By Paul Graham
Las Vegas Informer
I was doing a little research the other day and I came across a very interesting definition. It was for the word “macho.” Now this has not been an official word for that many years but it no doubt describes a behavior that has been around since the beginning of time. It simply says macho is “having or characterized by qualities considered manly especially when manifested in an assertive, self-conscious, or dominating way.” Sound like anybody we know? Sounds like the behavior behind every war that has ever been fought. A secondary definition also says macho is “having a strong or exaggerated sense of power or right to dominate.” There is that word dominate again.
I certainly came in contact with macho growing up. Even at an early age I noticed there were those who felt a need to dominate others. Some were quick to fight to show their toughness and manliness. I also noticed advertisers put forth a message of what a “real man” looked like. Maybe he looked like the Marlboro Man. They portrayed smoking as tough and cool and maybe something that could help you grow a good mustache. Then of course when they were forced to tell you that it could also kill you, well, that wasn’t so cool anymore but people still did it anyway. Hunting and fishing were also considered manly endeavors. Having the need for speed. Normal behavior for men also was portrayed as gathering around watching sports whenever you could drinking lots of beer and consuming as much meat as they possibly could. Some of this is activity might be harmless, but much of it greatly impacted both personal health and safety, the lives of animals, and also the environment.
Obviously, not everyone lives according to their stereotypes. I certainly have tried not to. I have participated in sports all of my life and it has been a great way to put forth some healthy aggression and compete but there is a point where it can just go too far in how one can react both playing and watching. I grew up around hunters but it has never been my thing. Even as a young person, long before I became vegan, I never understood the point of hunting animals. What was the sport in dominating an animal for your own pleasure in this way? I understand it even less right now. Some people probably think because their families have been doing it for generations, and others have done if throughout history, it is acceptable to still do it. I would question that. We no longer need to do it for survival. A very large industry is already in place that grows, imprisons and slaughters animals for society’s consumption and their great profit so you don’t have to go do it yourself. They do the caveman for you. Let us do the macho so you don’t have to work as hard. It also is an industry that has to be radically changed.
In some deviant circles, dog-fighting is considered a macho “sport.” Let’s dominate these wonderful animals and turn them into fighting machines for our wicked and perverse pleasure. In fact this is just a case of men, for the most part, sinking down to the lowest levels of human expression. It is a “self-conscious” behavior because they are not thinking about anything other than themselves and it is being manifested in an assertive and dominating way. Whether it be bullfighting or any other activity since the gladiator arena that supports the bloodlust of humans we need to realize that we have long been at a crossroads in our humanity and we need to evolve to a higher place of thinking and living. If we don’t, we will continue to look for ways to dominate not only the animal kingdom for with other humans as well and this will only add to the bloodshed and wars that have plagued us throughout history.
We need to realize as men that some of these stereotypes that have been put forth about what being manly is are not only not true, but also just a way that others attempt to dominate our way of thinking to get us to live and buy a certain way. Does eating meat and potatoes make the man? No, but it might kill him, at least as far as the meat is concerned. There is a movement that is spreading across this world towards conscious eating and living. Despite what some may think, being vegan is just not something that women do, though they do it beautifully. Men are joining the ranks daily and in many cases leading the way to show forth a lifestyle characterized in every area by love, kindness and compassion for every living creature. We really do need to step and help set the tone for our society. LIving by what is right and not by what others are trying to sell as “manly.” Believe it or not, it starts in our hearts and minds and is manifested on our plates and how we live our lives and it can change the world. Men, it is time to listen up and man up. No meat, no macho…just life.
British research shows that a child’s IQ predicts his likelihood of becoming a vegetarian as a young adult. You guessed it: the smarter the child, the more likely they’ll eventually shun meat.
Vegan Alive’s Take: This is currently my situation as my wife and 3 sons are not vegan. I don’t lay down laws in my house preferring to lead by example. One of my sons and my wife are starting to get more interested in veganism and I have hopes that they’ll adopt my cruelty free lifestyle soon.
So you live amongst non-vegans? In many ways, we all do, but the issue becomes much more challenging if you all happen to be under the same roof. Maybe you live with your parents and you’re the only person in the family who has decided to change your diet and lifestyle; perhaps you live with a boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife who doesn’t share the same enthusiasm you have about living cruelty-free, or maybe you share an apartment with roommates that are all die-hard meat eaters? Life can’t be easy being the odd one out, but it doesn’t have to be a constant battle either. Here are a few tips you can use for surviving as a vegan in a non-vegan household:
1. Be clear and headstrong!
Make sure that you’ve taken the time to explain your vegan lifestyle choice and why it is important to you. The better understanding everyone you live with has about why you are vegan, the less chances they will inadvertently put you in awkward situations concerning food, gifts, and other household items. You don’t have to preach about veganism all day, but the clearer you are about your choices, the more respect you are likely to get back from them. Of course, you may have a pesky sibling, relative or roommate that may just not get it; you just have to work harder with them and take everything they say with a grain of salt. If you can’t deal with annoying comments and have a sense of humor about it, you’re going to make your life as a vegan infinitely more challenging than it actually is!
2. Know your vegan facts
This should be a given, but you should know your basic facts about veganism. The more you know, the more you may be able to help others you live with understand that you’re not some animal-loving freak or experimenting with a fad diet. You don’t have to be a nutrition expert or be able to recite a laundry list of non-vegan ingredients and products, but you should be able to answer the basic questions like “how do you get enough protein?” “How do get calcium?” “What CAN you eat?” “What shoes can you wear?” etc. Arm yourself with some useful facts about veganism, such as the environmental impacts of animal agriculture or the health dangers of animal products and of course, information about the treatment and use of animals. People may think veganism does not makes sense for them as a lifestyle choice, but who can argue with cold hard facts?
3. Lay down some ground rules
Living under the same roof often means sharing things, ranging from a refrigerator to utensils, bathrooms and other living spaces. Depending on your living situation of course (whether you are a dependent or financial contributing to the household), you may want to encourage others you live with to buy vegan versions of shared household items, such as cleaning supplies, toothpaste, etc. When it comes to sharing utensils, it is a personal choice at the end of the day. If practical, you may want to use separate utensils; alternatively, you can just establish some clear rules that everything should be thoroughly washed right after it is used so that it can be reused by anyone else in the home. If you buy common groceries for the home, make sure that you make a list of product names for vegan milks, butters, cheeses, breads and other pantry andrefrigerated items that you may need on a regular basis. The idea should be to make everything you need absolutely clear and transparent to others, so that they don’t have to go out of their way to figure out what you may or may not be able to eat or use. Further, if you live with non-vegans and want them to be accommodating and accepting of your lifestyle, you have to remember to reciprocate that attitude. This means, not being critical of them when they choose to cook animal products or buy other non-vegan items for their personal use. You can disagree with people, but be respectful!
4. Share the vegan love
If you don’t already know how to cook, learn! Good vegan food is undoubtedly the most powerful weapon vegans have in their arsenal against the most skeptical non-vegans. Granted, you may have to make some extra effort to keep this up, but trust us, it will be worth it in the long run. Surprise the non-vegans in your household with some vegan waffles or pancakes for breakfast. Bake somevegan cupcakes and muffins every now and then. Better yet, pick one night of the week (or every two weeks) where you can cook an entire vegan meal for everyone in your home. This way, you will not only be able to get them to appreciate some great tasting vegan food, but may also encourage them to try making it themselves. Delicious vegan food says much more about veganism than the biggest “Go Vegan” banner in the world.
5. Be a beacon of vegan positivity
Going vegan is a step that isn’t taken lightly by most people. Veganism is after all a way to challenge the status quo, to go against everything we’ve been told and everything people have blindly done for centuries. It is about waking up to the realization that there’s an alternate way to exist on this planet, one that does not involve contributing to the use and murder of billions of innocent living beings. It’s easy to feel a sense of despair over the helplessness of the situation, especially because most people don’t share your views. However, the more vegans you encounter, the more you will realize that most of us are all incredibly positive people. Perhaps it’s because we have a clearer outlook towards life in general, or it may have something to do with all the delicious and nutritious food we get to eat every day. Whatever, it is, you have to remember that every vegan is an ambassador for everything veganism stands for. You can’t expect others to take you or your lifestyle choices seriously if you are apologetic or overtly aggressive about it. Just be positive, hold your head up high and share some of the vegan awesomeness!
By Kristin Barton
While public understanding of veganism is growing, there are still a lot of people who either aren’t aware of what is a vegan or who falsely think that veganism is a radical, extremist diet that isn’t healthy. The fact is, veganism is not only a healthy dietary choice for individuals, it’s also a healthy choice for the planet!
I remember how it was before I was exposed to veganism. I considered myself a “pretty healthy eater.” I ate lean chicken, fish, high quality cuts of red meat, salads, and fresh veggie “side dishes.” I was in pretty good shape and I was proud of it. For an American, I ate a “healthy diet.” No Burger King, no deep fried anything, and no soft drinks. I thought I was a prime example of healthy eating.
Fast forward a few years. My daughter was around 14 years old. She had always been a healthy eater, and I would brag to my friends that when she was three, she gave a woman whiplash in the grocery store when she innocently asked, “Mommy, can we have some broccoli?” I thought the lady was going to faint on the spot. Of course, I played it up. “Only if you are very good,” I said in my best mom voice. I still get a giggle out of that one. So my daughter at 14 announced that she wanted to be vegetarian. Not vegan, mind you, but vegetarian. Her dad and I were concerned. How would our child get enough calcium without drinking cow’s milk? How would she get enough protein without eating animal flesh? We were genuinely in a dither about how to support our teenager without causing her ill health. Boy, if I had only known then what I know now! If I had only known how much healthier I would be on a plant-based diet, and how my health would improve further when I went from vegetarianism to veganism along with my child. So, what is a vegan, what’s veganism really about? Here are the facts:
1. Veganism is a lifestyle, not just a diet. Vegans eat plant based diets that contain no animal-derived products (that means no meat, dairy, or honey), and they also refrain from purchasing, using, or wearing animal-derived products (such as leather and wool).
2. Veganism supports human health. It has been shown in scientific studies that vegans are healthier than meat and dairy eaters. The list of diseases that vegans sidestep is a very long one. The single healthiest thing a person can do is to become a vegan. Some of the worst diseases suffered by Americans today can be virtually eliminated by choosing a vegan diet. These include cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, diverticulosis, and E. coli infections.
3. Veganism supports animal health. We are blissfully ignorant about the real conditions in which animals that are raised for food live and die. Often farmed animals are treated brutally, mutilated without pain interventions, left to die slowly of disease, and slaughtered inhumanely. When we become aware of the truly horrific experiences of these innocent animals, often we cannot turn a blind eye and continue to eat meat. Do you want to be a party to animal cruelty? Unless you stop eating meat, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
4. Veganism supports the health of our planet. Here’s a quote from the peta.org website:
“A recent United Nations report concluded that a global shift toward a vegan diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change. And the U.N. is not alone in its analysis. Researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that switching from a standard American diet to a vegan diet is more effective in the fight against climate change than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid. And a German study conducted in 2008 concluded that a meat-eater’s diet is responsible for more than seven times as much greenhouse-gas emissions as a vegan’s diet is. The verdict is in: If you care about the environment, one of the single most effective things that you can do to save it is to adopt a vegan diet.”
5. Veganism is simple to adopt. It’s a common misconception that vegans have to eat a lot of “special food” that “replaces meat and dairy.” This isn’t true at all. As meat and dairy are not necessary for human health, there’s no need to “replace” them to begin with. The idea is that if one eats a rounded plant based diet, one will have optimal health. Calcium and protein, the two dietary elements that people express the most concern about when switching to a vegan diet, can be gotten easily by drinking almond or soy milk and by eating lots of green leafy vegetables. There’s protein in almost all plants, so the idea that one needs meat to get protein is silly. There is actually twice as much calcium in almond milk than there is in dairy milk, too!
6. Veganism is quite financially wise. Not only are vegetables cheaper than meat, purchasing fresh local vegetables and fruits will support the local economy. Many staples of healthy vegan diets are very affordable and can be purchased in bulk, such as brown rice, chickpeas, lentils, grains, and nuts.
7. Veganism is socially conscious. The amount of natural resources that it takes to produce one pound of meat for human consumption can feed over 100 people on a plant based diet. A large percentage of the human population on this planet is underfed while the rich nations, such as the U.S. and the U.K. bask in excess, wasting resources and food. Isn’t it time we became enlightened enough to refuse to accept a world where children still starve to death?
8. Vegan food is delicious if you know how to prepare it. One of the things people often say about veganism is that they “hate tofu” and “hate salads.” Well, vegans often answer that a chicken that isn’t prepared with spices tastes bland and boring. It’s only good if the person preparing the food knows how to do it correctly. Tofu and other common vegan foods are the same. Tofu can be delicious if properly prepared, and vegans don’t just live on salads. They eat wonderful pastas, breads, soups, stews, desserts, and tempting entries from all over the world. Vegan diets are often rich in whole grains, seeds and nuts, leafy greens, fruits, and beans. Vegans often enjoy cooking with exotic spices and experimenting with plant based foods from different cultures.
9. Veganism is frugal. Because vegans don’t wear or use animal derived materials, they wear natural fibers and synthetics such as “pleather.” These materials are vastly cheaper than leather, wool, and silk. And with veganism catching on more and more, there are some fabulous clothing designers who are emerging with fashionable vegan alternatives that are more affordable and cruelty free!
10. Veganism keeps our water clean. The waste from animal processing plants, not to mention the waste from the animals themselves, is poisoning our water supply. These waste products seep into groundwater and contaminate it with antibiotics, hormones, and rotting flesh. The world’s water supply is precious. Animal products may not be the only contaminants we have to worry about, but if a large part of our population switches to a vegan diet and lifestyle, the amount of contamination in our water will decrease dramatically.
Indonesian shrimp trawlers kill 26 pounds of sea creatures for every 1 pound of shrimp they collect?
A very large international study has found that vegetarians live longer than meat-eaters. The Adventist Health Study, which has been tracking tens of thousands of people since the late 1950’s indicates that even limiting meat intake can provide protection against chronic diseases that tend to shorten lives.
The Adventist Health Study is being conducted by Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California. Included are more than 96,000 Seventh-day Adventists from the US and Canada. This group of Christians believe that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and should be cared for diligently with the most healthful diet possible. Therefore, most follow a vegetarian diet in addition to practicing other positive lifestyle choices, such as avoiding alcohol and tobacco use.
The most recent data from the study indicates that Vegetarian Adventist men live to an average of 83.3 years – 9.5 years longer than other Californians. Vegetarian women live an average of 85.7 years which is 6.1 years longer than non-vegetarians.
There are several ways that the vegetarian diet is health-protective, promoting longevity:
1. Vegans (strict vegetarians) are, on average, 30 pounds lighter than meat eaters. Obesity can cut a person’s lifespan by 6.2%.
2. Consuming a vegetarian diet can reduce the risk for Type 2 diabetes. Vegetarians and vegans are less insulin resistant than meat-eaters, thus reducing the need for medication.
3. Those who eat vegetarian foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains have fewer risk factors for heart disease, the number one killer of both men and women in the United States.
4. Vegetarian diets may protect against cancer, including lung and breast cancer and colorectal cancer. The positive nutrients, such as antioxidants, found in plant foods help reduce inflammation that can be damaging to the body leading to certain types of cancer.
5. Vegetarians tend to have a wider variety of foods that they eat, leading to a greater intake of nutrients such as dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, and phytochemicals. These can help ensure proper functioning of all body tissues and organs, and when they stay healthy, you live longer!
Is it necessary to be vegan or vegetarian to reap these benefits? Not necessarily, say researchers. Pesco-vegetarians (those that eat fish) and semi-vegetarians who limit animal products to once a week or less (sometimes called “flexitarians”) also have “intermediate” protection against lifestyle diseases.
Source: Loma Linda University School of Public Health