Monday, May 14, 2007

Dumb Vegans

Vegans Sentenced in Baby's Death

By GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA - A vegan couple was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison for the death of their malnourished 6-week-old baby boy, who was fed a diet largely consisting of soy milk and apple juice.

Superior Court Judge L.A. McConnell imposed the sentences on Jade Sanders, 27, and Lamont Thomas, 31. Their son, Crown Shakur, weighed just 3 1/2 pounds when he died of starvation on April 25, 2004.

Defense lawyers said the first-time parents did the best they could while adhering to the lifestyle of vegans, who typically use no animal products. They said Sanders and Thomas did not realize the baby, who was born at home, was in danger until minutes before he died.

Sometimes, vegans are dumb. That's a sad understatement based on the news article above. I get the same hitch in my stomach around dumb vegans that I get around idiot bike riders. That's great that you're doing something helpful for yourself and the environment, but don't be a jerk or an idiot about it.

I'm a vegan...mostly. A true vegan would chastise me for that statement. You either are or you aren't. If someone told me they were a vegetarian except they occasionally ate fish or chicken, I'd say they were NOT a vegetarian. They might be more health conscious than others, but if you eat the animals, you're not a vegetarian. No exceptions.

There are two reasons I'm (mostly) vegan and will always be. It's healthier and the amount of cruelty endured by animals to feed our gullets is beyond inhumane. It's as if Nazi exterminators, instead of being eliminated, were told, "Hey, don't do that stuff to people... Have you considered cows?" The life of a farm factory animal is not a Perdue Chicken commercial. They don't live in a big open barn just hanging out and enjoying life. Almost all the animals that make it to your plate lived in overcrowded unsanitary conditions, were doped up and more-than-likely fed remnant meat (Yes, even today ten years after Mad Cow Disease emerged in the news, herbivore cows are still fed meat waste. That practice was outlawed, but it's poorly regulated. If it saves a buck, it won't go away until it's taken away.) and they died terrified.

Everyday, people shove food in their mouths without knowing anything about it. Many people continue to eat based on habits they developed growing up and never question it. If you buy it at the store, it must be okay, right? People get sick everyday and are dying from obesity, cancer and heart disease and never make the connection between the quality of their health and the many pounds of meat rotting in their colon. That's understandable. A good portion of our health system hasn't connected the dots there, either. My mother had quadruple by-pass surgery. Within a week of having her chest cut open, the hospital served her a bacon cheese burger. The nurse told us that we could bring her McDonald's, if we wanted. "What's important is that she eats, no matter what it is." Sheesh... Apparently, it's their way to insure repeat business.

All right, let me get off my very tall horse. Because what really burns me are vegans, the extreme example being the couple above, that give other vegans a bad name. Some people jump into the diet without doing the very simple homework of nutrition. Just eating Twizzlers may make you a vegan, but a very unhealthy one.

Notice, I don't use the term "lifestyle" when it comes to veganism. I don't consider it a lifestyle. It's a diet. Anyone can do it. Part of the problem I have are vegans who embrace it as a lifestyle and alienate those who do not. There's a very fine organization called EarthSave that I used to do a lot of work with. The monthly potluck dinners they hosted were the best. People brought in amazing food and I always used the opportunity to learn to cook a new dish. What turned me off were people who would say things like...

"You have a cat? I can't eat your food because your utensils may have touched other utensils that touched cat food." - Chill, dude. I washed it.

"Ew, is that a fake leather coat? That promotes wearing leather." - Um, no. It promotes wearing fake leather.

"I don't cut my hair. I let it grow out naturally. I use crystal rocks for deodorant. I breast fed my child until he was sixteen. I make all my own clothes out of hemp. I smell funny on purpose." Okay, these are slightly exaggerated.

Veganism is a healthy choice. It's good for your body and it's good for the environment. But as long as vegans make dumb choices or perpetuate an alienating, condescending hippy persona, it's going to be hard to spread the good word on it.