Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Conscious Eating Conference

It's terrible to fall behind on blogging when there are so many exciting things to write about, but I suppose that exciting things will often cause one to not blog and instead concentrate upon what's exciting!

Where to start?  Well, for today's post, I'm going to start to tell you about how amazing San Francisco's East Bay is for vegans.  I have attended and participated in conferences, events, pop-up restaurants held in anarchist basements, and one-on-one effective vegan outreach.  It has been incredible.  I will try to post every day for a few days until I catch up.  And, of course, I'll have some posts about cooking and eating out!
On April 6, 2013, I attended the Conscious Eating Conference in Berkeley, where I had the immense pleasure to see Dr. Michael Gregor speak, as well as Melanie Joy, author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows. Sure, it was preaching to the converted, but it was still pretty damn rad.  Hella Vegan Eats catered, and there were also mini cinnamon rolls from Cinnaholic.  I didn't take any pictures at the event, but I did take a pic of the maple pecan roll I bought from Cinnaholic a few days before.  It is a very popular all-vegan, cinnamon-roll-only bake shop in Berkeley that omnis usually are not aware is vegan and just love.  It's fun to tell people it's been vegan all along and let them realize that vegans just do it better!  Baketism (that is, vegan activism through our mad baking skillz)!

Dr. Gregor, of, is so enlightening to listen to, more so than the other speakers in the context of a people who are already vegan.  He's so funny, and he seems like a pretty good dude, for a doctor (ha!).  He did pretty much this speech here, which I highly recommend watching, because it's entertaining, educational, interesting, and important.  Also, in the question and answer period at the end, I spoke up to say that when he refers to diabetes, he's talking about type 2 diabetes, but can he address how veganism relates with type 1 diabetes?  I totally already knew the answer to this, but I wanted some reputable confirmation: he said it would have the same health effects as on a non-diabetic, although it's possible one can reduce the amount of insulin that needs to be injected every day if one is eating whole veg foods.  And that, YES, type 1s will need to continue injecting insulin no matter what we eat.  I just think it's important to increase people's understanding about it, as I am certainly not the only type 1 who is a bit annoyed by this.

Melanie Joy was good, but if you're as engaged with veganism as I am, I don't think that anything she says is much of a surprise.  However, when I used Melanie Joy's definition to explain what "carnism" is to my sister, who was highly offended by the word without actually understanding it, she seemed to get for the first time that the belief wherein it is a given that non-human animals are less important than humans is not so different from any other "ism." It is taught to us in our culture without our knowledge or consent.  We're indoctrinated from childhood to think these things, just as we're indoctrinated to feel disdain for homeless people or have subtle racist beliefs.  One must consider and analyze these beliefs in order to begin changing them.  Still, I kinda prefer the word "speciesist."  It's all good, though, I'm not sure it's worth an argument at this point, but I do think that for some reason "carnist" raises omni hackles much more than "speciesist."

I thought that Karen Davis from United Poultry Concerns was excellent as well.  You don't need to convince me that chickens (or any other birds) have personalities and emotionally complex lives.  I've had some pet birds.  That's something I'd never do now, and I regret my uninformed decision to do so before, but at least by knowing them, I learned how curious and playful and loving and excitable and sometimes spiteful birds can be.  Their personalities really vary, and I feel a strong connection with them.  The speech was somewhat about whether or not the backyard chicken movement is ethical, but it also was a bunch of stories about the lives of chickens on their sanctuary, which were tender and fascinating.

How lucky am I in the San Francisco East Bay?  So damn lucky!  Guess how much this conference cost, with its awesome speakers and catered lunch?  $10.  I kid you not.  I mean, a person could easily spend $10 on just the tamales that Hella Vegan Eats made.  But to also see these talks?  Wow!  Plus, I bicycled to get there and back?  I love this place.

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