Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Ostrich Complex

I know there are many people who don't care for some of my animal and vegan-related Facebook posts. Trust me, I don't like some of them either. Who wants to see pictures that paint a darker side of humanity or the evil that really does exist in this world?  If these images invoke sadness, anger, compassion, or indignation, somehow that makes them offensive to us.  But how else are we going to know that bad things really do happen and that sometimes it is incumbent upon us to do what we can to stop injustice and abuse?

I once suffered from what I call "the ostrich complex." Conveniently looking away from disturbing images amounted to sticking my head in the sand and pretending that such things didn't exist. Therefore I had no obligation to do what I could to to solve them.  That all changed a few months ago. Now as an advocate for animals and a vegan lifestyle, I do run across articles and posts that I think are important enough to share with those I care about. To be honest, I was ignorant of so many things but I have never regretted the day Joy sat me down to watch a documentary that broke my heart and set my world view on its side. She risked an adverse reaction from her mother but instead found a partner who would join and support her efforts to make this world a better place for her generation. This has become our mission and purpose because we believe it matters not only to our world and all its occupants -- human and non-human -- but also to the God who created each one of us.

Yes, Facebook would be a much happier place if people, including myself, stopped with the social injustice posts. God knows my heart's desire is to present the information I share with grace and compassion. But I'm not perfect and neither is the world in which we live.  If I risk offending someone because I care enough to share certain information, that is a risk I am willing to take,

God help us all if caring people cease to act on their convictions and strive to make a positive difference in our world.

If this post -- or any post I share -- offends you, I'm truly sorry.  You are free to unfriend or unfollow me as you wish. I will still consider you a friend.

Dee Dee

Copyright 2016 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Veganism and Christianity

As a Christian and a vegan I am often asked about the compatibility of veganism (or vegetarianism) with Christianity. Am I less a Christian because I am vegan, or are you less a Christian because you eat meat? These are tough questions that require a great deal of time to fully explore, but the answer to both is pretty simple:  No.

In the first chapter of Genesis, when man lived freely in the light of his Creator's love, God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food" (Genesis 1:29-30, ESV). Could a plant-based diet have been God's original plan for man? Maybe.

The Bible teaches that it was only after the fall of man (Genesis 3) that the killing of animals entered the picture. After  Adam and Eve sinned by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,God killed animals in order to provide clothing to cover their nakedness (Genesis 3:21). Their sin and shame resulted in death -- the death of the very animals Adam himself had named (Genesis 2:19). Can you imagine the close relationship Adam must have had with the animals that had been provided to him as companions in the garden? How heartbreaking for Adam this must have been!

Scripture is full of references to animals as the sacrifice for sin, food for mankind, and of man's God-given dominion over them. But consider this:
When God gave humanity dominion over the animals, it was in order to care for, tend to, and use those animals to their fullest potential in a just manner. At the time that God gave mankind dominion over the animals, humans did not eat meat. Eating meat did not begin until after the Flood (Genesis 9:1–3), and it was at that time that animals started to fear humans. However, although God changed the way we interact with animals, in that they are now “meat,” we still bear a responsibility to treat animals humanely. Human rule over animals does not mean we have the right to mistreat or misuse those animals. (Source:  http://www.gotquestions.org/dominion-over-animals.html.)
Someone recently pointed out to me Peter's vision in Acts 10:9-16 and the Lord's command, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat" (verse 13). But, the story doesn't end there. In verses 17-29, we are told that Peter was perplexed about what the vision might mean (verse 17) and that God showed him that he should not call any person common or unclean (verse 28). The issue was not the cleanness or uncleanness of any animal for human consumption, but rather the tendency of our hearts to judge our fellow man as clean or unclean.

If someone wants to justify veganism or carnism on the basis of scripture, it wouldn't be difficult to support either position. As believers, we need to seek God's heart on the matter and live according to the call He places on our hearts.

The more I learn about the animal abuse and environmental destruction caused by factory farming, and the animal cruelty involved in product testing, the more heartbroken I become. I can't help but feel that God is too.
The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel (Proverbs 12:10, NIV).
For me, veganism is a spiritual journey -- a quest to honor God by being a better steward of my body (His temple, according to 1 Corinthians 3:16-17), our planet, and an advocate and defender of the animals who have no voice -- a lifestyle I gladly embrace and a purpose I am compelled to fulfill.

To God be the glory,

Dee Dee

Copyright 2016 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com

Saturday, September 17, 2016

I Didn't Expect to Feel This Way

When I opened up the refrigerator this morning I knew what I would find there. Still, I was still totally caught off-guard by the wave of emotions that hit me when my eyes fell upon the package of Smithfield bacon. I didn't put it there  I didn't purchase it, nor was I asked to buy it by a non-vegan family member. He knows I wouldn't anyway. He simply purchased it to have a BLT when he sits down later today to have lunch with my mother-in-law who will be visiting for the afternoon.

This is the first package of bacon that has come into our home since Joy and I went vegan. When I looked at it, all I could see were the faces of the pigs on the trucks headed to the Smithfield packing plant. The ones Joy and I bore witness to as we stood at a rural highway intersection holding signs and watching them roll by truckload-by-truckload. The ones we had seen up close. The ones who had no voice. Knowing that she would probably come unglued at the sight of it I put the bacon in a brown bag so that she cannot see the label. Her heart would be broken too.

This is where it gets really hard to be vegan. We are entering fall -- the season of family get-togethers and holiday celebrations. Joy and I are going to be the odd ones out. We'll be the ones bringing the vegan side dishes and desserts. It will be hard for us, not because we will miss the turkey and ham but because we know animals were abused and killed to put those meals on the table. It will be hard because we will be asked why we have chosen this lifestyle, how we could possibly give up meat, how long we think we will "stick with it." We will have failed to convince those we love most that there is a better, healthier, more compassionate way to celebrate and enjoy one another.

Dear family and friends, when I come to your house for Thanksgiving or Christmas I promise to leave my tears at home and come with a smile on my face, though my heart is breaking. Thank you for understanding that my refusal to eat the meat you serve has nothing to do with my love for you but rather my choice to no longer contribute to the suffering of animals. I love you no less for choosing to eat meat. I respect your choice. Thank you for respecting my choice enough to not be offended when I say "none for me, thanks."

Copyright 2016 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com

Monday, September 12, 2016

One of the Lucky Ones

"I can't go vegan because I could ever give up cheese." You can't imagine how many times Joy and I have heard someone say those very words after learning that we have adopted a vegan lifestyle. Their reaction to photos of abused animals on their way to slaughter or to documentaries touting the benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet has been much like ours, yet they remain unswayed. Even my own weight loss, added energy, and improved cholesterol levels have not convinced them.

Some of these people are friends and family I know well and love deeply. Others are strangers to me or friends I have met since starting this journey. So why was deciding to go vegan such an easy decision for me but remains so difficult a choice for them? I wish I had an answer.

All I can say is that when I watched that first life-changing documentary, something was awakened in me.  I saw the suffering of animals and environmental damage caused by factory farming to produce the food on my plate.  I knew that I needed to do something to contribute to the solution rather than perpetuate the problem.  I decided to re-think a lifetime of choices by embracing a vegan lifestyle and choosing cruelty-free products over products tested on animals.

My decision doesn't make me better than anyone else, but it definitely has made me happier and healthier than I have been in a very long time.

I saw. I knew. I decided. I'm one of the lucky ones.

Don't take my word for it. Try it yourself by taking the 30-Day Vegan Challenge. There are so many good foods out there that you need never feel deprived. I certainly don't. The benefits of minimizing my waistline, cholesterol levels, carbon footprint, and the suffering of the animals make it all worth it!

Feeling Veggie Good,
Dee Dee

Copyright 2016 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Life You Save May Be Your Own

We all, at one time or another, have probably considered whether we eat to live or live to eat. Judging from the post views we have received on our Facebook page and blog the answer is clear:  we live to eat.  We love our food.  For many of us, our god is our appetite (Philippians 3:19) and we eat to satisfy our cravings. We eat what we want, when we want, without considering the far-reaching impact of our choices.

A few months ago Joy and I watched an eye-opening documentary that forever changed the way we view food, our health, and our world. As we continued researching animal rights, climate change, and the health benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet we were faced with a choice:  we could continue to stick our heads in the sand and ignore what we had seen or we could adopt a more compassionate lifestyle, giving up meat, dairy, and eggs and finding cruelty-free alternatives for cleaning products, cosmetics, and clothing. Why would we, or anyone, want to consider so drastic a change?  Because we realized that the dietary and lifestyle choices we had made all our lives resulted in destructive consequences for our health, our planet, and the animals who share it with us. We resolved not only to change the way we eat and live but also to share information with others in an effort to effect positive change in our world and in the health of those we love.

Sadly we are faced with the reality that people really don't care about the suffering and death of the animals they eat. Neither did we, until we began to open our minds to the effects of our choices, not just on our own health but on the lives of the farm animals slaughtered to clothe and feed us.

Maybe you don't care about saving the lives of animals. Maybe you don't consider a cow, pig, or chicken to be in the same class as your dog, cat, or guinea pig. But did you ever think that by embracing a plant-based diet, the life you save could be your own?

Copyright 2016 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Run As Fast As You Can

There's no question that man likes to be in control. Since the dawn of time man has had a thirst for dominance. However, man cannot always be in control of other human beings so he takes control of animals. I've done some reading this past week about bull fighting and bull riding, and thought I would express my thoughts and understandings.

I had heard of bull fighting before, as I'm sure many people have, and never thought much of it except that the people who were fighting the bull were crazy. But after some reading I realized it's much more than just a guy swinging around a cape. These bulls are terrorized and tormented before they go into the arena; that's why they act the way they do. They run to get out of the hell they're in. They're drugged and kept in dark crates before they go into the arena, among other things. These bulls have spear/harpoon type instruments thrown into their neck and back area, they have a sword plunged into an artery near their heart, and once they collapse and can no longer fight they have their ears and tail cut off. After all the torment and abuse they are then pulled out of the arena by a pair of mules. There is nothing "macho" about this barbaric and abusive sport. Read more about bull fighting here: http://www.stopbullfighting.org.uk/facts.htm

Somewhat similar to bull fighting, is bull riding. These cowboys get money, ribbons, and highly-prized belt buckles for staying on a "wild" bull as long as possible. A flank strap is tied around the bull, just in front of their hind legs, to make the bull buck. These rodeo bulls are kept in a steel crate until the buzzer sounds and they're let out. Something I didn't know, although it's not surprising, is that once these bulls are no longer valuable to the sport they are sold for meat.

Another rodeo favorite is calf wrestling. These cowboys on horseback literally lasso a rope around a calf's neck (practically a baby!), jerk the calf back, throw it to the ground and tie it up. For what? So they can look manly? I'm sorry but there's nothing manly about preying on the weak and innocent. Read more about rodeo events here: http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-in-entertainment/cruel-sports/rodeos/

These bulls and calves don't want to do these things. It's not fun for them, but they have no choice. These innocent creatures, among many others, are taken advantage of for money, fame, and entertainment. There are plenty of other ways to prove whether or not you're manly and macho, than just killing and abusing innocent creatures.

"Animals do not 'give' their life to us, as the sugar-coated lie would have it. No, we take their lives. They struggle and fight to the last breath, just as we would do if we were in their place." -- John Robbins

If I can be a vegan, so can you.

         -- Joy  

*Information used for this article came from the websites linked*

 Copyright 2016 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com

Thursday, September 1, 2016

It Comes with the Territory

It was bound to happen sooner or later. A response to a friend's Facebook post explaining why the use of animals for clothing -- in this case, sheep -- is not necessarily a good thing, at least for the sheep, resulted in a backlash of negative responses and name calling.  Me, a vegan Nazi?  Hardly.

In my short experience as a vegan I have learned that there are many who question my decision or feel as though they are being judged if they don't do as I do. Christian friends have been quick to point out in scripture the biblical justification for eating meat and wearing wool. That's not the issue here, but one I will address in another post.

No matter what we stand for in life -- whether it is our faith, our veganism, the LGBTQ agenda, or who's running for President -- people are going to come at us with negativity.  The question is, will you continue to stand and fight for what you believe is right according to your values, or will you cave in and back down from that for which you are so passionate?  Negativity comes with the territory.  No matter how nicely we try to position our point of view or live out our convictions, there will always be people who oppose us.

It's up to us -- to you -- to decide where you truly stand in the fight for animal rights and to be ready to give an answer in defense of your position.  It doesn't have to be a hostile defense, but we all need to be convinced that advocating for animals, the environment, and better health by embracing a more compassionate lifestyle is so important that we cannot be swayed from our conviction.

Don't let others shame or berate you. Often their negativity will come from eyes that haven't seen -- or choose not to see -- the atrocities committed against God's non-human creatures. Or they may oppose you simply because they do not understand how a vegan lifestyle can benefit them. All we can do is share what we have come to understand.

It is my desire to present what I have learned as lovingly and compassionately as I can, hoping that others will embrace a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle so that animals can have better lives, humans can have better health, and our environment will be sustained for the next generation. But that is all I can do. It's really all any of us can do. We are not here to judge or criticize anyone but to live as an example and hope that others will catch a vision of what could happen if they choose to leave meat off their plates and switch to cruelty-free products.

For a better life, better health, and a better world --

Dee Dee

Copyright 2016 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com