This brief video demonstrates that it is not necessary to slaughter animals or trash the planet in order to … perform vertical push-ups.
Word to the fitness vegans! Stand up!
This brief video demonstrates that it is not necessary to slaughter animals or trash the planet in order to … perform vertical push-ups.
Word to the fitness vegans! Stand up!
March is women’s history month. But women make history all year, year after year. Women’s history is no joke. Women are no joke. Women are the harder-working half of humanity, hands down. They do the reproductive labor of our species, as well as productive labor. And because of patriarchal accounting systems, economies and cultures the world over, a woman’s reproductive labor is not fully accounted for; sometimes it is called leisure. But the very reproduction of the species is a far more significant task than leisure. We cannot monetize it. We cannot, or refuse to, dignify it the way our acquisitive culture dignifies the whole predominantly white male lot of Wall Street bankers who helped dramatically deepen the long crisis that capitalism is. The World Bank and IMF will not categorize and catalogue the full worth of women’s labor. But our patriarchal, consumer society has been far more successful at monetizing women’s bodies, at the gross objectification of sisters, daughters, and mothers for their body parts. In this way women are reduced to mannequins and sex dolls, display pieces in downtown boutiques, or rated, graded, and sold as if on the meat market of human flesh, as when dowries are paid. So any thoughtful vegan should be quick to recognize that the liberation of women furthers the cause. More monumental is the task of having men recognize that when women are liberated from gendercide, subordination, and second-class status as humans and as male property, we men will be liberated to become more fully human ourselves. Women’s liberation is its own worthy and urgent cause, but it is also to our own immediate advantage to participate in and share solidarity with full gender equality in our planetary civilization. For us to become more prosperous, more intelligent, and wiser, uniting with feminism is in the selfish interest of men – keeping it real. Reject male privilege. For women are no joke.
This is because an honest appraisal of who we are as individuals suggests the basic logic of the African philosophy of Ubuntu – that “I am because we are,” that we are fundamentally and immutably interdependent beings. It is informed by a basic ecological principle that whatever our material embodiment consists of, it automatically invokes and forms from the contributions of our parents, their parents, the food they ate, the sunshine that shone on it, the minerals/stardust that fed it, and ultimately, the entire universe itself. By this understanding, the American notion of “rugged individualism” is illogical and misleading, perhaps deliberately so as it aims to divide us, isolate us and atomize us. All of us constitute the community, and the full participation of each of us, realizing our full potential, permits collective prosperity. If women are denied an education, the community suffers the loss of her more fully realized participation and contribution to the intellectual and material well-being of the group. The direct consequence of the unjust enforcement of ignorance upon females is collective poverty. This can be proven by looking at any society that has strong evidence of ongoing work toward equalizing the statuses, opportunities and life chances of men and women, and then looking at a society that treats women like livestock, like household appliances. The more just society is always more prosperous, healthy, educated, safe, clean, and so on, by many multiples across any human development measure.
Active critical thinking informs an honest assessment, for men, of the problem with oppressing women, or even passively acquiescing to their oppression. Think, for example, about how women in urban communities around the United States (really worldwide) must deal with street harassment, with the catcalling and worse, which exacerbate the oppression of black women. The street harassment paradigm posits the threat of violence over all of us. Street harassment is motivated by false and problematic beliefs in males of inherent domination, unearned privilege, the machismo quest for superficial and immediate validation, and the pursuit of easy sexual gratification. These are among the same exact prerequisites for deadly beefs on the street between us black men, the same ingredients for the horizontal violence perpetrated between us. While it is objectively true that the external factors of poverty and social debasement have often left us little option but to get over at the expense of one another, we destroy ourselves when we conform to the external anti-black expectation of our manifest, mass failure to thrive in any sustainable way. The motives of street harassment are one and the same as the motives for fatal internecine hostility. This in turn helps, in part, to enable mass incarceration of black men. Thus, the macho atmosphere of street harassment, which makes the lives of our sisters, mothers and daughters unbearable and dangerous, also makes our lives as men perilous. Street harassment is emblematic of a violent community towards all of its members. The streets with the most street harassment are also the streets where the most black brothers die at one another’s hands. Street harassment, rape and bloodshed all live on the same block.
Critical thinking, aggressively centered on a defense of the dignity and full value of human beings, should also inform how we draw conclusions about how we relate to one another and whether or not what we call “tradition” is worth any respect by any intelligent person in this day and age. If you value your own humanity, we can safely and logically assume that other humans value their own essence and identity as well, and consider themselves worth a fair chance in society. Grounded in this logic, a logic that is more immediate to us as humans than almost any other, we should be able to safely regard any tradition, religion, book, philosophy, politic, ethic, or other source of culture and thought that denies the humanity and dignity of people who are different from the majority, or from those with power, as highly suspect, at best. Thus, those who see difference in others and thus deny that others’ humanity, are behaving illogically, and hatefully besides.
The debate around homosexuality in Africa is centered, for the homophobes, in strange defenses of “tradition” or “religion” that claim the alienness of homosexuality to Africa, the “unnaturalness” of gay sex, and so on. These conclusions are fundamentally antihuman, and thus are to be fundamentally rejected; they are unscientific, dishonest and illogical besides. The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community is no joke. They are human beings. They are part of the community. They are worthy of respect and of every opportunity to fully contribute to and participate in the growth and empowerment in community; this is no less true in Africa or in black communities anywhere than it is in the West or any other part of the planet. The homophobes in power in Nigeria, in Uganda and elsewhere are using politics to disenfranchise, terrorize, scapegoat and dehumanize a part of the community that should be given every right to enjoy their human lives and be the sisters and brothers to our family that they truly are. By thinking critically and imagining ourselves the target of these laws and antihuman paradigms, we cannot but help draw conclusions that lead us to recognize the inhumanity and fundamental stupidity of homophobia and patriarchy. In this vein, heterosexual people should stand in full solidarity and advocate for the full inclusion and enfranchisement of our homosexual kin. This is the mature stance which will allow all of us to contribute our utmost to grow as a collective. Reject your heterosexual privilege and arrogance. Lives are at stake – and by the logic, critical thinking and Ubuntu understanding we have applied here thus far, it is unacceptable to deny the humanity of anyone in our community, no matter what gender or sexual identities they are born with or adopt. When we begin to take what private parts people have, or what they do with them in private, as justification for branding certain people unworthy of human dignity, we are being utterly childish, and any religion, tradition, or person that has that tendency is also ignorant, childish, dangerous and stuck in the stone-ages.
As a heterosexual male, I hope I have made a reasonable case that we, over-privileged straight men, will be far better off when we reject the convenient privileges of our status which permit us to dominate women and dehumanize gays. Equality of opportunity, for women to be born, to be educated, to enjoy equal participation in the maintenance of a family and household, and to be able to contribute their fullest potential to our collective excellence, will always lead to a superior quality of life for our community. The same equality of opportunity and recognition of humanity for non-heterosexual members of our community will also enable everyone to contribute fully and without fear of denigration.
Machismo is deadly to women and to men. Patriarchy and male supremacy are harming the planet and keeping millions of women from even being born, let alone contributing their full worth to the excellence of humanity. Only equality – an equality that enables us, especially as men, to see women as at our level in all productive, cognitive and creative capacities – can move us forward.
Gender inequality is a hallmark of underdevelopment, a cornerstone of neocolonialism and a function of ignorance. All sorts of indicators of social well-being in different societies show this. And when men, straight men at that, reject the insults of patriarchy, chauvinism, and homophobia, we truly begin to become revolutionary. For we begin to honor the basic nature of human beings that the Ubuntu principle reminds us of – that I am because we are, that all of us deserve to participate to the fullest might we can muster as free people towards our collective greatness.
I think 30-day vegan diets, 28-day raw cleanses, 90-day workout routines, and other time-compartmentalized agendas for radical lifestyle change are atrocious. If you want to stay lean and green, plan to be vegan for the rest of your life; if you aim for fitness, plan to work out, well, forever. Raw veganism, power-lifting, calisthenics and kung-fu are among the manifestations of my commitment to health and discipline – and each one of them requires proper eating and vigorous exercise every day until I’m dead. Flat out. That’s my take on the matter. I’ve been vegan for over 12 years, almost half my life. I was a young teenager when I started and I think there were times when my moms thought it would be a passing phase, and folks casually asked when I would resume eating garbage and trashing the planet (not in such colorful language though). So if I came into any of this with the mentality or within the conveniently escapable constraint of it being a 30 or 60 or 90-day “program” or “cleanse,” I doubt I would have been so motivated and committed to remain in the game all these years later. I question why there are folks out there even promoting these sorts of programs, but I have a strong inkling as to the reasons – money and marketing.
When some fitness “expert” or health “guru” out there thinks they’ve arrived upon some new holy grail of fitness or diet, and they want to sell it to others and monetize their system, it is highly convenient to package it as a special, esoteric but fast-gratifying XX-day program of some sort. If they were to be honest and straightforward about it, they fear, people might not be interested in paying for their idea or consultancy. But this is underestimating the people. Why not be real? Tell cats that health is a life-long commitment from which there is no vacation or retreat. I’m into just freely sharing what works, what is practical, and what is sensible to the instincts of most people. I trust that people will get it, even if it somehow makes the enormity of the task that much bigger. But that’s the beauty of it – it’s a lifelong mission, an endless adventure, and it only rewards you day by day, with unparalleled health, resilience, lightness, compassion, wisdom, and so on. If you want health, do healthy things, from right now this day until your very last. Fitness and health are for life – there’s no 30-day shortcut into it, nor any vacation out of it.
It’s very basic. And if this sort of honesty is too brutal, then so be it. But if you’re gonna do P90X, as beautiful as its workouts are, ditch the “90” part and do it forever, until well past your 90th birthday. If you want some sort of “cleansing” by becoming a raw vegan, don’t fool yourself thinking like it’s a 30-day vacation from meat, junk and drugs. Raw veganism is for long-haul truckers only. Good health is only for long-haul flight captains. Massive vitality is only for life-long and storied generals. There are no shortcuts or breaks; you just do it and don’t stop, period.
I also don’t think you can get much out of doing something new, something you want to get really into, for just a few days. It takes years to master something, and then decades to master that mastery. So start now, today, this instant. And never, ever stop. Don’t even think about it.
Veganism is forever. Physical fitness is forever. There’s no way around it. Discipline is the only way. And any vacation from healthy eating and healthy living you think you want because you crave garbage and a lazy day, just ain’t worth it. I’m not talking about periodized exercise programs – of course, there are times to slow down, particularly during the off-season when you might take a short break from the rep-max power-lifting and stick to the basics, lighten the weights, do shorter runs instead of half-marathoning every time, etc., preventing physical burn-out. But the off-season is no excuse to revisit poisonous, cruel foods, drugs, or shameless sloth – veganism continues; ample sleep and stress-minimized living are not interrupted. The off-season, a month or a few weeks’ duration in a year-long periodization program for all athletes of the sport of life, corresponds with the life-cycle of hard work followed by moderate work and taking off a load; it does not correspond with partying hard and forgetting ones principles. Even in general, you don’t lift heavy every day – alternating days you lift moderate or light, or don’t lift at all; the light or off days are not to be days of backsliding, irresponsibility and excuses. So, even the “off-season” excuse doesn’t count. Matter of fact, forget I even mentioned the “off-season.” I’ll be in-season until I stop breathing. All of life is the in-season.
When you figure on going vegan, incorporating vigorous consistent exercise into your life, and all around assuming the healthiest lifestyles there are, look at it like you’re entering the point of no return, all doors behind you locked shut for good, and don’t look back. Then you can only move forward into success after success, mastery after mastery, in the endless, joyful, glorious pursuit of unrealized human potential.
We live but once. Live victoriously.
What follows is a thought exercise.
My own definition of a vegan is a human who eats fruits and vegetables [as well as whatever nuts, seeds or legumes he or she may desire], and never eats or uses animal products. For starts. For my purposes and for the purposes of this post, this vegan is not so heavily involved in extremely elaborate recipes, in highly-processed ingredients and additives, in soy and grains, etc. That can come later. I’m simplifying and scaling down for the purpose of understanding what this post wants to address, which is the skeletal basics (though in full disclosure I’m pretty much a fruitarian). A vegan, firstly, is someone anywhere in the world where fruits and vegetables are affordable and accessible who eats those items, eats produce. That sort of vegan, who isn’t strictly dependent on special products, mock meats, packaged goods, and so on, who could be just at home eating the fruits and veggies available in Kinshasa or Kisangani as are available in Karachi or Kansas City, might be said, for the purposes of this thought experiment, to be a universal vegan, or even a vehicular vegan, and I will use either term interchangebly going forward.
As for the class war, I define it as the conflict between workers and bosses, between capitalists and proletariats, between landlords and tenants, between elites and all us riff-raff, even between humans and animals, over access and claims of ownership over land, infrastructure, the means of production, the structure of our economy, the production of culture, and so on. It is the imperative of oppressors to oppress, to exploit, to profit, maintain ignorance, maintain illiteracy and food scarcity, maintain the divisions amongst working people, maintain ideological, religious, and political zeitgeists of constant histeria, and yet eat well and live comfortably all the while. It is the imperative of workers, of women, of ethnic or sexual minorities, of those rendered landless, to maintain unity in struggle, to vie for and claim power, land and freedom, to achieve self-determination and societies of fairness and justice, to collectivize resources, to build and practice pro-human cultures, and to, at a spiritual maximum as it were, prefer death to slavery. The class war is very real and it is everywhere and, whether or not we acknowledge it, we are all class warriors of some stripe, all over the world. If we find ourselves hating our banks and landlords and tiring of our bosses, that much makes us class warriors, just as a Naxalite Adivasi struggling against planned and perpetrated genocides and land thefts and who actually engages in armed struggle is a class warrior. The bosses that like exploiting and polluting and dominating – whether at Goldman Sachs or British Petroleum or Tyson Chicken or General Motors or Lockheed Martin or Uncle Sam himself – they’re all class warriors for their side.
So how can we mix veganism – as practiced by the universal vegan – with the class war? We start with the manner in which prestige is applied to certain objects to make them desirable, even when they aren’t healthy or necessary. Possession or consumption of these articles of prestige are then used to define who is of what class, or at least who aspires to more elevated social rankings. Yes, commodity fetishism includes propagating the meat prestige – look at the most extreme sorts of hamburgers the fast-food industry invents, or at the Heart Attack Grill.
So, all over the third world, even where meat is scarce or pastoralism is irrevocably destroying land, meat is a prestige. Automobile usage is another. The wealthiest eat the most meat and drive the most, and are often the most gorged and overweight, hence the typical gut of rich and powerful elites in Africa and elsewhere in the third world. (And thanks to the zombifying power of marketing and mass media, a million other useless, wasteful and dangerous products are rendered prestigious, and we must use our own voices and propaganda to fight this, but that is another topic.)
But if a society hedges closer to veganism, that means more calories will generally be available to its individual constituents, since growing plants is far more sustainable and efficient than growing animals which eat plants. So that society would naturally enable an environment of greater equity and less classism. On the other hand, if a society hankers hard after meat, that means fewer people will eat of the greater resultant scarcity in overall available calories. The meat-centric society will inevitably breed the conditions for less equality and for harsher stratification, just because of how much meat production usurps of limited environmental resources.
That’s macro-level. What about individual vehicular vegan class warriors?
Conscious vegan workers remove themselves partly from an equation of exploitation by striking animals from a hierarchy of exploitation and brutality from their own lives. They help keep the class war between humans and from involving non-humans, who have enough of their own struggles and class wars in the wild without having to worry about human consumption.
Conscientious vegan workers keep from supporting aspects of the elite apparatus and cash machine by non-participation in the meat-industrial complex and, should veganism keep them healthy, the medical-industrial complex. The industries of violence and slavery are among the largest which support class and caste structures worldwide. Not endorsing the meat prestige and engaging in veganism means one is using one’s own labor and consumer powers to directly disempower the most odious aspects of the system.
It could be observed that much of veganism, as it is known particularly in North America, is associated with upper classes and privileged populations, but veganism at the grassroots is actually potentially most revolutionary. In the US, poor communities of color are often bereft of access to fresh healthy foods, and disproportionately find themselves afflicted with the diseases of Western diets and lifestyles. This is part of class war, as I see it, keeping the most chronically impoverished from being able to be healthy, long-lived and highly functioning, and from excelling as human beings. The elites don’t really care to ameliorate this problem.
Thus it is up to grassroots universal vegan workers of color, aware that existence in a human society configured such as ours means lifelong class war, to promote healthy lifestyles, to strive and struggle to increase access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables in our communities, and to speak loudly and widely on the benefits of non-meat consumption and the fallacies of the meat prestige and meat addiction.
Thoughtful vegans should make natural class warriors. Their veganism empowers them to escape relationships of oppression and violence with both humans and non-humans, while granting them the vitality and awareness to struggle for just power and representation for as long as necessary. The vehicular vegan revolutionary can be a revolutionary of stamina and substance, of vision and actualization, actually practicing diplomacy (with non-humans) and militancy (against industries and economies of subjugation).
And that is how, and why, veganism can relate to the class war, and why vegans, especially working-class vegans of color, should consider themselves class warriors. But it’s just one small open-source theory that still needs help (or refutation) from y’all.
Veganism can indeed be revolutionary, and we must make it so if we are serious about social change, food sovereignty, Earth and non-human justice, and human freedom and equity.
That’s right! 20,000 (20 times 1000) fans and lovers came through tonight at the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn for my homegirl Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings! Setting some sort of record for Celebrate Brooklyn, I think. It was probably the best live music performance I’ve ever experienced – simply extraordinary and beyond awesome. Post-awesome.
Great day Saturday. I finally finished my novel, then saw Sharon Jones and met up with old friends. Way past mid-night now, time for bed. But this will probably be the last non-vegan, non-revolutionary, shall we say ‘secular’ post on this blog for while.
Random comments on the zeitgeist to follow.
Seems repubs are going buck-wild right now. Talkin like global warming doesn’t exist. Talkin like undocumented migrants ain’t human. Talkin bout trashing the 14th amendment. Scared of people building mosques in lower Manhattan and Staten Island. Paranoia and naked bigotry being ejaculated all over the TV screens. Hate crimes exploding across Shaolin’s north shore, and many of those guilty of the atrocities against Mexicans have been young male Africans.
Imperialist wars continue – US troops in Iraq to only be replaced by legions of private security contractors, while the Afghanistan occupation only gets wilder, includes Pakistan too, forgets that brown life has value, jettisons all morality in pursuit of blueprints for political appeasement to the saddest constituencies in Amreeka. Dems love war! Carnage and penury ftw!
Desperation in the streets, a hot shoot ’em up summer in Brick City. Stop the violence rallies get louder now, even move to block highways and flood downtown with the message, but the blacks that wanna kill blacks are wearing earphones and sleeping masks.
Proxy war goes on in Mexico, feeding the voracious Yankee drug habit with gallons of blood over the border, a real gore and guns killem shootem full scale war. Few seem to care; Arizona wants brown folks to carry their stars of david (‘papers’) or else; Utah releases Hitlerian lists of them.
Homelessness spreading like wildfire, fine homes abandoned, boarded up to the banks by fiat and clever artifice versus the masses. Desolation angels in real life are born across the land, jobless, lost across the rust belt, the plains, the rockies. Coast to coast crookery with no free cookies.
Belt buckles detonate from town to country, city to village, obese babies born like bears. Stubborn minds hate to see people walking streets without sidewalks, try to run them over in their ramming vans. Splatter of road kill gets cannibalized, skin turned to leather, soft gloves of an infant and her velus.
Jails gorged with Africans, Mestizos, Chicanos, Boricuas, Quisqueyanos, Indigenous, even a few blonds. 2 million strong. Army of inmates shut away from the sunshine. Life sentences are death row. Inmates as slaves working for pennies an hour to clean the gulf, or they lose their good behavior glint.
Haitian babies as currency, foster homes emptied into North America with random and flimsy arrangements. Haiti itself gets neocolonized after the temblor, the coasts prepared for maquiladoras, free trade zones, the further destruction of native agriculture.
Boots scar the ground all over, Indian state stepping on Adivasis, Congolese state in concert with its rebels stepping on women, Somali Al-Shabab militants stepping on soccer fans.
Papuan revolutionary dies crying freedom while the pigs call his blackness savage and stupid to his dying face. Meanwhile Uncle Sam renews adulterous ties with Kopassus, Indonesia’s merchants of death, assassins of East Timor ’til it got free.
What’s good? California saw reason, struck down prop 8 because it’s anti-human. The sun still glows hard. Brilliant fires burn in almost seven billion brains trying to figure out the game, its meaning and message. Crowded planet, but many opportunities in the flavor of new faces exposing fictions with fact fixations.
Passions are chased, paper or no paper, pleasing the eyes and ears with the sights and sounds of success. Failure is interchangeable but fools keep rolling for the win, because it’s that hard and humanizing to fight.
Fighting spirits stay the course, stay human, stay next to freedom and their capacity to be brutally honest and true to self. Living nothin but one’s purpose. Or else die trying – we didn’t ask to be born. Only one life to live, the true just lightworks life with no rank, just crafty hands that build victory and a tolerant civilization from scratch with the angel dust of common sense sprinkled on the gas lamp.
Just keep burning! Third world unity!
Will it be humans aflame, or humans in flames? Bet.
Couple days ago, heroic Bolivians lead the way to finally getting access to potable water and sanitation declared a human right at the UN general assembly. This is profoundly correct.
I do recognize the UN as a bourgeois organization at the global level, but its moral authority does manage to have some pull in this world, so I can’t help but to fully endorse this declaration and urge all readers to take this seriously.
Capitalist Anglo countries like the US who want to privatize every resource and destroy humanity had the gall to abstain from the vote and complain of procedural issues, but to hell with these capitalist degenerates; they are dying. Human beings are starting to win.
Onward to access to clean water and sanitation in India! In Nigeria! In Ethiopia! In Egypt! In Mexico! In Bolivia! In Brazil! In Haiti! In Bangladesh! In the USA! Wordwide! For ALL humans!
Check the UN news report and the “Story of Bottled Water” educational video by Annie Leonard below.
28 July 2010 –
General Assembly declares access to clean water and sanitation is a human right
Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights, the General Assembly declared today, voicing deep concern that almost 900 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water.The 192-member Assembly also called on United Nations Member States and international organizations to offer funding, technology and other resources to help poorer countries scale up their efforts to provide clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for everyone.
The Assembly resolution received 122 votes in favour and zero votes against, while 41 countries abstained from voting.
The text of the resolution expresses deep concern that an estimated 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water and a total of more than 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. Studies also indicate about 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year and 443 million school days are lost because of water- and sanitation-related diseases.
Today’s resolution also welcomes the UN Human Rights Council’s request that Catarina de Albuquerque, the UN Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, report annually to the General Assembly as well.
Ms. de Albuquerque’s report will focus on the principal challenges to achieving the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, as well as on progress towards the relevant Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The MDGs, a series of targets for reducing social and economic ills, all by 2015, includes the goals of halving the proportion of people who cannot reach or afford safe drinking water and halving the number who do not have basic sanitation.
In a related development, Ms. de Albuquerque issued a statement today after wrapping up a nine-day official visit to Japan in which she praised the country for its nearly universal access to water and sanitation and for its use of innovative technologies to promote hygiene and treat wastewater.
But the Independent Expert said she was shocked that some members of the Utoro community near Kyoto, where Koreans have been living for several generations, still do not have access to water from the public network.
“People are also not connected to the sewage network, despite the fact that the surrounding area is largely covered by sewage service,” she said. “When floods occur, as happened one year ago, the lack of sewage and proper evacuation of grey water result in contamination of the environment, including with human faeces, posing serious health concerns.
“I am also worried that water and sanitation are extremely expensive for some people living in Utoro, who reportedly do not have a right to receive a pension.”
Time is limited, when considering the atrocious nature of the stewardship we as a species perform on this planet. Planet Earth. None like it in the cosmos. The one and only. We may now be finding ‘super-earths’ out in the local arm of this spiral galaxy, but we ain’t going anywhere near them for centuries, nor will we be terraforming the Moon or colonizing Mars any time in our great grandchildren’s day. This is the only world that can host our species and every other creature and being on its little surface. It would seem that humanity can be said to be damn near its biggest bane: massive destruction of habitats and land, spillage of toxic hydrocarbons previously locked in the bowels of the crust, destructive conflicts that destroy human societies, habits of consumption that pollute and shorten human lives and the life of our environment all the same, mass extinctions of flora and fauna forever. It would seem that we as a species, after tens of thousands of years of behavioral modernity, have yet to deal with the fundamental problems and contradictions of the human condition and the sustainability of our home planet for all life. And yet we think ourselves the most sophisticated of the great apes.
I have yet to answer many such questions as an individual. I have made some introductory moves. I try to admit my ignorance every time it comes up. All I want to do is learn and practice methods and behaviors that collectively benefit us all and maintain joy and wellness with the most balance across our ecosystems. Cities, suburbs, forests, mountains, deserts and oceans alike are ecosystems, environments, habitats for multitudes of species, plant and animal. What are the best practices, technologies and attitudes, suitable to our budgets and environments, that can begin to address the fundamental contradictions of humanity’s most needlessly negative impacts on Earth and other people and creatures? I am just starting to take an inventory as applies to myself, a wishlist if you will.
I am nothing but a writer, a starving artist at the moment. Incomeless until (hopefully) I finish this first novel in a few weeks (and inevitably return to the workforce). And in all likelihood I’ll go back to being a student for the umpteenth time in the near future, further rendering me a person of leanest means. But I do try to dream.
I dream that I could afford a long-tail utility bike with mad racks (ala Big Dummy) and top-notch components and completely eliminate not only the very limited driving I do, but also cut out a lot of train riding and rely all but completely on my own body for transportation. I’ve been salivating over making this transition in transportation complete for a very long time now.
I dream of living in a community far denser than where I am, where community in itself is a concept pregnant with significance and actualization. A suburb like mine severely lacks this, and it is all the more isolating when the prevailing values of consumerism and material excess have long been rejected vigorously in my personal chamber. A community with more thoughtful people of color, not only the conforming ones hard-wired to their bad and destructive habits.
I dream of establishing and practicing even more meaningful relationships with a wider body of truly like-minded and like-practicing people. Why not? I’m not trying to convert anyone to how I do things. But after just about eleven years of veganism, I’m still the only vegetarian I actually know personally.
I dream of pushing the younger generations, or at least those with an open mind, toward engaging the world. Engaging the world includes hiking its lengths everyday with eyes fresh open. Engaging the world includes talking with others meaningfully, constructively, humorously. Not destructively. Not in the most shallow and empty ways. Engaging the world includes challenging oneself in this world. Engaging the world means actualizing oneself fully, given one’s sincerest aspirations, like Che Guevara. Engaging the world means recognizing ourselves in other people and respecting everyone and the diversity of identities they carry with the fullness, transcending the limiting, bigoted, intolerant, and ignorant impulses pushed by societies and traditions no thoughtful and humane person should practice if humanity is what they value. Engaging the world means recognizing one’s unity with all that is in this world, and seeing the oceans, the mountains, the cities, other people, as like an extension of one’s own body.
We don’t own the world. Even our bodies are not just some gift we have the reasoning to claim fully and exclusively – all the food we’ve digested, the seed and egg of our parents, the passage of time and accumulation of experience, they compose what we think we can call a “self.” We don’t have dominion over things. We can at best constructively participate in the process of nature and society on this wonderful planet.
Constructive engagement – perhaps that is what I most dream to do.
With our bodies, exercising daily and eating only the best food to the extent that we no longer feel hungry.
Then, fighting so others do not have to suffer hunger.
Then, fighting so that we and ourselves do not have to suffer ignorance.
Then, fighting so our planet does not have to suffer the results of our human excess.
Then, dancing with each other and ourselves in the celebration of being born not on Mars nor Venus, but beautiful and brilliant planet Earth, the one and only.
Or we can do these all at once.
I am trying my best to execute the practice of constructive engagement. I am only a beginner so bear with me. I hope others can check this same idea and give it a try, see if it works, and if not, offer constructive criticism.
Small steps with a small axe. At least we humans can try that. Else, well, time is limited on planet Earth, the one and only, and the same goes for our one life.
Pep words for Afrikan vegans: You can come out. Be visible. Show your healthy glistening black self and stand up proud. You are an African. Your skin is some awesome shade of anything sienna to super dark-chocolate. Your hair is tightly curled, strong, black as the universe. You own it like a million dollars. We are Africans. We come from the most beautiful land on this beautiful planet. We have a deep and profound responsibility to the people, sentient beings and land of our continent and planet, but we walk harder because we know we will save the world, full and proud in our blackness.
And we are vegans. We are vegans. We are the black vegans. Okra and spinach stews all day for me. All y’all West African vegans make that egusi soup tight and chop with the best fufu. You know how hype that meatless joloff rice is. I used to roll gari all day in Ghana. Brown rice and groundnut stew. Ethiopians be rocking that njera with black bean stews and all. Then raw vegan fruitarian types like me eat warrior-class mangos in the middle of New Jersey on a warm sunny day and instantly recall a hundred days in Ghana and Nigeria three years ago. Have to get back to Afrika ASAP and eat all the colorful tree-grown orbs and pearls that make us superhuman.
Eleven years strong as an Afrikan vegan. I’m only 26 so I’m just off the starting line. I maintain beginner’s mind – Zen mind, beginner’s mind. In the beginner’s mind anything is possible, including the will to practice the healthy and happy life nonstop. Struggle does not need to negate happiness. We are Afrikans, we WILL struggle. Yet young Afrikan vegans know how good they feel. Thus they should feel so proud and powerful. Young, gifted, black, vegan!
I’m a Nigerian vegan. We exist. We can come out. All that pastureland chewed off by browsers, we could feed so many more Africans with what we could grow on it than what is fed by the brutally slaughtered animals. Spare their lives. Make Africa the garden that can feed ourselves and the world. Not by giving Nigerian land to white Zimbabwean farmers and displacing black folk all over again. Not by bulldozing the rainforests, nor flooding the Delta with blood and oil.
Maybe African vegans are too sophisticated, too futuristic, too iconoclastic for this world right now. But we are coming out. We exist. We are dedicated. We know about racism and speciesism and sexism and patriarchy and neocolonialism. We know how awesome eating stacks of fresh veggies and fruits makes us look and feel, preventing disease, preventing the African dictator-/ corrupt official-gut. Africans not addicted to meat, nor to rage and anger. Africans loving their own selves, their land, their bodies, their families, the collective Afrikan.
Our body is the temple. Can’t fill it with junk. If we do that we won’t feel like Africans anymore, we won’t have the vigor to do that mandyani, that sabar dancing, that iron sculpting, that inventing. African vegans know this.
African vegans are here. From Dakar to Maputo, Africans are becoming vegan. From Lagos to Lusaka, fresh fruits and vegetables are being taken very seriously. In the lands between Abidjan and Addis, Africans are staying away from the meat. In Kinshasa and Kumasi, black people are getting down with some veganism. I’ve seen it. I’m one of them.
What is awesome?
To be Afrikan, to be Vegan, and proud.
We are not from the future. We are here.