Feminism and Veganism Collide

Nearly every activist has a string of causes they stand behind, and that’s typically because practically all social justice issues correlate. The correlation between veganism and feminism is no outlier. Reading a paragraph comparing the two is actually what convinced me to evolve from pescatarian to vegan a couple years back!

All animal products are the result of animal exploitation, but more specifically, they are the result of exploiting female reproductive systems. Even at the most regulated, grass-fed, free-range dairy farms, any female animal will fall into a vicious cycle of being separated from her mother only moments after her birth, and get artificially inseminated through sodomization. She will continue to live only to be repeatedly, forcibly impregnated, sodomized and have her own babies immediately taken away from her just as she was taken away from her mother. Not only will the mother lose complete control over her reproductive system and have her child taken, but she will also start to acclimate a series of diseases due to this system deteriorating her physical health. This cycle of sodomization, forced pregnancy, and child loss will continue until she is worn enough to produce significantly less milk, at which point the dairy farm or factory farm will no longer have a use for her and she will be sold to become cheap meat, leather or dog food while having lived only a fifth of her typical lifespan. Hens used for eggs will be forced into the same cycle, as will pigs and cows in the meat industry.

Without going too deeply into graphic detail (trust me, that was just skimming the surface!), it’s still clear that the practices of these farms and factory farms are unjust. It’s no secret that females having complete control over their reproductive systems and organs is a necessary part of feminism, but prior to going vegan, I never really speculated over animals having choices. I knew they didn’t want to be killed, but it took watching a video of a mother tirelessly struggling to stand between her calf and a farmer for me to understand how aware animals truly are. Any oppression is hard to stomach, but any oppression can also be fought against! Every time we eat is a chance to vote for the world and practices you want to see moving forward. Dairy is scary after all, right? With so many plant-based dairy replicas hitting the shelves, there has never been a better time to make your plate a moral decision and go vegan!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

 

How To Spend the Women’s Strike & International Women’s Day

Once again, women are sticking up for themselves and striving for equality! I know, crazy right? The founders of the Women’s March are coming back for Round 2, a strike referred to as “A Day Without a Woman.” The goal of the strike is to show exactly how extensive the value of women and their work are, despite that women are far more likely to experience unequal pay in the exact same role, discrimination, sexual harassment, and more in the work place. Although participating in the strike through choosing to abstain from work would be completely ideal, that may not be a realistic agenda for women of all backgrounds, demographics and jobs. But luckily, there are a plethora of ways you can be an active member of this strike! Here’s how:

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  • Wear red!: Strikers will paint the country red in representation of “revolutionary love and sacrifice,” according to the organizers of this march. Coming from someone whose closet is about 50% grey and 50% black, I can feel your potential struggle! Bandanas, hats and other accessories can come in handy, and pink is a pretty close match if all else fails!
  • Refrain from shopping: Online, in store, and at your favorite coffee shop! Part of the goal of the strike is to make an enormous economic dent. Use this day to find inventive ways to not spend money instead! Make a crazy good dish (or completely average, because who says women have to be good cooks 😉 ) out of the corners of your pantry, play scrabble instead of going out to see a movie, break out your tub of coffee grounds instead of making the daily morning pitstop, go on a walk through Cherokee Park, make art, read a book etc. International Women’s Day is the day for putting yourself first!
  • Venture to female and/or female minority owned businesses if you do go out: Female owned businesses in town include Time 4 Thai, LOVA Fare, Half Peach, and Bankstreet Brewhouse. You could also purchase a Flora treat from Quills. A night out to the movies can be spent watching Hidden Figures, an amazing movie about three black female engineers who worked for NASA!
  • Thank the women in your life: No matter what the job or what the background, the women you hold with high regard have inevitably made huge sacrifices and have overcome major hurdles just to keep keepin’ on. Thank your mom for always hanging in there with you, thank the cashier who always smiles at you, thank the friend who brightens your day, thank your neighbor for giving you gardening tips. Thank them for the impact they’ve made, the help they offered, the support they’ve given, and the hoops they’ve jumped through (for example, thank you Ellie Shechet for the blog inspiration!). Thank them for every positive aspect of yourself or your life that they’ve contributed to.
  • Round up your gal pals!: Any female protest is better spent with other lady friends! Have a potluck, movie night, Pictionary night, or all of the above! Here is a list of feminist movies to watch (Miss Representation is a personal favorite!) on your celebratory night of womanhood!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Life Lessons & Benefits of Body Hair

I know, I know, what does body hair have to do with veganism??! As intertwined as veganism and feminism are, I’ll leave that comparison up to your imagination. There are so many important causes worth fighting for, no activist is limited to just one branch! Reading about the comparison between feminism and veganism is actually what made me go from pescetarian (like a vegetarian, but also eats fish) to vegan, but I’ll save that blog post for another day!

A year ago today I decided to stop shaving my legs and underarms, and I have never felt so free. Within the past two years I’ve been dissecting feminism farther than my previously social-acceptance-craving-yet-patriarchy-questioning self was willing to dig into. After contemplative inner-debates, I realized no matter how much I wanted to convince myself I was shaving for the feeling of sweatpants after freshly shaved legs, I took note of why I felt so fearful of something as trivial as leg hair in comparison to men. I went from considering the hairy-legged feminists “the ones who took it too far,” to wishing I had the guts to be the woman who let her braid-able leg hairs fly free, to becoming the fearlessly hairy creature nature intended me to be. And trust me, my thick black Indian hair ain’t playin’!  After the initial hesitancy and blatant fear of my new furry coat (the cruelty-free kind) taking bloom, my wonder and worry faded. My legs were no longer a spectacle to my own eyes, no longer a social experiment within my environment and towards myself. On certain days I looked onto my legs in admiration of the mental and physical hurdles it took for me to reach that point (shorts, shorts in public, etc 😉 ), but for the most part, my legs became exactly what they were supposed to be: a way of transportation and balance, and nothing more.

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But beyond just defeating the patriarchy one leg-hair-braid at a time, it’s easy to forget in the aesthetics of it all that body hair does exist for a reason. It has decreased over time due to humans creating heat out of nothing (space heaters, parkas, etc), but there are still positive contributions our tiny hairs make to our health! They aid our body’s sweat-cooling response, protect our bodies from being fully exposed to sunlight, act as a layer of comfort to keep your skin from burning when rubbing all up against your other skin (think armpits) and protect against minor abrasions.  As for the other hairs that receive all our lovin’, eyebrows and eyelashes exist with the purpose of shielding our eyes from sweat, rain, and any day-to-day debris out of our eyes. Who knew hair was so important?

So if it’s your thing, let your leg hair glisten and blow in the wind – or maybe just your head hair, whatever you’re feelin’! Our bodies were made to be functional machines we exist in, so when it comes to strands of dead cells gracing your body, you’ve got nothing to fear!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

5 Ways an Activist Can Relieve Stress

As much as we all wish differently, not every day is as peachy as animal sanctuaries and yummy vegan food! Luckily, there are some healthy ways to put an activist’s mind at ease.

  • Donate: Donations are vital for any organization to exist, and every organization can attest to that! Donations as small as the price of dinner can add up in the long run, and you’ll know that your five bucks are being put to the best possible use. Beyond money, cleaning out your closet or getting rid of furniture you no longer use can declutter, as well as make a world of impact to the recipient. And even better than donating items, donate time! An organization rarely ever has enough volunteers.
  • Spread Awareness: No activist can hold in their inner-social justice warrior for too long! Speaking out on behalf of what you believe is right will not only unbottle some deeply rooted feels, but also plant seeds for more activism to grow within your community. At the very least, everything from attending marches to engaging with family members will spark  a second thought and deeper understanding of issues going on in the world around us.
  • Eat your carbs!: On overwhelming days for the social justice front, it can get a little tempting to eat that entire jar of cookie dough! It might come as a surprise that high-carb diets actually increase serotonin levels, and high-protein diets are linked to lower serotonin levels. Healthier carbs, as opposed to white bread, include potatoes and bananas. Along with carbs, greens, fruits and foods high in fiber such as beans and oats will give you a great energy boost to toughen out your sluggish days of endless unfortunate Facebook articles or the charge through the coldest marches!

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  • Find allies: No matter what cause fuels your fire, it’s always good to have some ranting buddies, and or/people who inspire you to keep the activism movin’! There will always be a group of refuge in range, whether you meet up with your allies or find a Facebook group that has become your safe haven! Allies can also be beneficial to constantly stay educated about your cause. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed without fellow social justice warrior buds who know all the ins and outs of everything you’re fighting against, too!
  • Don’t give up: I once heard there were two types of people, the kind who feel better by sparking change, and the kind who feel better by ignoring issues and pretending the world doesn’t need change. Odds are if you clicked on this blog post, you’re the first type. 😉 It’s important to remind ourselves that change does not happen overnight.  I’m sure thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people have seen circus protestors and were convinced the protestors could never make a difference. Then one day, bam! Circuses drop animal acts because they didn’t want to deal with us passionate nut-jobs anymore. Every time anyone speaks out on behalf of any oppressed group, change will happen, even if we might not physically see it. And in the mean time, do yoga and read books and go on walks and all that jazz.

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Women’s March Weekend in D.C.

This past Saturday, we were reminded of the power activists can have by uniting for justice! The Women’s March in D.C was definitely one of the most memorable highlights of the recent political scene, and the perfect start to 2017. Looking out onto a sea of people filled with a willful pursuit to fight for justice and equality was not a moment worth underestimating. The march began with speakers of all backgrounds and demographics, who claimed that this was the uniting moment we all need, and that Women’s March of over 5 million people worldwide was just the beginning of the fight for women’s rights and intersectional feminism. Speakers included activists such as Angela Davis (also vegan, whoop whoop!), a determined inspiring young Sophie Cruz, and the CEO of Planned Parenthood. If that wasn’t enough, how about that extra cherry on top that dedicated feminist Emma Watson was cheering and marching on within a mile radius?! Listening and being in the presence of all these amazing women, I was feeling overwhelmingly inspired, and of course a bit starstruck! We gathered in peace and protest all through D.C, with too many justice seekers to even stay in route! The love, activism, and bond throughout America and even other countries Saturday was more than any Chair of any of the marches expected, and it was absolutely lovely.

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And of course, no vegan foodie can visit a different city without popping in the best cruelty-free eateries around town! D.C is booming with vegan-friendliness! After a thorough digging into Happy Cow, I settled on three gnarly picks! I would support Fare Well, Khepra Raw Food and Juice Bar, or NuVegan Cafe making a second Louisville location anytime!

Khepra’s was my first stop. The menu was all raw and filled with items like Buffalo Cauliflower, Blackberry Cheesecake, Avocado Nori Wraps and (my favorite) a raw vegan crab cake. The flavors and textures of all the food I had was spot on, particularly the coconut-meat based crab cake that left me shocked how realistic it was! The cheesecake tasted like ice cream, and the sides that come with a platter were practically a meal itself. The prices were great for the amount of food I got, and I felt so energized after! They even had a separate room for “Heart Touch Therapy,” which was a blend of reiki and other forms of energy movement, healing and relaxation which was a great finishing touch.

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NuVegan Cafe was the kind of place that will make you go, “Are you sure this is all vegan?!” Their fried chicken, mac and cheese and cheesecake were so spot on, if you put a bucket of each in front of me I wouldn’t be able to restrain myself! They also had cinnamon buns, taco salad, tuna salad and lasagna as their special of the day. They put the soul in soul food, and I loved their mission statement that was a reminder that they’re in it for the animals, just like us!

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The final stop in this vegan flavortown was Fare Well! Fare Well was started by the owners of the famous bakery Sticky Fingers. They had quite the morning rush so I missed the Chicken and Waffles, but was still amazed by their delicious Breakfast Nachos, French Toast Casserole, Cookie Dough Milkshake and Blueberry Danish! It had been SO long since I had a Blueberry Danish, I think I ate it in about 30 seconds! I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone who plans to visit in the future, and I am definitely coming back for that plate of Chicken and Waffles!

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It was quite the weekend! The feeling of activism and the smell of vegan fried chicken were in the air, and nothing ever felt so good! I’m beyond looking forward to my next visit, with plenty more activism, equality, justice and vegan noms ahead!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi