Meet Sir Chester McFlops-a-Lot III

On Thursday, April 16, someone came into my life who unexpectedly shifted the way I move through my daily life. I thought I was just adopting a rabbit, providing a home for an abandoned bun. (I’m refraining from using the term “rescue” here, as I think it can contribute to the development of a human savior complex toward non-human animals that paints them as victims rather than agents. More in a future blog post.) But after about two weeks of living with him, I’ve come to realize that I’ve gained a teacher, a playmate, a trickster, and a companion. Obviously, this bun’s existence is valuable in and of itself, regardless of what he contributes to my life, but I think it’s important to recognize the impact that non-human animals — whom we much more often than not regard as inferior beings — can have on human lives.

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I call him Sir Chester McFlops-a-Lot III (Chester, for short), and I adopted him from a woman who had been fostering him for about a week after finding him cooped up in a small cage in a dark basement, with minimal food an water. Apparently, the owner of said basement (or, more accurately, the house attached to it…) had bought a newborn Chester from a breeder as an Easter gift for her daughter, who “got tired” of Chester after just over two years of living with him. Chester now lives in my very spacious room and loves hopping around, hiding under my bed, munching on hay and lettuce, and getting petted. He’s a super sociable bun with tons of energy, and I’m so happy that he doesn’t have to live in a basement anymore. Moral of the story: please don’t buy bunnies (or any non-human animals, for that matter) as holiday gifts. They are complex beings with their own unique life-worlds who must be regarded as infinitely more than inanimate objects on par with socks and candy, and treated as such.

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From sharing my room with Chester, I’ve been able to get out of my own head, to interrupt the obsessive thoughts that can often spiral into destructive tendencies. In providing care for another, I’ve necessarily had to think beyond myself, to disrupt the individualistic habits I’ve long cultivated of work-work-working on an uninterrupted schedule, in the presence of only me, myself, and I. I pause. I pause to sit on the ground with Chester, to clean his cage, to fill his carrot-shaped food bowl with lettuce, to pet his smooth-soft fur from head to tail as he gently grinds his teeth in silent contentedness. After a whirlwind of a day, I’m calmed immediately as I enter my room, greeted by an excited bun, eagerly nudging my heels to request pets and snuggles.

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Not only has Chester taught me how to more easily occupy a space outside of myself, he has also shown me how to communicate with him, serving as a language professor of sorts. Nipping at my heels means he wants attention; hopping in and out of his cage (which remains open all the time so that Chester can explore my room as he pleases) means he wants more food; sitting with his legs tucked underneath him means that he’s calm and content; flopping onto his back means he’s incredibly happy, and usually happens after I’ve given him pets or he’s had fun ripping up a piece of newspaper; running across my room and leaping into the air means it’s playtime; and so on.

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In a recent post, I reflected upon how animal justice activists might support the agency of the non-human beings with whom we seek to act in solidarity by truly listening to them, by learning their language. I think that living with Chester has given me good practice in this area — practice that is forever ongoing and will never be complete, simply by virtue of the fact that I’ve been socialized as a human since childhood — and trust that my internship at Madison’s own Heartland Farm Animal Sanctuary this summer will allow me to continue and expand upon this practice.

Have ya’ll developed a mode of human-animal communication between you and your companion animals? If so, how — if at all– do you think it has improved your ability to act in solidarity with non-human beings? I’d love to hear your stories, perhaps even in a future blog post here at C&C! You can submit your pieces to chickpeasandchange [at] gmail [dot] com, and check out this page for submission guidelines.

Looking for resources on how to be a great bunny companion? Visit the House Rabbit Society’s website.

In solidarity, Ali.

To Be Continued…

Hi, all! This weekend I had the immense pleasure of attending the 14th Annual Institute for Critical Animal Studies Conference at Binghamton University, along with eight fellow members of the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) (including an alum!). The weekend was jam-packed, leaving me little time to even turn on my computer, much less type up a blog post on it. Rest assured, however, that next Monday I’ll provide you with a recap of the thought-provoking, challenging conference. Until then, stick around for Thursday’s regular # NewsandChews post. Have a great week!

Photo via ICAS.

Photo via ICAS.

In solidarity, Ali.

[VIDEO] “Queering Animal Liberation”: A Talk by pattrice jones of VINE Sanctuary

Do you have an anti-speciesist, feminist, anti-racist vision that needs to get out there in the world? Consider making Chickpeas & Change the platform for it! The blog is now accepting submissions. Check out this page for details.

Welcome to the first video post here at Chickpeas & Change! Last Monday, I reflected upon a conversation that I and my Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) co-leaders were lucky enough to have with longtime LGBTQ, anti-racist, anti-speciesist activist pattrice jones, co-founder of VINE Sanctuary in Springfield, VT. This conversation took place before pattrice gave a lecture — hosted by VARC — to a room of Vassar community members, and I’m thrilled to be able to share with ya’ll a video recording of pattrice’s lecture, entitled “Queering Animal Liberation”. Please enjoy and share widely.

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In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {1-2-15}

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the well-being of all creatures (not just the rich, white, or human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Happy New Year, all! On today’s edition of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (# NewsandChews), we’ll get into some stories regarding the destructive dieting & detox culture that inevitably crops up around this time each year. But first, an ode to carbs (how do I love thee?) with matzo ball soup and potato salad. Also, don’t miss the three exciting projects in need of support that I’ve highlighted at the very end of today’s post!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Pumpkin Matzo Dumpling Soup
Via Bittersweet

Image via Hannah Kamisky.

Image via Hannah Kamisky.

As the winter weather moves into bitter territory, this bowl of rich broth studded with dense golden orbs of chewy goodness seems so inviting I might just bathe in it. I didn’t think that matzo ball soup could be any more comforting, but leave it to vegan cookbook author and photographer extraordinaire Hannah Kaminsky to accomplish such a feat by adding pumpkin into the mix.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Potato Salad with Coconut Bacon
Via Divine Healthy Food

Image via Susanna at Divine Healthy Food.

Image via Susanna at Divine Healthy Food.

Coconut bacon, caramelized onions, vegan mayonnaise, and potatoes all mashed up into one dish? You might as well just call this salad “Mouthful of Happiness.”

Must-Read News Story

With all the detox, dieting, and New Years’ resolution rhetoric flying around this time of year (which has definitely addled my mental health recently), I wanted to highlight a couple stories that serve as important reminders of self-love, body acceptance, and inner kindness. Two of my favorite bloggers – both of whom write often, inspiringly, and supportively on the topic of disordered eating – have offered just such stories this past week.

Coping with Eating Guilt, Toxic Comments & Triggers
Via Raechel at Rebel Grrrl Living
and
The Two Phases of My Recovery
Via Gena Hamshaw at Choosing Raw

Photo via Rebel Grrrl Living.

Photo via Rebel Grrrl Living.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Time for a New Year’s Revolution: How Diet Culture Upholds Capitalism
Via Melissa A. Fabello at Everyday Feminism

Photo via Everyday Feminism.

Photo via Everyday Feminism.

While I feel that the first portion of the video gets a little victim-blamey, I think that the majority of it does a great job of pin-pointing the social structures behind the common and super destructive phenomenon of the diet/binge/self-hate cycle. One quote I pulled from the video that particularly resonated with me:

“We think we’re unhappy because we don’t look ‘good,’ but the truth is that we’re unhappy because consumerism needs us to be.”

Book Recommendation Awesome Projects That You Should Totally Check Out

Instead of highlighting a book this week, I’d like to point you toward three exciting endeavors currently in need of support. The first is seeking contributions to a supremely important conference taking place this March, while the last two are asking for financial contributions to support meaningful projects.

Call for Presentations – East and South Asian Voices Challenging Racism, Colonialism, and Speciesism Online Conference
Via Hana Low with the Institute for Critical Animal Studies–North America

Image via conference Facebook page.

Image via conference Facebook page.

New Sistah Book Project & 2015 Conference
Via A. Breeze Harper at GoFundMe

Photo via Sistah Vegan.

Photo via Sistah Vegan.

Support the Femmes de Chermaitre Women’s Co-op
Via Vassar Haiti Project

Jeanne Saintulis, President of Femmes de Chermaitre / Photo via Vassar Haiti Project

Jeanne Saintulis, President of Femmes de Chermaitre / Photo via Vassar Haiti Project

A specific note about this last project: while I’m usually hugely skeptical of campaigns spearheaded by Western actors to “benefit” folks in non-industrialized societies (*cough* white savior complex *cough*), my good friend and fellow Vassar student who heads up the Vassar Haiti Project assures me that “this isn’t really a ‘typical’ do good-y non profit type thing. All the initiatives in the fundraiser came from the women, and will be fully implemented by their co-operative….we just put their ideas onto a webpage so that it can hopefully can the support it needs.” My more general reservations aside, I wanted to honor my friend’s request to help spread the word about the fundraising campaign.

In solidarity, Ali.

A Little Break | FMV Will Resume Regular Posting on 12-12-14

Hi, all! As I’ve mentioned in a number of my recent post, I find myself in the depths of college finals right now (lots of papers, lots of books, lots of brainpower). Accordingly, in order to free up some precious time and energy, I’ll be taking a break from blogging this week, and will resume regular posting next Monday (December 12). But, just to keep you interested, here’s a couple post topics you can expect in the upcoming months:

–The problematic connections between veganism and consumerism.
–The whiteness and privileges associated with blogging.
–A review and giveaway of a much-anticipated vegan cookbook of 2014.

I wish you well until then, and bid you goodbye for now with an announcement of the three winners of my latest giveaway for Cinnamon Plum Tea from Rishi:

Natalie Cartledge, Jennifer Sakraida Remsa, and Manda Overturf Shank.

Congratulations and thanks for entering!

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {12-12-14}

***Trigger warning for rape and sexual assault in the body of this post.***

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the well-being of all creatures (not just the rich, white, or human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

On this edition of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (# NewsandChews), your blogger is supremely distracted by the fact that she will return to her hometown in less than a week due to the end of the college semester! WHOO HOO! And you, dear readers, should be equally as excitedly distracted by the fact that three of you will win two boxes of one of the most fragrant, full-bodied teas I’ve ever encountered – Cinnamon Plum from Rishi – if you enter my latest giveaway (which also features an intensely flavorful granola recipe).

But before all that happens, we simply must pay attention to a creamy risotto chock full of squash and mushrooms, a crumbly scone that features my favorite fruit of the moment, a crowd-pleasing and veggie-packed soup, a story that has released a torrent of rape apologist rhetoric surrounding the U.S.’s pervasive college campus rape culture, some A+ journalism on the recently released Senate Torture Report, and a Unicat. You read right.

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

5-Spice Kabocha Squash Risotto with Oyster Mushrooms
via The Sexy Vegan

Photo via Brian L. Patton.

Photo via Brian L. Patton.

I haven’t enjoyed the sophisticated porridge of risotto and its supreme creaminess in far too long, and vegan cookbook author Brian Patton’s iteration featuring the king of all squashes (kabocha) and the meatiest of all mushrooms (oyster) seems like a prime recipe to remedy this risotto hiatus.

Sweet

Roasted Persimmon Scones
via Will Frolic for Food

Photo via Renee Byrd.

Photo via Renee Byrd.

If you couldn’t discern by my recent winter produce review on the Our Hen House podcast or my latest green smoothie recipe, allow me to inform you now that I am 100% smitten with persimmons. Sliced, pureed into smoothies, bruléed, or now baked into scones – it doesn’t matter as long as I can stuff as many as possible into my mouth.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Luxurious 7-Vegetable & “Cheese” Soup
via Oh She Glows

Photo via Angela Liddon.

Photo via Angela Liddon.

Playing on Angela’s veggie-packed and ever-so-noochy soup with a mixture of carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and celeriac, I served up an enormous pot of this golden puree for my 21-person living cooperative to resounding “Mmm’s” and “Yum’s!” I guarantee that smaller crowds will respond similarly. Don’t omit the smoked paprika – it provides an inexplicable undertone of flavor to the soup.

Must-Read News Story

This past week and that before featured a ridiculous onslaught of commentary by rape apologists and deniers of rape culture on Sabrina Erdely’s recent story “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA” at Rolling Stone. Most of this commentary has revolved around exposing discrepancies in the story of the victim featured in Erdely’s story and accusing Erdely of faulty journalism in her refusal to seek testimony from the accused rapists, and has thereby obscured the very real, very urgent problem of a pervasive college rape epidemic (just look at the recently published testimony from a survivor at my own college).

Thankfully, a couple non-victim-blaming writers have offered more responsible, progressive reporting on the controversy surrounding the Rolling Stone story, including Julia Horowitz at Politico and Salamishah Tillet at The Nation. It is these stories toward which I’d like to direct you today.

Photo via Boilerplate Magazine.

Photo via Boilerplate Magazine.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Marcy Wheeler on the Senate’s Scathing Torture Report
via Radio Dispatch

Photo via WarIsACrime.org.

Photo via WarIsACrime.org.

Garnering ample amounts of media attention, earlier this week the Senate Intelligence Committee finally released the executive summary – which we expected way back during the summer – of its 6,000-page classified report on the CIA’s post-9/11 “enhanced interrogation” program, otherwise known as its torture techniques. On this episode of the Radio Dispatch podcast, Marcy Wheeler, a mind-bogglingly intelligent and talented independent journalist who writes about national security (aka, the “deep state”) and civil liberties, discusses the report’s findings and implications. You won’t get a better summary of the Torture Report than this one from Marcy, folks.

Book Recommendation

In the midst of college finals, my head has found itself swirling in a wormhole of books for the past week and that to come…so I’d rather skip obsessing even more over books on the ol’ blog and instead bring you this winning photos of a Unicat (a unicorn + a cat…duh):

Photo via SuperPunch.

Photo via SuperPunch.

In solidarity, Ali.

See You in Mid-March!

Long time, no virtual see, eh, readers? I’d like to apologize for my absence from Farmers Market Vegan over the past couple of weeks. Juggling event organizing for the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC), schoolwork, and a new work position has caused blogging to fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, looking ahead, my busy-ness will not decrease, and therefore, I’ll have to take a bit of a hiatus from the ‘ol blog. Not to worry, though, for Farmers Market Vegan will recommence in mid-March, when I’ll be blogging to you during spring break from my dear home-away-from-home of Florence, Italy. Anyone can wait a couple of weeks with the promise of Italian adventures, no?

Thank you for your understanding, all. Until March, I’ll alert you to a couple of outlets featuring my work, but unfortunately, you won’t see any original blogging from me here. To keep you semi-contented throughout the next month, I’ll leave you with photographic collages of VARC’s most recent events: our vegan “wine” and cheese tasting (which attracted over 200 attendees!) and our campus lecture featuring none other than Jasmin and Mariann of Our Hen House, as well as a vegan taco bar. I wish you all the best!

PicMonkey Collage

PicMonkey Collage

Until next time, Ali.