Am I Living In Integrity?

3D Star Map

I sit now, reflecting on myself. Am I living in integrity? I am being my word?

I have spent the beginning of this week doing vegan outreach at my university. With a fellow animal advocate we have had a Pay Per View booth (see:

Across from our booth was the SFU Lifeline Club, the pro-life (and quick to mention anti-abortion) club on campus. When speaking with the students at the booth I really began to question myself on this issue. I began to question myself in general.

For many years I have not even admitted that I ever enjoyed the taste of meat. “It is the spices and seasons that made it taste good” I would say. Much like the defenses that carnist ideology brings up…

“to eat the body of another sentient being, we have to block our awareness and shut down our empathy.” – Melanie Joy via!

I would deny and put up a “vegan wall” against animal products. I think in some ways I have to. I have to put up a wall and “imagine”, forcing myself to remember the torture and pain that animals experience, the ill-health effects of animal products, and the environmental degradation… it is a mental exercise (though admittedly, it has gotten easier and become more of an unconscious thing that I no longer have to work at as actively as when I first went vegan).

Though non-vegans also practice a similar tactic (I believe) to avoid thinking about where their meat comes from, I feel as if i am acting a bit defensively. Perhaps I am in denial about what “tastes good” to me in order to do what I think is right.

These are the places I feel out of integrity:
Fair Trade – When cocoa or cacao is an ingredient in a (vegan) product I am not always inquisitive as to the source. This also applies to coffee and tea. I don’t drink them very often but I am not always conscious about the source. I think this is an easy thing I can “correct” to try and live more in integrity.
Electronics – Though I have done research on the assembly production of electronics I have bought (I wrote a paper and researched the Foxcon suicides), I have only briefly heard about the minerals and potentially horrible conditions and harvesting of these minerals in third-world countries. This is an issue I have had trouble finding information about and do not have any clear solutions for.
Clothing – Though I have been buying only articles Made in Canada/the USA and well researched companies which do not use sweatshops overseas, I have not been buying exclusively organic cotton and materials free from pesticides and the pollution of conventional cotton production. I did another research project on this industry and I am very ashamed of the production process of many textile products. I suppose I could buy more second hand products. Hmm. I shall consider this further.
Driving – I have been getting rides and driving with friends so often lately. I miss my bicycle commuting, my bold action against the fossil fuel industry.
Abortion – As I outlines in my previous post, I have not given this issue adequate consideration.
Organics – Why am I “die-hard” about the consumption of animals when the use of pesticides and other chemicals is also destructive to the environment, bad for health and kills insects and other species.

Thinking about these issue, I also started to reflect on self-destructive behavior. Where did this idea come from? What is the difference between self-care and self-harm? So many questions…

Pro-Thought: Jenni Thinks About Abortion

Yesterday I spoke with the SFU Lifeline Club, the pro-life (and quick to mention anti-abortion) club on campus. It really got me thinking about the issue of abortion. As a generally left-leaning person I had “decided” I was pro-choice without giving the issue much thought or learning about the issue. When speaking with the representative I noticed myself saying that, while I, MYSELF, do not think I would ever get an abortion (seen Blue Valentine? Ugh, makes me shutter just thinking about someone doing that to me)… (even if it meant dying due to medical complications), I would not want to tell other people what to do. I noticed myself thinking that there are bigger issues that deserve my attention than abortion. I noticed myself judging past abortion displays I had seen thinking, why must they be so “in your face”? I realized that those are the same things many people think about vegan outreach and animal advocacy. I realized that, much like in the factory farms where animals are murdered and tortured, many babies are aborted around the world every year. Why am I so willing to tell people how they should eat and speak out against animal suffering, when I am so scared to speak about abortion? Sometimes when I reflect on ongoing animal suffering I wish I could close all the supermarkets, stop all the slaughter houses, and make all the killing stop. I wish I could run through the streets turning people into vegans. I wish the world was different and I feel an agent pull to create this change.

The group told me that Canada is one of only a few countries in the world with no restrictions on abortion. This means that abortion can occur during any term of pregnancy. I was very shocked to hear this. I realized that I don’t know very much about abortion, on either side of the “debate”. I found myself stating that I do not know much about the potential health reasons someone would get an abortion, or any reasons for that matter.

Based on the (very little and non-researched) information I have right now I think that there should be restrictions on abortion. I do not think aborting late in the pregnancy is ok. I think that non-invasive (this might be the wrong word to use) “abortion” techniques at the very start of the abortion are not cruel (before the central nervous system has developed). I think that stem cell research is a positive thing when the cells are harvested from the umbilical cord or right after fertilization…. I think.

Reflecting on my ignorance on this matter I am asking myself the following questions:

• How do I decide what to devote my time to?

• Which causes are worthy of my voice?

I can’t possibly learn about ALL social issues in a large amount of detail (or can I? Hmmm). That being said i think I would like to know more about abortion. I am not really sure where to start…

Do you have any articles or books to recommend?