was an enormous gift, for me as a free-thinking individual in training.
If greater ethical and ideological self-reliance was the only benefit of a vegan diet, it would still be worth it, but let’s look at the other stuff too. It behooves us, now more than ever, not to be sick af — for all the normal reasons but now, additionally, this virus rampaging around that targets the sick af among us, whether or not we admit it. We may even begin to suspect that being sick af puts us at risk for a broader variety of negative impacts and experiences, on top of and added to, our sick af baseline. So how do we avoid being sick af? If that’s not the million dollar question, I don’t know what is, because quite a few of us are sick.
Quick tangent: I listened to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course on CD, several years ago. He’s great; once you start, you can’t stop. Dave Ramsey is an evangelical Christian — which I am not, but I’m always quick to point out how much I love Joel Osteen, for instance, to Christians I meet here and there, mostly because it offends them — “He shouldn’t be so rich!” Well, how rich should be be? “I don’t know, but not that rich! And his wife’s Victoria’s Secret sermon was just appalling!” Should married people not enjoy sex? “No, they should — but not that much!” Okay, whatever.
Anyway, unlike folks on the Left who worship science as a god — “our god is a competitively and competingly funded god!” — and despite my not being Christian-for-convenience, to the extent it is convenient, like folks on the Right, I do subscribe to a Higher Power, and the priceless exit from minutiae-town that alignment with my own evolving understand of that Higher Power represents. So Dave Ramsey’s evangelical Christianity is no issue for me, and indeed has acted to condense and distill the exact perspective that’s allowed him to surpass all other financial advisors.
So anyway, I’m driving around Tucson a couple years ago, back and forth from the worst accelerated EMT class known to man, listening to Dave Ramsey talk about debt. He really puts things into perspective. Debt is just this entirely normal thing for us, right? It’s the American way of life: debt and meat. Meat and debt. Dave Ramsey gobbles meat as happily as anyone else, to my knowledge, but he finds the enslavement of debt to be simply unconscionable, reprehensible; and he feels it’s his calling, from capital G God, to help people exit debt.
Well, what’s the big deal, you might ask? You just make payments on stuff. Dave Ramsey is here to tell you what’s the big deal about debt, just like I’m here to tell you what’s the big deal about meat. In debt, you are economically castrated, permanently in most cases. Wow — okay. The thing about debt is that it’s so “normal” and so pervasive, we can’t even imagine our own lives without it, or what it would look like for a whole bunch of us to have the economic power, thanks to being debt-free, to actually organize and use our monies on purpose, above and beyond paying our own bills.
Well — I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let me say that I was entirely on board with his lessons on saving, cash flow planning, budgeting, buying a home, investing, and retirement. The very last CD, though, was about tithing. Needless to say, I thought about skipping it. It kinda seems like the Right views church as this wonderful hierarchy of the people, and the government as a rampaging parasite; the Left views church as a rampaging parasite and government as this wonderful hierarchy of the people; and I view both church and government as rampaging, parasitic hierarchies prone to occasional, beautiful moments, mostly by accident. TL,DR: count me out from tithing, and I’m on the fence about taxes. But I have momentum, I’m kinda into just driving around listening to the guy, so I forge ahead.
Well, color me shocked: the tithing CD was the best one of all. It had never occurred to me before that most of my opinions about the way entities steer themselves — obviously as a result of the investors’ agendas — was coming from my own place of assumed, chronic financial disempowerment. Dave Ramsey’s paradigm was church, because he’s into that, and so the picture he painted was of entire congregations — and congregations represent communities — empowering themselves through debt-free living, first of all, and then aligning their dollars with their desires, collectively. I was like, “They can do that??” Living paycheck to paycheck is an entirely normal concept for me, and always has been.
Okay, I could go on, but the takeaway is, it’s really helpful for Dave Ramsey to tell us we’re all in debt, and that debt is no place to be regardless of how normal it seems, and that a lot of really wonderful, powerful, pro-active expressions of individual freedom become available to people who exit the debt treadmill.
Well, let me echo all that, but in regards to being sick af! Do you think it might be dangerous for, let’s say, bodybuilders to ingest shit tons of the most powerful growth steroid on earth, Trenbalone? Well, I hope not, because that’s in your meat.
Are you concerned about GMO’s? If so, newsflash: they’re all up in your meat.
Do you think soy is a problem? I don’t, because I’ve done my research and soy (more specifically, the phytoestrogens in soy) actually blocks receptors from excessive estrogen uptake, but it kind of doesn’t matter what I think because you’re consuming a lot more soy than me, through your meat.
Are you concerned about our alarming rate of Amazon rainforest destruction? You can thank your meat.
Are you concerned about global warming? Meat.
Do you object to the overuse of antibiotics, resulting in an inevitable resurgence of scourges such as tuberculosis and syphilis, but this time resistant to antibiotics? 95% of all pharmaceutically produced antibiotics go to food animals, just to keep their asses alive long enough to go to slaughter.
Does it pain you to think of famine and world hunger? Meat is a protein factory in reverse — a whole village could live off the grain fed to one cow.
Do you consider yourself a free market capitalist, or a libertarian? Surprise, you’re on meat welfare.
Do you consider yourself an environmentalist, a humanitarian, or an animal lover? Not if you’re eating meat, you’re not.
Are you concerned about corporate monopolies, the erosion of the middle class, the plight of the American farmer or rancher, the plight of wolves or other wildlife, the rape of our environment, the dumping of raw sewage and industrial toxins into our waterways, or the continued use and abuse of undocumented migrant workers subjected to dangerous conditions with little Federal oversight or access to due process? Well, virtually all of our meat comes from four megalithic corporations, now, with their fingers absolutely in the governmental cookie jar.
Are you like RC and you don’t like the thought of being dependent? The fact that you’re not paying $40 for a hamburger means, you are.
Do you think Black Lives Matter, or Blue Lives Matter, or all lives matter? Are you pro-choice or pro-life? Do you think demonstrably sentient beings should be protected and valued, by we the people if not by the government that we elected to represent us? Your meat makes you the worst kind of hypocrite: a totally unconscious one.
Are you a feminist? What process do you think produces all that milk, all those eggs, all those veal calves, if not an industrial hijacking of pregnancy and motherhood?
Are you part of the Men’s Movement? If so, how do you feel knowing billions of specifically male chicks are fed, alive, into the wood chipper as an industrial matter of course?
Are you concerned about the health of our oceans and waterways? Where do you think all these confined, factory farmed animals shit?
Are you concerned about bribes and the corruption at the highest levels of government relative to private industry? An overwhelming majority of Federal poultry inspectors won’t eat poultry, if that tells you anything.
Does the early introduction of political propaganda in our very school systems bother you? The “food pyramid” was the unapologetic marketing innovation of the meat and dairy industry, fast-tracked into the consciousness of the American populace via our public school system.
Are you starting to feel like the medical and public health authorities have sold out, and may not have your best interests at heart, and in fact may not know what the fuck they’re talking about some percentage of the time? A group called the PCRM, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, sued the National Dairy Council AND WON, on grounds that the famous Milk Mustache campaign was false advertising, as populations that consume the most dairy provably have the weakest bones, and vice versa.
Are you concerned about aging, access to healthcare, the high cost of prescription medication, the evaporation of your mobility as time goes on? Vegans aren’t, but you’ll never hear about it unless you look into it of your own accord.
Are you concerned about erectile dysfunction, as an older male or as the sexual partner of an older male? Those dick pills have some deleterious side effects, but you don’t need them anyway. You can halt and even reverse circulatory issues with a vegan diet, and by “circulatory”, I mean your dick — and your heart, considering cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the US.
Do you look at your dog or cat and see red at the thought of anyone hurting that sweet, loving animal? Every animal you eat wanted and deserved your love and protection just as much.
Do you feel uncomfortable about Asians eating shark fin soup and bats and cats and dogs like it’s going out of style? Keeping bears in tiny cages all their lives in order to harvest their bile? Trophy hunters killing rhinos for only their horns, elephants for only their ivory? Thanks to cautiously avoidant American nature documentaries, do you personally know more about the lives of honeybadgers, giraffes, Meer cats, and penguins than you know about the lives of pigs, cows, and chickens? Why do you think that is?
I could go on, but American meat-dependence, meat culture, IS the physiological debt burden of our society, and like debt — no one’s gonna save you. No political party, no health expert, no well-meaning friend, and no policy or legislation or protest. You have the power to exit the hypocrisy, the toxic narrative, right now, and guess what — no one will agree with you. Welcome to the gaslighting, and to perhaps not your first, but one of your best, lessons in conspiracy theory. Just because the whole world is telling you one thing, doesn’t mean it’s in your best interests. Meat isn’t, and god knows what else.
Imagine a nation of people — hell, even a small community of people — who exited the narrative of being sick af. Maybe they get out of debt too, idk — not my area, I’m still in debt. What would that even look like? It’s hard to imagine, because we never see it, or think about it. Really hear yourself talk about your debilities and your prescriptions. Hear others talk about them. Imagine the clearing of the senses, the clearing of the priorities, that could occur without this constant distraction and, let’s face it, physiological enslavement of baseline: sick af.
Meat and dairy represent more of a threat to you than radical Islamic terrorists, more of a threat than Trump, more of a threat than Biden, more of a threat than Antifa, more of a threat than China, more of a threat than the fucking coronavirus. Of course we’re scared of every damn thing when the thing that’s gonna kill us is the one we sit down with, three times a day plus snacks.
I’ll say again: go vegan and no one will agree with you, no one will see that for what it is, no one will understand the power of it, not only relative to your immediate health but more generally in terms of your exit from the Matrix. It doesn’t matter. We live in stupid, stupid times, and they can only be this stupid because we’re so sick and so easily brainwashed. We are our own terrorists, liars, manipulators, and thieves. Any reason can be the right reason, initially, because all the reasons point in exactly one direction: plant-based. Animals, you, the environment, your failed erections, the cost of living, the rainforest, the rampaging parasite of the government, all of it.
There is no power like the power you have, that you’ve always had, that no one can take away from you, and that comes from exerting your will in alignment with your values, explicated to the furthest logical degree.
And that’s why now is a great time to go vegan.