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On Scheduling Epiphanies . . . and Coral Snakes

I have a column on my Tweetdeck (an application for ease of Twitter use on my desktop) called "vegan," where all tweets from all tweeple  who mention "vegan" are listed in somewhat real time.

One of the reasons I do this is to see what others are saying about veganism (both good and bad), vegan food, their vegan friends and family members, and of course, about going vegan (I've already seen a handful of #in2010 references to going vegan).

What I have discovered is that people like my husband, who went vegan overnight from omnivore, aren't exactly common, but they're also not that rare. I've also found that there are all kinds of activists and videos and concerts and demonstrations and books that I've never even heard of, that cause omnivores and vegetarians to go vegan.

Some people cut back on animal products, some eliminate one at a time, some ditch it all upon watching Earthlings (and I'd love to know if they watched it in one sitting, but no one has volunteered that information) or reading Eating Animals. Some watched their vegan friend or family member's example, and realized that vegans can be fantastically fit, high energy people who obviously enjoy what they eat. I've been introduced to several more professional athletes, such as Ultraman Rich Roll, who became a vegan and started getting into shape at age 40. I'll be using his inspirational story as an example for my own friends and family. Finally, I'm pretty sure I'm not in his demographic, but I've seen a lot of tweeting about people going vegan after watching Onision. As someone who's about to be a parent, I found him a bit worrisome. Then I remembered that I bought a black t-shirt in the East Village that read "Fuck you you fucking fuck," and decided not to pass judgment.

As a vegan who believes we humans have no right to use other animals, my impulse is to believe that only books or films or other media with an abolitionist message is going to get more people to go vegan. But that's just not the way it works.

When the student is ready the teacher appears, and we don't actually know what/who someone else's teacher will be, though we can hazard a guess. We can't schedule the epiphanies of others. But we can be there, consistently, with an answer, an explanation, a resource, or a meal. That's how critical mass is reached, if critical mass is what it's going to take. And that's how an epiphany will be triggered, if that's the route in play. The two things I know about vegan education are that: 1) it involves a lot of listening and guesswork; and 2) once someone has heard an answer to every objection they have–and we've all seen this–that doesn't mean they'll go vegan. There's a secret ingredient that needs to be mixed in and what exactly it is is a mystery, and it doesn't come from the outside.

Oh, and here's a bit of information I needed this morning. You can probably guess why.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Porphyry #

    "As someone who's about to be a parent"

    Wait! What? Really? You have to explain this.

    Are you going to be a parent in the way that people usually mean they are going to be a parent?

    I want to offer a great big congratulations, but I wasn't expecting to hear this from you, I didn't think it was your scene, so I need some confirmation here.

    Details please!

    December 8, 2009
  2. Mary #

    Hi Porphyry,
    Can you believe it? I wrote a bit about it last month:
    We're adopting a boy from Russia. The process takes 15-18 months, and we're at about month 7-8, so it's not exactly around the corner. But still, something exciting for next year!

    December 8, 2009
  3. Olivia #

    Nope, I can't guess why you need the info, but I'm always glad to be reminded (not that I see snakes, but I keep forgetting the red-to-black and red-to-yellow adage, so it helps to see a visual and receive a rhyme).

    Thanks for bringing us news of Rich Roll and Onision; never heard of 'em.

    Having gone vegetarian instantly and vegan by degrees, for ethical reasons alone, the "secret ingredient" for me was replacing pride with humility. I think everyone who changes drastically, and for the better, has to really want to quit justifying old ways and has to be willing to adopt new, less selfish ways — out of love, not fear.

    December 8, 2009
  4. I don't think there was ever a time in my life…even 60+ years ago when I didn't
    know at least on some level that eating animals was wrong. Nor can I understand why it took me so long to stop. If anyone can help me find a way to forgive my self for all the years I gave money to the animal killers…buying the poor dead bodies & eating them, I wish they would. Funny thing is, I can forgive others &
    come up with excuses like, oh, they just didn't think about it…or they didn't know any better, but those excuses don't work for me.
    What made me stop, and I became vegan overnight, was I guess, that I really do love money…..yes I DO! Don't tell me money can't buy happiness because to me freedom is the most precious thing of all and money CAN buy freedom. And when I
    suddenly realized I WAS GIVING MONEY TO THE PEOPLE I HATED MOST (people who torture & kill defensless animals for profit) I was appalled! I..ME…The great animal lover, was helping them stay in business! That was 20 years
    ago & like I said…..I'm still looking for some way to forgive my thoughtless stupidity.

    December 8, 2009
  5. Mary #

    There was a coral snake in our garage and we both had to leave for a couple of hours and needed to close the door. There are several ways to get out from the inside, so that's not what we were worried about. It was all of the golf bags and other places he could hide and we wanted to make sure that if indeed we scared him so much that he felt threatened and someone accidentally got bit, we wouldn't be dealing with a life-threatening situation.

    December 9, 2009
  6. Porphyry #

    I get a little busy, skim a few posts, and look what happens, you’re off adopting people and I fall behind the news! I’m very happy for you and your growing family, it certainly merits an official CONGRATULATIONS. Very cool.

    On Topic:
    The post is touching on the age-old welfare vs. abolition / treatment vs. use / counter–vegetarian vs. vegetarian arguments, as Tristan Stuart put it from his thorough historical view of centuries of vegetarianism. It’s hard for me to write anything that hasn’t already been written on the subject, though it is important to keep writing about it.

    “When the student is ready the teacher appears”

    It’s not that the teacher appears from nowhere, the teacher has always been there, or hopefully should be; otherwise the student may never discover her.

    Keep teaching.

    December 10, 2009
  7. About going vegan #2010. I'm betting most of these "new year resolutions" are for health reasons. I can't imagine wishing to change a dietary habit "on ethical grounds", at a pre-determined time. If a person sees not eating animals as a moral imperative… It won't matter if it's Jan lst or 4th of July. Reality will set the time, not the calendar.

    Strange though, my 2 year vegan-anniversary does fall on Jan. 1st; But not as a planned event. It happened because of a conversation at a New Year's Eve gala – A disturbing discussion about circus animals lead me to the internet at 1:30 AM. By 2AM I was watching Earthlings. For me, from then on, that changed it all.

    It is a mystery why some will hear the answers to all the questions, yet not be convinced "enough". Apathy is a tough nut to crack.

    No indifference to coral snakes though… Encountered one coiled under a flower pot 10 springs ago. I walk cautiously through the garden ever since! 😉

    December 10, 2009

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