Let’s talk about meat. No, not that. You guys think all I write about is sex, but that’s not true. Those are just the only articles you read. Don’t argue with me; I read the stats.
I’m talking about food meat.
Our mantra here at the Big Dick Chronicles is “live life like you are in charge” and sometimes that means making decisions that don’t necessarily conform to the norms of society and culture.
For our fourth installment of the “Things I Know Nothing About” series, I decided to stretch my comfort zone a bit and explore something that I might fundamentally disagree with.
So I thought about some of the things I am passionate about. I’m passionate about sex and I am passionate about meat. (NO! Not that meat. Really you guys, stop it)
So, in my efforts to expand my horizons and open my mind to new points of view, I set out in search of a Vegan.
I’ll be honest; I was expecting this to be difficult. We all know what Vegans are like, right?
And I’m supposed to reach out to this chick and say, “Hey, I write The Big Dick Chronicles and I want to talk to you about meat.”
But that’s not what happened. Let me introduce you to the real face of Vegan.
Say hello to Scott McNamara. Scott is the author of the Off Road Vegan blog which has the great tag line, “Not all vegans drive hybrids and wear skinny jeans.”
God bless you, Scott.
As soon as I saw his blog, I knew my search was over. I reached out to Scott to find out just what the hell this Vegan stuff was all about.
1. Tell me a little about yourself and how you were introduced to the Vegan worldview.
I grew up mostly in Connecticut and Vermont, eventually moving around as a nomad, following career opportunities (Project Management and consulting). I lived in Connecticut, Vermont, California, Colorado, Alaska, Hawaii, Florida, and now call Portland, Oregon home. I think this is where I will spend a good deal of my time.
I was introduced to veganism in a really cool way. My wife and I were driving around Cooper Landing, Alaska and stopped to have lunch. I ordered a beef burger. After lunch, we stumbled on a small mountain festival in a field. One of the tents there was for the Alaska Wildlife Alliance. In speaking with them, I learned I wanted to work for them. After a few weeks of negotiations, I soon became a project manager for AWA. Once there, my eyes were opened to the whole animal rights issues plaguing our society. I almost immediately became vegetarian (I remember my wife and I throwing away all our meat one day) and over time transitioned to veganism. It was the best choice I ever made in my life, and happened completely by happenstance.
I look for opportunities to applaud people who make the decision to live life on their own terms. A survey by Vegetarian Times found that approximately 3 percent of the US population identified as vegetarian and approximately .5 percent (1 million) identified as Vegan. By comparison, approximately 6% of the population hunt.
(I point that out simply to note that those who abstain from meat, and those who are willing to secure their own, both exists in small minorities compared to the general population)
That is definitely choosing to live your life by your own rules. Scott takes that one step further and flips the Vegan stereotype on its head.
2. For you personally, how would you define “Vegan”?
Vegan is considered by many to be a diet. For me it is a life. It is a commitment. It is swallowing the blue pill. Once you uncover the truths of veganism, you can never get your ignorance back. That is a pretty life-long commitment. It is reading every label. It’s knowing what you can order when your friends drag you to steakhouse. It’s knowing how to answer the stupid questions about protein and desert islands. It’s being able to take countless jokes and comments from friends and family. But we all do it for the best reasons.
I learned quickly that Vegan is a concept that takes on a very specific meaning to different people. But just to set a baseline, I went to Vegan.com to find their definition.
“The word vegan refers to a food or material free from any animal products: no meat, milk, eggs, honey, wool, goose down, or leather. Animal-derived byproducts, from whey to lard to gelatin, are likewise off the table. Vegans typically also go out of their way to avoid cosmetics that are tested on animals.”
I was not aware of the connection between Vegans and toiletries, make up, and other products that are animal based or animal tested. Click here for more information.
I tried to imagine the level of dedication needed to remove these products from your life.
3. What type of lifestyle adjustments did you have to make upon becoming a Vegan?
Of course, the easy ones – I got rid of meat and dairy. I stopped buying leather and wool. I started reading labels on shampoo. But for me the biggest adjustments were in the evangelism…I never knew I would love veganism so much. It’s fun being the outcast, the one that tries to convince your steakaholic friend to eat a soy curl.
As I said, it isn’t necessary for me to agree with Mr. McNamara in order to appreciate that he’s making a decision to live life on his own terms.
Okay, back to stereotypes. Scott has made a point of thumbing his nose at conventional wisdom and I wanted to find out how that felt.
4. Let’s discuss stereotypes. What type of reaction do you get when you tell people you are a Vegan? What misconceptions do you face?
The typical reaction I get is “Wait….YOU are vegan!?” And that, to me is the biggest compliment. Vegans typically have a militant/hippy/preachy stereotype attached to them. And part of why I started my blog (www.offroadvegan.com) is to help shed those stereotypes. I own many guns, I am an avid offroader, and am always told I don’t fit the vegan mold. We, as vegans, need to work hard on changing our image if we truly want veganism to become more mainstream.
Most misconceptions are that all I eat is “tofu and granola.” On a recent week-long jeeping adventure along the Rubicon Trail, my friend Jason (a carnivore), ate vegan for the week. I think he was surprised with the meals and enjoyed many of them.
Now, let’s be fair. Stereotypes exist, in part, because they are true. Scott readily admits that he is in the minority, even among minorities. Our focus here isn’t on whether I agree or disagree with the Vegan philosophy. I applaud what Scott is doing because he is working hard to be true to himself and his beliefs.
The last thing I wanted to know, is this actually good for you?
5. What benefits have you experienced since becoming a Vegan?
I have lost weight for sure. But I am not always the “healthiest” vegan in the room. I don’t eat a ton of salads and almonds for lunch. I prefer a Buff Burrito from Homegrown Smoker, a BBQ jackfruit sammy from Native Foods, or my ultimate fav – the Buffalo Bomber from Veggie Grill.
The most significant benefit for me is the emotional side of things. I don’t care if you eat meat – but if you know the suffering we inflict on innocent animals and still eat them – that is bullshit. While billions of turkeys are living in their own filth and being treated in inconceivably horrific ways, I am enjoying a Thanksgiving free of cruelty and the associated ignorance. For me, that is bliss. Knowing I am doing my best for the animals, the planet, and myself.
I also really enjoy the confidence that comes with being vegan. Any time you voluntarily subject yourself to jokes and comments from people…and sign yourself up for that, there is a confidence there. You grow thick skin and smile to yourself. I have come to really enjoy that unknown aspect of being vegan, and is partly why the blog works so well for me.
Okay, so where do I stand on this issue? Let me say again that I don’t think it is necessary to agree in order to enjoy exploring someone else’s point of view. I personally hold the position that the best way to protect an endangered species is to commercialize its production (how long would the common chicken last in the wild? And yet we’ve got billions of them). But I don’t expect anyone else to agree with me on that.
I understand his points on the commercial food industries, I’ve pointed out before my distaste for cattle lots. But I am also the only non-farmer on my road. I am surrounded by some of the best stewards of our natural resources that you will ever meet. And they work with pride in a way of life that has been passed down to them for generations.
I’ve spent my time in the poultry factories. You don’t have to be crazy to spend 8 hours a day killing chickens; you just have to be hungry. Several hundred employees, and their families, in my small hometown would suffer if those jobs didn’t exist.
I’ve told you about my moral dilemma when I shot a deer and was not able to find it. I don’t want to be that guy that wantonly kills an animal and leaves it. That turned out okay, by the way. He lived and I took him during rifle season a month later.
I appreciate the opportunity to put a face to an issue that I am completely unfamiliar with. And it was fun conversing with a guy who is arguably manlier than me; he drives a Wrangler with big tires,
I drive a Grand Cherokee with 290,000 miles. I also suspect he has a larger gun collection than I do.
So the next time someone offers you a vegetarian dish,
give it a try. Unless it’s a dude in skinny jeans, then slap him. But not for the food, for the skinny jeans.