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From 3 April 2005 Issue

For the Times; They Are a Changing
By M. ‘Butterflies’ Katz - gentle@wave.bicv.net 

“…Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don't criticize what you can't understand…

Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one, if you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'…
~ Bob Dylan

Gather ye vegans and hear what I say; oh, the times; they are a changing! When I was a young woman just becoming vegan over 26 years ago, vegan alternative products were scarce. I can remember when The Cookbook for People Who Love Animals by Gentle World, published in 1981, was the ONLY vegan cookbook on the shelves of S. Florida health food stores. NOW, there are hundreds of vegan cookbooks worldwide.

I remember becoming vegetarian at age 12, in Cleveland, Ohio, and my mother’s friends were saying: “Where will she get her protein? She will die!” NOW, Neal Barnard, M.D., Michael Greger, M.D., John McDougall M.D., T. Colin Campbell PhD. (the China Study), Michael Klaper, M.D., Dr. Milton R. Mills, M.D., Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., Joel Fuhrman, M.D, Ruth Heidrich, PhD, William Harris, M.D., Kerrie Saunders PhD and others will verify that a plant-based diet is most suited to our species and that too much protein (from animal consumption) can actually lead to osteoporosis and heart failure, etc. NOW, 35 years later, I receive impressive results upon physical examination, while those old friends and relatives are all grossly overweight and a physical mess.

I remember when my dad used to try to sneak meat into my food. I suppose that he had a fear of nutritional deficiency. And NOW, he’s been vegetarian for 15 years and my parents keep a vegan kitchen at home. I remember when my brother teased me and told me what meat was so he could get my dinner. My brother did get my dinner! I became a vegetarian instantly from that exchange. And NOW, he’s a long-time vegan and author of several vegan recipe books.

I remember when I stopped buying leather products and all I could wear was sandals or tennis shoes. NOW, all-man-made material shoes are readily accessible at stores like Payless or discount stores, as well as many on-line purchasing sites.

I remember when I couldn’t explain my ‘new found veganism’ without being verbally attacked or ridiculed. NOW, no matter in which hemisphere I find myself, that never happens anymore. Sometimes I think that peoples’ reactions might be a reflection of our own assurance, or lack of it, on being a vegan.

There was a time when I didn’t even know another vegan!!! NOW, as fast as one can type ‘vegan’ and push a button, one can find him/herself speaking with a vegan anywhere in the world.

I remember when vegan food was bland and not alluring. I remember when neither I nor anyone else, could, or knew how to, prepare delicious vegan food. NOW, there are nearly a hundred vegan recipe books offered in the American Vegan Society’s magazine: American Vegan.

I remember when the word ‘vegan’ wasn’t even in the dictionary, and the word was so unfamiliar that I called myself a ‘vey-gan’. NOW, ‘Vee-gn’ is so familiar, there are hundreds of vegan companies.

When I was growing up in Ohio, I never heard of a health food store. NOW, there are establishments that supply meat analogs and vegan replacements for cheese, milk, ice cream and eggs, and they are thriving. Even grocery stores worldwide carry a range of dairy milk alternatives, as well as tempeh/tofu and soy and wheat meats. There was a time I didn’t know what tofu was and NOW it is in every grocery store. I remember when vegan ice cream and cheese were beyond my wildest dreams. I stopped eating ice cream and dairy at a time when there were NO alternatives! NOW, we have been rewarded with Organic Soy Delicious, Tofurky meat analogs, Vegenaise, Tropical Source 100% dairy-free chocolates, etc. that make it EASY to be vegan!

I remember when it was difficult to buy vegan toiletries and cosmetics in a natural food store. Labels used to read ‘Not tested on animals’ but still contained animal-derived ingredients. Or they read ‘Cruelty-free’ while containing lanolin or bee products, etc. The times; they are a changing, because NOW we have the ‘Vegan Seal of Approval’ stamped on toiletries or the word ‘vegan’ on product labels.

There was a time when dogs were carnivore; end of story. NOW, we know that dogs have evolved to being able to thrive on a plant-based diet. Dogs are evolving along with their human companions.

I remember when zoos were nothing more than animal prisons. With human evolution, modern zoos have evolved to allowing humans to view protected animals in their outdoor, natural-like habitat, far from ideal, but greatly improved.

I remember the birth of the animal rights movement. I used to collect and save newspaper clippings. I remember when animal rights organizations were run by people who ate animals themselves. None of them were vegan! And NOW, this is no longer true. NOW, vegan organizations gather together in conference. I remember when The American Vegan Society and Gentle World were the only vegan organizations I’d ever heard of. NOW, there are many vegan organizations popping up on a web search. NOW, if I want to send my mom in another state, a gift of vegan chocolates or baked goods, I can go on-line and do so. In recent years, many vegan on-line web stores exist. There must be an increasing number of people wanting to purchase ‘cruelty-free’ and thus the web sites are born to supply the demand.

I remember when there were NO vegan celebrities. Now there are reportedly many celebrities who at least eat a vegan diet, such as: Joaquin Phoenix (vegan movie star), Alicia Silverstone (actress), Linda Blair (actress), Lindsay Wagner (actress), K.D. Lang (musician), Woody Harrelson (actor), Moby (musician), Pamela Anderson (actress), Gandhi (Indian statesman and pacifist, later in life ate a vegan diet), Peter Max (artist), Prince (musician), James Cromwell (actor in Babe), Ed Begley Jr. (actor), Dennis Kucinich (U.S. congressman), Brandy (singer), Carl Lewis (Olympic track star), Kevin Nealon (Saturday Night Live), Spice Williams (actress), Martin Shaw (actor), Tom Scholz (of the group Boston), Chrissie Hynde (musician), B52’s, Yazz, Grace Slick, Alice Walker (author), Fiona Apple (musician), Alexandra Paul (T.V. actress) and so on.

I remember when visiting with my parents in South Florida and there were no vegan restaurants. NOW, when I visit we can all go to Sublime; a vegan fine dining restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale. It appears that there may be a couple hundred vegan restaurants in the U.S. alone. There are even vegan raw food restaurants emerging.

I remember when I first came to New Zealand about 5 years ago. My friends and I were huddled on a river rock together. We had this overwhelming feeling of being surrounded…surrounded by a very non-vegan, animal husbandry, possum-killing mentality. It was a feeling like we were the only vegans in the world. NOW, a change of consciousness is awakening in New Zealand right before my eyes! Veeganz; the vegan society of New Zealand has formed and is growing; even puts out a small newsletter. A handful of people have asked me to bring vegan pet food from the U.S. And the following example was the inspiration for this article. As a yearly tradition, I paint Christmas windows. While out on the streets, I wear a t-shirt that says “Animals are my friends, and I don’t eat my friends” George Bernard Shaw. Since here in New Zealand, each year I would receive a few comments. This last Christmas 2004, there were surprisingly many more comments. These were a random supply of meat-eating folks as opposed to a hip new-age crowd. As I painted, one woman remarks "what a beautiful shirt" and walks away pensive and thinking thoughts anew. Another gentleman in his 60’s walked up to me like I was a celebrity and said “Your paintings are lovely, but your t-shirt is REALLY BEAUTIFUL!” He was enthralled with my old, paint-ridden shirt!

I remember asking a physician about a friend’s arthritic toe. He recommended glucosamine. I commented that it wouldn’t be possible since it was not vegan. He replied with "you’re really limiting your options." NOW, there are, at least, 3 U.S. companies producing vegan glucosamine; one of them a committed vegan company called Prescription 2000, Inc., as well as Deva and NowFoods, Inc.

I remember being vegan when NO ONE else around me was, or had even heard of it!! This was prior to computer technology. I was absolutely SURE of the "rightness" of it, and yet, NO ONE ELSE agreed! I was rewarded for my absolute "sureness" with a life of knowing many beautiful vegans throughout the years, and since age 24 I’ve ONLY lived with vegans in a vegan community. I was rewarded for having that certainty when surrounded by opposing viewpoints.

I remember reading AHIMSA magazine (the original magazine put out by H. Jay and Freya Dinshah of the American Vegan Society) and first being exposed to the truth of dairy. I remember saying "NO, let it not be true that I have to stop eating dairy. Too hard! How can I possibly stop eating my rennetless cheese and ice cream?? NOW, 26 years later, the thought of eating the secretions and bodily fluids of some animal is a repulsive thought; the other end of the spectrum from "No, not my cheese too" way of once thinking. Human consciousness is evolving. We can reprogram our thoughts. We can alter our habits. We can change our viewing, for a higher one.

I remember NOT KNOWING what it will be like to be vegan and will my health fare? NOW I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the truth of veganism. What religion could teach more than a vegan’s life of compassion? What could make someone feel closer to God than LIVING "a more gentle and kind way" every minute of their life? NOW, I KNOW, that the vegan diet and lifestyle was an immeasurable help to my physical and spiritual health.

I remember when I was young, pondering why people didn’t see the truth of veganism. "What was wrong with them; were they blind?" I wondered. Why couldn’t they comprehend, see, feel something so obvious to me? And NOW, many more people DO agree with me! And yes, the times; they are a changing, but those same questions still live inside my mind; unchanged after all these years…why can’t people see the TRUTH of veganism? It seems so easy to see.

Even though we are at war as are many other countries, crime and violence is rampant, humans enslave and abuse children, wasteful consumerism is on the rise, clear cutting of old growth forests is practiced and it looks like the world is a real "nut house;" don’t give up! Human consciousness is obviously evolving as seen from the growth of the "vegan movement." We vegans are the forerunners of a "super humane" race. NOW, 16 year olds are making the choice to be vegan. I hear about 2 young American boys overseas in China. They are using their allowance money to purchase and then free rats, turtles and other animals from the town food market. NOW, vegan information is readily available on-line. NOW, musicians sing vegan-promoting lyrics. So yes, the times; they are a changing! And we’re all a part of it. As vegans, we are voting with our dollars, for which way it will all go. There is a dichotomy in existence on the planet; both are expanding simultaneously. Wars, over-population of Earth, pollution of our natural resources are all escalating. At the very same time, veganism and a COMPASSION FOR BEINGS BEYOND OURSELVES, is also growing.

I remember when I was a young girl, saving a mouse from my cat’s mouth, and NOW I have a much expanded calling from those I work to save. I want to save the deer, the rabbits, the dogs, the horses, the donkeys, the elephants, the pandas, goats, pigs, cows, turkeys, frogs, bees, giraffes, primates (and the humans). I LOVE animals as much as super-humanly possible in order to combat animal exploitation; in order to STOP the hunter from shooting the beautiful deer, or the vivisector from coldly and cruelly torturing sweet innocent love objects, or the Asian man from killing and eating man’s best friend, or a woman wearing a coat made from the stolen coats of a multitude of animals who had to suffer in agony for it, or the billions of farm animals living a life of hell because of humans; whose capacity to feel is all clogged up with animal fat. The karma is clear.

As vegans, let’s lead toward the Light of Love, Truth, Gentleness, Integrity, Honesty and Soulfulness. Don’t lose heart. Don’t give up, for the times; they are a changing!

M. Butterflies Katz
Co-author of: Incredibly Delicious; Recipes for a New Paradigm by Gentle World
www.gentleworld.org

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