Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On days like this, thank god for iPods...

Today, you are having one of those days. It doesn't seem possible to turn it around.

One of "those days" started out with another insomnia-plagued night in a seemingly endless string of them. You woke up late, too late for your son's piano class with the teacher who you think is marvelous despite your sinking suspicion that she regards you as a hopeless ditz. You aren't hopeless. You do have hope, though whether it's warranted or not remains to be seen. Your son cheers a bit too vigorously at hearing that piano class is cancelled for the morning, which makes your itchy, tired eyes feel like they could pop and - plink! - roll out of your head like in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Your child may not grow up to be a soloist at Carnegie Hall, may not even grow up to be able to play Chopsticks on that scuzzy piano at the bar with the boarded up windows and the Schlitz sign on Division Street, and it'll be your fault. It is your fault in that your body seems to not be able to successfully accomplish the basic function of sleep.

The day just gets worse as days like this do.

Bad news. Disappointments. Your spam filter is powerless against Viagra and easily distracted by the promise of an enlarged penis. Your spam filter is apparently a 20-something party boy in the Castro. You try to write but your sentences are clunky, your ideas are a-dime-a-dozen and you are a fraud about to be outed. At dinner you learn that the boy your son loves in kindergarten more than anyone else told him that he loves only one person in his class and it isn't your son. Your son tells you this in a matter-of-fact manner but a part of you wants to crumble into tears at hearing this story of unrequited six-year-old love and then you know that it's time for a walk.

Your husband has filled your iPod with twenty more songs today, music he has heard and knows you will love, music you don't know because you're cloistered alone with your little writing mind during the day. He knows what you like, though, better than anyone but you. Are you that predictable? Yes, you think as you slip on your shoes. Your son is balking at helping with the dishes as you head out the door.

At first you observe with clenched teeth that your husband didn't organize the songs right as they are all shuffled with the ones you already had, but that first song was pretty cool. And the next one. You start to notice the daffodils. When your son was three, he called them daffodilos and when you corrected him one day, he said, "But I like to call them daffodilos." This makes you smile to remember.

Regina Spektor is finally on your iPod. The sound of her trilling voice, all bop bop bop bop ba dop makes you happy. Oh, your husband is a good man.

You see robins, all puffed up and proud, hopping along the grass, rolled out in front of them like a green carpet. Cardinals dart by, squirrels corkscrew up the oak trees, chasing one another. It's like all the little creatures got a memo on amplifying up the cuteness quotient. No room for the lethargic or self-pitying here.

There's a sapphic version of "Shenandoah" on your iPod now, and a new version of an old Cure song ("Pictures Of You") and June Carter Cash, singing in her senior years about the ring of fire around her and her Johnny. It's all women singing, but it's not Lilith Fairy, thank goodness, and it's actually all perfect. The new songs are sentimental at times, full of bravado at others, weepy when appropriate, confident and proud always, and this music matches your need just right. You walk through the town and you think to yourself that it's not all bad, or at least that which is bad is temporary.

When you come back home and take off your iPod, your son has still not begun the dishes but it's okay. You draw with him for a few minutes then he skips off to wash the dishes. Your perspective has returned. Life is bearable again. You hug your husband. Somehow he just knew.

Shalom, everyone.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

An inspiration...

Sitting about two feet from me while I work is my grandmother’s photo. The photo is taped to the piece of foam board that is propped up behind the computer, blocking the most intense rays from our sunroom window and from this spot, I check on my grandmother every day and she smiles warmly back at me. She is wearing a loose grey sweater, seated in a park somewhere on an iron patio chair, her cinnamon hair bouffant-y and red lipstick applied. She was probably in her seventies when this picture was taken, I would guess, which would put her in Houston, where my grandmother moved for a time to be closer to my aunt, her daughter.

Like many who write, I sometimes need to turn elsewhere for inspiration, for courage, for reinforcement that I am not just an fraud. (Of course, I am more than just a fraud: I’m also irresponsible, na├»ve, a dreamer…) In the midst of a let’s-hope-this-is-brief case of writer’s block or fitful existential crisis, I turn to my grandmother, or at least the complex chemical reaction that allowed her image to be imprinted on film, for a feeling of relief. I also have meaningful quotations up on that foam board meant to lift my spirits copied down in a pique of passion, but I ignore them. My grandmother is usually all I need.

Grandma is probably the most comforting word to me in the vast universe of the English language, a strange one for a person who works with words to choose, but it instantly fills me with the feeling of peace that meditation is supposed to (doesn’t), that chamomile tea claims to (fails). I think of the essence of my grandmother – her sing-song voice, her easy smile, her ability to make those around her feel nurtured, happier, appreciated – and it helps to make what Holly Golightly referred to as the “Mean Reds” within me dissolve, those feelings of freeform anxiety, of biting sarcasm. Interestingly, if you mention my grandmother’s name to anyone who knew her, the memory of her has the same effect: the person will reflexively smile, relax, share stories of her warmly. She made those around her feel better in an instant. What is the word for this gift? Does anyone know?

I have looked at her photo many times in the past, wishing she were here, wanting to smell her cold cream again (she swore by it and did remain unwrinkled for the most part), to touch the soft skin on her arm, squeeze her hand, wishing to transport her over whatever it is that separates us – layers of time and space and realms of existence - to be here now with me. I have done this, felt this way, many times, even before she physically passed, when she began pulling away from us, drifting off on the waves of memory loss and dementia. It was like I had to say goodbye to her twice: once, when I came to accept that she was not the same grandmother I’d always known (this new person couldn’t remember names, she became easily impatient and irritable) and then again when she passed away, about ten years later. A strange – or maybe not strange – thing happened to her as her dementia began to take root, though. Although she was initially quite upset with herself for being forgetful, for her diminished capacities, once my grandmother found a place of acceptance or she simply couldn’t fight it any more, she returned to being the person I knew, at least temperamentally: she flirted with my husband whenever we visited (I’m pretty sure she didn’t remember him in between visits), she lit up whatever room she was in, she was the most popular one on her floor of the nursing home. The workers who would come in to dance the Charleston with the seniors, to sing ragtime songs with them, always ended up being bewitched with the coquettish lady in the front row, so put together, always engaged and deeply alive.

My grandmother was aware of the ways in which she fell short of society’s beauty standards (a long, bumpy nose, a voluptuousness that would not be restrained) but she also knew that these things were not her: she was bigger than any of that superficial silliness, and, even better, she dared to be proud of what made her different. She held her head high and taught me to do the same. My grandmother was confident to her very core and that, mixed with her compassion and unstoppable joie de vivre, was what made her so delicious and intoxicating to be near. If someone felt stifled by her radiance, well, that wasn’t her fault. (Personifying Marianne Williamson’s potent, vitally important prose: “We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?…Your playing small does not serve the world.”)

She was a proto-feminist naturally, without any graduate level gender politics classes or hours building an airtight critical theory. My grandmother let her voice be heard; she would take a back seat to nobody. At the same time, she internalized this self-assurance so essentially that she was always good-natured about it. She simply believed in herself and didn’t begrudge anyone else doing the same thing.

It’s easy to see that I idealize my grandmother. I’m sure that there was someone, sometime that she slighted, maybe more than once. I’m sure that there was an occasion when she didn’t really listen, when she was short tempered, when she was judgmental. She may have raised her voice once or twice and maybe she had moments of pettiness. There may have been someone she disliked for no good reason. I know this. Maybe it’s because I know my grandmother was fallible and flawed, essentially human, that she still has such a powerful pull to me. She chose to audaciously embrace life, make no apologies for it, and be the best person she could be.

I’m grateful to my grandmother for many things – for her rollicking sense of humor, for being there when I felt horribly alone, for teaching me what was important in life – but mostly I am grateful to have loved and been loved by such a marvelous being. She will always be my inspiration. I hope everyone has a Grandma Dora in her life.

Shalom, everyone.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Meet The Myth. The Legend. The Eco-feminist Hellraiser.

So I'm guessing that if one blogs one should also kind of promote upcoming opportunities in which her vegan ass can be stalked. If you're in the market for such a rare bonanza, well, dust off your creepy shoes, rub some sticky gel in your thinning hair and iron your favorite pair of Dockers before you get thy ass to Navy Pier for Chicago's Green Festival, May 16 and 17. Seriously! There will be samples galore, nifty canvas bags, and awesome hemp jockstraps. (I don't know about that last part - actually, what is a jockstrap and do they still exist?)

Anyway, I'll be holding forth on Sunday at 1:00 with my partner in crime, Lisa Joy Rosing. We'll be talking about, oh, whatever, blah blah blah, dairy sucks, la de dah, veganism rules. Or something to that effect. It'll be entertaining, provocative and sassy, like a perfume from the 1970s. You have my word on that.

Bonus for any shy stalkers out there: if you identify yourself as having learned about the presentation via this here blog, I will reach into my personal stash of purloined fair trade chocolate samples or maybe conditioner or vitamins and gift you with one of my little treasures. 'Cause I'm generous like that.

So please come!

Shalom, everyone.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day, 2009...

Motherhood can and will turn you inside-out. If you become a mother, your heart will always be a little on the outside though maybe not visibly so. It is infinitely more vulnerable, at the same time beating more fiercely than ever.

Motherhood has a way of taking every last character defect you have and serving them right back to you, slamming them at you like hard, angry little tennis balls. You have to duck to avoid getting hit by the things you don't like about yourself: your impatience, your unwillingness (inability?) to live in the moment, your insecurities. Every evening, slumped in the bathtub or brushing your teeth, you will vow to do better, to be brave and graceful and warm and gentle yet still somehow fun, and, an eternal optimist, you will believe it is possible if you just set your mind to it. But tomorrow morning you will step on a sharp-edged toy on your way down the steps, realize your son's backpack is not where it's supposed to be (it never is) and he will ask you in that tone that sounds like an accusation what is in his lunch box for the day. In a matter of minutes, you're back to that pathetic creature, slumped in the bathtub, making vows before your toothbrush.

Your hair is all over the place, you're cold and his nose is dirty, but then you notice his little hands, still somehow dimpled at the knuckles. This is reassuring. A little teakettle inside you starts to melt the ice as you wrap your hand around his, kissing his sweet little knuckles. He skips off to draw on the sidewalk, he runs back inside to fill his watering can, he eats a leaf of lemon balm, he looks up to the sky for spaceships. You watch him, still as mesmerized by this being as you were when he was all shiny and new in your arms, impossibly perfect and small, an amber jewel. He is almost seven now, or eighteen or thirty-two, but your child's still perfect and you're still mesmerized.

You remember the first time someone judged him as less than perfect. Maybe it was at his first checkup at the doctor's office and from his head to his chubby little feet, he was just in the twentieth percentile for height. Maybe it was your mother expressing disappointment that his newborn eyes didn't stay cobalt blue. Maybe it was a nagging voice inside you, one that noted in a clipped, unfriendly way that he spoke less than his peers, he didn't potty train as quickly, that you read at three, why couldn't he? You try to chase this voice out of you - find where it originates and silence it once and for all - but it remains hidden, jumping out when you least expect it, and you are subject to its whim at any moment. Just when you think that you are hopeless, though, that you were really foolish and arrogant to think that a flawed person such as yourself could pull this mothering thing off, a moment of grace occurs. His easy laughter, his startling insights, his wide eyes that, although not blue, take in the world at an incredible depth, helps to bring you back to the present, back to the person you want to be, back to loving this child as he is, as he's supposed to be. This shouldn't be hard. This is easy.

So you are a mother. You tell your child that no matter what, you will always love him. Despite the fact that there is not much you are certain of in the world, that things change and life spins us like skittering pool balls with little or no warning, this is something of which you are positive: you will always, always love him.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870

Written by the same woman who wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic, Julia Ward Howe, the Mother's Day Proclamation was a powerful plea for the abolishing of war. Originally conceived as Mother's Day for Peace, we are reminded how little has changed. There is still, sadly, so much violence in the world, and we as mothers and children of mothers need to raise our voices against it, no matter how it manifests. This year, in addition to the chocolates and flowers (or perhaps in the place of those things), maybe we can all aspire to find deeper meaning in Mother's Day: a commitment toward peace, love and justice, something any mother could stand behind.

Mother's Day Proclamation

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Newsflash: Liberals think vegans are a bunch of big meanies!

One of the things blocking my precious sensibilities from reaching the state of Zen serenity I so aspire to attain is surely the open disdain directed by the so-called progressive community at large toward vegans. I have been herbivorous since February 1, 1995, (though, admittedly, that first year was frequently one of self-deception , wherein I would occasionally order a muffin and say to myself, "Well, I don't know that it wasn't made with soy milk and egg replacer. It doesn't say that it wasn't...") and as such, I do not harbor many illusions about the fact that the general public views vegans as a bunch of prudish killjoys at the nonstop barbeque-flavored bacchanal of life. I get this and accept it, though I have many skeletons in my closet with numbers in their bony hands, waiting patiently to disprove my putative prudishness. (They're skeletons: what else do they have to do?) As vegans, our mere presence brings to form the elephant in the room, an unspoken - though, to be fair, at times vehemently spoken - disapproval, and a spotlight on what is intentionally glossed over with the consumption of neatly packaged meat: this is a dead animal. When a vegan is in the room, even a discreet, non-confrontational one, so is the elephant and as such, these illusions are stripped bare. I get this.

What I have a hard time with, though, is the vitriol I have encountered aimed at vegans from the otherwise progressive community. This can be witnessed in real life but especially online, where there is a reassuring anonymity one can safely retreat to and he can make longwinded, ill-constructed arguments without actually seeing the other eyes glaze over in boredom, roll in annoyance. You can let your inner-Id come out to play and insult your would-be antagonists with reckless, gleeful abandon without the constraints one would feel in real life, of maintaining decorum or personal safety. In other words, the internet is the perfect playground for letting unfiltered opinions loose like sputtering balloons zigzagging rapidly across the room.

Of course not just the vegan community is subject to this, nor is the vegan community innocent of immature behavior online. It's just that I have noticed a disproportionate and vituperative response from the larger progressive world with the mildest suggestion that maybe, just maybe, a vegan diet might reduce our carbon footprint and animal suffering. You can almost hear the organic, fair trade green tea sputter against Mac screens across the country in spit take after spit take (you know, the classic comic technique of taking a sip of something, hearing some shocking news, and spitting out your beverage out like Old Faithful?) of outraged disbelief. This is always bound to happen when the "liberal" world hears that they may want to reevaluate some of their most treasured privileges, and that perhaps a smiley-faced sun does not rise and set every day specifically because of them and their obvious awesomeness. Such suggestions cause the grass-fed beef manure to hit the solar-powered fan, apparently.

Take Kathy Freston's recent article on Alternet, for example, on the positive environmental implications of going vegetarian for just one day a week. Is that so damn scary or radical a notion? If so, this crowd would have had their biodynamic brains explode in a green gooey mess if they'd have heard just one of my angry rants circa 1997. This woman was on Oprah, and is hardly a radical vegan feminist. Putting aside quibbles on writing style and just focusing on the message itself, we find that Ms. Freston with her simple, bullet-point-y piece, has certainly struck a nerve with the NPR crowd that loves to have their shoulders rubbed while being reassured that they are above reproach, that they are never part of any problem, anywhere. It is a fact-and-statistic based article, no name-calling, no demonizing, yet the letters that follow would have you believe that Ms. Freston had simply wrote Meat Is Murder And Only Murderous Murderers Eat It! You Suk! in 72-point type.

At about the same time, over on Salon, Alternet's preening cousin with literary aspirations, an interview with Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson drew a similar response. Masson, an author of extremely popular books about the emotional lives of non-human animals, such as Dogs Never Lie About Love and When Elephants Weep, had the audacity a few years back to explore the complex psychological worlds of so-called farm animals in The Pig Who Sang To The Moon. Now, in his more polemical The Face On Your Plate, Masson apparently (I say "apparently" as I have not read the book yet) draws a line in the sand, challenging the brigade of Conscientious Omnivores to consider the ethical and environmental implications of eating animal products, even those from their beloved pastoral farms. Predictably, this did not sit well with the Salon crowd, and, once again, the hissing sound of spit takes reverberated across the country. In the letters, if you listened hard enough, you could also hear the increasing rumble of thousands of entitled progressive Democrats having overgrown temper tantrums, ones in which they cried, Wahh! But Alice Waters eats meat! and Wahh! I watched An Inconvenient Truth thirty-two times and Al Gore never said being a meat-eater was bad! (True. We noticed that as well. Why don't you go give your compact fluorescent bulbs a hug? You'll feel better as the polar ice caps melt...)

So, given the fact that omnivores are thin-skinned when it comes to acknowledging the implications of meat-eating, and liberal omnivores are the thinnest of the thin-skinned - like, truly, this epidermis is razor thin - I thought I'd make relations between us a little less contentious by fostering some understanding. Because that's the sort of person I am. In the spirit of goodwill, I have drafted a series of stock composites who tend to respond to the vegan position's assault on one's feelings of general awesomeness. How is this bridging goodwill? Well, if such a document exists, perhaps omnivores who are so affronted by the idea that it may not be so nice to kill animals from the animal's perspective, maybe if they see that their widdew feewings are acknowledged, we can just hug it out and move on.

Oh, who am I kidding? I'm writing this because it's fun! And as a smug, puritanical, denatured and uptight vegan, I reserve the right to have fun where I can.

Classifications of Omnivores Observed In The Virtual And Temporal Worlds

There are many types of omnivores, from the junk food eating variety to the rarified foodie, from your neighbor Ed to your favorite newspaper columnist, but it seems that the liberal world breeds some stocks that are unique to it. Of course, there are many more to be observed online and in the field, as well as a good many more subcategories, but in the ever-shifting environment in which emergent genetic types develop and then crossbreed, it is virtually impossible to maintain a static status quo. Be that as it may, these classifications are surprisingly and reassuringly predictable.

The Naturals

First off, there are those who we will identify as The Naturals. The Naturals are offended by the merest suggestion that a vegan diet might be worth considering because they are the natural ones, gosh darn it. They are natural because they acknowledge the life-and-death cycle that is inevitable in the world and they really, really want to participate in the death part of it. Do not begrudge them this birthright or they may react violently or, at least, vituperatively. They idolize Alice Waters, Michael Pollan and raw milk. In reality, they are the liberal, highbrow equivalent of Ted Nugent, sharing a good deal of their genetic code with the Republican crossbow hunting Motor City Madman, though this remains largely unacknowledged. They make arguments about us having canine teeth, despite the fact that herbivorous animals like cows also have some sharper teeth for chewing, and they argue the In The Wild, their favorite place for a cerebral sojourn, lions kill innocent gazelles. In general, The Naturals like to pick-and-choose their ethical justifications as if they were going through the line at an all-you-can-eat buffet. They also stop for a little powwow at the Native American section while they are there, and they will say, "Well, like the Native Americans, I give thanks for the animals that gave their lives for my meal." The fact that they do not base all their ethical decisions on their interpretation of WWSFLKD (What Would Simba From Lion King Do?) and that they do not sleep outdoors year-round, bow hunt, starve when food is not available and go without indoor plumbing or hot water does not deter The Naturals from wanting to emulate native peoples in the specific case of meat-eating and whatever else might serve them, such as sweat lodges with their buddies. This is the most common classification with the most subsets. Some speculate that The Naturals are most offended by vegan point-of-view because it threatens to knock them off their pedestal of superiority. The Naturals were too busy placing advance orders of Michael Pollan's next seven books to address or even contemplate this. They see vegans as naive, urbanized, uninformed and, most of all, UnNatural.

The I Grew Up On Farm-ers

A subset of The Naturals, The I Grew Up On A Farm-ers believe that they have both the authority and authentic voice that make them an especially admired population within the larger classification. The Farm-ers use their backgrounds to justify reinforcing the meat-eating status quo and their ability to try to end a debate with six simple words ("I grew up on a farm,") is especially noteworthy. The Farm-ers believe that vegans are confused, denatured, recklessly uninformed and pitiable.

The Anti-Soy Zealots

Another subset of The Naturals, the genetic emergence of The A-SZs can be traced to the early 2000s, around the time that Dr. Robert Atkins passed the torch by having his diet roundly discredited and then, finally, by dying. As with the Atkins Diet, The A-SZs characterize the herbivorous diet as nutritionally unsound and those who follow it as mentally unsound. The A-SZs believe that vegans consume a continuous and voluminous stream of processed soy products, which they regard as Lucifer's bean. According to an A-SZ, soy will cause males to grow mini-teats where he once had testicles, and cause halitosis, vagina dentata, schizophrenia and, ultimately, an early death and unattractive corpse. Especially pernicious because of how easily they are camouflaged within natural parenting circles, a A-SZ can be detected by keen observation: she can be observed feeding her baby raw liver, and she carries a well-worn copy of the A-SZ bible Nourishing Traditions with her everywhere she goes for quick reference. The A-SZs regard vegans as nutritionally deficient, irresponsible, unknowledgeable ticking time bombs, ready to explode at any moment in a virulent torrent of edamame, tofu burgers and soy milk.

The Sensualists

Yet another subset of The Naturalists, Sensualists view vegans as sexually repressed, dysfunctional and puritanical based on their lifestyle. To a Sensualist, anyone who has objections to eating anything at any moment is pushing a monastic, inhibiting agenda that is devoid of frivolity or enjoyment. Sensualists worship their leaders, usually celebrities in the food world, such as Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson, and they like to see themselves in this same crafted image: culinarily unapologetic, sexually provocative. To a Sensualist, one's status as a vegan implies a host of sexual and psychological dysfunctionalities, and they believe that only omnivores are satisfied as epicureans and as sexual human beings. Sensualists see vegans as hopelessly repressed, buttoned up, dysfunctional and confused.

The Hypocrisy Police

Badge-wearing members of the Hypocrisy Police are ever-vigilant for any indication of a defect in character, or, short of this, any sign that the scrutinized is inconsistent. The Hypocrisy Police Force will ask suspects if his shoes are leather, if she is in favor of reproductive rights, and create hypothetical situations to see how a vegan will respond to such scenarios, for example, how one would respond to living on a deserted island with only a few potentially life-sustaining chickens as company. Regardless of how one answers a Hypocrisy Police interrogation, the scrutiny will continue unabated until the suspect collapses in exhaustion or the officer runs out of topics. If the suspect answers in such a fashion as to deflect all suspicion of hypocrisy, most frequently she is then accused of either dishonesty or self-righteousness. The outcome is a foregone conclusion: vegans are guilty of something. Vegans are viewed by the Hypocrisy Police as untrustworthy, morally disingenuous, slippery, dishonest and, at best, naive.

The Whiners

It is a well-known fact that everyone loves a good whine once in a while, and liberals love whining most. It is as natural and comfortable as breathing to many; there are those, though, who elevate the act to a new level. Most Whiners have perfected the art of circular breathing, wherein the breathing and whining are achieved in one continuous loop. The Whiners love to whine about a litany of whiney subjects to vegans. For example, many have been observed claiming that they "triiiiied" (this is how it's pronounced) to be vegan, but it was too hard. Their teeth fell out, their tongues turned green, the phytoestrogens turned them gay, they slept 76 hours a day, their skin peeled right off like tree bark but once they ate meat again, they grew new teeth, their tongues returned to a pinkish hue, they turned hetero again, and so forth. Some reported seeing the clouds split as well as hearing a harpsichord with a chorus of angels upon returning to carrion. But they triiiiiied (again, their pronunciation). Or they will whine about how it costs too much, it takes too much effort, it is too socially difficult, and it's too darn hard, or, haaaaaard. Or they have special conditions that require protein consumption every fifteen minutes, they grew up in a meat-eating home (as opposed to the rest of the general non-Hindu/non-hippie-commune population), or they just like the taste of it. They perceive vegans as a bunch of big meanies if they do anything less than pat Whiners on the back and say in a very solemn tone, "I know you tried, Whiner. I know you tried." The Whiner tends to think of vegans as either mean-spirited bullies or intensely disciplined and ascetic mountain-dwelling monks. No amount of hand-holding or reassurance will divert a Whiner from this initial assessment.

The Proletariots

The Proletariots fancy themselves as voices of the common people, regardless of their circumstances, and, as such, they are offended by the elitism they feel emanates from those who have certain standards of what they will and will not allow into their bodies. To a Proletariot, the mere idea of a vegan is personally offensive and deeply aggravating, even if no actual personal interaction has ever occurred. Despite the fact that the least expensive food in the world is, in fact, vegan, and the most exploitative industry is animal agriculture, true Proletariots will remain unswayed from their conviction that vegans are snobbish, entitled, bourgeois and over-educated spoiled brats who hate "regular" people.

The New Agers (a.k.a., The "I'll Try Any Argument That Springs Into My Head"ers)

The New Agers are characterized by their dogged determination to keep any discussion on an esoteric or spiritual plane. When confronted by the presence of a vegan, they will gently but firmly try to steer the conversation away from anything concrete and measurable (for example, the effect of animal agriculture on water quality) and toward what can loosely be called more obscure arguments, such as whether plants feel pain or what their totem animal urges them to consume. New Agers will also argue that animals wanted to give up their lives to be eaten and, like The Naturals, have been known to delve into Native American culture with an insistence that they give thanks for the dead animals they consume, though no such declarations or rituals of gratitude have ever been publicly witnessed. Every argument in favor of meat-eating is filtered through the New Agers primary valve: that of his preferences. This is true of all of the classifications, though the New Agers are more overt and unashamed about this fact. New Agers frequently will taut their status as former vegetarians in order to bolster their arguments, but, upon further investigation, it is usually revealed that they were never actually vegetarians. New Agers cannot be tied down with factual matters, though, and if they sense they are losing an argument, they will suggest just dropping the subject, regardless of who brought it up. New Agers view vegans as spiritually adrift, chakra imbalanced and overly analytic.

So there we have it. Please feel free to add any categories you have observed in the field or online so we can keep the most thorough record of the classifications rampant within the world of liberal distaste toward veganism.

Shalom, everyone.