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Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota’

I’m sorry for my incredible inactivity these past several months. Wow. I mean, I have been M.I.A.  But I have a somewhat reasonable excuse, you guys:  in September, I got engaged!   And since we didn’t want to have a long engagement, I’ve been plugging away at planning a wedding to take place in early May. 

The title of this post makes it sound like I actually have a clue as to how to plan a vegan wedding. But guess what? I don’t. It’s been kind of a disaster.  Even in a city the size of Minneapolis, it’s been difficult.  Having my wedding here, as opposed to in my small hometown of 130 people, was partially because of my strong desire to make sure my wedding was vegan. I figured if I had it out in the sticks, the chance of a caterer knowing how to prepare vegan food would be slim to none. What I hadn’t prepared myself for was that I might run into the same problems in Minneapolis.  I cannot TELL YOU how many negative responses I got from venues/caterers about having a vegan wedding.  It was enough to drive me bonkers. It was also why it took us almost 3 months to find a venue: I was not willing to settle for non-vegan food, and was not willing to settle for sub-par vegan food.

Several caterers “kindly” suggested that “making” everyone eat vegan food was impolite or selfish of me.  Some more tactfully suggested that I serve non-vegan food “as an option at least”.  Here is one of my favorite replies from a venue/caterer:

“Very few venues are accustomed to providing vegan cuisine. We may have a request for one or two entrées but it is still rare to provide the entire guest list with vegan or vegetarian as the only option. I have worked on several and found that some of the guests were dissatisfied.  It is your day after all but when inviting a guest list as vast as 130 I would encourage you to consider your guests needs as well. For you this may be a perfectly viable option but as a planner I feel the need to point out things that concern me.”

Thanks! I didn’t ask for your bleeping opinion!  And I did not realize that my guests NEED to eat meat.  That was news to me.

And from a bakery (after I requested information about vegan cakes ONLY):

We do suggest that you order a small vegan cake tier for vegan attendees to enjoy and have a non vegan option as well.

Oh really? I didn’t ask for any suggestions!

My fiance has repeatedly reminded me that not everyone is comfortable with veganism, and even more people view it as a personal preference, not a value system.  But when it comes down to it, I don’t see why I should spend $10,000 on meat, dairy & eggs  for one day for my guests when I am morally opposed to buying it for myself or having it in my house.  It’s like asking for pork at a Muslim wedding, or expecting a full bar at the wedding of someone who’s recently entered Alcoholics Anonymous or something.

And lest anyone think I’m being “selfish”, I just have this to say:  My wedding day should be one of the happiest days of my life.  I get really sad, though, when I think about animal suffering in the world. Like, really sad. And if at our reception I looked around and saw animal flesh on everyone’s plates, knowing that I had paid for it and condoned it, it would diminish the happiness I would feel on that day.  I want our wedding day to be a peaceful, love-filled day.   I don’t want death & suffering to be a part of the equation if I can at all help it. And it turns out I can!  We found a caterer who was happy to tweak some of their recipes for us to make them vegan, AND they are also using one of my recipes for one of the entrée choices.  I do not think our guests will be disappointed.

And if they are?  Well, we didn’t invite anyone to our wedding solely to have a free dinner. We invited them because they’ve been an important part of our lives and we want them there to witness our marriage.  If all they came for was the free food, then I guess we misjudged them.

So….this was supposed to be about how to plan a vegan wedding, wasn’t it? Well, here’s my advice, in closing:

1. Expect to encounter some resistance – from your parents, grandparents, guests, caterers, bakers, etc. SOMEONE will complain to you about it or have other “suggestions”.  Try to stay calm about it. (I was awful at this step, by the way. More than once I ended up in tears or on the verge of throwing a big ol’ hissy fit.)  But TRY.

2.  Keep your focus on the reason you want a vegan wedding. If, like me, it’s because animal suffering is unbearable to you, then STAND YOUR GROUND.  My parents offered me money, but then said they’d like me to have a non-vegan option (they were nice about it, but they suggested it). I told them very nicely that I would only accept their money if they would respect that it was extremely important to me to have an all vegan wedding. I said I totally respected their right to attach conditions to their money, but that I also had to be true to myself. And if that meant having a cheaper wedding, I was okay with that. In the end, they said it was up to me how to spend it.

3.  Have a calm, rational, 10 second speech ready to go for any nay-sayers.  Most people are disarmed with a simple, “having a vegan wedding is central to my value system, and it’s really important to me. I hope you can respect that.”  Or something like that.  Most vendors aren’t going to be pushy about it after that, but you might just have to say it. Otherwise I think sometimes caterers thought that I was vegan for health reasons – in which case it (to me at least) doesn’t make as much sense that I would be hell-bent on having a vegan wedding.

4.  Know that you can provide AWESOME food for your guests that isn’t full of animal products – you may just need to search a bit harder!  But it’ll be worth it. The animals will thank you! 

5.  Lastly, your guests aren’t there for the food.  They are there to support you and your future partner.  Anyone you think might complain: off the list! 🙂

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I know I just wrote a post about being a joyful vegan, and while I really, really do plan to be as joyful as possible, when I hear that a dairy operation (it’s not a FARM, that’s for sure) in northern Minnesota caused local residents to evacuate their homes over the weekend due to unhealthy levels of hydrogen sulfide, I don’t feel very joyful. In fact, I feel pretty angry. When will the people who operate these dairies finally own up to how incredibly awful these facilities are – for the animals involved, the people who live nearby, the workers, and the environment?? This isn’t rocket science – it’s just common sense (trust me, I cannot do rocket science).

So, as I said, the people living near this facility actually had to EVACUATE their homes to avoid the negative health effects of breathing in the toxins, such as irritation to the eyes, nose, or throat, headaches, difficulty breathing, and if high enough, neurological and brain damage. Doesn’t that sound lovely? Brain damage! Especially in children! Apparently the residents have been complaining for years, and nothing gets done about it. Before I get in to talking about how the animals must be suffering, let’s talk about workers for a minute:

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), farm workers are risking their lives every time they enter a manure pit. The…atmosphere which can develop in a manure pit has claimed many lives.” The manure pits are so dangerous because of the gases produced by the animals during digestion:

  • Methane
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Ammonia

The accumulation of these gases within the confined space of the manure pit can produce an oxygen-deficient, toxic, and/or explosive environment. Doesn’t that sound like a nice place to work? Check it out:

Modern Dairy Barn

I’ll never complain about my desk job again. Ever.

Worker deaths are real: in August of 1992, a 43-year-old dairy farm owner and his 23-year-old son died from asphyxiation after entering a manure pit; in July of 2007, 4 workers at a Virginia farm died of asphyxiation when they entered a manure pit. There is case after case after case just like that – sad, unnecessary, preventable deaths.

So, now let’s imagine what the animals are going through. Stuck indoors all day, every day, living in close quarters, standing in their own manure, unable to eat a natural diet of grass, these poor cows are impregnated year after year, and deprived of raising their babies so that humans can steal their milk. Just imagine how horrible that must be. Now imagine being pumped up with growth hormones so that you produce 10 times as much milk as you should, being milked for hours a day for several years, and then being sent to slaughter when you’re no longer “productive”.

How does any of this sound like a good thing? These money hungry corporate farms are destroying the land, polluting our water, forcing people out of their homes, creating unsafe workplaces, and torturing animals. And it’s all for profit. How these people can look at themselves in the mirror at night is beyond me. Maybe when you make all that money you can afford a special mirror that convinces you you’re not a terrible person no matter how many people and animals you hurt. I really can’t imagine how you could live with yourself otherwise.

Ok. Now it’s time to go back to being joyful. I swear.

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