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Archive for April, 2010

The much-hyped Kentucky Derby will be taking place this Saturday, May 1st.  It seems like every where I turn, I’m hearing or reading something about it: the contenders, the odds, the wagers, the jockeys, the hats, and so on and so forth. And yet very little is said about the cruelty of it all.

Horse racing is a brutal “sport”, and it starts with the breeding of these champion racers.  Modern race horses are  genetically engineered for speed instead of health and longevity.  Trainers begin running the horses at age 1 or 2 when their bones are still too brittle to handle their massive body weight.  They are so in-bred and over-trained that many of them suffer from broken bones, viral diseases and devastatingly painful conditions such as bleeding lungs and gastric ulcers.  Many of these beautiful animals are quite literally raced to death.  According to In Defense of Animals, roughly 800 race horses die from their injuries on race tracks each year in the US alone.  Another 3,500+ are so severely injured they cannot finish their races.  Thousands more are bred and discarded for not being fast or strong enough.

Kentucky Derby contender Eight Belles, moments before her tragic death

Race horses are often pumped full of drugs to make them run faster and to ignore their pain.  When they break a leg or fail to win (to create a “return” on their owners’ investment), they are discarded – often sent to slaughter, a  profitable end for the owner, but a brutal one for the animal.  When not racing, these horses spend up to 23 hours of their day stabled, deprived of the herd contact and freedom of movement that would ensure physical and mental health.  None of us would consider that to be acceptable treatment for our beloved pet cats and dogs, yet we look the other way when there’s profit or entertainment involved for us.

Horse racing is not a sport.  Sports are activities in which the individuals involved choose to participate.  Race horses have no choice.  Surely horses love to run when given the freedom to do so, but forcing them to run on artificial surfaces known to increase injuries to their already fragile legs is inhumane.  The whole industry from start to finish is inhumane, and this Saturday, millions of people will be watching the Derby, betting on it, and perpetuating the cruelty inherent in it.  Don’t be one of them.  The horse racing engine will keep speeding along until we humans stand up and demand that it stop.  The victims of this “sport” cannot speak for themselves. It is up to us to do it for them.

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After a 7 month hiatus from this blog, I wonder: is anyone still out there?  Anyone waiting for me to post?  I bet you are just beside yourself with curiosity about where I’ve been.  Answer: first I was trying to get a new job, then I got a new job, and now I’m BUSY as heck.  The truth of the matter is that while I was in the midst of my job search, I felt the need to make this blog private.  I didn’t want potential employers to be able to find it and not hire me on the basis of my ethics as they pertain to food.  And yes, I realize that sounds strange because you’d think any employer would appreciate someone with such strong ethics, but that’s not exactly how things always work in the conservative finance industry.  Sigh.

At any rate, I wanted to discuss veganism in the work place a bit.  I wish I were lucky enough to be able to work somewhere where being vegan was the norm.  Or at least where telling someone you were vegan didn’t result in very shocked stares and a million questions about how it is even possible to not eat animal products.  I had been at my last job for 7.5 years, during which I made the transition from meat-loving omnivore to vegetarian to vegan.  My bosses thought I was a little nutty, and one of them asked me every day if I was having tofu for lunch.  Because that’s all vegans eat, you know.

Coming to this new job, I am interacting with a much larger group of people.  Of the other 24 people in my department not one of them is even vegetarian, much less vegan.  This presents both an opportunity for education and sometimes awkwardness.  I’m probably not making the situation any better by having an 8×10 framed picture of a rooster in my office – this picture to be exact:

Roscoe the Rooster, Kindred Spirits Sanctuary

This was a Valentine’s Day gift from my boyfriend.  I took this picture when I was visiting Kindred Spirits Sanctuary and he thought it was so great he framed it and said I should bring it to work.  This is the largest picture I have in my office.  It prompts a fair number of questions and/or reactions.

One man said “you like chickens?”.  I said “yeah, I do.”  He replied, “oh you should have grown up on my farm then. We had 400 of them.  Slaughtered them ourselves!”  Um….not exactly what I meant when I said I like chickens.

Other than that, so far no one has really been insensitive.  They’ve mostly just been sort of curious or confused.  I’m okay with that. I don’t mind being the “weirdo”, and I figure as they get to know me, they maybe won’t think being vegan is so strange after all (that’s the goal anyway).  I don’t expect anyone to convert or anything, but it’s kind of nice to be able to show them that being vegan isn’t some big sacrifice or something.

I’d be interested in hearing about other people’s experiences in the work place.  Is your work place vegan friendly?  Are you the only vegan?  If so, how do you handle that?

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