Subversion through Puppies: Resolution #2

High school was the only time I’ve ever cared about football.  And I only cared because I was in the marching band.  Yet, despite sitting in the stand for four yeas, the only thing I ever figured out about the game was that if the ball went across the line or through the big posts then I had to play the fight song.

Now I’m in college, my own academic lala-land, and football isn’t exactly on my radar (my college is tiny and our football team isn’t the greatest).  Yet, despite living under a rock when it comes to sports, I couldn’t escape the hoopla surrounding the Super Bowl.  As you may guess by my use of the word “hoopla”, I viewed all the commotion surrounding the big game with the soul of a grumpy old man who is real tired of all these youngsters and their shenanigans.

I’ve never had anything explicitly against football or all the fanfare that goes with it.  But for some reason, these past few weeks I’ve been hyper-aware of just how irksome I find the whole spectacle.  Specifically, I take issue with the pervasive violence in football culture.  From the actual violence of the game, to the animals who are violently killed to feed spectators,  the whole thing just became too much for me.

So, in my own way, I decided to resist the culture of violence, and had a celebration of my own on game day.  And, in my mind, logically cute puppies are the best way to show resistance to a game that celebrates violent masculinity.

Puppy Bowl Party

Yes, the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet was my chosen form of protest this past Sunday.  Instead of tuning in to watch people hitting each other and commercials celebrating the consumption of animal carcasses, I watched puppies frolic.  I disregarded all the articles and blog posts claiming that chicken wings are a must for a Super Bowl party, and instead made a Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Cheesecake (vegan or course), and served chips and hummus.  So,  while most of America was cheering on Beyonce (in her python and iguana skin outfit, I might add) my guests and I stuffed our faces while watching puppies being fowled for “excessive cuteness”.

This leads me to my second resolution of the year: participate in my existing communities, and create new communities.

Because, at the end of the day, events like the Super Bowl and the Puppy Bowl are about one thing: bringing people together.  So I resolve to participate more, so that I can enjoy all the wonderful, talented people around me and learn from them.

And also because when you get together with other people, they show you youtube videos of cute puppies that you’ve never seen before; and who doesn’t want that? ;)

 

 

Want to read more about the Puppy Bowl?  Here’s a great article about the making-of!

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News

Hi all,

Sorry it’s been so long.

I’ve been reading a lot about vegan/food/animal/media things as I’m crafting my thesis.  I’ll be sharing some of that stuff as it comes together.

But until then, here’s some interesting things to ponder.

  • What’s my first instinct when a bird flies into my window?  Not to eat it that’s for sure; but that’s what this guy in Texas did.
  • Do you ever wish that you could marry food?  Well cookies and chai married each other in this new recipe from Post Punk Kitchen; I’ve probably made them four times now since the recipe was posted two weeks ago.  They’re pretty much the pinnacle of cookie perfection.
  • Ever wanted to get a text message from a cow’s vagina?  Nope.  Me neither.  But this farmer in Switzerland thought it would be a good idea.
  • None of my grandparents were vegetarian, or Buddhist for that matter, but this guy chose to honor his grandmother by being vegetarian for a month.
  • Ever wonder what sort of progress is being made in animal law?  Well the Humane Society wrote this handy little piece about the 10 most important state laws made for animals in 2012 so far.
  • Whether you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ve probably apologized to someone at some point for your diet, because it was either making them uncomfortable or because it was an inconvenience at a dinner party.  Well maybe it’s time we stopped apologizing for our compassion.

And if all this doesn’t satisfy your desire for veggie/animal/weird news, you can check out my Tumblr for more vegan musings, as well as nerd-tastic posts, and ubiquitous pictures of cute animals.

 

Summer catch up

Hello dear readers,

Sorry for abandoning you all summer, but I have good reasons, I promise!

I hope you survived without my magnificent insights and ramblings.

After we finally made it to Boise things got a little hectic, as you might imagine.  Probably no one will be surprised to learn that the remodeling was running behind schedule and so we were forced to stay in a hotel.

This put a damper on things because I had been expecting to hit the ground running, whipping up amazing vegan meals using only ingredients from the farmer’s market and co-op.  However, this was not to be.  Maybe next summer I will have a chance to make every recipe in The Veganomicon?  And then they will make a movie about me, ala Julie and Julia!  Except without all the icky lobster killing.

Anyway when the remodeling was finally complete, I had left for my summer job.  The past two years (now three) I have spent two months of my summer in Alaska, working as a deckhand on a small ecotourism boat out of Glacier Bay National Park.  We (myself and four other crew members) take up to 12 passengers kayaking and hiking for six days up and down the bay.  I spend most of my time in the galley helping the chef prep food, or running around the boat doing general cleaning.  Occasionally I get to join in on the hikes and kayaks, taking pleasure in the pathless woods and a rapture in the lonely shore (Lord Byron’s words, not mine).

All the fresh air and salt spray was inspirational, however there is no cell service or internet connection for those six days; and thus, dear readers, the reason for my neglect.  On my day off I was able to get into town and connect to the internet for a few hours; but as might be expected in a rural town of four hundred, the internet is really. really. really. slow.

But, I shall make it up to you now by updating you in the next few posts about what I have learned this summer.

Here is my first new revelation:

You can be vegan anywhere.

Even on a boat, in the middle of nowhere, with groceries only arriving from Juneau every week.

The chef I worked with was so kind as to help me keep to my vegan diet by abandoning the practice of putting butter in  everything, and only using it on some things.  Not only did this make me happy, the rest of the crew was thankful as well, since they had been watching their waistlines grow over the weeks.

Luckily, as the galley slave, I was in charge of making the salads for every dinner, so I could at least make sure the salads were vegan.  Also, as you may have realized, I love to bake; so I made cookies every day for the after lunch snack, as well as occasionally make the dessert for dinner as well.  Even though not every dessert I made was vegan (ex: lemon pound cake, cheesecake, etc.) I was able to throw in the occasional vegan chocolate raspberry cookie or vegan flourless peanut butter cookie. I took pleasure in serving these to people, having them declare they were delicious, and telling them they were vegan.  I don’t know what I was expecting– people to spit them out?–but no one seemed surprised by this.  Perhaps it’s just the sort of clientele we get on the boat– people who are generally well traveled and pretty savvy–who have already been exposed to veganism.

Or perhaps it is a sign that the movement is gaining ground and that more people are open to the deliciousness of a plant-based diet?

Either way, it just goes to show that people are open, compassionate, and willing to try new things!  Perhaps humanity isn’t doomed after all?

I will try to keep these memories in mind as I watch the antics of the election season unfold.

Now for pictures of cute things I saw!!

I’M A FREAKING OTTER!

Three little birds…

Oh this? JUST WOLF PUPS FROLICKING!

 

Captain’s Log: Day 5

800 hours: Returned to the Peace Tree Juice Cafe to get a smoothie for breakfast.  The Desert Nectar smoothie, made of bananas, strawberries, soy milk, and ginger, was extremely refreshing, and a pleasant shade of pink.

1200 hours: Subway again.  Granted, we are driving through canyons with only tumbleweeds for company, so I suppose finding a Subway is pretty good.  I perked up at discovering some new Oreo products– Oreo creme cookies– which are basically Oreos covered in a light layer of fudgy goodness.  I got the peanut butter ones, which tasted pretty much exactly like Girl Scour Tagalong cookies– except deliciously vegan– and my mom tried the plain ones.

1600 hours: I had the good fortune of being able to meet up with one of my school friends in Salt Lake, where he lives.  And, because I am a dog pimp, I made him meet us at a dog park and bring his mini Australian shepherd, Mia, for a play date with Ianto.  Adorable antics ensued.  At first, like the Beauty and the Beast, they were unsure of each other; but then there was something there that wasn’t there before; and finally they were in puppy love.  It was good for Ianto to get some exercise after being cooped up in a car and hotel rooms for the past few days.

But, watching all that running and puppy energy made me tired and hungry.  Time to get some food we decided.

1900 hours: Gravy.  What a great invention.  Thank you to whoever invented gravy.  And an even greater thank you to whoever made the great vegan gravy I just consumed.

VegNews recently named Salt Lake City, Utah as one of the great up and coming centers of vegan food, so I had high hopes for the Vertical Diner.  I was not disappointed; in fact, I was ready to start searching real estate listings for an apartment nearby.

I sit here, my insides coated in gravy, and I couldn’t be happier.  While we waited for our food to be ready to go– we had to take it back to the room since my mom couldn’t come with us because the hotel had a ‘no pets left alone in the room’ policy–we slurped down a chocolate mint shake.  It was almost gone by the time our food was ready to go, and we seriously considered getting another one, it was that good.  It tasted like what I imagine a bunch of Thin Mint cookies taste like after having been eaten by a unicorn and stewed for fourteen hours in its creamy digestive juices; basically, it was magical.  Here’s my brother giving it the thumbs up, and actually smiling for a picture– so you know it’s gotta be good.

As if the shake and the gravy weren’t enough, the Vertical Diner is also known for its faux chicken (according to PETA), and so I enjoyed my gravy with a side of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  My parents joked, how do you know it’s not real chicken?  But I could tell.  It was dense, probably made with some vital wheat gluten or something, and had the same flavor as a Boca chik’n patty.  But, it was slathered in gravy, so it was better :)

My mom had the Jamaican plate, my dad enjoyed the chicken biscuit pie, and my brother gobbled down the breakfast sandwich.  They all approved heartily of their meals.  Somehow we still had room for the delicious spicy fries.

I’d like to take a moment here and give a special thank you to my family for being so supportive and open to eating vegan food.  As my mom said this afternoon, as if it had just occurred to her, “You know?  We could be really shitty about this, and say, we don’t care if you’re vegan, we’re going to KFC!”

But they are not shitty, far from it.  My mom planned our whole route, and went out of her way to make sure there would be places where two omnivores, one vegetarian, one vegan,  and a dog, could all get a good meal.  If that isn’t love I don’t know what is.

In the musical Rent, the opening song asks, “How do you measure the life of a man?”

Well, now I know how to measure my life: by the amount of puppies in it, and the amount of good food; so today was really really good :)

 

Captain’s Log: Day 4

800 hours:  I eagerly skipped into the Los Alamos Co-op, confident that I would find more deliciousness awaiting me.  After stocking up on food, by which I mean, I put things in my dad’s basket for him to buy, I went outside to sit with my mom while he checked out.  She and Ianto were sitting at the lovely little outside patio, and I excitedly told her about today’s selection of treats.  “Today the ‘deli vegan baked item’ is a blueberry fruit bar, and there’s also pumpkin walnut spelt bread made with coconut milk! Doesn’t that sound delicious?!”

She smiled at me and asked, “So which one did you get?”

I looked at her with a quizzical expression, “Uh…both….duh.”  As if that were even a question.  Pshh.

I would have also gotten another peach cobbler, as there were plenty left over from yesterday, but I wanted to try the new things.  I was surprised that there were cobblers left; it was so good, who could resist it?  Maybe  people in New Mexico aren’t particularly fond of peach cobbler?  However, there is also the possibility that the word “vegan” scares people.

If you’re reading this blog, you probably know that vegan food can be just as delicious as “real” or “normal” food.  In fact, in my experience, vegan food has a higher probability of being utterly delicious simply because vegans try to combat the notion that “vegan” means icky rabbit food.  It is my hope, that people like myself, who enjoy eating and making yummy food, will help to change people’s minds with our food activism, as well as our loud, persistent voices spread across paper and the internet.  I hope to explore this topic in a future post, when my brain isn’t mushy from traveling all day.

So, back to food.

My vegan breakfast burrito from the Co-op was good, but not great.  The potatoes and peppers gave it a lot of flavor, but I was disappointed when the tofu wasn’t scrambled, but simply plain.  A little seasoning like cumin, salt and pepper, and maybe some nutritional yeast can make plain ol’ tofu mouthwatering, as anyone who has made the Post Punk Kitchen’s recipe will know.

1200 hours: We stocked up on things for lunch at the Los Alamos Co-op, and so we were able to stop in beautiful Pagosa Springs, Colorado for a picnic in the park.  I stuffed myself with an Asian noodle dish in the sunshine, enjoying the beautiful scenery, and trying to ignore the frat boys in inner-tubes floating down the river.  I sampled the blueberry fruit bar from the Co-op and found it to contain about fifty percent brown sugar; which means it was delicious.

My mom had some apple ginger juice that she got from the Co-op.  And because Ianto is her favorite child, she shared a little bit with him.  Just thought I’d let everyone know that this juice is corgi approved.

1400 hours: Okay, I know it’s an evil corporate chain, but thank goodness for Starbucks, because you can always count on it to have soy milk.  I know, most cafes have soy milk nowadays, but when you’re traveling through small towns, it’s nice to be certain that there’s one place you an always count on to make you a decent soy latte, and you don’t have to go searching for it.  I can’t help it, I really like coffee.  I blame my addiction on my white people-ness and my time spent in close proximity to Seattle.

Anyway, we’ve finally crossed into Utah after cutting across a tiny corner of Colorado.  My mom and I immediately began listening to the soundtrack to The Book of Mormon the musical.  If you haven’t heard the Book of Mormon soundtrack, you really should; it’s hilarious, catchy, written by the creators of South Park, and it won all the Tonys last year.  So you really have no excuse.

1800 hours:  Cumin in hummus?  Yes, puleez.

The Peace Tree Juice Cafe has locations in Moab, Utah, as well as in Monticello where we are spending the night.  The Peace Tree in Monticello is located conveniently across the street from our hotel, meaning that we didn’t have to drive anywhere– which you really appreciate when you’ve been driving all day.

The only vegan things on the menu were the hummus plate, which came with carrots, celery, and pita pieces, and the wild rice with grilled vegetables.  The hummus had a lot of cumin in it, which I enjoyed, but it definitely had a totally different flavor than the regular hummus; so don’t order it if you’re are craving regular hummus.  The grilled veggies and rice was delicious, and quite colorful if I do say so.

My brother had the ravioli, which was the other vegetarian option, while my parents both had meat.  They said it was all delicious and amazing, which I suppose is the best you can hope for really– that at least if people are going to cook with animal products– that it taste really good and be worth it.

The waitress told us that it was only their third night serving dinner– they previously only served breakfast and lunch– which surprised me because the food was so good.  I looked at their breakfast menu and was intrigued by their smoothies.  A smoothie sure would beat eating bad oatmeal and cut up fruit at the hotel for breakfast.  Tomorrow is looking just a little bit brighter!

Captain’s Log: Day 3

800 hours: Wake up and go to breakfast in the hotel.  Find the room full of old people all wearing name tags that say “Zoomers” on them.  I don’t know what they were zooming to, but they sure were being poky moving through the buffet line.  I partook of some weirdly salty oatmeal from a packet.  It tasted better after I added some of my own almond milk.  The hotel put out some bananas and I had to rush to get one before the old people took them all.  Young people like mushy food too, thank you very much.

Ianto likes mushy food, too.

1200 hours: Veggie sandwich from Subway–it was meh, but it had plenty of green stuff on it.  Practiced my ingredient reading skills on some of the snacks available in the gas station.

1800 hours:  I have found a vegan oasis in New Mexico.  Ok, maybe not an oasis, but a puddle at least; and of all places I found it in Los Alamos.

Our route took us through Santa Fe, where most people would have stopped for the night.  My family, however, is made up of nerds; and my brother is the super-science-nerd-overlord; and I say that with love and affection, because the level of nerdiness he manages to achieve astonishes me daily, and someday, he will be the science-nerd-overlord of us all .  So, instead of staying in Santa Fe, we drove twenty more miles to spend the night in Los Alamos.  Now, Los Alamos is nerd mecca because it was the site of the Manhattan Project during World War II, and is still home to the Los Alamos National Lab of National Security Science.

While my brother worshiped at the altar of the science museum there, I found my own mecca in the form of the Los Alamos Co-op.  Conveniently located directly next to the hotel where we were staying, the Co-op, if I had to guess, was made up of approximately 30% vegan foods– maybe more.  This is impressive considering that 1) the town of Los Alamos is quite tiny and 2) the Co-op itself is small.  I frolicked around the store, probably befuddling all the other shoppers with my gleefulness at finding my first great vegan travel discovery.  I seriously felt like the freaking Columbus of vegan food– without the disease and genocide.

I knew the Co-op was a good place when I saw the  Uncle Eddie’s Cookies, which my friend has been urging me to try for awhile now, but I have been unable to find (I found them Alison!!).  I shall now proceed to replace my daily ration of Oreos with Uncle Eddie’s cookies and the assortment of chocolate that I purchased.

Of course, although we were only buying dinner, I proceeded to slip extra items into our basket.  Here is a picture of my total haul:

Don’t worry, I didn’t eat it all in one hour ;)

For dinner I had a baked tofu wrap from the Co-op and for dessert the “Deli Vegan Baked Item” of the day– peach cobbler.

I gorged myself on the whole thing of peach cobbler– because no one wanted to finish it, and I sure wasn’t letting it go to waste.  Now I’m going to fall asleep and have wonderful peach cobblery dreams because I have extracted a promise from my parents to return to the Co-op in the morning for breakfast.  Can’t wait to see what the “Deli Vegan Baked Item” is tomorrow.

Golden Rule

I’ve just finished my first two months of being vegan.  And I’ve noticed that I’ve been living my life more consciously.  Not only have I become an expert ingredient reader, but I’m more conscious of how I live my life as a whole, how my actions affect others,  and how I treat myself.  So, I thought I would mark this anniversary by reflecting on the Golden Rule.

~

Treat others as you wish to be treated.  That’s the Golden Rule that has been instilled in us since we were very small.  It’s the basis of all major religions in the world.  It’s repeated so often that it’s joined the ranks of motivational poster sayings.

But most of us don’t really live the Golden Rule.

When you really think about it, we don’t treat ourselves very well.  If we treated other people like we treat ourselves…the world would be a really crappy place to live.  We reserve a lot of judgment, self-doubt, criticism, guilt, and name calling for ourselves.

What we need to recognize is that the Golden Rule isn’t just about treating others well.  It also reminds us that we need to learn how to treat ourselves with the same compassion we extend to others.

I am the first to admit that I’m a harsh critic of myself; but when others are genuinely compassionate and caring towards me, that little nagging voice of inner-judgment in my head gets smaller.  So lately I’ve been trying to direct some compassion inward.  This not only means being  mindful of my self-judgment, but also compassionate towards my physical body and the things I put in it.

I went vegan because I wanted to live the part of the Golden Rule that tells us to treat others well; for me this meant animals.  But now I’m also trying to live the part of the Rule that asks that we treat ourselves with kindness as well.

I don’t eat animals because I see it as an act of disrespect towards them and towards myself.  I do not condone the torture that is used in factory farms, and the suffering that animals have to go through for people to enjoy a meal.  I do not eat any animal products because I wish to treat all beings as I wish to be treated– with compassion.

But, in these past two months I’ve also recognized that being vegan is a way of caring about myself as well– emotionally and physically.  Since becoming vegan I have experienced first hand the health benefits of this compassionate diet.  I have more energy, I am less stressed (although stress never completely goes away, especially for college students), and I feel that I am living a fuller life.

I feel better that I am not forcing others to kill or torture animals so that I might enjoy a meal.  I feel better that I am not putting anything in my body that had to suffer or endure pain.  And I feel better because I’ve learned how to eat healthier and make new and exciting meals for myself!

In other words, now I’m truly living the Golden Rule; by treating myself just as compassionately as I treat others.  This doesn’t mean that I’ve eradicated that little nagging voice of self-judgment completely.  But now whenever it speaks up, I refuse to let it beat me down; and instead I act compassionately toward myself and others… by making myself a vegan cupcake :)

Inspiration

Here are some of my favorite quotations dealing with compassionate/veg living.  What people or sayings inspire you to live a compassionate life?

“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’
Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’
Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’
But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’

“And there comes a point when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”  ~Jim Davis

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread” ~Mother Teresa

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony” ~Gandhi

“Who was the guy who first looked at a cow and said, ‘I think I’ll drink whatever comes out of these things when I squeeze ’em!’? ~Calvin & Hobbes

“I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.” ~Leonardo Da Vinci

“It’s a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, something the best people have always done.” ~Harriet Beecher Stowe

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.” ~Albert Einstein

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.

“When non-vegetarians say that human problems come first, I cannot help wondering what exactly it is that they are doing for human beings that compels them to continue to support the wasteful, ruthless exploitation of farmed animals.” ~Dr. Peter Singer

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” ~Mark Twain

How can you be vegan?

A dear friend of mine once told me that her parents found the idea of veganism harder to grasp than homosexuality, because: “homosexuality you’re born with, but vegan…well I don’t know where that comes from”.

I should say that my friend’s parents are Texas conservatives and highly religious, so I found their remark very funny.

For those that might find the choice to be vegan odd, especially if you live in the land of red meat, I have tried to explain myself here.

Being vegan for me is a continuation of social justice.  However, when compared with other pressing– and depressing– issues of the day, choosing lettuce over lamb sometimes seems insignificant.  With so many wars and conflicts, inequality and oppression, I sometimes find myself asking, what does it matter that I don’t eat meat?

It matters because I recognize that there is something in my life that I have the power to change.

We spend a lot of time wishing and hoping for things to change.  So when the opportunity presents itself to actually make the world a better place it’s important that we take it.  We cannot give up simply because we cannot change the big things.

Paraphrasing from something I’m sure I’ve seen embroidered on a pillow somewhere: If we fail to take the first step, we will never begin the journey.

Because, as I see it, being vegan, or vegetarian, is one of the easiest ways to live a compassionate life.  I’m not physically fighting against factory farms, I’m not petitioning congress, I am simply removing my support from an industry that produces a product I do not wish to consume.  What I’m trying to say, is that I’m no radical and that I think everyone can be vegan if they choose.  Because unlike trying to Free Tibet, or stop racism, or fight for gay rights, being vegan is an individual choice that doesn’t depend on a bureaucracy or government to make a change.  All it takes is you.  If everyone became vegan, there would be less suffering in the world.  If everyone asked the government to free Tibet….Tibet probably still wouldn’t be free.  That does not mean that we shouldn’t take on the big issues.  But nor should we ignore the small fights.

I accept that I am only one person.  But I am going to use my personal agency to the best of my ability.  And that includes signing petitions to Free Tibet as well as eating a plant-based diet.

This quote from Dominion, Matthew Scully’s book on the morals and ethics of how we treat animals, describes perfectly what I believe:  There is not a limited supply of compassion.  And there should be no hierarchy of who we extend our compassion to.

“And it is true that there will always be enough injustice and human suffering in the world to make the wrongs done to animals seems small and secondary.  The answer is that justice is not a finite commodity, nor are kindness and love.  Where we find wrongs done to animals, it is no excuse to say that more important wrongs are done to human beings, and let us concentrate on those.  A wrong is a wrong, and often the little ones, when they are shrugged off as nothing, spread and do the gravest harm to ourselves and others (Matthew Scully, Dominion).

I believe veganism is a concrete way to promote social justice in a world that has enough suffering.  People might dismiss it as trivial and think it will accomplish nothing.  And I say, no, I am not ending the suffering of animals.  But I know that I am ending the suffering of a few.  And that is not nothing.

I don’t think we should wait to extend the hand of kindness to animals until after we have solved all our human problems first.  Because that is never going to happen.

So let us offer our protection to the weak, and perhaps it will help us learn to be more compassionate to each other as well.  It can’t hurt.  Often times tackling the easy things first can create the momentum that pushes us through the harder things as well.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie, and today I saw it in theaters for the first time.  When it was released in 1991 I was too wee to take to the theater, so this was my first time seeing it on the big screen.  And, as often happens when we watch Disney movies after having spent some time growing up– I realized some things.

I guess it’s the liberal arts education sinking in, but I couldn’t help analyzing the film, especially the characters.  Gaston in particular has always been repulsive to me– probably because I identify strongly with Belle as an intellectual, bookish girl longing for ‘adventure in the great wide somewhere’.  However, seeing the film now, I realized that I also find Gaston disgusting for his lack of compassion.  The strong-jawed manly man that uses antlers in all of his decorating, and eats five dozen eggs, is definitely not a vegan.  He hunts, he fights, and he belittles those weaker than him.

Compassion is about recognizing the suffering of others, something Gaston definitely does not do.  In fact, he seeks to capitalize on it, and in turn becomes the villain of the story.  And because this is a Disney movie,  the villain is always defeated…or in this case he falls off a castle that was built right next to a conveniently placed gorge.  Because when you see a giant gorge, you automatically get the urge to build a castle, don’tcha?  (Sorry, there’s just so much more to laugh at in Disney movies when you’re all grown up and cynical).  However, in our cruel, sadly un-Disney-fied world, those that capitalize on the suffering of others are often rewarded for their actions instead of being stopped.

Further proof that a greater effort needs to be made into making the world more like a Disney movie.

But I suppose if real life were like a Disney movie, animals would talk and then there’d probably be a lot more veggie eaters in the world.

But I guess there’d also be more people like Gaston……hm.  It’s the philosophical question of the century :)