I grew up fishing with my dad, shopping enthusiastically for merino wool sweaters and leather shoes at malls with my mom, finding holes in my stepmom’s arguments for vegetarianism, and ordering meat lovers’ pizza at chain restaurants.
Then, time passed. I got a B.A. in Anthropology, traveled around the world and met and learned from many people, read a lot of books, engaged in social media, and had a wide range of professional and activist experiences. I met a lot of animals, and witnessed and learned about some of the ways that animals are treated. Along the way, I learned that a lot of what I had done and understood and taken for granted and believed in when I was younger was oppressive. I learned that others were oppressing me, that I was oppressing others, and that I was oppressing myself. So I began changing and am continuing to change.
the moment i stopped eating meat from Ari Evergreen on Vimeo.
Here are just a few of the ways I’ve found myself evolving over the years:
- Adamant “Meat lover” > “Compassionate omnivore” > “Vegan except for pie” (and numerous other blind spots) > Vegan (with yet more blind spots, and vegan cats) > Abolitionist vegan > Intersectional abolitionist vegan & sustainability activist / media worker
- Self-satisfied, little awareness of activism > Uneasy feeling that things I was doing were hurtful to animals and workers and the earth > Education (ongoing) > Activism so blindly enthusiastic that for a time I alienated my family > Experiments in vegan intentional community > Learning about intersectionality and making vegan video confessions and speaking for myself
- Denial of oppression > Anger at oppression > Judgement of others whose actions are oppressive > Practicing non-attachment to results, avoiding judgement > Judging myself, realizing I have a need to be liked that keeps me from being the best ally I can be > Educating myself about my privilege, working at becoming a better ally (I hope; onward and upward)
- Questioning using veganism as a specific framework for social justice work, moving further into intersectionality
Vegan Evolution from Ari Evergreen on Vimeo.
None of these trajectories have ended. I’m sure I’ll continue to find ways I need to change, and am already aware of a lot of things I need to work on. In the beginning, I never would have had the awareness to say something like that! I really thought I had it all figured out. If you had told me that I was going to become a vegan treehugger, I would have said you were crazy. And yet, here I am. So I’ve been learning to be more and more humble about my beliefs and less committed to my justifications for my actions, and to realize that others may have better information than I do.
Here’s a video I made back in August, 2012, about how some folks could perhaps think I’m not “vegan enough,” and how non-vegans might think I’m “too extreme.” I thought I’d put it all out there, so you can judge for yourself. 🙂
Here’s a little timeline of my animal rights experience, so you can see where I’m coming from.
- 2013-ongoing: Living a Vegan Life in Ithaca website and Facebook, Inner Whale Tumblr
- 2012-ongoing: A little trap-neuter-return in Ithaca, honest vegan videos and confessions on Vimeo and animal-friendly boards on Pinterest
- 2009-2012: Vegan Ithaca community website and Facebook focused on providing directory of local vegans and local vegan food
- 2009-ongoing: Vegan lists and animal advocacy on Twitter and Goodreads
- 2008-2009: Ahimsa Ecovillage, a vegan intentional community project
- 2008-ongoing: Animal rights and vegan links on Delicious
- 2008: We adopted another Brooklyn feral, Snow!
- 2007-2009: Vegan advocacy within Socialist Party NYC Local and Socialist Party USA
- 2005-2009: Vegan cat care and community organizing (Note, in the end, this was not the right path for our cat friends)
- 2005: We adopted two Brooklyn feral sister kittens, Zora and Sid!
- 2005-ongoing: Shirari Industries Blog, with animal rights material aplenty
- 2004-ongoing: Vegan food photosharing and animal rights group on Flickr
- 2004: 1 ill-fated but very educational month at PETA
- 2002-2008: Street art and literature distribution in New York City
- 2002-2005: Pinkrabbitsays animal rights blog
- 2000: Began to go vegan