Category Archives: Community

Is it Possible to be Completely Vegan?

For many, veganism is like one of those religious cults.  Where, as you “progress,” you gain higher and higher levels of clarity, or stature, or sumsuchshit.

Anyway, I have seen this very same attitude apply to vegans.

“I am not totally vegan, I wear Goodwill wool.”

“I am not totally vegan, I just can’t give up cheese.”

“I am 100% vegan.”  

All of these are false.

I am, but.

Veganism today seems like an all or nothing endeavor.  You either are or you are not.  So, under these pretenses, if you are vegan, but still eat cheese/wear wool/drive a Jeep you are not vegan.

For me, veganism is not a black and white proposition.  To me, it is a set of values we can all strive for…yet they are really, honestly, impossible to attain.

156ab53877b7fc96f921d53acfc6505f.jpgIt is NOT a club where everyone compares their virtuousness to one another, and claim to one up each other based, often, on the level of sacrifices one makes.

I read an article on Facebook about how “true” vegans are against the Beyond Burger.  Their argument claims that true vegans should not eat them simply because they “simulate and appear too much like real meat.”  Let that sink in for a minute.  We should be collectively shamed to consume a vegan product on the premise it is too similar to the non-vegan version.  It is purely mad.

True Veganism is Unreachable

I think it is safe to say that veganism is primarily an answer to a pretty cruel and messed up animal rights issue in our society.  Of course there are other reasons, but I will focus on animal rights for now.

It could be said that a “true” vegan (as in a 100% vegan) would cause zero impact to animals.

Right off the bat, that means no transportation other than walking.  Which, as I think about it, probably kills quite a few insects and members of animalia.  Just the other day I heard the accidental, yet unmistakeable crunch of a snail under my shoe.  I felt terrible.

So, as long as you don’t move you are fine.

But what about where you spend your stationary time?  In a home?  Probably not.  That home was put there and replaced natural growth.  Grass, shrubs, trees, and other habitats were destroyed for that home.  Let’s not even talk about clothing and food which relies on a pretty extensive network of ex-habitat and pollution.

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So let’s assume you end up barefoot in the jungle, living off the land.  Well, if you clear any type of space for yourself you are back to impacting animals.  Even if you simply climbed a tree to live, you would be inadvertently killing or at best, displacing bugs and mosses, and animals.

So as long as you moved from the modern world, ended up “au naturale” in a jungle somewhere, not moving, and somehow living in natural underbrush without possibly impacting any other being, then yes, you would be 100% vegan.

And why am I making such an absurd metaphor here?  

Because these are the details that make us all realize that “true” 100% veganism – aka ZERO impact to the animal kingdom – is unattainable.

And, perhaps even more important is this.  Once we know that 100% is unreachable, we realize it is, in fact a gradient.  And, that gradient allows people to determine their own level of veganism.

If you try really hard to be vegan, but on a road trip had to pull off at Burger King for a Morningstar veggie burger (with egg whites), guess what?  You can still be a vegan.

If your own personal goal is to have an minimal an impact to animals and you cannot find a hiking boot that works, and find a leather variant, guess what?  You can still be vegan.

These are true because for me, veganism is not a status symbol.  It is a journey of little decisions that are stitched together to form a lifestyle.  And, sometimes those decisions tip the other way.  And that is OK.

Lynched by the Community?

Nothing really proved my point as much as the lambasting I received in the Portland Vegans Facebook group when I announced my new Vegan Gun Club.  Apparently, according to the rules of veganism established by Lord Vegan, guns and veganism are exclusive.  You cannot be vegan and still own/shoot paper and steel.

Well, my first outing of that very gun club proved otherwise.  We had a massive turnout, good food, and great fellow vegan company.

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Vegan Gun Club.  Photo (c) Zachary P. Hill

And I know my opinions here are not going to be agreed on by all the vegans.  And that is OK too.  They can continue to beat themselves up over fake meats, stockholders of vegan corporations, and wether they can shop at Safeway and eat at Taco Bell.

I have guns to shoot and Jeeps to offroad.

Is Oregon Really Being Invaded?

It seems like everyone is hating on the Californians right now.

Portland is growing literally exponentially, with what seems like boundless growth. Condos are growing like weeds in popular areas like Williams, Division, and Belmont. Many of these areas are almost unrecognizable.  And that, I think, is the biggest fear with that growth – people that moved to Portland (and Oregon as a whole) for the quirky, small-city vibe, know it is losing that very characteristic.

Rents are skyrocketing, and the influx of cash offers on homes is raising real estate prices outside the capability of many that helped shape and build this very city.

I, too am just as guilty as we play the “Count the California plates” along streets like Alberta, Hawthorne, and Kenton.

So I decided to lean on the data.

Continue reading Is Oregon Really Being Invaded?

Are Vegans Ready?

As the man handed me the Uzi, I slid the magazine into the well, charged the handle, raised the weapon and took it off safe.  I aimed at the target and slowly pulled the trigger. I fired.  Again.  And again. And again.

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Me firing said Uzi. Photo (c) Zachary Hill.

Continue reading Are Vegans Ready?

The Case for Open Veganism

I remember when I lived in Alaska and was a meat eater.  The whole concept of “veganism” was an odd one – a stereotype of skinny, pasty, punk kids sitting in a drum circle eating lettuce and gravel.  They were angry at the world,and irrational. I never took the time to meet or understand vegans, so my irrational vice held.  That is of course, until I gave away all the meat and fish in my freezer and became an Alaskan vegan myself.

I soon realized the error of my ways.

Continue reading The Case for Open Veganism

2016 Tillamook Jeep Jamboree

Well it has happened again – a hoard of Jeeps from around the country descended upon Tillamook, Oregon for the 2nd Annual Jeep Jamboree.

I was invited to trail guide for the Archer’s Firebreak trail which coincidentally is my personal favorite in the TSF trail network.

The first day we arrived, we setup our tent trailer and camp, got vehicles checked in and evaluated, and signed up for trails.  In the evening, we had our Trail Guides & Gunners dinner at Shilo Inn.

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Mark and the Jamboree staff hold a mandatory Trail Guide/Gunner meeting.

Continue reading 2016 Tillamook Jeep Jamboree

The 2015 Jeep Jamboree in Tillamook, Oregon

I pulled into my driveway at 12:30AM this morning.  The Jeep is covered in beach sand, trail dust, and mud.  Camera parts, snack bags, and camping gear still litters the Jeep.  This is all the result of one thing: an amazing 1st Annual Jeep Jamboree for Tillamook, Oregon.

The first day, I setup my makeshift camp in the open field at Tillamook Fairgrounds.  It was awesome to see all the Jeeps filing in as the day progressed.  Jeeps of all ages and makes made the journey – Cherokees, Grands, and Wranglers from early CJs through the latest JKs.

Continue reading The 2015 Jeep Jamboree in Tillamook, Oregon

Heck Yeah! One Year of ORV – win something!

Thanks to all my readers and supporters out there!  Because of you, my blog has been exploding.  I have just shy of 20,000 unique visitors in my first year.

To celebrate, Northridge 4×4 and Beyond Meat have joined forces, giving me some awesome swag to give away!

The prizes include:

  • Northridge 4×4 mechanics gloves
  • Northridge 4×4 t shirt, decals, 2 coozies, and hat
  • Beyond Meat T Shirt and hat
  • 4 free Beyond Meat VIP coupons for FREE Beyond Meat!

How do you win!?

  1. Find the contest post on Offroad Vegan’s Facebook page.
  2. Make sure you already “Like” the page.
  3. Post a photo as a comment of EITHER your off road rig OR a vegan meal you recently prepared.
  4. I will randomly draw a name and will announce the winner.

All photos must be posted by 12/10/14!  

Have fun and good luck!

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The Great Illusion: On Glass Windows & Slaughterhouses

Let me start this off with me saying I was a meat eater.

I remember going to a wholesale club in Massachusetts, where there were ham steaks (big ones, too) on a sort of tape.  They were vacuum sealed and perforated between each one.  They came off a huge spool in a cardboard box.  Once you had the quantity you wanted, you simply tore off the last one, and tossed them in your cart.

It was only later that I realized those pig slices were probably like some sort of cross-section of the same animal.  At least for 4 or 5 of the steaks.  It was actually really gross.

I bring this up, as it was probably my first epiphany about what I am actually eating.  Growing up, we are told that meat is an important part of your diet, and that beef is “what’s for dinner.”  Of course I didn’t stop eating meat because of that realization, but it was the first of many small moments that finally ended with me being vegan.

Which image do you think more closely aligns with reality?

The meat and dairy industries spend immense budgets on establishing the “black box” approach to meat.  Their labels have pastoral farm imagery, and catchy phrases like “Smithfield Farms” and even extensive rebranding efforts on the names of cuts.  This is, of course a huge lie being fed to Americans.  There is no “farm” in the  animal industrial complex.  The days of the local farmer, humanely raising and caring for livestock are sadly close to an end.

Continue reading The Great Illusion: On Glass Windows & Slaughterhouses

Defining Manliness in a Meat-Eating World

Yesterday, I was fortunate to hear a great piece on veganism and Masculinity (I highly encourage you all to check it out).  Of interest, was a quote by Triathlete Dominic Thompson,

“Compassion is the new cool.”

And while there is a bit of Ghandism and cliche in that statement, personally I feel it really defines my interest and core of being vegan.  Not the cool part, (I could care less about being cool) but the fact that being compassionate is in the open.  It’s OK to care for something insignificant.  It’s the new closet us men can come out of.

I remember way back (in my meat eating days) when a fly was drowning in a day old cup of coffee on my desk at work.  I asked a co-worker to quickly grab a fork, while I tried to rescue it with a pen.  My coworker ridiculed me for weeks, for “saving a stupid fly,” calling me “Fly Guy.”

Image courtesy djltaga on DeviantArt
Image courtesy djltaga on DeviantArt

At the time, it was a source of embarrassment and I found myself questioning my actions.  Maybe my friend was right.  Why was I worried about this “stupid fly?”

Initially, my defense was based on karma.  Maybe some day I’ll be drowning and I’ll wish for someone to take a moment of their day and pluck me from the proverbial cup of coffee.  But over time, I realized that saving that fly was good for my soul.  It made me feel good to help something else without placing a value on it first.

I moved on in my compassion journey from insect saving to a fully vegan lifestyle.  Knowing that my diet causes no animals any suffering or death is more nourishing for my sanity than my waist line.

So how exactly can we as a society fall on such polarized ends of this issue?  While mainstream marketing screams at real men to eat beef (It is, after all what’s for dinner) and meats, the other side eats soy and smoked tempeh strips.

A recent google image search for
A recent google image search for “Man food”

Some of my friends actually refuse – flat out refuse – to even try a vegan meal.  I am not sure if this is out of concern I am attempting to “convert them” or out of a fear they might actually like it and would have to think about a lifestyle change.  Ignorance is a precious resource in this world and even harder to get back once lost.

Personally, I feel they worry about their man card.  That someone they know might see them biting into a Veggie Grill Buffalo Bomber and sound the man alarm, agents streaming in, taking them away only to waterboard them with A1 steak sauce and chicken stock while watching all the Rambo movies.

So how do we turn that corner?  How do we show to men on the larger scale that it is OK to be compassionate, healthy, AND actually enjoy good food?

The NPR piece mentioned a new blog that I think is really making headway in this space.  It is called The Discerning Brute and it is a high-end men’s vegan blog.

The home page of TDB.
The home page of TDB.

Another great point of the article was that confidence has always been “manly” in our society.  Ex butcher and now vegan chef Dan Strong stated,

“There’s an illusion that manhood is this confidence that is exuded at all time,” Strong said. “Veganism is that kind of confidence. It really is. It’s a choice that we make that guides us on our lives. I can’t think of anything more manly than that.”

I’d also add that as vegans we must have thick skin.  We need to deal with ridicule and ribbings.  And I think that even makes us more resilient.

And perhaps a little more manly.