Vegan tears are human too

opinion
January 26, 2012
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

Veganism is a commonly misunderstood lifestyle.

Aaron Grierson

The Silhouette

 

Vegetarianism. Veganism. These are both commonplace ideas in this day and age. Yoga too has been gaining popularity over the last couple of years. Looking back on the cultural history of the West, these three things were not so popular or well known. Now that cannot be attributed to media coverage, such as commercials and advertisements alone. For yoga and veganism especially, these things didn’t really exist outside of the area of their origin. This probably has to do with cultural factors alone.

Yoga is a form of exercise, muscle control and meditation, centring on the concept of maximizing one’s chi or natural energy. It seems to have explicitly religious connections, concerned with finding the Way that supposedly exists. Obviously, it is also known through its incorporation and use in numerous styles of martial arts. Take a look at popular actors such as Jackie Chan or Jet Li. The martial art styles we see in their films is demonstrative of the years of practice they have put into their ability to attune their bodies with a natural flow. It struck me recently that yoga is essentially a fad. The newest weight loss and exercise hit. Now I say this not from jealousy, racism or cynicism, but from the idea I had about timing. Yoga seemed to be publicized a lot more around the time we started seeing advertisements concerning child (and national) obesity. What better way to lose weight and gain muscle than to practice various forms of yoga? It’s cheap too. Pay for a class, personal trainer or instructional video and get toned abs in a matter of ten weeks! All right, so there may be some cynicism involved, but really, why else would anything become so popular so fast?

Don’t get me wrong, I think yoga is an interesting way to exercise, and it really does improve your physical fitness. I just don’t like seeing things being appropriated for the sake of a quick dollar. If there had been some natural incorporation from East to West rather than basically a stolen and hollowed out religious practice, I may not have written this article. Of course I get the feeling that would only have occurred through the East colonizing the West or just friendly global relations. Regardless of speculation, however, history tells us a different story.

From a historical perspective, it seems like veganism also has roots out in the East, and, like yoga, carries religious connection. Their diet comes largely from a central tenant of many religions over that way: nonviolence towards all things. You don’t harm the animal in any way. It’s also important to remember that as with the Ancient Greeks and Romans, some animals are very sacred. This is a stark contrast to the eating habits of Westerners, especially when compared to fast foods. As an exact comparison it’s an ascetic looking at someone who’s been encouraged to take as much as they can.

Now, to be entirely honest, this section was inspired by an article I read in my local newspaper. It was a bit of a feel good read, explaining how veganism has gone from something almost shunned and cultic to something more mainstream and widely accepted. Underneath the subtitle was a series of book titles concerning veganism. The two that stuck out to me the most were “Appetite for Reduction” and “Skinny Bitch.” These titles got me thinking once again about fads. Obviously veganism is a little more than a fad for some people (serious diet or religious [I know a couple of practicing Buddhists]). I sat there thinking to myself “so we’re encouraging pretentious attitudes and image issues in addition to trying to get people to eat healthier and debasing religious practices. That being said, it’s not like I have a problem with vegans, though I could never do it myself. I just love milk, cheese and meat too much. Besides, we’re omnivores by our very nature. Nature allows us to have the treat of meat (or any other animal products).

Returning to the theme of history, we can see that excessive food was once a rarity for most people (and still is). And so I think vegetarianism grew more out of the availability of food more than anything. I follow a similar idea when questioned by people about my eating habits. If there was no meat, I’d probably be reluctant to go out, kill a deer and have my three servings a day. However, due to capitalist endeavours, there is an absolutely disgusting excess of meat, and until it is all gone, I will continue to try and ensure that it’s not just wasted and those poor creatures die in vain. That very well could be a redeeming quality for meatless food practices.

All in all I am not writing to insult these practices just because I don’t partake in them, or because I think they’re genuinely bad for anyone either. I just hope people reconsider why they partake in certain activities, or at least have the decency to read up on the background. In that regard it’s no different from all of the animal rights advocates concerning the food industry and the way animals are mass farmed.

They had to do the research to figure out the problems with that system. So maybe if people researched the origins of the fads or trends their partook in, they might realize they’re doing a little bit more than just losing weight.

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