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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.