Part I: Evita Ochel, Optimal Eating
Evita Ochel is a consciousness expansion teacher, author, speaker, natural health expert, yoga and meditation teacher, and web TV host, who lives by being the change she wishes to see, and helps others live out the highest potential of their being by offering guidance and resources in the areas of spiritual evolution, veganism, simplicity, sustainability, holistic health, and optimal wellbeing.
Part II: Mark Hawthorne, A Vegan Ethic
Mark Hawthorne is an activist and the author of three books on animal rights and social justice: A Vegan Ethic: Embracing A Life Of Compassion Toward All, Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering, and Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism, which empowers people around the world to get active for animals. He stopped eating meat after an encounter with one of India’s many cows in 1992 and became an ethical vegan a decade later. He blogs about activism at markhawthorne.com, and you’ll find him tweeting @markhawthorne.
TRANSCRIPTION PART I:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, hello everybody, hello everybody! Hello! I’m Caryn Hartglass, it’s time for It’s All About Food and I really, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for joining me today. We have a really good show planned. But first I want to tell you a little bit about me. You probably know if you’ve been listening for a while that my partner Gary and I spent three months in California and we got back to New York about a week ago, and it’s very surreal being away for a long time, you start to plant roots in new locations if you’re there long enough, and I’m still trying to adjust being back home, and today’s actually a special day. My family, my brother’s family, my sister’s family, were visiting with my parents. My mom is celebrating her 83rd birthday and we went to The Cheesecake Factory, and I have to say I have never been to The Cheesecake Factory, but I was very delighted to discover there are lots of great vegan options. Now they don’t quite have a vegan cheesecake on the menu yet, but they’re going to be hearing from me about that, but I enjoyed a very wonderful vegan cobb salad, and now I’m taking a little break from the family celebrations to do what I love best, and that’s talk about food, my favorite subject, and I have to admit, my next guest, Evita Ochel, that I’m going to introduce in a moment, I wanted to have her on the program somewhat for a selfish reason. And I’ll tell you about that in just a minute. Evita Ochel is a consciousness expansion teacher, author, speaker, natural health expert, yoga, and meditation teacher, and web-tv host who lives by being the change she wishes to see and helps other live out the highest potential of their beings by offering guidance and resources in the areas of spiritual evolution, veganism, simplicity, sustainability, holistic health, and optimal wellbeing. Evita, thank you for taking the time in joining me today, how are you?
Evita Ochel: Oh you are so very welcome Caryn. I’m wonderful, and as always, just so nice to be in your energy and in your space again.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you, you know I was thinking of who I should have on my program during the month of August, and I thought, I haven’t… I spoke to a couple of times two years ago now, and I thought, I need to talk Evita, I need to talk to her for me. So I’m being a little selfish here today. I know that my listeners will enjoy hearing from you, but selfishly I needed, I needed this positive energy that you have, and your wisdom. I know we align on so many things, and many people are trying to promote the same mission but I love the way you do it.
Evita Ochel: Oh, thank you so much!
Caryn Hartglass: And that’s why I wanted to talk to you today. So thank you!
Evita Ochel: My pleasure.
Caryn Hartglass: And I hope one day I get to Canada, and I can see… I can actually get close to your energy. Yeah. So we talked two years ago and I learned a lot about what you’re about, and if anybody wants to know more about Evita, you can listen to that interview, or you have lots of websites, so what’s the best way to find out about you before we go any further.
Evita Ochel: The best place to start is www.evitaochel.com, as from there I share any of my classes and courses that I provide online, and also books and hundreds of articles via my other websites, as well as a large collection of videos that are also available via the websites. So, just www.evitaochel.com is the best place to start.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Now what I love about your information and your energy is it’s positive, it’s joyful, and it’s just good, and delicious. And I was reading the transcript from our last interview just to kind of remind myself of all the things we covered, and we covered a lot of ground last time, and we’re going to cover some new ground this time. I liked when you talked about divine energy and how we never need to force anything, and when we’re ready, the next thing, the right thing will come along for us.
Evita Ochel: Yeah, absolutely. And you know this is something that is such a big thing in all of our lives on so many different levels, in fact, we have so many different examples of this each day, but it isn’t always so obvious because it starts with something as simple as you’re trying to do something, and maybe you’re not getting the results you would desire, or that would make you feel good, or feel right, and that’s the first place to be mindful, to notice, to become aware, that wait a minute, what’s going on here, am I trying to force something, or am I actually in alignment with myself and what the greater, bigger purpose of it all is. And so that’s absolutely a big thing that again, we can apply and find in our lives all the time.
Caryn Hartglass: I was having a conversation with a close friend of mine recently who was saying that she felt she hadn’t reached her professional potential, and I… it’s been bothering me a lot what she said, and I kept thinking, who, who’s defined this potential for you? Who’s the one that’s raising the bar? Who is this that you feel necessary you have to prove something to? And we can really start to bring on so much negative energy when we feel like, I don’t know we have to meet something, whereas when we go with the flow we can discover just our best, our best potential or whatever that means!
Evita Ochel: Absolutely, absolutely. And I love how you pointed that out too because there’s sometimes a misunderstanding as our culture is so very goal-oriented and everything. We’re all about the success but what is it? What does it really mean to be successful in our lives? Does it mean to keep pushing and fighting against life itself and trying to force things? Right? So all of these different themes get brought up with these topics.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay I know you’re working on something new that I want to talk about that you wrote to me, is related to stress and anxiety, and you mentioned that it wasn’t quite related to food, and this program is called It’s All About Food, but I did want to talk about it because I think it is related to food, and many of the food issues that people have. I do a bit of coaching individually with people, and the thing that I find over and over the most people who are struggling with weight or with eating healthier, the underlying challenge is stress and anxiety.
Evita Ochel: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: So let’s dig into that and tell me about this program that you’ve developed.
Evita Ochel: Absolutely, and so if I can start by sharing the two important parts in terms of understanding how stress and anxiety and our food or nutrition choices and our health in general, how they all intersect from one perspective, there was a study done in the US in the last few years where the top seven stressors, what makes people most stressed, were basically gathered and nutrition, the act of eating, is actually one of the things that people find most stressful. So, there’s one perspective on how to connect that stress, anxiety, and nutrition together. Now from another perspective is the very aspect that so many of us can’t seem to go with healthier choices or make better food choices because stress and anxiety from other areas plays such a big role in our life. And one thing that I’ve found over the years is that people are least likely to choose healthy foods, or make good, smart choices for their body, for their health, for their wellbeing when they are under the most stress and or feeling anxious and just suffering, suffering on so many different levels in their lives. And so yes it’s not perhaps obvious at first in terms of how they’re related, but you’re so right. Stress, anxiety, what we eat, how we eat, how much we eat, all of this is absolutely incredibly related. And so the course, basically it’s a video course, is entitled The MAP Yoga Path to Relieve Stress and Anxiety, and the whole point of this resource really Caryn is the fact that as much as I love, like you, teaching and talking about food and nutrition and especially as they relate to plant based eating, whole foods, and veganism. And all of this is so important and can help our wellbeing, and our state of not just our physical health, our emotional, mental wellbeing, clarity of mind and so many other benefits. At the end of the day, it’s that stress and anxiety, that if we have a lot of this in our life, they can greatly sabotage this path for us. And so as so many people deal with this, really all of us on one level or another, some of us just learn with the tools for example that we have which I try to teach via the course where the MAP Yoga Path, where the M-A-P stands for “mindfulness”, “acceptance”, and “presence” as this is the very foundation, as I have found, to absolutely so effectively and positively transcend and transform the stress and anxiety in our lives. And so with the ideas of mindfulness, acceptance, and presence, I take people through a journey of understanding what are these? How do they work? How do we start using them in our everyday life? And then, just so it’s not only theoretical for, and just intellectual, the most important thing, and this is where the yoga path really comes in, is to use our own body and breath which are two of some of the best tools we have with which to help ourself relieve stress and anxiety. And so I take people through twelve specific yoga postures that help on all of these accounts. I also offer several meditations in the course and other exercises, basically all designed to help us cultivate first our state of mindfulness, acceptance, and presence, and at the same time have all of these exercises and understandings enhance our peace of mind and overall wellbeing, because we have to lift ourselves, raises ourselves up, into a better state of being, and then that is when we are most empowered to make the best choices in our life.
Caryn Hartglass: Did you come up with that acronym, MAP, M-A-P?
Evita Ochel: Yes, yes!
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, me and my partner Gary were really into acronyms, and I give you an A plus on that one! I love it! MAP: mindfulness, acceptance, and presence. Acceptance is so powerful, and I’ve seen so many people waste so much energy resisting. So we are given a scenario, we are given… It’s like almost like a script where we’re given the set pieces, the stage, the environment, the situation that we’re in, and that cannot be changed, and we can resist it or we can accept it. And many of us have seen many challenges. I myself, I went through cancer, I’m not happy I did. Some people will say they were glad that they got cancer, they learned so much. I’m not going to say that! I mean I learned a lot but I wish it didn’t happen, but it did happen, I accept it. And other people have gone through physical challenges, mental challenges, financial challenges. It’s only harder if you don’t accept. Acceptance is such a big piece. I’m glad it’s in your MAP.
Evita Ochel: Yeah, and with that word, that’s what came to me as well, is that idea that we so often feel so lost in our lives, in terms of, like we’re just not given any guidance in terms of how does this life experience work, and that’s where I really like the word of the “map” itself which helps to guide us in terms of hey, if we want better wellbeing, inner peace, and joy in our life here’s a map to get there.
Caryn Hartglass: Beautiful. And so can people find out about this MAP yoga, yoga MAP, from www.evitaochel.com. Is there a special place to go for it?
Evita Ochel: Yes, absolutely. Again, www.evitaochel.com under “Classes and Courses” they can find all the information there.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. I like it. What was it that made you decide to develop this course?
Evita Ochel: It’s, you know Caryn, it’s again I see so much of the struggles and suffering in our human family. And not only do I see it, because it’s one thing of course to see and share it and empathize with others, but it’s also the fact that in my personal life, on my personal journey, I’ve found a way to actually transcend the worry, the anxiety, so much of the stress, and to do so in an effective manner, and to actually be able to say, hey, we can choose another path, we have other options here. So many people think for example worry is just a natural part of life. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. And so these are the types of empowering awareness points and realizations that I wanted to bring to people via this course. Is that we do have choices at every single step of the way. And if we don’t have the choice, and actually that’s one of the modules in the course, is how to find what our choices are and how to exercise them, because all to often we kind of just basically fall into that, perhaps mindset of well I have no choice. And this really takes us down, and it takes us down mentally, emotionally, and physically. And so again it’s all really designed to help us on one of the most fundamental levels in terms of what most of us in our world and our society deal with that causes us so much challenge and so much suffering on a daily basis.
Caryn Hartglass: Well that’s really exciting, and I’m glad you put this program together, and even though I have no idea what’s in it, I know it’s going to be good.
Evita Ochel: I cannot wait to share it!
Caryn Hartglass: And I know a lot of my listeners struggle with this because I promote a plant based diet, a vegan diet, and I know many of my listeners are not vegan. Some want to be, some think it’s good to eat more plants, but I know many, many, many, many, many just struggle not being able to get there. Not being able to find the path to get there. That’s why this MAP of mindfulness, acceptance, and presence just makes so much sense. Brilliant. Okay, it’s been two years, so other than the MAP Yoga program, what else have you been doing?
Evita Ochel: Well one of the other, actually cause again teaching is just as I have found, my life’s calling, my Dharma, such a passion because again I feel that through education I can empower and we can all improve our lives in so many different ways, and find all the pieces that we perhaps need most on our particular journeys because we know it’s not the same for everybody in terms of what would most be suitable for any of us but that’s where I love to teach online and in-person, and one of the other courses actually that I’ve developed in the last year is how to eat a whole-food plant based diet, whether somebody wants to be a healthy vegan, vegetarian, or simply really increase the amount of whole plant foods in their diet, how to do that in a healthy manner, because as I’m sure you know, there’s all sorts of information, but when it comes to, if we’re going to use this dietary pattern that’s just safe from that perspective, not even as a lifestyle for animals, and environment and so many other factors, but just if we look at it from a health perspective, so much contradicting information, and so much also, sometimes a large focus on a lot of processed foods, and so I wanted to really help empower people, especially that more and more are being called to this path, because they see it from again the animal suffering, the unnecessary and intolerable conditions that animals are placed in our society, to what’s happening with our environment, to what’s happening with our health, our wellbeing so that’s also been something that I’ve impassioned other to make sure that there’s something, a resource, people can have and it’s enjoyable, it’s video format, very easy quick lectures where anyone can basically know where to start, what to do, and how to proceed in a simple manner. But other than that Caryn it’s just always again, anything I can do to teach people, to empower people, has been a big part of the last two years for me.
Caryn Hartglass: Now you’re in Canada.
Evita Ochel: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: And I know you had a big government change recently with your prime minister. And there’s a big healthy food movement going on, at least I know around Toronto, and Montreal I think. Anything special going on, out and about, in Canada, in the last couple of years that stands out?
Evita Ochel: Yes, absolutely. And that’s exactly it, what you just pointed out in terms of major cities like Toronto and Montreal, the shift in terms of people’s awareness about topics like veganism and why it is so beneficial and so valuable for again, we can just keep pointing out all of the most important issues that we face currently as a society, like our extremely negative health, where our health and weight really is worse than it’s ever been. And I always try to make a point to say that it’s wonderful that we have all the medical advances we do, and sometimes it gets pointed out that we’re living longer than ever, which is kind of questionable depending on what perspective we take. But, really at a time when we should be thriving. We have, as I point out in a country like North America, generally speaking most of us have the ability to truly choose the ability to thrive. Where in many countries still in this world we have to still focus on survival, and that’s really what so many generations before us, they didn’t have the ability to thrive. We do. And so this is why I think it’s so important, whether it’s from the health perspective, from the environmental perspective, from just the perspective that we are growing in our awareness and consciousness and how we treat other life forms on this Earth, that we are waking up to see that, my goodness, there’s another way to live, right, we don’t have to keep hurting ourselves, and hurting others, our Earth, etcetera. So it’s been beautiful to see a larger movement in terms of the activities, in terms of the festivals, more vegan, vegetarian festivals, and more restaurants and vegan, for example, bake shops and bakeries and cake places I’ve seen opening up than I would have ever imagined. So this I see as an incredibly positive trend that can only continue to be on the upside as more people see the value and importance of this lifestyle.
Caryn Hartglass: As I mentioned when I opened the program, we’re celebrating my mom’s birthday, which is actually on Friday, but we’re celebrating today and it’s really nice because my sister’s family came up from Florida, we’re all here in New York, everybody’s together. One of my nephews was talking about my grandma, and she died when she was 90, and he was impressed with that, but when I look back the, last ten years of her life and maybe longer were not quality. She lived long, but she was in a home for a few years, she always complained about back pain, she had all kinds of health issues. It was not a quality life, and so you brought that up, we’re living longer, but how many of us are living longer and feeling great, for a long, long time? That’s what I think is really important, quality of life, a long life, but quality life.
Evita Ochel: Exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, I remember when I spoke to a couple of years ago you grew some food?
Evita Ochel: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: And you still have a garden?
Evita Ochel: Absolutely, absolutely. I’ve been…
Caryn Hartglass: What’s growing in your garden this summer?
Evita Ochel: Well this summer I came back by surprise to potatoes, I tried potatoes I think it was two years ago when we last spoke, and they turned out fantastic, and they’re such a wonderful, wonderful crop to grow, because they’re first of all, so easy to grow, they make beautiful plants, and then they’re such substantial food source and potatoes are actually one of the foods that suffer tremendously in quality when it comes to the quality of food we find in our grocery stores today and such. So this is something that is definitely always a great thing to grow. But other than that, I have my usual array of lots of leafy greens, two different kale varieties, and lots of cabbage growing, and of course the usual fruits vegetable like tomatoes, and cucumbers, as well as some other herbs like basil, lots of basil I grow, and parsley, garlic, some onions, even cauliflower, jeeze what else is there? Oh, some zucchini, butternut squash so quite a good array of things.
Caryn Hartglass: Mmmm. Maybe global warming is working to your advantage extending the warmer season a little bit.
Evita Ochel: Well actually, this has been by far yes the hottest summer on record that I remember where we are living and that actually can hurt also because as we found it’s, we’ve been pretty much under drought conditions for most of the summer, so it’s been very hot, very dry, but generally speaking definitely warmer climates obviously do much better as we here do have a very short growing season too, but it’s just, that’s more of a where I’m at in Ontario, more north, but southern Ontario gets usually better climates for growing than many even Northern US parts.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow. That’s good to know.
Evita Ochel: Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: We all have very, unless we travel, we have some very skewed impressions of other parts of the world, and I have to say, I have been to Canada, but when I think about Canada as a concept, I think cold! It’s just something that I grew up with, it’s not quite right is it?
Evita Ochel: Well it’s… yeah there are some real hot pockets definitely.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah! And it’s only going to get hotter. Okay, do you ever get to New York? Do you ever get to the United States?
Evita Ochel: I do, I do actually. Each year actually, I try to over winter sometimes in the US for example, and that’s really part of my efforts to be more sustainable to get closer to fresh, locally grown food as obviously during the winters it’s not, most of actually Canada as well as most of even Northern US has to import their food from distances far away right. So part of how I have chosen to structure my lifestyle when it came to simplicity, simplifying, and also becoming more sustainable is to do just that. So I visit the US, usually during the winter, but also other parts of the year. And yes I visited New York; it’s been a beautiful trip there as well.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. That’s interesting. So we all have different perspectives on how to live, and how to be sustainable, but that’s definitely a conversation that everybody should be having.
Evita Ochel: Yeah, yeah, because there’s so many ways. And for some people they’ll find different ways of expressing things such as sustainability or simplicity and that’s what’s so amazing about journeys like that is there isn’t a “one size fits all”, and sometimes one of the most common questions just as a practical example, I get is what’s better for example with local, with produce actually, is it to get local produce or is it organic produce, right? And as I’ve often pointed out to people there’s so many personal and societal factors that tie into that, that it’s not actually a very easy, black or white issue to answer and that’s something where, and something I teach all time is, we have to go inwards more, and really find our own truth, find our own priorities, rather than keep expecting the answers from the outside for somebody else to tell us what’s the right thing here. What do you think is the right thing, right? Because so many different and complex factors actually, impact both of those.
Caryn Hartglass: That is beautiful and profound and important and not just from trying to decide what’s best in terms of our food choices but in terms of our healing choices too. To feel empowerment and to be able to develop the antenna within to follow our gut, and not just listen if we’re in a health challenge, to listen to the first doctor who says we absolutely need to do one thing or another if it doesn’t feel good, then there’s something out there that’s better for us, and it’s important to discover that inner wisdom.
Evita Ochel: Yeah, absolutely. And that personal discernment too, right of what may be right for you many not be right for your friend or your family member or coworker, right, and to really honor our personal choices, to really be authentic to our journey.
Caryn Hartglass: Beautiful, I love that, and I think that’s a good way to wind up this portion of the program, and Evita, it was just delightful speaking with you and connecting with your energy. I need to spend more time on your websites, and check out your, is it “yoga MAP”, or “MAP yoga”?
Evita Ochel: MAP yoga path.
Caryn Hartglass: MAP yoga path. Great, Evita Ochel thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food. Thank you for being you!
Evita Ochel: Oh you’re so very welcome Caryn, and thank you so much for having me and again for just your wonderful energy as well, thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you, I’m so glad you’re here, on this Earth, at this time. Okay go forth and be well!
Evita Ochel: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: You’re welcome. Okay you’re listening to It’s All About Food. I’m Caryn Hartglass, and let’s take a couple minute break and we’ll be back with the second portion of the show.
Transcribed by Zia Kara, 9/2/2016
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody. We’re back! Yes, we are and it’s the second part of today’s It’s All About Food show. Thank you again for joining me, for being there. It means a lot to me that you’re there and my next guest is Mark Hawthorne. He is an activist and author of three books on animal rights and social justice of A Vegan Ethic: Embracing a Life of Compassion Toward All; Bleeding Hearts; The Hidden world of animal suffering; and Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism which empowers people around the world to get active for animals. He stopped eating meat after an encounter with one of India’s many cows in 1992 and became an ethical vegan a decade later. He blogs about activism at markhawthorne.com and you’ll find him tweeting at Mark Hawthorne. Hi, Mark, I’m happy you’re here to join me today.
Mark Hawthorne: Hi, Cathy. Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, well you know we spoke a few years ago when you wrote your last book Bleeding Hearts.
Mark Hawthorne: Yes, I remember. That was one of the highlights of my year. [Laughter]. Thank you very much.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, wow! Thank you! [Laughter] and well, I love, I love this program that I’ve been doing for seven and a half years now and I get to speak too many wonderful people including yourself and including your partner Lauren Ornelas and a learning about all of the great activism that’s going on around the world and you know we can choose to focus on whatever we want to focus on and many people have CNN on all day long and choose hear different sensational stories and listening to political opinions or whatever or we can tune into something completely different and make a powerful positive change for ourselves and feel better about it and also make a great impact on the world so I choose to listen and I choose to read books like something you just wrote A Vegan Ethic. Thank you for writing that book.
Mark Hawthorne: Well, thank you! Yeah, it was, I think, helps fill a gap of there for some vegans and for people who want to go vegan and so it was a great pleasure to write after writing a book on animal exploitation and writing how to guides on animal activism. I really wanted to write a book that was not only a guide to going vegan and an introduction to animal rights, but also a book that explored the connections that different oppressions including speciesism share and also to interview and talk about some of the amazing activists in the world who are not only working on the behalf of animals, but on the behalf of oppressed humans.
Caryn Hartglass: You use the word pleasure and I just find that an interesting word because I mean I want you to enjoy everything that you do and in writing, I hope you get pleasure out of writing, but the things that you write about are not easy topics and the things that you bring out to all of us are not easy things to acknowledge within ourselves. How do you do that?
Mark Hawthorne: Well, in Bleeding Hearts, the second book, the one you and I talked about a few years ago was probably most difficult because I was examining issues that are just so difficult to address not only because of the cruelty that the animals suffer but the fact that the humans are the ones inflicting this pain and suffering and it sometimes can make us feel ashamed to be human. So, with that book, one of the ways I made it easier, not only for myself but for the reader, is to talk about solutions and end each chapter with ways that we can make a difference, ways that we can change and it’s the same with this book. Now, this book, A Vegan Ethic, is much lighter, it doesn’t delve into the nitty gritty of animal exploitation that Bleeding Hearts does. It’s more of an overview, but it also talks about solutions. As I mentioned before, I talked to activists from various walks of life and various social justice issues. People like Patrice Jones at VINE Sanctuary and Breeze Harper at Sistah Vegan Project, a my partner, you mentioned, Lauren Ornelas of Food Empowerment Project and I got their insights on into how they make a difference in the world. How they take all the abuse that is inflicted not only upon non-human animals but also human animals and how they are agents of change and I think that’s very hopeful and I think that the message for the reader is much more pleasurable [laughter] and you close the book which is only one hundred or so pages and you can easily read it on a flight across country. You close the book thinking, “Yeah, there’s a lot going out there, a lot of pain and suffering, but I can make a difference and the first step is to go vegan, but beyond that there’s a lot of other things we can do.”
Caryn Hartglass: There are so many things that we can do and this book is really a great overview of all the so many things that are wrong with the world [laughter] and then the things that we can do about it.
Mark Hawthorne: Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: I wanted to touch on just a few things that you talked about in the book like for example, you mentioned circuses and I was surprised recently because I was surprised recently because I was familiar with the fact that Ringling Brothers had agreed to stop using elephants I think by 2017 or 2018, I don’t even know what year, but I didn’t realize that they’re still going to be using other animals.
Mark Hawthorne: Ringling Brothers is a tricky situation to discuss. They did promise to stop using elephants in their performances by, I think, it was next year. They actually supposedly ended that practice early, I think it was in May of this year. However, my understanding is that those elephants are going to their “retirement center” in Florida and there’s some question as to what extent those animals will still be exploited. I’ve read that they’re going to be used for cancer research, they still may be used for breeding for zoos, so, that’s the first part of the answer to your question. The second part is, yeah, that’s how they use other animals. I think that the focus has been on elephants for a number of years because they are these very charismatic animals and there’s the use of the bull hook that has been in the news a lot lately which is this, metal device that kind of looks like a fireplace poker. Now it’s got a really sharp end on one side and these people that they call themselves trainers or handlers in the zoo use these instruments to prod, the elephants in very sensitive parts of their anatomy to make them behave in ways that they want them to, that the zoo or circus wants them to behave, and so, you know, when the news has come to light and the activists have brought this to the public’s attention, there was a big outcry, and a lot of cities are even banning bull hooks as a way to eliminate circuses in their cities, but, yeah, we still have a lot of work to do. We still need to get them to not use any animals in their performances.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, the real, one of the great misfortunes is that elephants are kind of a throwback to the dinosaur age these great big animals and they’re near extinction. So, that may solve the problem with using elephants in circuses if we don’t have anymore, unfortunately, but I hope that doesn’t happen.
Mark Hawthorne: Yeah, you know, conservationists have predicted that we could lose elephants all together within 20 years. A couple of years ago, they reached a tipping point in the world where there now more elephants being killed than are being born. They’re being killed mainly for their tusks for ivory, but yes, you’re absolutely right, Caryn, we could see the last of elephants in our lifetime which is extremely distressing.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, switching subjects. You clearly make a great effort to bring us all together, connect the dots, have us align on issues and look at everything from a compassionate point of view and I wanted to bring up a couple of things. So, one of the things you bring up in your book is about some of the very unfortunate people who work in these abattoirs, these slaughterhouses, and how it had some undercover videos come out by vegan organizations, animal rights organizations that are trying to fight what’s going on in factory farming and in slaughterhouses and they’re filthy and they’re horrific and even though we may have some regulations, they don’t even follow the few regulations that are out there and these undercover videos come along and show some unfortunate human beings who are treating the animals on the way to slaughter just horrifically and we focus our negative energy on those poor human beings and you brought out some really important issues in your book on that subject.
Mark Hawthorne: Yeah, thanks for mentioning slaughterhouse workers. Let me start off by saying that I, I’m not in any way saying that I think that these workers are heroes or that I am blind to the fact that they’re killing animals every day, but I also want to point out that these people are for the most part economic refugees. They come into the United States without any hope of a good life and, you know, they don’t grow up thinking, “Gee, I want to be a slaughterhouse worker when I become an adult.” These are people who are mistreated themselves. They suffer a lot of psychological damage, they suffer physical damage and that starts at the top, you know, it’s how these workers are treated and they in turn mistreat the animals. So, when a group comes in and does an undercover investigation, they’re not really capturing the full story. They’re capturing a few moments of suffering that rightly should be brought to light, I completely agree that what happens in slaughterhouses is abhorrent, but by targeting these people they’re really furthering the oppression of these groups. They are mainly people of color and often they’re simply deported, so what happens is that the owners of the slaughterhouses and the managers working there get off scott free, you know, there’s no accountability for them and in some ways I think we’re going after the wrong people here.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Mark Hawthorne: We’re also overlooking the fact that most of us contribute to this cruelty by eating animal products. Most of us being, you know, people outside the vegan society. So, I think that’s an important thing to recognize as well.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it’s very misguided. I’ve read a number of books on factory farming and how they talk about the people in the community who are frustrated because they don’t have good jobs anymore and there’s all kinds of problems in their town and all these immigrants have come in and are working in the factory farms and they’re blaming the immigrants, but it’s such a bigger, deeper story and the people in the community don’t realize, the ones who’ve been there originally don’t realize how much they’ve contributed to the problem that has been created. It’s really hard to see the big picture.
Mark Hawthorne: Absolutely, you’re, yeah, you’re absolutely right.
Caryn Hartglass: I wanted to know your opinion. Are you familiar with the Liberation Pledge?
Mark Hawthorne: Um, I’m familiar with a few pledges. I’m not sure if we’re thinking of the same thing.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I just saw this one online and I’m smiling talking about it, but I’m not sure what I think about it. There’s a pledge that’s going around it’s called Liberation Pledge. It’s at liberationpledge.com. I think you can get a little bracelet that says “Liberation Pledge” and it looks like a fork.
Mark Hawthorne: Yeah, I’m familiar with this. Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, so it’s supposed to be the public refused to eat animals. Okay, I’m cool with that. Publicly refused to sit where people are eating animals and encouraging others to take the pledge and I’m kind of at odds with publicly refuse to sit where people are eating animals and I thought we could have a little conversation about that. You don’t talk directly about that in your book, but I think you take a very compassionate stance about people and where they are on the food continuum and how we should all engage with each other. This is an interesting pledge.
Mark Hawthorne: Yeah. [Laughter].
Caryn Hartglass: [Laughter] Does it have value or is it, I don’t know, I’ll give you an example. When I was about, about 20 years ago, I was living in France and then I came back to New York and that meant that I was near my immediate family, my parents, my brothers family and we would have Thanksgiving together and I said, “Look, I’m a vegan and I would love to have Thanksgiving with you, but I can’t have Thanksgiving if there’s going to be a dead bird on the table and I made a kind of ultimatum. Now, I only did that because it was my parents and I had the kind of relationship that I knew I could do that with them and they were wonderful and they said, “Fine.” No dead bird on the table. We made all these vegan dishes. It was beautiful. When my brother got married and more people came into the picture, it became a very different story and I could not “control” those other people and nor did I want to. So, I ended up compromising and joining in many Thanksgivings. They all agreed not to put the bird on the table. They kept it in the kitchen, but there was meat served and I just thought it was more important to be inclusive with my family than, you know, be militant about my choice.
Mark Hawthorne: Yeah, I agree with your point of view. I don’t think there’s much traction that we can gain as activists by refusing to associate with people who are animal exploiters. I realize I’m taking this pledge idea beyond the step that the bracelet and website represent, but, you know, we all for the most of us, we all grew up eating animals and
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Mark Hawthorne: To tell somebody, “I’m no longer going to dine with you if you’re going to consume animals or refuse to be in a room or at a table with people who are eating animals, I think we miss a good opportunity for activism. I was at a, I was at a lunch function one time while I was at a table with about 12 people, a big round table and I had informed the hotel the day before or two days before that I was vegan and I wouldn’t be eating the chicken that they were going to be serving and everybody was served this chicken and I got the roasted vegetables which are sort of the defacto version of a vegan lunch. Fortunately, it’s gotten better in the last couple of years, but anyway, everybody asked me why I didn’t eat chicken or why I wasn’t eating animals and it gave me the opportunity to explain how chickens are raised and politely tell them why I was vegan and obviously it made some people uncomfortable, but I think that over a period of time, you can plant seeds that way.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely.
Mark Hawthorne: Whether it’s at a family gathering or you’re with your co-workers at lunch, but, you know, denying that opportunity, you’re not going to advance the vegan cause by only eating with other vegans. So, yeah, that’s my opinion of it.
Caryn Hartglass: Good. [Laughter]. I just saw it like a couple days ago, so I though, ah, I’ll talk to somebody about it and I thought you were a good person to bring it up with. [Laughter].
Mark Hawthorne: Yes, now. Caryn, let me just add, too, that I’ve spoken about this pledge with a few, more than a few other vegans and we’re all aligned in our thinking that it’s kind of not the best idea.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, good. Back to your book. A, one of the things I really liked was the frequently asked questions and I found being a vegan since, oh for almost 30 years, anyway. Some of the questions remain the same and then there’s many more questions that keep adding to the pool of questions you ask vegans. People keep hitting the boundaries and finding new questions. You know, why do this or why do that and so these answers are really great and it just fascinates me how people will dig and try and find a reason not to change. [Laughter]. As hard as they can.
Mark Hawthorne: Yeah, I think people are by and large creatures of habit and we can also be very lazy and so change is difficult for us.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I think it was the second question in your frequently asked question list. I’m not sure which one it was, but it was, “What happens to all the animals when people stop eating them?”
Mark Hawthorne: Right.
Caryn Hartglass: And, a, what blew my mind was when I spoke to 250 cattle producers the night before a bull sale at an event I was invited to talk about climate change and these people asked me that question and these are the people that are artificially inseminating their animals and know how they’re creating the hundreds and thousands that they’re raising and yet they still ask, “What would happen?”.
Mark Hawthorne: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that’s, yeah, talk about being a, a, talk about being in denial. I mean, I’m just, [Laughter].
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Mark Hawthorne: They just, yeah, and then to think that they are the ones responsible for the suffering not only the suffering but bringing these poor animals into the creation so to speak for a few weeks or a couple of months and then slaughtering them and then asking, “Gee, if we didn’t keep doing this what would happen to them?” Well, that’s, that’s a laughable.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m going to sum up a little of what I got from you and your book, a broad strokes here and that is we are not perfect and we cannot reach necessary an ideal, but we can all do the best we can and we can make tremendous improvement. We may kill a few insects along the way, there may be some damage done, but when we’re mindful and conscious and making intelligent choices we can do a lot of good on the planet.
Mark Hawthorne: I think that’s a perfect way to sum it up and I love that you started off by saying we’re not perfect and that’s one of the messages I’m trying to get across with this book and in fact I emphasize there’s a section there called, Practice makes Progress.
Caryn Hartglass: [Laughter].
Mark Hawthorne: In which I, you know, I, I say that practice might be the way to get to perfection if you’re trying to learn a language or if you’re trying to learn musical instrument, but not necessary for being vegan. Being vegan is not about perfection. So, just, you know, trying every day to do your best and just using progress as your guide and a, trying new recipes and just being aware and being aware for me means being aware of my privilege and that’s another message of the book.
You know, I grew up with a lot of privilege and that’s one of the things that I’m trying to acknowledge and there are white males who have the sort of privileges that I had grown up with and maintain in my life. I think you need to be aware of that too and be conscious of our fellow beings, our fellow humans and animals and try to just be compassionate and that sounds so trite, but it’s really, for some people it can take an effort, you really have to consciously think about it.
You have to make an effort every day to acknowledge the other person and to recognize that in many cases they don’t have the same privilege that a lot of other people do even, you know, having the internet is a privilege, being able to read is a privilege, being able to shop for healthy food in your neighborhood is a privilege. So, there’s so many things that we don’t consider that I’m trying to bring to light here. Trying to remind us of.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely. Okay, so we just have a few minutes left. I was going to ask you right in the beginning of the program a couple of things and you jumped right in and answered one of the right away to some degree which is, “Who did you write this book for?” Maybe we could sum that up again.
Mark Hawthorne: Sure.
Caryn Hartglass: And the other question is, “Where, where do you want this book to go?” Who’d ya, um, ohh, anyway. “Who’s is for and where would you like to it go?” Other than the best seller of the New York Times list. [Laughter].
Mark Hawthorne: [Laughter]. Well, that goes without saying. Ah, it’s written for new vegans or people who want to go vegan. It’s written for long time activists who are interested in social justice, um, and it’s written for people who are vegan and have been vegan for a long time, but haven’t been able maybe to explain to their family and friends in a succinct way why they’re vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: Hmmm.
Mark Hawthorne: So, because it’s short and it’s not graphic, you know, it’s an easy book, to have on your shelf and maybe lend to your parents or to your friends or co-workers and say, “Hey, you know, if you spend a couple hours reading this it will really answer a lot of questions as to why I’m vegan” and maybe inspire in those people a desire to learn more and to maybe think about other social justice issues as well and as far as where I’d like the book to go, I’d really like it to be a launching point for discussion, um, I’m getting interest from a lot of readers who want to use it in their school. They want to have it in their school libraries.
Caryn Hartglass: Hmmm. Hmmm.
Mark Hawthorne: And even from professors who might want to include it in their curriculum for the year and so I really want it to be a discussion point, you know, I’m not an expert in some of these social justice issues which is why I spot light a lot of these activists who lived and devoted their lives to it.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m glad you brought that up. We have about 30 seconds and I was going to say before you mentioned these people saying they want to use it in their schools. I think it would make a great textbook, high school and college and because you didn’t go into detail in so many of the discussions that you brought up that would enable people who are interested in one thing or another to dig deeper and do some research and a report. It would just make a great learning tool. But, Mark, thank you! Thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food. I feel honored to be able to read what you’ve written and talk with you today. Thank you!
Mark Hawthorne: Thank you, Caryn. Thanks for having me back on your show. I really appreciate it.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Thank you. Mark Hawthorne. The author of A Vegan Ethic. All right. We’ve come to the end of another It’s All About Food show. Thank you so much for joining me. You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions and comments. I always love to hear from you and visit me at ResponsibleEatingandLiving.com where I have my daily What Vegans Eat blog now in 560 posts and remember, have a delicious week, okay? Bye Bye.
Transcribed by Rachel Settle, 9/26/2016