30 July 2011

Veggie lover

Since I first decided to become a vegetarian 10 years ago, eating animals is something I have done and not done to varying degrees. It's something I've thought about, and it is something I've also chosen to ignore or "forget" from time to time.

But I haven't been able to stay away from the subject for long (I do eat (at least) 3 times a day, after all). And eating meat is pretty common in the culture I live in. So, I keep coming back to the question: to eat meat or not to eat meat?

Lately, this has been on my mind more urgently, so I grabbed a book from the library that a few friends have suggested to me: Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer. For me, this was the push I needed to rededicating myself to what I consider a humane way of eating--avoiding meat and, now, most dairy products. The truth is, I can't stomach the knowledge that I am participating in creating a life of torture and abuse of millions of animals. Not to mention the gruesome deaths they suffer.

Part of the reason I have decided to more fully live a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, and why I am sharing that decision with you, is because I believe it is one small step I can make towards influencing the world around me in a positive way.

I don't know about anyone else, but for me, there are so many problems in the world that sometimes I feel helpless to make an impact or contribute to the solution. But occasionally there is something I know I can do that matters. In this case, for me, it's as simple as not eating meat. Here are a few of the specific reasons I am choosing to avoid meat and dairy:
  1. The obvious: I don't want to participate in the systematized torture and abuse of animals that occurs on a large scale in our country (99% of the meat produced in the US comes from a factory farm. If you don't know what that meas for animals, it isn't hard to find out--read Eating Animals, watch undercover videos taken at these factories. The horrible truth is actually pretty readily available if our eyes are open.).
  2. I am opposed to the human rights abuses imposed upon many factory farm workers (often immigrants or others who have very few financial opportunities and may not feel they have access to legal protection).
  3. It helps the environment. The production and use of meat on a large scale is extremely harmful to the environment, using up resources and land, and creating enormous amounts of waste and pollution. Especially factory farming, which can decrease the value of land for miles surrounding these disease breading, stench producing places.
  4. It plays an important role in global famine and poverty. We may not always think of it this way, but the more meat we eat, the more of the precious grains and food resources are not being fed to human beings (and there are people all over the world starving--as we speak, the worst drought in 60 years is happening in the Horn of Africa, producing a huge food crisis). It takes 26 calories of grain consumed by animals to produce 1 calorie of meat for consumption. That is terribly inefficient and means that many more people could be fed and nourished by the grains that animals are eating than will be fed by the animals themselves. (Not to mention the fact that, in traditional farming animals graze and eat grasses and plants that are not always fit for human consumption, not so with the ever prevalent factory farm.)
  5. It's good for our health. Not only does meat naturally leech certain vitamins and minerals from out bodies, but the meat we eat today is pumped with chemicals and antibiotics, many of which we do not yet know the consequences of for the human body. Also, when animals are raised in such unclean, disease infested places, we can be certain that we are not entirely immune to the consequences of increased spreading of these germs (anyone remember the swine flu (H1N1) epidemic a few years ago.... well, scientists predict that the factory farm may be a breading ground for even more severe influenzas and other diseases in the future.).
Those are just a few examples, but the long and the short of it is that, for me, eating meat is not worth the consequences, to animals, the planet and to human life. I second Jonathan Safran Foer in saying, "My decision not to eat animals is necessary for me, but it is also limited--and personal. It is a commitment made within the context of my life, not anyone else's. . . .For me to conclude firmly that I will not eat animals does not mean I oppose, or even have mixed feelings about, eating animals in general." Yet, I also feel strongly enough about the matter to encourage everyone to consider the pros and cons of meat consumption, as well as the moral implications. I ask that we do not eat meat mindlessly because it is what we have done and what most people do, but make an informed, personal choice about our patterns of eating.

I end with one final quote (a long one) from Foer. And with this: every small act of charity and love matters. Whether it is choosing not to eat meat, lending service to a friend or the championing of an important cause, our choices matter and they say something about us and what matters to us, and they influence others around us. For me, meat, and the consequences of meat, matters. And I wanted to share that with you.

"It might sound naive to suggest that whether you order a chicken patty or a veggie burger is a profoundly important decision. Then again, it certainly would have sounded fantastic if in the 1950s you were told that where you sat in a restaurant or on a bus could begin to uproot racism. It would have sounded equally fantastic if you were told in the early 1970s, before César Chávez's workers' rights campaigns, that refusing to eat grapes could begin to free farmworkers from slave-like conditions. It might sound fantastic, but when we bother to look, it's hard deny that our day-to-day choices shape the world. When America's early settlers decided to throw a tea party in Boston, forces powerful enough to create a nation were released. Deciding what to eat (and what to toss overboard) is the founding act of production and consumption that shapes all others. Choosing leaf or flesh, factory farm or family farm, does not in itself change the world, but teaching ourselves, our children, our local communities, and our nation to choose conscience over ease can. One of the greatest opportunities to live our values--or betray them--lies in the food we put on our plates. And we will live or betray our values not only as individuals, but as nations.

We have grander legacies than the quest for cheap products. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote passionately about the time when "one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular." Sometimes we simply have to make a decision because "one's conscience tells one that is right." These famous words of King's, and the efforts of Chávez's United Farm Workers, are also our legacy. We might want to say that these social-justice movements have nothing to do with the situation of the factory farm. Human oppression is not animal abuse. King and Chávez were moved by a concern for suffering humanity, not suffering chickens or global warming. Fair enough. One can certainly quibble with, or even become enraged by, the comparison implicit in invoking them here, but it is worth noting that César Chávez and King's wife, Coretta Scott King, were vegans, as is King's son Dexter. We interpret the Chavez and King legacies--we interpret America's legacy--too narrowly if we assume in advance that they cannot speak against the oppression of the factory farm."
-Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals

29 July 2011

A beautiful land to the North: Logan, Utah

Last weekend I whiled away the hours with my dear friends Sarah and Halley at their home in Logan. They are so much fun and I had a blast exploring Logan and just spending time with these lovely ladies. Here are a few scenes from our adventures:
The Decemberists at the Twilight Concert Series in SLC.
So amazing. (also, free, which is extra amazing in my book.)
Renting a bike from Aggie Blue Bikes
FOR FREE! It's the coolest place ever-- I wish they had them all over. They rent out bikes, teach you how to fix your bike, and advocate for more biking! Awesome!
Hiking to White Pine Lake!
It was GORGEOUS. Perfect. The water is mostly snow melt so it was clear and blue and beautiful. And freezing cold! Halley and Sarah brought their dogs and taught them to swim :) The snow had only melted off the trails a week or two before, so it was still a bit muddy. And in some places even snowy. But so fun!
Bear Lake

We swam. We snacked. We sunbathed. And I ended up with a terrible sunburn. But I got to try a famous Raspberry shake. And Fox wore his life vest (see below). Oh how he loved that.
Who knew? It's great. There are so many animals of all kinds and their habitats are really nice.

The rest of the time we just hung out, made zucchini brownies (delicious!), watched Downtown Abbey, went to a bar-b-q and a cute cafe and to the dog park, and rode around on my bicycle (my free bicycle that is)!

And now I know, I LOVE LOGAN!

28 July 2011


This is my new organization: Kendal Against Bad Driving

Okay. Not really. But maybe it should be.

I went to traffic school tonight. (For a speeding ticket. Shame on me.)

It was long. And boring. Except of the horrible crash videos and pictures that kind of make me want to throw up.

And yet, I think everyone should go now and then just for a reminder of the power we hold when we're driving. And I'm not just saying this because I want to be the poster girl for successfully reformed traffic school participants. (Though it could be cool to be on a poster, maybe.)

Honestly, I don't trust the average person out on the street to have power over my life. In fact, I kind of hate that in some ways they do. And while I don't necessarily think we should view everyone on the road as a person who could potentially kill us at any second with the large piece of machinery he/she may or may not be operating correctly (though that is technically true), I do think we should all take our driving responsibilities a little more seriously. I for one do not want to die anytime in the near future. And I really, really never want to be responsible for injuring or killing another person-- I don't know that I could handle that.

The thing is, it's easy to forget that small distractions or simple mistakes can easily lead to devastating consequences.

And for the most part, even with the close calls, we're okay.

But sometimes-too often-terrible things happen. Vehicles are ruined. Property is damaged. Someone is injured. People are killed. In fact, lots of people.

So, with that said, and in honor of being a little dramatic about my serious fear of poor driving habits, these are my top 3 pet peeves about my fellow drivers:
#3Not using your blinker and/or turning into the wrong lane (it ruins the entire system meant to make traffic flow effectively and is stupid.)
#2 Tailgating. It makes me want to punch you in the face. Seriously.
Honestly, I can't think of anything ruder and more disturbing than making your phone a higher priority than my life, your life and the lives of everyone else on the road.
Don't do it! Or I'll hate you forever. (Just kidding... mostly.)

Well, that was my rant. Happy trails. And be safe out there kids!

18 July 2011

rain rain, come today

When did it happen?

Suddenly you're a 24 year old woman standing beside the window of your apartment watching it rain and wishing more than anything else that it was fifteen years ago: you are with your sister in the backyard splashing in puddles and laughing, screaming and grabbing each others hands when you hear thunder, running under the porch where you'll watch the sky glow with each electrifying bolt of lightning and count 1 mississippi, 2 mississippi, 3 mississippi until you hear the thunder rumble through the sky and shake the whole world a little and you'll guess how far away it is and you'll wave to mom in the kitchen where you know she's watching you to make sure you aren't still out in the yard with all that thunder so close.

Now, the best you can do is throw on shorts and running shoes to give yourself an excuse to go out into the rain. And while you'll pretend to be a dignified adult taking a jog, all you'll really care about is making sure to jump in each puddle and feel the rain on your face and those pockets of thick, heavy, humid air that hit you like a wall of fire. And it's good.

But running the streets of Provo with shoes on in rain that dries up two minutes after you leave the house, well, it isn't the same. It isn't the same as an Arizona monsoon. And it isn't the same as dancing barefoot with your sister in the yard, drenching yourselves until you're pruney and sopping wet and unfathomably happy; it isn't the same as yelling and hiding under the awning but giggling too because you're not really scared and you know (I mean you really know) that whenever you need to you can turn around and walk through that back door and be home safe. Perfectly safe. Confident that you will have everything you need, and more. And that you'll always have these people to be with you through everything--your sister and your mom and your dad and your dog and cat and tortoise. It's all so sure.

And I want that now. I want to know that everything is always going to be okay and that no matter what I can always run back inside and someone will be there to take care of me. Because while I try to be brave and adventurous sometimes, there is nothing better than the safety of your own home. I really can't imagine that there ever will be.

15 July 2011


Yesterday I made a decision about what I am going to do now that I finished my year as a VISTA at United Way.

Today I changed my mind... I think.

I probably shouldn't even be able to change my mind. Maybe I haven't. Maybe tomorrow I'll change it back. And really I can only go on like this for so long. Really, Monday morning is about 5 days later than I should have to make a decision. But that's the limit I'm setting for myself--Monday by 9am (with the help of dear Jessica who talked to me in the middle of the day even though it meant accidentally hanging up on one of her clients. oops.)

Talking helps. Feeling like someone is listening helps. Knowing that people care about you enough to let you talk both of you dizzy with circular logic even helps.

There have been a lot of conversations in the past month that have honestly saved me and my sanity. I haven't needed to talk to my mom and dad so much in years. And so many friends have listened to me vacillate back and forth that I don't know what I should do to apologize or thank them for giving me that time.

Yet, all the while I know very well that I can't take too much advice from anyone. I know that no one can tell me what to do. And if they did I probably wouldn't do it because, well, that's just kind of how I've always been.

And there is a point when all of then listening and talking in the world can't help me put off a choice I am avoiding any longer. And that time has really come. and gone. And Monday awaits.

I'm terrified. and I'm thrilled. because I will have to move forward in some direction, and that, at least, will be some kind of a relief.

11 July 2011

Good things happen in July

I like this song, and I feel like singing about "FREEDOM!" for two reasons right now:
  1. Today is my first day being unemployed, i.e. I finish ONE FULL YEAR as an AmeriCorps VISTA as of Friday. Is it weird that I'm okay with that? (though still slightly nervous!)
  2. I want to celebrate the birth of a new nation on July 9, 2011: The Republic of South Sudan!! Check out this wonderful photo essay! And President Obama's statement of recognition for this new state! This is truly a moment for hope.

Here's to wishing the best for Southern Sudan and all of her people... and to hoping I wont be too free for too long (cross your fingers that I'll get a job/make some decisions in the near future!).