A Call For An End To Vegan Elitism

A Call For An End To Vegan Elitism

Meat or no meat, you do you and me do me.
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Let it go for the record that I do not care what you eat or how you eat it. As someone who simultaneously desires ham salad, the curry chicken salad from Whole Foods, and salmon sashimi at any given moment, I don’t intend to or desire to sway anybody’s preferences. I also would like it to go for the record that I in no way consider myself in some way void of the privilege (however or whatever you see privilege to be). I am whiter than white and in college and getting paid too much to scoop ice cream, and I am grateful to be where I am.

That being said: As someone who spends a good amount of time on the internet, I happen to be under constant exposure to a wide array of Facebook posts about politics and news and the weather—to euphemise—all of which I have, with time, become completely numb to. There, however, is one particular post, or genre of posts, that so often comes up on my timeline of things that always seems to rub me in one wrong way or another. Perhaps it is because I work in a place that attracts a lot of vegans or perhaps because I live in a neighborhood which lives to serve vegans, but I am constantly surrounded and perennially irritated by vegan propaganda.

That is not to say that I am irritated by vegans as a whole; I know and admire many veggie-loving men and women and will do nothing to discredit the energy they put into maintaining an animal-free diet. Veganism, as it stands alone, without its signifiers, is essentially a diet. However, vegan propaganda and vegan rhetoric and the vegan ego (the vego), all drive me to a point of insanity which is soon to be verging on “no return.” What I am calling for is an end not to you eating your plant-based diet, but rather for an end to the pressuring Facebook posts and subtle snubs towards me and my fellow meat-eaters (though admittedly, I do steer clear of red meat under most circumstances— we’ll get there later).

I do not think that meat-industry shame videos are by any means effective in spreading veganism. It is unfortunate what happens to animals in big farms; as a child my mother had me watch "Food Inc." so yes I’ve seen the pigs get pushed over by the giant metal barrier and it was, yes, terrifying. I have not been desensitized to the cruelties of animals; I don’t think most people live their lives happily eating red meat completely unaware of the cruelties that are performed on a grand, industrial level to animals. However, so often the first person to feel the pain of a decrease in meat sales is not Perdue or Alico, Inc. It is instead the small farmers, who live off the land they sew and have done so for their entire lives, and perhaps came from a long line of farmers. These are not the farmers that have giant metal barriers to throw pigs on their sides or force cows into treacherous conditions.

Instead, the promotional work done to bring “awareness” only starts small, and hurts humans who feel perhaps more than the cattle, who live to support their families. Monsanto will continue to live on and thrive, its workers committing suicide at alarming rates, while you protest small farmers and eat soy cheese that a young boy in India worked at a slave wage to help produce. Unless you’re buying small, from a small market where you know that what you’re eating is from point A and only traveled so far to get to point B, you’re feeding into the cruelty; perhaps not of cows or chickens, but of humans.

If you are in the top 1% of vegans who is able to buy local and go completely farm-to-table, you should be able to recognize that you are, yes, above many. Above so many of the hard-working individuals in this world who will circumstantially never be able to provide for themselves with such luxuries. You are among the top percentage of people in this country who, not only had access to such things but who can afford to use them. If you live in a food desert like 23.5 million people in America, a ‘“vegan lifestyle” might include Crisco on bread, paired with store-brand Oreos and a tall glass of juice from concentrate.

It is not easy to be vegan, as incredible as that may sound. For so many, milk and eggs may serve as an affordable form of protein for them or for their families that can’t be replaced with something plant-based and sustainable. If you can afford seitan instead of chicken and are still be able to get that extra protein despite subbing high-protein chicken for high-gluten-and-not-much-else seitan, you are, by comparison, pretty lucky.

Now you may be asking, me, privilege Queen: Well, what’s your GD excuse? It is that I love the people around me. I recently went on vacation with my family and, had I been a vegan, would have had to excuse myself from every single dinner we had that night. I would have had to stare my great grandparents in the eyes and say “I can’t eat this salmon, sorry.” I would have had to assert myself to someone who was old enough to at least felt the depression, and would recognize the salmon before them as something earned, something to be grateful for. The thought of that absolutely terrifies me.

For so many people, they don’t know any different. Regardless of what they can’t afford on a monetary level, you couldn’t even begin to explain a quinoa burger to someone who grew up on beef, or who grew up eating a Sunday roast and who takes pride in being able to put proteins on their table for their family more than once a week. Generationally and regionally, veganism is sometimes just not possible.

My undying love for cheese aside, I could easily live a life of tempeh and chick’n, of quinoa bowls and cauliflower alfredo. I don’t eat red meat because I love cows and I often don’t drink milk because I have, with age, become lactose intolerant. But I love and accept my family and friends who eat meat because they always have and my family and friends who get queasy just thinking about dairy. Also, I have owned many a fish in my life and can say with great confidence that they couldn’t be less sentient—sorry.

Live long, eat well, eat meat or eat meat substitute, and prosper, but don’t be too in-your-face about it, please.

Cover Image Credit: silviarita / Pixabay

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:” Line Matters,

I want to start off by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can’t afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you’re just lazy and you “don’t feel like it”? Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you’re unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the US Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck.” stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:” line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can’t seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to ten people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!”

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the seventeen other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there’s a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 dollar bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of ten times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession - whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food, and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a forty dollar bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes - as if you’re better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you’ll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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'Everything In Moderation' Is Probably The Best Thing Your Mom Ever Told You

Cheating only counts in relationships and tests - not food.

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It's summer again, which means it's that time of the year when basically everyone says they're going to go on some sort of diet to get the perfect beach body.

I mean, it certainly is easy to entertain the thought when you're most likely going to be spending your days lounging by the pool or running around on the beach. I've certainly been guilty of this mentality, and I don't think trying to look your best is a problem within itself, but I do think the quick timespan a lot of people want to reach their goal in may be. It can get especially bad when people attempt to cut out all sugar, carbs, gluten, or whatever in their last ditch effort to drop a few pounds. Didn't anyone ever tell them you can have everything in moderation?

I've tried many times to cut out bad foods, only eating healthy foods and then counting the calories in them. Sometimes this would be successful, and other times it wouldn't be. Most of the time, my downfall would be a sugar craving, which then turned into a sugar binge.

I think depriving myself of what I really wanted just made everything worse in the end. Moral of the story: if you're craving something, just eat it- everything is okay to have in moderation. I finally figured out that being healthy is a mix of eating the right foods, working out, and also giving your body what it wants. It's okay to have that brownie after dinner, as long as you don't overdo it. If you deprive yourself and try to satisfy your craving with something you don't really want, you're just going to end up feeling sad and unsatisfied.

I remember one time I was trying to stay on a diet and not eat anything "bad" or sugary, so instead of eating the ice cream I really wanted, I settled for a sad little rice cake with almond butter - which does taste really good, too, don't get me wrong - but it's just not the same as ice cream and it honestly never will be.

Because I didn't eat what I really wanted, I ended up still craving something sweet and ate a bunch of cookies I had laying around in my kitchen. If I'd just had a little bit of ice cream when I wanted it, I wouldn't have eaten the rice cake, plus the almond butter, plus the cookies, and I would have felt satisfied and ultimately better.

Basically what I'm trying to say here is to give your body the food it wants when it's craving it, as long as it's a healthy serving for your body and you balance it with a healthy lifestyle. Eating everything in moderation will honestly keep your body feeling good and healthy. This is a way better alternative to feeling sad and hungry when restricting yourself on a diet. If you listen to your body and take care of it the right way for yourself, there's no way you won't feel happy and confident this swimsuit season.

Cover Image Credit:

c1.staticflickr.com

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