[BLOG] The One About Becoming a #badvegan

"Image Courtesy of Google"

“Image Courtesy of Google”

I am going Vegan, and no –

I am not kidding.

I realize that I have basically “unleashed the swarm” where it concerns internet trolls, but it is what it is. Your Friendly Neighborhood Geek is joining the veggie crowd, and that is that.

The reason why I am transitioning to a high-protien/low-carbohydrate Vegan diet is because my body really likes it. In 2005, (after nearly dying of anaphylactic shock), I learned that I am allergic to dairy and two of the three most popular meats sold in the United States. I have been living off of an almost meatless diet since then and figured it was time to take the plunge.

I admit, I have had some serious trepidation about sharing this part of my health journey. Typically when you tell people that you’ve adopted an alternative diet they immediately turn into armchair nutritionists. If there is one piece of wisdom I can give you as someone who has previously transitioned to a Vegetarian diet, it is this –

Grow a very thick skin and learn how to cook.

One thing I learned from my last go-around with a plant-based diet is that families are not always supportive of such transitions. When I became a Vegetarian in my teens my parents flipped s—. It started a year-long nightmare of ignorant comments that ended with my having to both educate myself about proper diet and nutrition and cook. I know that last bit sounds entitled and whiny, but it isn’t. A kid going Vegan or Vegetarian can be a great opportunity for families to learn about healthy eating while teaching their child some major self-sufficiency skills. Unfortunately, for some it is an opportunity for parents to unleash verbal Hell while their teen is trying to chop vegetables for a meatless spaghetti sauce.

Like I said, you are going to have to grow a very thick skin.

However, verbal taunts and poor behavior over the contents of my plate is just one of the reasons why I had to think long and hard about going public with my decision. The other reason lies in the fact that there are Vegans and Vegetarians who are complete a——- about their lifestyle and diet. I would know because I have met some of them. Those are the folks who support organizations like Peta, and put their dogs on Vegan diets.

No, I am not making that up.

Yes, I think that is ridiculous.

The best way to categorize those folks is as Extreme Vegan (or Vegetarian) Fundamentalists. Seriously. I have a relative who falls into this category as they proselytize at every meal and engage in passive-aggressive meat-shaming. Three years ago they got into a screaming match with another relative for their refusal to stop eating meat and dairy products. It ended with the relative kicking them out of their house. To this day the Vegan family member can’t understand why telling someone they’re killing their grandchildren by feeding them ice cream would warrant getting the boot.

"Image Courtesy of Google"

“Image Courtesy of Google”

 

If something is the truth it will bear out on its own. Anything that has to be defended to the point of rabid fanaticism is usually something that is predicated on a fallacy. Either way it is this particular group of Vegans who give the rest of us a really bad name. They are also the ones who demonize Vegans like myself who don’t tow the “official” party line.

According to these folks I’m a bad Vegan because of my proclivity for eating the occasional boiled egg, and sweetening my tea with honey. I’m sorry, but I don’t consider beekeeping or the consumption of their delicious byproduct to be synonymous with “animal oppression.” The honeybee – our primary pollinator – is now on the endangered species list. Independent and local beekeepers may be our saving grace in this fiasco, and to support their work I buy their product. The same is true for wool since I work with yarn and prefer to use natural fibers instead of synthetic whenever possible.

I am also a member of the handful of animal rights activists who have not lost their damn minds. I am not Vegan as part of some protest against corporate agriculture or the meat industry. If that is your reasoning, cool. I am in no way claiming that a concern for animal welfare is a “bad” reason to be a Vegan. In fact I know many people who have converted to plant-based diets because of their concern for animals. What I am saying is that the incestuous relationship between the extremes of animal rights activism and plant-based diets has bred a pernicious form of ecoterrorist.

Retired journalist John Katz has covered radical animal rights activism, and its effects on those unfortunate enough to land in its cross-hairs, on his website Bedlam Farm. His coverage of the New York Carriage Horses fiasco is pretty eye-opening as to what a large portion of the modern animal rights movement has become.

I am a sixth-generation farmer and food activist who is a supporter and advocate for urban and organic farmers. The only thing I have an issue with is the over-regulation of urban and organic farmers by Big Agra, and the disinformation being spread about the short-term use of antibiotics in meat animals. Yes, you read that correctly – meat animals. I am not opposed to the consumption of meat products by those who choose to continue that diet. I am opposed to any potential suffering or mistreatment of the animals we raise for consumption.

I am not against people owning pets or raising animals for food so long as they are responsible and humane. I think we can all agree that people who mistreat or neglect their pets and livestock should be held accountable. I think we can also agree that extremists who use conjecture and hyperbole to destroy the livelihoods of honest farmers, (or the reputations of good pet owners), should face penalties as well.

At the end of the day you can be a Vegan for whatever reason you want, period. I am a Vegan because of health and economic reasons. I am not a strict Vegan because ever so often I do enjoy a tasty egg or honey in my tea. If you want to keep up on my adventures with Veganism just follow me on Twitter, and look for the hashtag #badvegan.

-RJK

[BLOG] The One With The Great Networking Opportunity!

Dear friends–it’s Meet & Greet time again! Last month, because so many of you wonderful bloggers visited, I went ahead and collected your links and included them in this post, along with a couple of choice words from your comments describing your blog. I hope this will help jumpstart the day by making it easier for you all to start browsing and to visit your fellow bloggers (They are in no particular order…and they are all uniquely enjoyable!). But since one sentence can hardly encompass the awesomeness of you all…feel free to comment again and to leave a link to your site or favorite post. And for anyone who missed the last gathering…be sure not to leave without saying hi!

via 💙 You are Cordially Invited… 💙 — Musings of PuppyDoc

[BLOG] The One About Dumbing Down Your Writing

"Image courtesy of Google"

“Image courtesy of Google”

Don’t do it.

If there is one piece of advice you take away from this blog, this should be it. I can’t begin to tell you how often I am asked to use “little” or “easy” words either in conversation or writing, and to be clear we’re not talking $50 – $500 words here. I’m talking about terms that we learned in the eighth grade like incalculable, anachronism, or the one that spawned this particular blog post – loquacious. These are words I’ve seen in Reader’s Digest for crying out loud, and yet for some folks they’re on par with first year Latin.

The cause of this aversion to high-school level terminology is two-fold. The first lies in the fact that people simply don’t read as much as they used to. Devices and apps like the Amazon Kindle or Barnes and Noble’s Nook, coupled with the widespread availability of reading material, are not enough to raise the average number of books read or listened to by American adults. In real numbers, according to the Pew Research Center, among all American adults the number of books read or listened to per year is 12, with the average around 5.

Let that sink in.

That means that half of the adults in the U.S. read more than 5 books and the other half reads even less. This leads into the second problem which is that people no longer wish to take the time to educate themselves. Ironic in an age where modern telecommunications have made information readily available to whomever wants it. When I was a kid in the 80s and 90s, it wasn’t uncommon to thumb through the dictionary when you didn’t know what a word meant. If you wanted to avoid repeating yourself while writing an essay the thesaurus was your best ally.

The advent of modern technology such as the internet and devices such as smart phones has made that process incredibly easy. Yet, people are still asking folks to dumb down their writing and speech because they can’t understand words and phrases they should have gotten during their compulsory education. I don’t know if this is an indictment of the twentieth and twenty-first century education systems, the open-arm welcome of ignorance by the general public, or a combination of both. Either way at the end of the day it comes down to audiences not just asking authors to inform and entertain them, but think for them as well.

Hell + No.

It is not my job as a writer or user of the English language to think for whomever I am writing for or speaking to. It is my job to make sure that my writing is clear, concise, and generally okay for human consumption. I will be the first to tell you that the last thing we want to do is swing to the other extreme. Dense, verbose, overly-complicated writing with an excess of $50 – $500 words is the bane of any reader’s existence. If you want to watch an academic flip out like the wicked witch of the west just turn in a paper that reads like your typical DOD contract.

Too many big words can be a problem and it even has a name – gobbledygook. Too many small words is also a problem as overly-simplistic writing lacks nuance, depth, detail, and any discernible measure of quality. Whether you make your writing too hard or too simple the final product for either approach is the same – substandard prose. This is why it is important, regardless of whether or not you are a “reader” or a “writer,” to make reading books a regular habit. Not only does it improve your ability to write, by exposing you to a diverse body of styles and prose, but it improves and broadens your vocabulary as well. Now get out there, read a book, learn some new words, and if you find one you don’t understand?

Google it.

-RJK