08 August 2012

Animal Rights Conference, ditching sugar, and crazies


I know, you're totally either like, "Uh, weird, Alli.  You actually went to a conference full of vegans?  I think I lost your number.  Really bad.  Like, forever," or you're like, "DOOD how did you score that amazing weekend?!"  Let me explain.

Super amazing fantastic awesome hilarious wonderful vegan friend Dorothy lives far away.  So in order to see her this summer, I flew out to the east coast.  She's part of a non-profit called The Vegetarian Resource Group, which is a really cool organization with tons of nutritional info on the vegan diet for new vegans and for doctors and nutritionists.  The VRG always snags some table space at the Animal Rights Conference in Washington, D.C.  So Dorothy took me with to work the table. Which means I got in for free.  Holla!  Thanks, VRG!

I learned a lot.  For example, did you know that 70% of cats in shelters are euthanized?!  Are you disturbed?  Me too.  Makes me want to adopt 5,000 cats.  Did you also know that monkeys are still used in this country as lab research animals?  Monkeys.  Like, chimpanzees even.  Seriously.  I will also adopt 5,000 monkeys.


I also happened to be reading The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone over the weekend.  I know what you're thinking: is this like a Noxema commercial or what?  But seriously.  If you've ever been at all interested in health, animals, losing weight, nutrition, how Asians are so healthy, or veganism in general, I cannot recommend this book enough.  To be perfectly honest and overdramatic, it kind of changed my life just now.

Alicia (we're totes on a first name basis) explains in the book that sugar - especially the white, processed variety, but basically anything sweet - can give you nausea, headaches, fatigue, under-eye bags, acne, irritability, anxiety, dizziness, heart palpitations, crying, depression, CANCER, weight gain, and diabetes.  Um, fun.  White sugar and corn syrup in particular can leach vitamins from your body and kick your immune system in the butt so you're prone to colds and junk.  Obviously, the more sugar or sweetener you consume, the worse these problems can get, but the sweet stuff in ANY quantity can cause your skin to cloud up, your energy to swing up then crash, and your mood to plummet.  White flour also winds up causing the same problems.

Because these are symptoms I've often observed in myself without understanding the cause, I'm swearing off sugar.  I'll still eat stuff that's made with brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup, or other super natural sweeteners once in a while.  But I'm SO over pimples.

Now what am I going to do with my enormous vat of evaporated cane sugar?


Some vegans are cray cray.  90% of the vegans I've met in my life have been wonderful, mentally-balanced people.  But conferences always attract the crazies.

There was this one guy who, without a shred of evidence, passed out a sheet to everyone on the first day that said high-level factory farm butchers were coming to blow up the conference.  He got kicked out.  One dude passed out pamphlets that, without a shred of evidence and at least 2 grammatical errors, explained that your cat food is killing your cat and you should switch to vegan cat food.  And most of the crazies just had this aura of... how can I say this.  An I-care-about-animals-more-than-you-so-I'm-a-better-vegan-now-let-me-talk-your-ear-off-about-just-HOW-MUCH-I-care-about-animals attitude.  Interesting how at the extreme, social skills seem to fall by the wayside.  I promise, it's not that hard to care about animals and interpersonal relationships at the same time.

I'll stop before I get - aha, ha - catty.

Most of the people I met were truly fantastic and down to earth, like the guy who opened a fancy-pants restaurant in his native Vienna with his wife, or the woman who gave Dorothy and I the hook-up to travel down to Bolivia to rehabilitate animals, or the sweet cute guy who totally made eyes at Dorothy the whole weekend.

But talking about the crazies is just so much more FUN.*

* I'm sure they're very special beautiful butterflies deep down and have mothers who love them or whatever.

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