Veganism, as it was originally intended to be, is dead.
Maybe it never existed in the first place.

Post-veganism is a reflection about what it means to be a vegan,
now that the word has completely lost its meaning in the dominant culture.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Best Vegan I Know

My adopted dog friend Scarlett is the best vegan I know, which might be hard to swallow for some people because you wouldn't believe how angry strangers can get when they find out that she's vegan at all. To make sure we're all in a place where we can appreciate Scarlett to her fullest, I'll briefly go over how I think about vegan dogs. To begin, 3% of all dogs are actually allergic to meat. To continue, vegan dog food (or at least the kind I buy) goes through the exact same health tests as omnivore dog food. Dogs do have the teeth of a carnivore, but there is no commercial dog food (not that I've seen anyways) that is even suitable for their teeth. Dogs are naturally omnivores, not carnivores, and have evolved alongside for humans so long that very little of their diet is actually meat. Most dog food you buy from a store is full of grains and vegetables. The meat they do eat is often meat considered unfit for human consumption, but if you put it in pellet format and sell it in a market with less regulations and standards it's very easy to get rid of. It's not a conspiracy theory, it's just good economics. Dog (and cat food) can contain feces, arsenic, cement, blood, pus (even though you might find the aforementioned in meat for humans anyways!), and diseased, or decayed animals. Finally, it just seems to go against common sense to love your dog enough to provide it a home and food, but to not give a second thought about the hundreds (and maybe thousands) of chicken, sheep, turkeys, pigs, cows, or fish that you will pay to be killed for them in their lifetime. Greatest number of happiness for greatest number of people has completely gone out the window at this point. For those of you dead set on feeding your dog a meat based diet that's probably not good enough for you because you've already made up your mind based on cultural ideology, but I'm not looking to win any debates here so it's okay.

Scarlett is a border collie mix (mixed with what, we don't really know but we think it's some kind of retriever) who is about three at the time I'm writing this. Scarlett was found alone in Toronto when she was just under one year old. We adopted her from animal services because we know animals there will be put to sleep if they can't be adopted out, which usually will never happen at a humane society. She has a permanent tear in her ear and is still getting over some emotional scarring. She's absolutely terrified of everyone and everything, and as soon as she gets to know you she's terrified you're going to leave. That being said, she also loves everyone and everything which is one of the reasons she makes a fantastic vegan. Being vegan isn't just about loving animals other than your own species, it's about accepting everyone. There is not a single animal that Scarlett will not greet without trying to kiss them, accompanied by a ferociously wagging tail. Scarlett's favourite animal friends are probably two adopted rabbits she lives with. She enjoys herding them gently (with nose nudges and tiny feet pushes), only to pin them down so she can lick them clean (while being supervised of course, just in case!). When her bird roommates fall out of their cage or get lost she's happy to sit near them until someone comes to bring them back home. It's her constant patient behaviour that makes her an exemplary vegan.

Scarlett is also very courteous with animals she meets while out for a walk. How Scarlett acts with animals in the home and out in the wild is how I know she's meant to be vegan. Scarlett once caught an adult frog in her mouth, which she politely dropped on her own so he could swim away into the lake unharmed. She also tried to ask an injured robin if he was okay by gently poking him with her nose, alerting me so I could call the humane society. This is not the behaviour of a carnivore or omnivore, they would see an injured animal as prey. Scarlett just kept nudging the robin until I walked over. She's also extra friendly to any cats she happens to see outside, even though she knows they shouldn't be there (because it's illegal where we live)!

As a former homeless doggy Scarlett is not a picky eater, and she happily gobbles down her vegan kibble without any prompting. She never asks for human food, but if given some at an appropriate time she's thankful for the consideration. Scarlett's favourites are canned pumpkin and boiled broccoli, but she's been known to try and snag some wheat grass and lettuce from the bunnies so maybe she can't quite tell us what she likes best.

Vegans come in all shapes and sizes, and sharing your home with other animals definitely doesn't mean you need to compromise your ethics in the process. Veganism is also a lifestyle and does not just end with what you buy at the grocery store or what you happen to eat. It's an ethic of loving and caring that extends to all other creatures. If all vegans were like Scarlett, I think we'd have less vegan stereotypes, more awareness, and less misunderstandings. That's why I think she's the best vegan I know (but my boyfriend, who without ever watching a video or reading about how animals were treated went vegan just because it was stupid not to, does come a very close second!).

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