Compassionate Eating & Vegan Education Programme: Pollination Grant 2014

POLLINATION GRANT BADGEMatilda’s Promise is delighted to have received a 2014 Grant from the Pollination Fund at the World Peace Earth Foundation http://thepollinationproject.org/2014/02/14/sandra-higgins-eden/

This grant will help to host Vegan Education Classes http://www.matildaspromise.org/index.php/2014/02/20/vegan-education-classes/ at Matilda’s Promise.

The grant will also fund subsidised places on the Clinical Psychology of Compassionate Eating Programme at The Compassion Foundation of Ireland  http://www.matildaspromise.org/index.php/2014/02/20/the-psychology-of-compassionate-eating/

Please telephone 0872325832 for further details on our programmes.

The Psychology of Compassionate Eating

peace forkMake Peace with Food

  • Eat with Compassion for yourself & all of life
  • Stop Dieting
  • Recover the natural wisdom of Intuitive Eating
  • Learn the art of Mindful Eating
  • Learn to distinguish Physical from Emotional hunger
  • Explore Food Myths
  • Evidence based information on diet & nutrition
  • Guest Lecturer:  Dietician specialising in plant based diets, Gosia Desmond BSc, MA, MSc, PhD candidate will answer your questions on a vegan diet
  • Enjoyable ways to prevent most common Western health problems
  • Consider the implications of our food choices for ourselves, others and the environment
  • Live in peace & harmony with yourself and all of life
  • Subsidised Places Available thanks to a Pollination Fund Grant:

Eating without compassion is probably the greatest source of suffering on this planet.  For some people eating is an act that is undertaken without thought.  For others it is an act that causes immense suffering to the self, an act that destroys rather than nourishes, an act that is imbued with fear and violence.   For some, the impulse to eat, to nourish the body, is something to be dominated and controlled.  Compassionate eating, on the other hand, is about working with, instead of against, our need to eat, in a non-violent, nurturing way.

Many people realise the benefits of eating a plant based diet but have difficulty motivating themselves to change and maintain a more compassionate way of eating.  Some people have distressed eating or eating disorders that are psychological in origin, and which can be healed through self-compassion.  Many people have spent a lifetime, as well as large sums of money, on weight loss diets only to find that their weight is higher than when they started dieting.  The Psychology of Compassionate Eating can help you to stop dieting and to eat what your body needs to thrive.

Eating without compassion is not only a source of suffering to the self.  Some of the food we eat causes unnecessary suffering and large scale exploitation of other animals whose capacity to suffer is at least as great as our human capacity.  How we eat has a major impact on the environment we share with other lives; in fact, changing our food habits is the most immediately effective act we can engage in to stop global warming and destruction of the earth.

Our food habits can also cause immense suffering to the humans who are employed in food production, many of whom are exploited, underpaid, physically harmed by their work, and used as slaves.  Through our food choices we pay other humans to confine, hurt and kill other animals on farms, in the meat, dairy, fish, and egg industries, and in slaughterhouses.

Is this Programme for You?

This programme is suitable for the following:

  • People with eating distress such as emotional overeating
  • People who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder or Bulimia Nervosa
  • People who experience difficulty adopting and maintaining dietary and lifestyle changes recommended for the prevention and treatment of obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes or any other diet related health problem.
  • People who need help in breaking the cycle of restrictive dieting followed by mindless eating and weight gain.

The Psychology of Compassionate Eating is founded on evidence based interventions from Compassion Focussed Therapy (specifically CFT for Eating Distress (CFT-E)).  CFT is a transdiagnostic approach to psychological distress that draws on neuroscience, evolutionary, social, developmental and Buddhist psychology[i].  It is particularly useful for distress that is underpinned by high levels of self-criticism and shame (factors that are causal to, and help maintain, unhealthy eating habits).  Studies demonstrate clinically reliable and significant improvement in eating disorder symptomatology following compassion focused intervention.[ii]

The programme is also informed by the science of Intuitive Eating.   Intuitive eating is characterized by eating based on physiological hunger and satiety cues rather than situational and emotional cues.   We are born with the capacity to eat in a way that is physically and psychologically healthy.  However, socio-cultural mechanisms, including poor parenting skills and media advertising and reporting of inaccurate nutritional information, cause many people to lose this skill.  It can be regained and strengthened with practice.  Intuitive Eating is associated with increased psychological wellbeing[iii], reduced risk of eating disorders[iv][v], and is deemed a useful intervention for clients with diet related physical health issues[vi]

Participants are encouraged and facilitated to:

  • develop Interoceptive Sensitivity[vii] (ability to perceive and process bodily signals) particularly awareness of and respect for physiological and neurochemical signals of hunger and satiety
  • challenge myths and cognitive distortions that create and maintain unhealthy eating habits
  • learn emotional regulation and self-soothing techniques that replace emotional eating
  • learn the practice of mindful, intuitive eating

Diet & Nutrition

The programme encourages participants to focus on healthy eating rather than on the deprivation mentality of being ‘on a diet’.  In fact, it encourages participants to stop dieting.  Based on the literature pertaining to the role of diet in the most common disease burdens in the Western World[viii][ix] the programme encourages participants to adopt a satisfying, healthy diet that includes reduction in the intake of processed food and transition to plant based foods.  This way of eating is thought to have a distinct advantage in terms of body mass index, as well as in the prevention and/or treatment of dementia, diverticular disease, gallstones and rheumatoid arthritis[x], and to significantly reduce the risk of developing many cancers.  In addition, this way of eating has demonstrated effectiveness in the prevention, treatment and even reversal of diabetes,[xi][xii] hypertension and heart disease[xiii][xiv].  These aspects of the programme will be presented in conjunction with Gosia Desmond, BSc, MA, MSc, Dietician. 

There are many additional reasons for choosing a plant based diet including ethical, economic, ecological and social.  In the vein of Positive Psychology, the programme will promote the practice of eudemonic living and compassion for others as well as for the self, based on the theory that strengthening of moral emotions not only helps guide a benevolent lifestyle but is also a guiding mechanism for personal happiness.[xv]

The Programme will take place in group format.  One to one sessions are also available. 

Programme Details

Six week programme

Cost:  E180 (Please enquire if you would like to avail of a subsidised place funded by The Pollination Fund Grant from the World Peace Earth Foundation)

Venue:  Dowdstown House, Navan, Co Meath

Places strictly limited

Bookings:  0872325832 

References


[i] Gilbert, P (2009) Introducing Compassion Focussed Therapy, Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 15: 199-208.[ii]Gale, C, Gilbert, P, Read, N and Goss, K (2012) An Evaluation of the Impact of Introducing Compassion focused Therapy to a Standard treatment Programme for People with Eating Disorders,  Clin Psychol Psychother. 2012 Jun 28. doi: 10.1002/cpp.1806.[iii] Tylka, T.L., & Wilcox, J.A. Are intuitive eating and eating disorder symptomatology opposite poles of the same construct? J of Counseling Psychology, 2006;53, 474-485.[iv] Young, S. Promoting healthy eating among college women: Effectiveness of an intuitive eating intervention. Iowa State University, 2011, Dissertation 147 pages; AAT 3418683.[v] Denny KN, Loth K, Eisenberg ME, Neumark-Sztainer D (2013).  Intuitive eating in young adults. Who is doing it, and how is it related to disordered eating behaviors? Appetite.Jan;60(1):13-9.[vi]Weigenberg, MJ. Intuitive Eating Is Associated with Decreased Adiposity (2009, Abstract). [vii] Herbert BL, Blechert J, Hautzinger M, Matthias E., Herbert C.. (2013). Intuitive eating is associated with interoceptive sensitivity. Effects on body mass index. Appetite, 70(Nov):22–30.[viii] Vegetarian Diets J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Jun;103(6):748-65[ix] American Dietetics Society Position Statement on Vegan and Vegetarian Diets, J Am Diet Assoc.  Volume 109, Issue 7, Pages 1266-1282 (July 2009)[x]Leitzmann, C (2005) Vegetarian diets:  what are the advantages?   Forum Nutr. (57):147-56.[xi] Barnard ND, Cohen J, Jenkins DJ, et al (2006) A low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in a randomized clinical trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 29:1777-1783. [xii] Barnard ND, Cohen J, Jenkins DJ, et al (2009) A low-fat vegan diet and a conventional diabetes diet in the treatment of type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled, 74-wk clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 89:1588S-1596S. [xiii] Hu, FB (2003) Plant-based foods and the prevention of cardiovascular disease:  an overview, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 78 no. 3 544S-551S.[xiv] Esselstyn, CB (2001) Resolving the Coronary Artery Disease Epidemic through Plant-Based Nutrition , Preventive Cardiology, 4: 171-177[xv] Athota, VS, (2013) The role of moral emotions in happiness, The Journal of Happiness & Well-Being, 1(2).  

Vegan Education Classes

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As children we are fed the body parts and secretions of other animals prior to having language and the critical thinking skills necessary to retain our natural empathy and compassion towards others.  Because we are born into a speciesist culture many of us only become aware of the harm we inflict on other animals in adulthood. Most people, when they become conscious of the harm that our human lives and diets inflict on sentient other animals, and on the humans who work in animal agriculture and in slaughterhouses, would like to stop harming others.   As our empathy is reawakened we are offered the opportunity to connect with other animals and to realise the interconnected nature of life.

The most important obstacle to living a life that respects and grants justice to others is lack of awareness of the issues facing other animals and lack of practical knowledge about how to eat and live in a way the inflicts the least harm and does the most good for others.

Matilda’s Promise offers Vegan Education classes to help overcome this obstacle.  Classes offer a combination of information on the sentience of and the lives of the animals used for food, clothing, entertainment and research; practical information on vegan living including health and nutrition, shopping, reading labels, and cooking.  We will share a vegan meal or snack at every class along with ideas, information, readings from pertinent books and film screenings.

Please contact us at 0872325832 to book your place on one of our six week programmes.

Pollination Grant

POLLINATION GRANT BADGEMatilda’s Promise is deeply grateful to the Pollination Project.  We are honoured to be the first international recipient of a grant to launch the animal rights and vegan educational aspects of our work at Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary and the Compassion Foundation of Ireland.

This grant has enabled us to engage in a range of activities to help create awareness of our oppression of other animals and to assist people in making the transition to veganism and the compassionate journey towards equality for all.

Creative Maladjustment

Compassion & Activism

There are some things in our society, some things in our world, to which we should never be adjusted.  There are some things concerning which we must always be maladjusted if we are to be people of good will.

Most of us have become so adjusted to the exploitation of non-human animals that we are blind to the greatest social justice issue of our time.

To be vegan is to be creatively maladjusted to the suffering non-human animals endure by being forced into slavery for human taste, tradition and profit.

To be vegan is to be creatively maladjusted to a violent world.

To be vegan is to be creatively maladjusted to the interconnected problems of world hunger, and the destruction of the limited capacity of the earth to sustain us all, human and non-human.

The salvation of the world lies in vegan maladjustment.

 

In 1967 Martin Luther King gave an address to the American Psychological Association on The Role of the Behavioural Scientist in the Civil Rights Movement[1].  In that address he called for a new organization, The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment, for men and women to be creatively maladjusted to the injustices of their day.

Martin Luther King was not vegan, and he was not a non-human animal rights activist.  Yet, the parallels between the Civil Rights movement and the Animal Rights movement are striking.  His non-violent philosophy and his call for an end to rights violations are highly pertinent to our work for the freedom of other animals.  Arguably, if he were alive today, Martin Luther King would be one of the most eloquent proponents of animal rights among us.  Of note, Martin Luther King’s wife, Coretta Scott, and his son, Dexter Scott King, became vegan.

In the philosophy of Martin Luther King, Mind Freedom International set up the International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment [2],[3].  Mind Freedom is an activist organization that works against rights violations perpetrated against those who suffer psychological distress in a dysfunctional world, and who, as a result of the effects of their distress, suffer discrimination and exploitation at the hands of society, including many of the professionals who purport to care for them.

In its literature Mind Freedom very wisely refers to creative maladjustment to a range of issues that are not limited to the rights of people with psychological distress.  They include racial equality, religious tolerance, economic fairness, peace, ecological sustainability and energy security, individual liberty, fighting psychiatric profiling and human rights abuses in the mental health system, transparent and corruption free government, community and family values[4].  Mind Freedom welcomes The International Association for Creative Maladjustment to Animal Rights Violations[5] which brings the issue of animal rights to this platform of creative maladjustment.

When those of us in the animal rights movement bring animal rights violations to light we are often accused of undermining human rights and somehow detracting from human suffering.  But there are few examples of human suffering that are not matched by and exceeded by the suffering of our non-human brothers and sisters.  Non-human animals are exploited in far greater numbers than our species ever was.  Far from undermining the human issues to which we should, rightly, be maladjusted, those same issues affect equally sentient non-human animals.  Indeed, many of those issues have their causal roots in our oppression of non-human animals.

Mind Freedom has been inclusive and welcoming of the International Association for Creative Maladjustment to Animal Rights Violations so that the issues facing non-human animals are brought to the platform of creative maladjustment to injustice.

First Annual Creative Maladjustment Week of Celebrations

Compassion & Activism

To launch the first Annual Creative Maladjustment week of celebrations in 2013[6] I have been invited as Director at The Compassion Foundation of Ireland by Ruuts and Shuuts to present ‘Compassion & Activism’[7].  This talk will include how we can use compassion for ourselves and for each other to prevent the risk of burnout or empathic distress that is so common among activists, and instead transform our work to compassion satisfaction in ways that enable us to do our best for those whose liberation and peace we work for.   I will be joined by Mary Maddock, of Mind Freedom Ireland, in unity to represent creative maladjustment to injustice, to everyone, everywhere.
This talk will take place on July 16th 2013
Food Served 5:30-9pm, talk starts 7pm

Venue:  EXCHANGE DUBLIN
1, Exchange Street Upper, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Hosted by Ruuts and Shuuts https://www.facebook.com/ruuts.shuuts

Stories of Creative Maladjustment:  Where the Individual Meets the Universal

The First Annual Creative Maladjustment week of Celebrations begins with the publication of a series of stories of creative maladjustment from contributors such as Karen Davis and Butterflies Katz:  Karen Davis, of United Poultry Concerns, launches the celebration with her story Creative Maladjustment:  From Civil Rights to Chickens’ Rights.

What is your story?

 

Begin it.

Act it.

Tell the World

 

What you do in this world matters.  Every act, regardless of how insignificant it seems, affects someone, somewhere.  Sometimes the effect is exponential.  For the beings who are impacted by you, what you do means everything.

Creative Maladjustment from Civil Rights to Chickens’ Rights

Butterflies Katz



[1] King, ML (1968) The Role of the Behavioral Scientist in the Civil Rights Movement, Journal of Social Issues Volume 24, Issue 1, pages 1–12, January 1968
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1968.tb01465.x/abstract

[3] http://www.mindfreedom.org/

[4] http://cmweek.org/how-you-can-celebrate-cmweek.pdf/

[5] https://www.facebook.com/pages/Association-for-Creative-Maladjustment-to-Animal-Rights-Violations/396182187163021?ref=hl

[6] http://cmweek.org/

[7] This talk has been enabled by a grant from A Well Fed World, for which I am extremely grateful. http://awellfedworld.org/

Is the life of a horse or a pig more worthy than that of a cow?

Traces of pigs and up to 29% of horses have been found to compose the content of burgers on sale in Ireland and the UK.  A lot of money is being lost to the animal foods industries on foot of this furore which is being described as making people feel ‘uncomfortable’ and being ‘distressing’.

What is it exactly that is making people uncomfortable or distressing them?   After all, they are being reassured that this does not per se constitute a higher health risk than consuming burgers made from cows.  What is so upsetting about these animals being found in meat products?  In terms of being used as food for humans, other animals are equally inappropriate whether they be cats or dogs, horses, pigs or cows, fishes or chickens.  They are equal in their capacity to suffer when bred and killed for food.  They are equal in the devastating effects that their rearing for food has on world hunger, on the destruction of the environment that we share with other animals for our survival, in the vast resources they consume, and in the risk of ill health they pose to the humans who eat them.  They are also equal in terms of the multitude of ways in which human rights violations take place within the context of other animal rights violations, for example, in the fast food industry, on farms, in slaughterhouses.

So if all non-human animals are equally unsuitable for use as food, why are people expressing horror at finding horses and pigs in their food, when they only expected cows?  The answer may lie in the social and psychological processes whereby socio-cultural norms are transmitted and learned.  After all, in the Irish context we express horror at the notion of eating dogs, whereas in a Chinese context equal horror would be expressed at drinking the milk of another species.  In the Irish and UK context it is acceptable to whip horses and subject them to the gruelling danger of horse racing, but apparently not acceptable to eat their slaughtered bodies.  Socio-cultural norms can be unlearned with just a little effort and given the arguments in favour of a plant-based diet it seems that that little effort is very worthwhile.

Of course, people may be outraged for reasons dictated by religious beliefs.  People may also be outraged to discover that the food industry does not always tell the truth about what is in the food we buy and eat.  But all these reasons underlying what the media is referring to as being ‘distressing’ for meat eating members of the public are extremely trite when one considers the distressing  life of a sentient being bred for the sole purpose of being used by another species, and the suffering he or she endures during the short life between orphaned infancy and death by slaughter in childhood.  There is no way that other animals can give us their bodies or the products of their bodies, to be our food, without costing them enormous suffering and their lives.  Is there a higher price that anyone can pay for anything than the price that the animals reared for food pay to feed us?

There is no property of other animals that humans require as food, that they cannot get from non-violent plant based sources.   World Dietetics Societies confirm that vegan or plant-based diets containing no animal products are healthy and nutritionally adequate for all stages of life, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.  They also state that vegan diets provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

So, if we do not need to eat other animals, then why do we?  Again, the answer lies in the socio-cultural context in which we are embedded.  We are born into highly speciesist societies where we are fed other animals, even prior to having a language with which to think about food or rights.  Then we learn a speciesist language that further camouflages our similarity to other animals and attempts to justify the vast differences in how our rights are respected or violated.

A plant based, vegan diet is enjoyable, healthy, and inexpensive.  More importantly, it is a way of eating that greatly reduces the amount of violence and suffering in our world.  There are active vegan groups in almost every county in Ireland and the UK, as well in many other parts of the world.  Most offer free advice and support to those who wish to make the transition to this non-violent way of life.

There is no excuse for being uninformed about the lives and deaths of the animals in your food.  There is no excuse for not being vegan.

The changes to our lifestyles that veganism entails do not demand much of us.  Yet these small changes grant something of monumental significant to other animals:  their right to liberty from our oppression.

For free vegan mentoring please contact us at matildaspromise@yahoo.ie

Rodrigo Y Gabriela: Patrons

Matilda’s Promise is delighted to announce that Gabriela Y Rodrigo have become Patrons, offering their support to our work for an end to our oppression of other animals.

Rodrigo and Gabriela (http://www.rodgab.com/) are exceptionally talented musicians, whose unique and energetic acoustic guitar playing was first appreciated on the streets of Dublin.  They have become very successful since their days of busking and playing gigs in Irish pubs, and their music is loved throughout the world.  They consistently live a non-violent vegan lifestyle, and support animal rights, and have a deep appreciation of the sentience of other animals who are so exploited by us.

Rodrigo & Mitzu

Rodrigo & Mitzu

‘We are honoured to be Patrons of Matilda’s Promise, to add our voice to the important work of educating people about animal rights and veganism.  Many people think that veganism is about a healthy diet.  But the important part is about respecting the lives of others.  To be inspired by respecting life in all forms is a very honest way to celebrate life.  Veganism is about how you live your life, all the time, in a way that does not intentionally harm anyone else.’  Gabriela and Rodrigo.

Gabriela & Mesy

Gabriela & Mesy

Matilda’s Promise features on The Species Barrier

You can listen to a radio interview featuring Eden, Matilda’s Promise and the movie You Haven’t Lived Until You’ve Hugged a Turkey here http://archive.org/details/TheSpeciesBarrier13TalkingTurkeys

I was interviewed by Marcus and Ruth Dredge, two vegan, environmentalists who question how we interact with the planet and the other animals who call it home on their great programme The Species Barrier. Previous podcasts of the programme are available on the website and are well worth listening to.

With Whom do we Eat and Who are They Eating? The Social Dilemma of Thanksgiving & Christmas

Food is not only used to give us energy and nourishment. How we use it is influenced by our socio-cultural heritage. Our relationship with food is very closely interconnected with our family of origin, with the people who loved and fed us as infants and throughout our childhoods, and with the siblings and friends with whom we shared meals. We carry this phenomenon of imbuing food with love and care into our adult lives, so that the planning, shopping, growing, preparing, cooking and serving of food is a deeply intimate and complex phenomenon. We share feelings of warmth, communication, and understanding in the context of shared meals. What is an overtly simple act – eating three meals a day – is, in fact, a complex giving and receiving of love and nourishment. It is understandable then, that when a friend or family member refuses the food that someone else has carefully imbued with this care, feelings can be very hurt. People may feel that not only is the meal being rejected; the love that went into its preparation along with the wish to share time and conversation are all rejected. Indeed, the person who provided the food can feel themselves personally rejected. For many people, this act of shared eating is the nourishment that is required to sustain relationships, and not only our physical bodies.

From the perspective of the animal rights activist, it is deeply offensive and painful to be in the presence of animal foods. They are the products of so much unnecessary suffering. However, refusal to partake in events that involve animal foods is not without social consequences.

I personally recall being present at a celebration that involved sharing food where, among the edible items on offer, were chickens’ wings. This was not long after Matilda died (http://www.edenfarmanimalsanctuary.com/matilda.html). I was in the company of people whom I dearly love. The problem was that I also loved Matilda very dearly and was grieving at having lost her. At they ate I recalled that Matilda’s last act in life was to lift her wings as if to fly. I recalled that her beautiful wings had glossy black feathers with hints of green and blue in them and I remembered how she used to use her wings to fly over the fence that I had built to keep her safe. She would arrive at my kitchen window and come inside to spend time with me – of her own volition. The situation at the party was incongruous to me. I observed knowing that this was an activity that I used to consider so ‘normal’ that it would barely have registered in my consciousness.  Now, through the lens of justice, love, and equality between me other species, I tried to guess how may individuals’ miserable lives had ended with that beautiful part of their bodies becoming food for the humans I also love.

So, what is the best course of action for a vegan, animal rights activist to take in handling these social events? I will not prescribe a course of action for another. It is up to you to do what you feel best serves the non-humans on whose behalf you advocate, and also serves as a source of compassionate education for the humans in your life. Sometimes these situations are best avoided; sometimes you can foster more compassion from within your extant social situations than you can by leaving them.

It is helpful if you can find a way to let your friends and family know that you are not rejecting them when you fail to attend social events that involve using non-humans as food; what you are rejecting is participation in behaviour that entails the infliction of suffering and death on the non-humans for whom you advocate. An option worth considering is encouraging others to share vegan food. You can suggest vegan recipes or vegan (or vegan friendly) restaurants as social venues; this gives your friends/family the opportunity to discover how delicious food does not necessitate cruelty. If eating at a friend’s or family member’s home, you can bring some vegan food with you.

How we choose to deal with the situations that arise in our lives, and the effectiveness of our methods, are different for everyone. I highly recommend Bob and Jenna Torres book Vegan Freak (relevant pages pp122-125) for support in Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World.

If you are facing the difficult decision about how or with whom to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas, or any other social occasion, because of situations that depend on the cruel breeding, short lives, and horrific deaths of non-human persons, at least know that you are not alone in your dilemma. As Vegan Pioneers (Yates, 2012 ) we have an uphill journey in encouraging others to realise the oppression and unnecessary pain that is inherent in all of the ways that non-human animals are used. The following excerpt is from Roger Yates’ PhD thesis on Human – Nonhuman Relations, and comments on this very dilemma:

You never know
You never know who’s for lunch today.
Who’s for Lunch Today?

Albert Hammond, 1973,
Mums Records

Toward the end of 2001, there was a lengthy discussion on a nonhuman advocacy email network about issues arising from the annual North American ‘Thanksgiving’ celebration. A non meat-eater had written in saying she was negotiating with family members about how the day should go; particularly, what was to be done about the traditional ‘Thanksgiving turkey’. Not wanting to spoil the occasion for others, the animal advocate was considering allowing her mother to have her way and visit brandishing a specially pre-cooked turkey. Her email was an apparent reflection of her anxiety about compromising her principles; but it also seemed to reveal her recognition, and even partial acceptance, of the cultural importance of a turkey dinner on this particular social occasion.

There is the suggestion that ‘animal rights’ views in this case had the clear potential to disrupt and upset a hitherto not-especially-thought-about aspect of Thanksgiving: that is, the plight of the millions of turkeys killed for it. This appears to be a case in which some awareness truly had the ability to ‘spoil’ a dinner: and an awareness of the emailer’s views had made her relatives, perhaps for the first time, think about turkeys at Thanksgiving, rather than simply think about Thanksgiving Turkey. When Groves (1995) investigated the role of ‘emotion’ in social movement activity about human-nonhuman relations, he found a similar situation. He found that animal activists were often accused of ‘spoiling’ happy celebrations and occasions, and it is clear that this generally means that the philosophy of ‘animal rights’ had made people directly think about certain aspects of their relations with other animals (ibid: 441). For example, one activist told Groves that friends, aware of his and his wife’s position on human-nonhuman relations, stated before a meal: ‘We’re not going to say anything about food in front of our kids’. If a child comes up and mentions something about meat, the activist says of his friends: ‘They’ll all look at us like ‘don’t start him thinking!’’ (ibid.)

Groves also recounts how a North American female activist had caused her mother to be very angry when she did talk about the plight of turkeys during Thanksgiving. Her mother’s rage was at least partly prompted by the presence of the activist’s aunt and the potential of a spoilt meal following the campaigner’s comments. The activist states that she was told by her mother: ‘‘This is supposed to be a happy occasion. It’s Thanksgiving. You’re supposed to be thankful’. I said ‘I am thankful. I’m thankful I’m not a turkey!’’

Compassion to Human as well as Non Human Animals

Remember your own journey and do what you can to educate with compassion (Tom Regan). By doing so you accord the same respect to humans that you grant to the non-humans you advocate for, and you are likely to be much more effective.

Tom Regan On Communicating With Non-Vegans

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Tom Regan published on the AR Zone.
Over the years I’ve received letters from total strangers who tell me that reading something I’ve written “changed their life.” I’ve also received a like number of messages from people who think I’m a total nut case. So my experience has been: some people respond favourably to philosophical arguments; others do not. My advice? Let other people be our guide. Listen to them, to find out where they are in their life. Maybe they think they “have to eat meat.” Maybe they think “God gave animals to us.” Maybe they think “watching performing animals is great family fun.” Go with their flow. Be patient. Be genuine.
Did I say “be patient?” Nancy recently reminded me of something that happened it now must be twenty years ago at least. We were attending a professional meeting and a student stopped us. “What about plants?” he asked, to which a third person who was with us (raising her voice) said, “That is the stupidest question I’ve ever heard in my life! What do you have, mush for brains?” Then she stormed-off, in a huff. Later that evening, when our paths crossed, she said, “Honest, Tom and Nancy, I swear, people have asked me that question a thousand times! I can’t take it anymore.” To which Nancy and I replied, “Yes, but that was the first time that young man asked us that question.”

The last thing other animals need is another reason not to care about them. How we act towards other people can provide just such a reason. Being rude or judgmental doesn’t help any nonhuman. A coping technique I use (to quell my impatience, when I feel it bubbling-up in my throat) is to think of the people who ask questions I’ve been asked hundreds of times as mirrors. Yes, I think of them as mirrors. When I look at them, in other words, what I see is a reflection of who I used to be.
Like them, there was a time when I didn’t know how other animals were being treated.
Like them, there was a time when I knew but didn’t care.
Like them, there was a time when I knew and cared but not enough to change how I was living.
Like them, there was a time when I was . . . them!
That’s what I try to remind myself. I don’t want to come across as self-righteous or arrogant. That would give the questioner another reason not to care about other animals, and I don’t want to do that—I don’t want to be that reason. – Excerpted from an interview with Tom Regan published on the AR Zone.

References

Torres, B & J (2010) Vegan Freak, Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World, Version 2.0, PM Press.

http://human-nonhuman.blogspot.ie/2011/04/hello-donald.html?spref=fb#!/2011/04/hello-donald.html

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