Sharon Gannon, Simple Recipes For Joy and pattrice jones, The Oxen at the Intersection
PART I: Sharon Gannon, Simple Recipes For Joy
Sharon Gannon is a twenty-first-century Renaissance woman, an animal-rights and vegan activist, and a world-renowned yogini, author, dancer, poet, musician, and producer. She lives in Woodstock, New York.
Part II: pattrice jones, The Oxen at the Intersection
pattrice jones is an ecofeminist writer, scholar, and activist who, along with Miriam Jones, cofounded VINE Sanctuary, an LGBTQ-run farmed animal sanctuary that operates within an understanding of the intersection of oppressions. She is the author of Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent World: A Guide for Activists and Their Allies (Lantern, 2007), and has contributed chapters to Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth (Bloomsbury, 2014); Confronting Animal Exploitation: Grassroots Essays on Liberation and Veganism (McFarland, 2013); Sister Species: Women, Animals and Social Justice (University of Illinois Press, 2011); Sistah Vegan: Food, Identity, Health, and Society (Lantern, 2010); Contemporary Anarchist Studies (Routledge, 2009); Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth (AK Press, 2006); and Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (Lantern, 2004). Her portion of the proceeds of the sale of The Oxen at the Intersection will go to VINE. pattrice is pictured here with Luna.
TRANSCRIPTION PART I:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, I’m Caryn Hartglass! You’re listening to It’s All About Food because it is all about food! We’re going to be talking about food for the next hour because that’s what I love to do and I hope you like listening about food! It’s September 23, 2014 and fall is upon us. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it’s my favorite season and we’re in it! The air is cool and brisk and just perfect. When this season comes around it’s the opportunity to start mixing up our meals a little bit. I like to keep with the seasons, keep with the flavor of the seasons and that keeps things interesting, although I eat pretty simply all the time. It’s pretty much salads and soups most the time and if that sounds boring to you, I want you to know that it absolutely is not because there are probably a gazillion ways to make a salad with so many different ingredients and the same thing with soups! We’re going to be hearing a little bit more about food and recipes in a few minutes with my first guest, but I wanted to talk about something that I just made which goes really great with the fall season, I think. Food preparation is something that many of us associate with the French. They’ve been pretty much the kings of the culinary world, or at least they like to think so, and many of us like to think so as well. When I was living in France in the early 90′s, it made a great impression on me, even though I was living as a vegan. I learned a lot of things about food preparation and the importance of fresh ingredients and the presentation of the food. It was amazing because I looked at many non-vegan dishes at the restaurants that I ate at and the parties that I went to, the events that I went to, and although I didn’t eat those foods or those dishes, I learned so much just by looking at them and thinking about what I could do – my variation on a certain theme. Something that I just remembered making which I made just a few days ago was a dish which is called Choucroute which is really just sauerkraut and the dish is like a casserole made with potatoes, cabbage, onions, and sauerkraut. Very simple! I threw in a few carrots there. Of course you can put in whatever you like, but it was a very simple dish and I cooked it all in a beer, some water and beer. Beer, like wine, imparts a tremendous amount of flavor in food and it goes particularly well with sauerkraut. I also added some tempeh to this dish and I don’t know if you’ve ever tried tempeh or tried preparing it, but the secret, I think, is marinating it in something which enables it to plump up a little. It gets really nice and juicy and for those that don’t necessarily like the fermented flavor – I like it but some don’t – the marinating really imparts loveliness. So, I made that dish and it was absolutely spectacular and I’ll post that sometime soon on the responisbleeatingandliving.com website! It was so easy and so good and one of the things that I love to do, especially with my partner Gary! We live in New York City and we have a nice little terrace outside and the weather is getting cooler, but it’s still not that cold where we can’t sit outside and eat outside and it’s a wonderful thing! We just continue to amaze ourselves about how fortunate we are and how much we love our food, and that’s what we’re going to be talking about in a moment whenever my guest gets ready because I’m ready for her! She has a wonderful new cookbook coming out and we’re going to be talking about that and I’m very happy to have her here in the studio and to be close to her. I’ve known about her for a very long time and I haven’t had the opportunity to meet her and here we go! So, my first guest is Sharon Gannon and she is a 21st century Renaissance woman. I love that! I think of myself as a Renaissance woman so I feel like I’m in good company right now! She’s an animal rights and vegan activist and a world renowned yogini, author, dancer, poet, musician, and producer. She lives in Woodstock, New York and she is a part of the Jivamukti yoga studios here in Manhattan, which are lovely, and they have a wonderful cafe there which I’m sure she contributed a bit to all the fascinating flavors that we get to sample and taste there. So welcome to It’s All About Food Sharon!
Sharon Gannon: Hey It’s All About Food! Thank you I am so honored. I am so honored to be here, to be in this radio studio, to be even associated in some way with Gary Null and all of the amazing things.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah well there are a lot of wonderful things that happened here and as you probably know, most mainstream media outlets don’t really focus on what I think is important about life. They don’t get to the essentials and we do that here at Progressive Radio Network, and I do it with food and I know that you do it too. So we are here to celebrate your new cookbook!
Sharon Gannon: Thank you so much!
Caryn Hartglass: And what I love about it is it exudes joy and that’s what I’m all about! You know there’s a dark side to the animal rights movement unfortunately, and I don’t like to go there. I mention it because I want people to know I know enough about it, but let’s look at the light, let’s talk about the joy! So let’s start with your cookbook and I love the front cover so let’s just start with that. You had this amazing tea party and I love the feeling of playfulness and joy. Do you do that all the time? Have little mad hatter tea parties?
Sharon Gannon: Often, yes! Yes, I love to dress up. David loves to dress up. We dress up our cats. Yeah, I like a bit of a theater and zaniness and certainly to have fun and you know instill your life with joy. Why not, for goodness sake! I’m a yogi and the aim of yoga is to realize happiness, to realize eternal happiness. So, if you’re not experiencing at least some of that along the way, then I think you should question what path you’re on!
Caryn Hartglass: To some degree it is a choice and it does take some energy to put into your life, to get the happiness out of it.
Sharon Gannon: Yeah, it certainly takes some energy and some creativity perhaps and some imagination, but for goodness sake why not!
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, why not!
Sharon Gannon: So, we know that the SAD diet – SAD stands for Standard American Diet – the SAD diet of meat and dairy products makes you sad. It contributes to the major diseases that human beings are suffering from today. I don’t need to tell you this or your listeners, but cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. There’s nothing joyful about that. That’s sad and certainly the SAD diet contributes to sadness for the animals that are enslaved and tortured and ultimately slaughtered to be eaten. Certainly it doesn’t contribute joy to our environment. The leading cause of the global climate change which is occurring to us now is raising animals for food. People site fossil fuel, the use of fossil fuel, as the major contributor to the negative climate change, but actually who uses most of that fossil fuel? It’s the meat and dairy industry so there’s a link, I mean you can’t deny it.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s big! How many people were talking about it during the peoples climate march? I was fortunate to go to the 350.org event Friday evening before the march and they had a lot of wonderful speakers like Amy Goodman and Vandana Shiva and it was a spectacular event. Nobody mentioned the impact of animal agriculture on climate change it was just fossil fuels all the time, but I did notice that the food that they served was just a beautiful array of fresh raw vegetables. Stunning! So, I think they know but they don’t want to talk about it because it might affect funding!
Sharon Gannon: Yeah, it’s pretty strange all the hush-hush and the hypocrisy. You know, there is an amazing movie that if you don’t know already, Cowspiracy.
Caryn Hartglass: I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve talked to the directors.
Sharon Gannon: Cowspiracy, I’m so proud! Made by a student of mine, a Jivamukti student, Kip Anderson. I’ve seen just about every movie available on vegan-ism and animal-rights and I think this is the best documentary film that has been made to date which shows the link between being animals and dairy products and the devastation of our environment. It’s very well done, it’s entertaining, and it is sophisticated!
Caryn Hartglass: I can’t wait to see it! So, I just saw your little video from the event you recently had at Jivamukti, your tea party event, announcing your cookbook and you have this lovely little stuff. 15-16 minutes with a phenomenal violinist and then you and David come out and do this wonderful presentation. I just, I just loved the whole concept as a performer and an artist. I think it’s so important to use art, I mean it just all goes go so well together. I just loved it! So, I posted it on my Face book page, but I’d recommend people checking it out. It’s just a moment of delight!
Sharon Gannon: That’s awesome! Tim Fain, the violinist that you referred to, he’s also another dear friend of mine and a Jivamukti student of yoga and I think he’s probably the best violinist in the world today! He did the violin parts for Darren Aronofsky’s Blackswan and he did all the violin parts for 12 Years A Slave. He’s been touring with Philip Glass the last two years. Philip has written duets for just Philip and Tim. Please, I hope your listeners check him out. You know, just Google “Tim Fain violin” and he’s phenomenal.
Caryn Hartglass: Just listen, just take a moment you deserve it! Just let that beauty resonate within you and you’ll probably be surprised what you’re capable of doing shortly there after. I think when you take in a lot of beauty you then are able to give off a little bit. I think it magnifies itself. So, I took a bunch of notes when I looked through your new cookbook and I wanted to bring up a few things. Some of them are joyful and some of them not so, lets start with the “not so” and end with the full of joys. I’d like to go that way! So very early on in the book you had a nice discussion about all of the same questions we hear over and over again, like where do you get your protein, and you answered them all very, very nicely. But, something we don’t hear enough of and you wrote, I’m not going to quote it exactly, but about “when it comes to dairy, the bull is masturbated, the semen is injected in the cow’s vagina, and this is all done by humans.” Now, I hope none of you are offended by some of those words, but it is very pornographic and you can actually see some of these things online where they teach people how to do it. Thank you for mentioning that.
Sharon Gannon: It’s called animal husbandry. That should give us a clue what goes on, but it’s definitely, it’s rape. There’s no other way to get around it, it’s rape. We rape those dairy cows. I mean a lot of people don’t really realize that in order for a cow to produce milk – and also it’s a female cow that produces milk – I mean many educated human beings just think cow, male or female, milk comes automatically. No boys and girls, it’s a female cow who is pregnant or who has just given birth to a baby and just like a human woman who is pregnant or has just given birth to a baby, they start to lactate. So, this is what happens and that milk of course is destined for a baby cow. It’s to help a baby cow grow very quickly to a very large size. You wonder why, you know, we have an obesity problem in our human societies among milk drinkers and dairy consumers of not just milk but all milk products and certainly meat.
Caryn Hartglass: I know some people might want to make a joke and think ‘don’t the bowls like to be masturbated I mean why not’ but actually if you see how they do it, they have to restrain these animals because they don’t want a human doing what they do to them with all this metal and machines. It’s really obscene and only humans can do this.
Sharon Gannon: It’s obscene, it’s perverted, it’s ugly, it’s slavery. It’s slavery! So, if we ourselves value freedom, then we should not condone slavery.
Caryn Hartglass: Right! Now the next thing, I never heard this before. Maybe I have and I forgot about it, but wanted to mention, ‘that a true omnivore is an animal where they don’t have cholesterol buildup like dogs and cats so you can feed them all kinds of food or animals with cholesterol and they don’t have the same cardiovascular diseases like we have.’ So many studies – and I mean I certainly don’t condone these types of studies – you’ve seen animals in laboratory situations and so they’ve done this. Research scientists have fed dogs just pure cholesterol for a long period of time and they have discovered that those dogs do not have hardening of the arteries, they do not have heart disease, they can process the cholesterol. Where as if the same thing is done to us or we do it voluntary, most of us, yeah, we have a heart attack! So this implies that we’re really not meant to be omnivores!
Sharon Gannon: We’re really not meant to be omnivores, that’s a biological fact. That’s not just a theory, that’s a biological fact.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, now I’ve watched some of your videos and I want to talk about anarchy. You call yourself an anarchist and I know a lot of people are very fearful about that word. I think you’ve brought a lot of beauty to it. Can you talk about anarchy?
Sharon Gannon: Thank you so much, ah thank you so much! My spiritual teacher Swami Nirmalananda who lived in India called himself the anarchist swami and before I went to India I called myself an anarchist. I was very politically active and a member of the Libertarian Book Club here in New York City, and etc. etc. So, when I went to India and I said to him, “You’re an anarchist, an anarchist swami!” and he goes “Yes self rule.” I’m like, “yes,” and he goes, “No no no, Sharon, self with a capital S. That means the divine self, not the ego self.” So, that was a tremendous wake up call and I realized that true anarchy is when you can become an instrument for the divine will and the divine will is a compassionate will, the ability to live your life so that you enhance the lives of others. That’s true anarchy.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, and I love that! I think part of the problem we have today is many people are sleepwalking to a certain extent. They’re following, they’re not finding their own truth and leading themselves from that truth.. We see all kinds of violence and pain and suffering as a result.
Sharon Gannon: Yeah, it’s called self-centeredness and our culture promotes. You know, we cant help it. We certainly have enough information out there to free ourselves, ferment, and to wake up if we truly want to wake up to a more joyful life. We do have to remember the best way to go about that is not to blame others and not to complain about what others are doing but to discover “What can I do? What can i do to make this world a more joyful place? What can I do to enhance the lives of others?” Think big, “What could I do to even enhance this planet?” Think even bigger, “What could I do to enhance the solar system? What could I do to enhance the universe?” That’s fun and we should have fun. Why not have some fun with our lives?
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely! You know, we don’t have to solve all the world’s problems but we can make one contribution and not focus on, like you said, the complaining!
Sharon Gannon: Right, ‘I’m not getting enough, how about me! Me, me, I, me, mine!’
Caryn Hartglass: Or just focusing on all the things that are wrong in the world rather than focusing that are right! I think Sharon Gannon is right and Jivamukti, I want to talk a little bit about that because that is just a beautiful contribution to this planet, helping so many people!
Sharon Gannon: Thank you so much! Jivamukti is a sanskrit word and it means ‘living liberated’. Living liberated means that you live in a way that you enhance the lives of others. It means compassion. It’s a method of yoga that where enlightenment is the goal through compassion for others. So, yoga teaches that what’s realized in the enlightened state is the oneness of being. That we’re not separate, that we are eternal, and that we are a part of, you could call it God, you could call it cosmic awareness, you could call it eternal being and the nature of that eternal being is satcitananda. Truth, consciousness, but mostly bliss, mostly bliss. So, a jivanmukta, the state of Jivamukti, is that stage where you are living with that as your aspiration.
Caryn Hartglass: Now a lot of people do yoga as a form of exercise, but there’s a lot more to yoga that most people don’t know anything about and I think it’s a very critical piece of it. The yoga, the exercises are great and some, how do I say this, some people just leave those other parts aside for one reason or another like the food, diet, and the spiritual part of it.
Sharon Gannon: I’m very aware that some people do these things but, you know, I have to have faith that everybody is doing the best they can and I’m really not into spending a lot of my precious energy complaining about what other people do or what they’re not doing, or they’re not doing good enough. I’m just trying to do a good job myself and it seems like we have a lot of students . I mean we have a very large New York school with 500 students a day and we have schools in London and Germany and Moscow and South Africa and Mexico and Canada and Japan. So, a lot of people are gravitating towards this style of yoga and that shows something good!
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, very good! I was at the Jivamukti venue, about just one in particular, 5 years ago. It was the 10th anniversary of Lantern Books, that wonderful man! They’re having a 15th anniversary tomorrow in Brooklyn and my next guest is a Lantern author so I’m just trying to connect all the dots here!
Sharon Gannon: That’s wonderful! Lantern is an incredible publishing house and they’re all about compassion and all about progressiveness and certainly aligned with your philosophy here!
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah and another thing I love is every time I go to the café there, there’s always somebody that I know that I’m happy to see. It’s just a lovely meeting place! Alright, why this cookbook?
Sharon Gannon: Why this cookbook? Well these recipes have been kind of sitting in a notebook for many years. I would cook and then if the meal was a hit with my guest who came for dinner I would make sure I wrote all the ingredients down and then I would try it out again and to try to get the recipe right. All the recipes that are served at the Jivamukti café in New York City are in this book, so I want to share those with everybody because I get so many requests. “How do you make that tempeh? How do you make the spicy tempeh? What’s in the love smoothie? What do you make instead of tuna salad?” and you know, “What’s in the Maharini Dal?” and etc. etc. So I love to cook and I love to share the recipes with others and so this is a way for me to do this on a larger scale than just among my family and friends.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, well most of them are pretty simple and if, like I always like to say, if you organize yourself – it takes a little time – but once you have all of the staples in your kitchen, the right grains and beans and utensils and herbs and spices, and you have them and it’s not hard to get them then it’s easy. You just kind of grab what you need and put everything together with some fresh vegetables and fruits and it’s very simple. Oh yeah, and the right stuff!
Sharon Gannon: It has to be simple for me because I am a very, very busy person and if I can’t make dinner in less than an hour I feel I failed. So, it has to be simple!
Caryn Hartglass: And a lot of foods that you have are very comforting. You have a lot of soup recipes. You have a celery soup recipe, delicious mung bean soup, lemon lentil – I love lemon and lentil mixed together, that’s a really good one – cream of broccoli soup, which is where you split peas as the cream, brilliant! And why not? I’m so into beans and the amazing things that we can do with beans, which are so good for us! What else did I want to mention? Oh, you have a meatball recipe! That’s probably the most complicated!
Sharon Gannon: Yeah, that’s true! That is probably the most complicated but the meatballs are worth it, the vegan meatballs!
Caryn Hartglass: I mean the picture in the book is just stunning! It just looks like beautiful spaghetti & meatballs and who doesn’t love that!
Sharon Gannon: I think the tablecloth, the red and white checkered tablecloth, does it justice.
Caryn Hartglass: Now this is really hard for me right now because I didn’t eat enough before the show and talking about delicious food is always challenging! Now you have one thing that’s really your own, I think, which is your Spirulina Millet?
Sharon Gannon: Yes, that’s the signature dish out served at the Jivamukti café and it’s something that I kind of created, put together, like God I don’t know, 40 years ago! I feed it to my cats, they love it. I’ve even heard that parakeets love it. Everyone seems to love it. Okay so it’s millet with flaxseed oil. Very simple! Flaxseed oil, spirulina, millet powder and soy sauce or you can use Bragg’s Aminos. So, you mix it all together and you can just eat it as a side dish, main dish, you can put it on crackers and has a kind of a caviar kind of taste. I mean you’re not going to find that in any other vegan restaurant, now anyway.
Caryn Hartglass: And then the other thing, the last thing I want to talk about because we’re almost at the end are your gravies, which are bean based! Genius! They’re good for you. Everybody loves gravy and it’s so comforting and creamy.
Sharon Gannon: So the food in Simple Recipes for Joy is hearty fare for the most part. I mean of course there’s like a lot of light things, salads and smoothies and clear soups, but there’s a lot of hearty fare! My partner David can’t live on cucumbers and celery so he wants something substantial and so yeah, a lot of hearty fare!
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, how do you handle a hungry man? Simple Recipes for Joy and that’s simperecipiesforjoy.com?
Sharon Gannon: Yeah, we have a lot of fun things on that website! A lot of videos and how to stuff and celebrities and yeah it’s a fun website!
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, Sharon this is been a joy for me!
Sharon Gannon: It’s not just a simple joy; it is huge joy to be invited on your show!
Caryn Hartglass: Thanks for sharing! Okay, we’re sharing with Sharon and now we are going to take a little break and be back with pattrice jones! Stay with us!
Transcribed by Cassandra Madonado 10/14/2014
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Caryn Hartglass: Hey everybody, we’re back. I’m Caryn Hartglass and it’s time for the second part of It’s All About Food here on a lovely young fall day, September 23, 2014. And I’m looking forward to this one. I’m bringing back to the show pattrice jones. She was on last month and we got kind of disconnected towards the end, and I wasn’t finished talking with her. So we’re going to talk a little more. She’s an eco-feminist writer, scholar, and activist who, along with Miriam Jones, co-founded VINE Sanctuary, an LGBTQ-run farm animal sanctuary that operates with an understanding of the intersection of oppressions. And we talked about, on the last show, her most recent book, The Oxen at the Intersection. And if you haven’t read it, get it — it’s a Lantern book, and it’s one of my favorites for 2014. pattrice, hi!
pattrice jones: Hi Caryn, thanks so much for having me back.
Caryn Hartglass: You’re welcome. Ok, now, I’m not going to do any complaining, I don’t want to complain.
pattrice jones: Okay.
Caryn Hartglass: I just want to exude joy. But at the same time [both laugh] I want to understand. So, I thought we could have a conversation because you have some really fine perspectives on humans, and some of the things we do — some of them nice, some of them not so nice. I want to talk — start with talking about polarization. Let’s talk about it in a variety of different contexts. I remember in your book you talked a little bit about polarization.
pattrice jones: Sure. You’re thinking of group polarization.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
pattrice jones: Which is a fairly robustly demonstrated phenomenon in social psychology. And how group polarization works is when people are together with like-minded people, their views tend to become more extreme. And then they tend to self-segregate, and then their views become even more alike with their own group, and they become even less able, then, to make contact with or even begin to understand people who are in a different group. So in a gated, conservative community, the members of that community will tend over time — they’ll start out conservative, and over time they’ll become more and more and more and more conservative. The members of a left-leaning, vegan commune will become more and more and more and more left over time. And depending on which views you’re having — I certainly wouldn’t argue against becoming more and more left over time. But the problem is that there’s a certain insularity, and then this makes it difficult for there to be any kind of dialogues that lead to anybody at all actually changing their mind, actually taking in new information. And in the book I talked about that, for a couple reasons. Certainly — just for those who don’t know the book, The Oxen at the Intersection is a kind of case study in calamity. It talks about the failed campaign to bring two oxen known as Bill and Lou to Sanctuary from a very insular college called Green Mountain College here in Vermont. And what we noticed, what I noticed as the campaign was going on, was that it wasn’t just that the people at Green Mountain College were absolutely unable to understand or even try to understand where their critics were coming from, but also that the vegan advocates of Bill and Lou seemed to be, for the most part, or at least some seemed to be, fairly unable to talk in ways that would be heard by people who didn’t already agree with them. And so that led me, in the book, to think about this concept of group polarization and think about what I’ve observed over the years as veganism has become — as some of our efforts to make veganism more accessible have taken off, as some of our efforts to promote veganism have taken off, as the internet has taken off. What I’ve noticed that for a fairly substantial subset of folks who think of themselves as vegan, who think of themselves as vegan advocates or animal advocates, are doing a lot of talking to each other, are doing a lot of spending time online, listening to radio shows like this (sorry!), podcasts, reading magazines written for vegans, talking to other vegans about how much they would like to convince other people to go vegan. And none of this is bad. It’s great to be able to exchange recipes. It’s great to have some support when you’ve made a decision that many people in your life don’t understand or agree with. But there’s a danger too. And the danger is group polarization. The danger is the creation of a sort of in-group feeling of special purity, from which you preach to everybody else — and not very effectively. And so what I’ve seen, just in my own personal life, knowing a lot of people who are vegan animal advocates, is that a number of vegans have gotten to the point where they’re so caught up in the vegan — what they would consider the vegan culture, I don’t think there is just one.
Caryn Hartglass: No, there isn’t.
pattrice jones: The cupcake-eating vegan culture, let’s call it.
Caryn Hartglass: Versus the kale-eating vegan culture.
pattrice jones: Not that I don’t love cupcakes!
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
pattrice jones: But they’re not able to do the one thing that they want to do the most in the world. Which is to convince people who aren’t already vegan to think about getting the animals out of their diet.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. Now, something I like to do on this show, just on behalf of me and this programs, and our wonderful listeners, and some of them are not vegan — I like to align with people not necessarily vegan, but on the ideas where we agree and where we can work together on those issues. Like genetically modified foods and organic food, and even eliminating factory farming. There are people that believe in eating animals, but they don’t think they should be factory farmed. So we can all talk about the issues where we agree, and then, you know, it opens the door for even talking about some things we don’t agree on. But I like to align with people on things. One of the things that I’m seeing — and it’s like there’s the cupcake vegans and the kale vegans — we’re starting to polarize within the vegan movement. And I’m starting to think it’s almost like religion: many people compare, you know, how devout we are with religion, and there have been so many religious spin-offs where we have Catholics, and Protestants, and in the Jewish religion we have the Reform and the Conservative and the Orthodox and the Hasidism, and there’s all these different variations. And now we’re seeing different variations of veganism, and they’re getting very polarized.
pattrice jones: Yeah, yeah. And that’s distressing for a number of reasons. I did want to just say, about what you were saying before in terms of finding things that you can work on with people. Certainly we can agree, for example, that everybody ought to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and everybody ought to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Everybody ought to have access to affordable grains and legumes. And the beauty part about working together with people on bounded projects, where you don’t have to do anything that you don’t agree with.
Caryn Hartglass: Mm-hmm.
pattrice jones: And if you can set aside the idea that even talking to or working with somebody means that you agree with everything they have ever said in their lives, then what happens when you start to work together on projects like that is that you begin to feel like you’re connected. You are connected.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
pattrice jones: You’re connected through this shared project, through this shared labor. Doing something together, working hard on something together is a powerful way that people can feel connected to one another. And as you begin to feel more connected, then you are more trusted, and each party is more interested in what the other party has to say. And so then you get to be in a position where rather than sort of trying to force somebody to think about veganism when they’re walking past you on the street corner not thinking about that and not really wanting to engage anyway, you’re in alliance, you’re working on something, and then the person says, “Well, why don’t you drink milk? I’m vegetarian, I have been, and I don’t understand — why don’t you drink milk?” And then that gives you the opportunity to say, “Oh, well, listen. I didn’t realize it myself, but, turns out, there’s even more death in milk than there is in meat.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
pattrice jones: And let me tell you what happens to the female cows. And let me tell you what happens to their babies. Et cetera. Or whatever it was that most moved you. And so you can have a conversation, and you’ll be much more likely to be heard. I’m concerned, in terms of the polarization, that these days I think we sometimes have people who are interested in working on animal-related issues such as vivisection, or zoos, or SeaWorld, and are not yet vegan or ready to be vegan. And my concern is that they may be facing sort of a chilly climate when they try to actually do good work for animals. And so that if you come to an anti-circus protest because you’re just horrified because of what you’ve learned about what happens to elephants, and the person on the picket line with you welcomes you, and y’all talk about elephants, and then y’all go out to eat afterwards, and then the veganism comes up naturally, and you explain it — that’s one thing, and that’s a good thing. But if you come to that picket line and, within five minutes the person is quizzing you on whether you’re vegan or not, and making it very clear that you cannot be a part of our party if you’re not vegan, then you’ve just lost somebody for the anti-circus movement.
Caryn Hartglass: Right.
pattrice jones: And I don’t see how that — and you’ve probably lost the opportunity to have the kinds of long-term conversations that it sometimes takes for people to decide to be vegan. I know some people decide very quickly, right away, but there’s lots of different paths to veganism. And I fear the kind of thing we’ve got going on now has made animal advocacy not an attractive thing to do for anybody who’s not ready to instantly convert to being vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok, now let’s jump to a subject that I bring up a lot on this program, and I’m listening to different voices because I need to hear them. It’s about the animal welfarists versus the animal rightists, the abolitionists versus those who believe in doing incremental steps for animals. The bigger-cagers versus the empty-cagers. And it’s becoming very polarized.
pattrice jones: Yeah, yeah. I don’t know if you heard me sighing.
Caryn Hartglass: I did.
pattrice jones: While you were talking.
Caryn Hartglass: I heard that sigh and I sigh a lot. I want to think that there’s a place in the world for everyone who wants to do good.
pattrice jones: Well, I think first of all that there’s a lot packed into this so-called “abolitionist versus welfarist” divide, right? And one of the problems that I identify in The Oxen at the Intersection is a way of thinking about the world that is, in which the world is sort of divided into these opposed binaries: male versus female, human versus animal, et cetera. And so this tendency to sort of divide things into binaries — abolition versus welfare — that, right away, is deeply problematic. There are people who are what people who call themselves abolitionists mean when they say “welfarists,” there actually are people who believe that animals are property, and that they should just be treated more kindly, right?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
pattrice jones: But that’s not who abolitionists are actually talking about when they talk about welfarists. What they’re talking about is people who agree with them…
Caryn Hartglass: Yep.
pattrice jones: …that animals shouldn’t be property, but who have some tactical differences about how to achieve that end, and have a difference of opinion about whether or not it’s important to do whatever you can right now to reduce the suffering of animals who are currently held captive, and are going to still be held captive next year unless we figure out how to convert everybody to veganism overnight. And so right away, already we’ve got three terms here, rather than just the two. And it turns out that there’s all this blurriness between people who call themselves abolitionists and people who have been called by abolitionists, “welfarists.” And there’s not a lot of talking back and forth, and so, there’s actually just a lot of preaching back and forth. And so then what happens is that the people who have been decried by the so-called abolitionists feel themselves not at all accountable, and so then we have awful missteps on the other side, like HSUS recently sponsoring that awful “Hoofin It” event.
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm, “Hoofin It.” Can you just explain what that is so those…
pattrice jones: Yeah, I was just going to say, for those who weren’t familiar with it: HSUS, the Humane Society of the United States —
Caryn Hartglass: Which is not a vegan organization.
pattrice jones: No, it is not. It’s an organization that — well, I’ll let it define itself. But up until … it just crossed the line. I think there’s a big difference between advocating against particular cruelties such as battery cages or gestation crates, and actively promoting the oxymoronic idea of “humane meat” or “humane dairy.” And they crossed that line big-time recently when they sponsored a festival of animal eating in Denver. Not just a festival of animal eating, but a festival of animal eating with, like, mocking names. It’s just awful. So please, I hope that no one who’s hearing me critique this abolitionist-welfare divide would think that I’m saying, “Oh, well this means that the people who have been called welfarists are doing everything perfectly.” They certainly aren’t. But this whole idea that you have to decide between trying to liberate animals from the status of property — which by the way is only one thing we need to do for animals, it’s not the only thing we need to do for animals. So this idea that you’d have to decide between that and doing whatever you can to ease animal suffering right now — that, to me, is a false dichotomy that’s rooted in this way of thinking about the world that artificially divides it into opposed binaries. And that way of thinking about the world, “the logic of domination,” some eco-feminists call it, is at the root of speciesism, as well as other forms of oppression. So to be thinking in this way is not only to not be thinking very clearly, but it’s also to be thinking somewhat dangerously. There is actually no reason at all why you would have to decide between trying to liberate animals from the status of property, and doing whatever in the world you possibly can to reduce the suffering of animals who are alive right now. There’s just …
Caryn Hartglass: It’s almost like when people say, “Oh, you love animals so much and you want to help animals, and you don’t care about humans.” And then we learn that it’s the same problem. You can care about humans and you can care about non-human animals. You can care about them both! It’s not either-or.
pattrice jones: Mm-hmm. Yeah. This making of the world into either-or is a dangerously…
Caryn Hartglass: You say “either” and I say “either.”[Both laugh]
pattrice jones: Oh no! Do you say “tomato” or “tomato,” Caryn?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, let’s call the whole thing off. No, no, ok, I’m sorry.
pattrice jones: So listen — this really is a dangerous way of thinking, and I wish I could — I could take up the whole interview trying to explain why that is. So why don’t I just hype my own book, and suggest that you buy The Ox in the Intersection, and read why that’s a dangerous way of thinking, and also a little bit more about my really — I’m not sure how folks are going to feel. I feel like, “Uh-oh, I maybe made myself no friends with this book,” because I’m quite clear on my critiques of Gary Francione and his so-called abolitionist followers, and I’m also unstinting in my critique of HSUS. But what I’m most unstinting about is the idea that those are our two options. ‘Cuz those are not our only options. And there are a lot of things that we need to be doing, but that we can’t even imagine doing unless we break out of that way of thinking.
Caryn Hartglass: I like it. Thank you for bringing us some clarity. Can we —
pattrice jones: There’s always stuff I want to say, but I know there’s more stuff that you wanted to talk about when you had me.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh no! What do you want to say? Please. We addressed what I wanted to address last time, and I’m breathing more freely right now. Thank you for that.
pattrice jones: Oh, well, I’m so glad.
Caryn Hartglass: I wanted to comment that …
pattrice jones: I was trying to remember when we got cut off before, and I think we got cut off at the point where you had been saying that you were surprised when you found out that during the campaign to save the oxen called Bill and Lou, the people at Green Mountain College, the administrators who were making decisions, often behaved in ways that were not consistent with what the rational economic actor would say would’ve been the thing for them to do.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. Key word “economic.” Most people will make a decision where it’s economically beneficial. And they kind of let their ego and, I don’t know what, take over, and stick to their original decision, which was not economically beneficial, and it wasn’t beneficial for any reason.
pattrice jones: Ah-ha! That’s true! How they acted is true. But ah-ha! Because Caryn, you just said most people will make the economically rational choice, and that is in fact the presumption of traditional economic theories such as trickle-down, that got us into so much trouble. So what’s true about human beings is that we’re animals, we’re apes. We have bodies. And quiet as it’s kept, our brain is in our bodies, not, like, floating above it, and everything that we’re thinking, feeling, choosing, doing, is happening in our nervous systems, and is a physical process that is happening in a physical place. And turns out to be very very very very far from the ideals of rationality, including economic rationality.[Caryn laughs]
pattrice jones: It turns out, researchers in numerous fields, not just psychology, but neurobiology and the like, have just demonstrated again and again and again and again and again, that people do not in fact usually make the economic choice, the economically wise choice. They might think they are, but it’s by no means to be assumed that people are going to make the economically rational choice. It’s also the case that even when people are thinking really hard, and trying really hard to be logical or rational, their, as you say, egos, but also their emotions, come into play. Your emotions are — what you think of your emotions, and what you think of as your thoughts, if you were to scan your brain, no way you’re going to be able to pull out which strands of electrical activity are thoughts and which strands of electrical activity are feelings. They’re happening constantly at the same time and influencing each other.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s so hard to be human.
pattrice jones: It turns out that most of our thinking is not of the “one plus one equals two” variety, but that we are making decisions a lot of the times based on highly emotionally laden symbolic imagery, a lot of our processing goes on below the threshold of consciousness. In other words, there’s all sorts of things going on inside, some of them we’re aware of, some of them we’re not, and we sort of then, this leads us to feel a particular way, to lean in a particular direction, and then that’s when our conscious brain steps in and starts figuring out all the rationalizations that would allow us to say that doing this thing or thinking this thing or behaving in this way is the rational thing to do. Does that make sense?
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, and my conscious brain, unfortunately, is telling me we are out of time.
pattrice jones: Oh my gosh, again! Oh no!
Caryn Hartglass: I could talk to you —
pattrice jones: Oh no, so I guess that means people have to read my book.
Caryn Hartglass: They have to read your book. So how do they find out about it?
pattrice jones: Oh my gosh. Well, they can go to Lantern Books online. They can also please visit VINE Sanctuary online, that’s bravebirds.org, Or they could just google The Oxen at the Intersection and it’ll pop right up.
Caryn Hartglass: pattrice, thanks for joining me. I wanted to just mention the great music you’ve got going on in the background.
pattrice jones: [Laughs] Well, you were hearing roosters before, and now there’s all these dogs, who are like, “Oh, are you done? Are you done? Are you done? Let us out!”
Caryn Hartglass: [Laughs] Ok, well, you are done. So thank you so much for all you do, and for joining me. Bye, pattrice jones. Ok.
pattrice jones: Bye.
Caryn Hartglass: And that’s the end of this program. Thank you for listening; thank you for joining me. Visit me at ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com. Send me a message at info@RealMeals.org. And there are lots of great recipes for you to have a very delicious week. Bye-bye.
Transcribed by Chelsea Davis, 4/30/15