Category Archives: Community

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.

 

To my rear stood a group of fellow vegans that got together for a day of shooting.  We didn’t really talk too much about veganism, though we all had our reasons.  We were simply brought together with a common interest.

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Let’s see: An AK magazine, Winchester ammunition, and Miyoko’s and Heidi Ho vegan cheeses.

Under the easy up tent, the grill sizzled with the sound of Tofurky dogs, vegan sausages, and beer brats.

As I handed the Uzi back to it’s owner, I realized at this very moment, this is the future of veganism.

But I don’t think vegans are ready.

You see, on the surface, vegans are a tight-knit group of people that are brought together for a common moral purpose. And, whether for animal rights, personal health, the environment, or other reasons, in the end we are all still vegans.

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The most badass group of vegans.  Photo (c) Zachary Hill.

But veganism as a movement – not just a common moral purpose – is founded on a very strict code of belief.  And, lest you fit, very specifically that mold, prepare to be ostracized. This “deeper” form of vegan resists any view that falls outside the movement.  This is also where society’s stereotypes of vegans originates.

For our vegan shooting day, I thought it would be a good idea to have a raffle and provide the proceeds to a local farm animal sanctuary. In the end, they asked that I not mention we were giving them the money, as they did not want to be “attacked by the vegan community.”  That’s right – a vegan shooting club cannot give free money to a vegan organization, because they are afraid of the vegan community.

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And for me, this is where the biggest opportunity for the future of veganism lays.  The goal of every vegan should be to promote the lifestyle and approach to as many people as possible.  I mean, it’s better for their health, other humans’ health, the animals’ health, the planet’s health, so why not?  Who wouldn’t want to reach the farthest corner of  society?

And yet, sometimes when I drive my Jeep around Portland I get called an “Earth Raper.”  When discussing shooting sports in vegan Facebook groups I have been literally told to ‘GTFO (Get The F&%K Out).’  Because I enjoy shooting.  Steel.  And paper.

I still wonder if vegans are really ready for veganism to go mainstream.

It feels like the really cool neighborhood band that is super cool to see, but they then sign with a major record label, and all the original fans consider them a sell out, and the band loses the cool factor.

That’s what may happen with veganism – it may be mainstream.  Boring.  A sell-out.

And all those original fans will need to find another movement to be all SJW-ey about.

There are Jeeps to drive and Uzis to shoot.

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.

BREAKING NEWS – Japan’s Whaling Program Deemed Illegal by High Court

As some of you may know, I am a HUGE Sea Shepherd fan.   I have been a donating member of them since forever, and even had the pleasure to chat with Paul Watson when I was working for the Alaska Wildlife Alliance.

They are not perfect in their execution, but they are in their mission: They are one of a very small number of activist groups that ACTUALLY get involved in the cause.  They literally put their lives on the line.

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Every year, they head to the Southern Ocean to protect endangered whale species from Japan’s whaling program.  While Japan uses a loophole (for research) they process and sell the whale meat back home to a rapidly dwindling customer base.

This ruling from the UN’s International Court of Justice is hopefully the final blow in the battle over whaling in the Southern Ocean.

The release from Sea Shepherd is here.

Can you Be Vegan and Still Keep your Man Card? (Possibly NSFW)

Manly stereotypes have been around as long as the image of a brawny lumberjack graced the wrappings of our favorite paper towels.

We have “Hungry Man” frozen meals, deodorants that promise zombie-slaying odor fighting, and tales of men that eat raw meat they slaughter themselves.  Marketers show us that the only real way to enjoy a sports game is by drinking beer and slapping some juicy steaks on the grill, or downing a platter of buffalo wings.

But where do tofu scrambles and bags of soy curl jerky come into play?  I want to identify some of the fallacies (freudian slip intended) that exist.

Continue reading Can you Be Vegan and Still Keep your Man Card? (Possibly NSFW)