Thursday, October 21, 2010

Behind the Pink Ribbons

(reposted from facebook from 10/4/10)

When October arrives, many women and some men find themselves inclined to learn more about Breast Cancer and methods of early detection. However, what unfortunately gets lost in all the mammogram talk is what is even more important than early detection, and that is prevention. But of course, where is the money in prevention? So, as the media jumps on board and begins coverage of this months hot topic, rarely is there a breaking news story regarding the power that a vegan diet combined with regular exercise can have on cancer prevention as well as survival.

I urge everyone to do some research before pinning on their pink ribbons. For instance, I have recently learned that all the October hoop-la began by AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company. Further investigation has shown that this company has in its inventory a very dangerous herbicide that has been shown to be cancer causing. Interesting, to say the least.

In addition, we have seen a popular yogurt company jump on board with a campaign which is nothing more than a cleverly named act of "pinkwashing." Yogurt, a dairy product, is not recommended for consumption if cancer prevention and survival is of utmost concern, as dairy products contain potentially dangerous cancer causing hormones.

I also came across an article by John Robbins in the Huffington Post exposing the partnering of Susan G. Komen for the Cure with Kentucky Fried Chicken! According to the National Cancer Institute's website, "an increased risk of developing colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancer is associated with high intakes of well-done, fried or barbecued meats?" How buying fried chicken helps with cancer prevention is lost on me, but if anyone can explain it I'm all ears. Let this serve as a catalyst to investigate the organizations in which we put our trust and money.

This post is nothing more than a plea to be careful when consuming what October is trying to sell you. There is always an ulterior motive. Let this month provide an awareness of the benefits of a plant based diet in the prevention of all types of cancers, as well as heart disease and diabetes.

Happy October

Monday, September 13, 2010

For the Teachers

Many of us get into this movement because we want our lives to make a difference. We have seen injustices and we refuse to sit still and allow things we don’t support to become the status quo. However, once we make the decision to get active, there are several other decisions and hurdles to overcome. At first, we are so passionate that brief encounters may cause tears and distress. Our friends may think we have gone off the deep end, joined some alien “cult” or are just going through a deviant “phase.” We become insatiable for information that may in turn anger us more as we find it hard to understand how this knowledge has escaped us for so long, and how others refuse to accept the truth. Or they accept the truth, but honestly could care less about it. Gradually we seek out more effective strategies, because at the end of the day, we are here to spread our message, save lives and stand up for what we believe in.

I have been on a mission to learn how to effectively advocate the message of this movement. I believe that avoiding consumption of animals and animal products is not only first and foremost the best thing you can do for your overall health, it allows you to tread lightly on this earth, support the planets prosperity and allows you to go to sleep every night knowing you are living every day causing the least amount of harm possible.

Learning requires teachers. So far during my short journey I have had the privilege to meet certain individuals who offer so much inspiration and dedication that even in the most challenging of circumstances, their words help me to persevere. This is an attempt to shine the necessarily spotlight on these people. Most of them face opposition from their families and severely exhausting and challenging situations on a daily basis, but they are also the ones getting things done. Making change happen. We need to shout our appreciation louder, listen and repeat their wise words, and join them along in their fight. I didn’t think it was possible for me to become even more passionate about this cause, but being in the presence of some of these extraordinary people, who embrace and live their messages and display impeccable ethics day in and day out, can motivate even the most passionate activist. And I now believe my contribution has the potential to reach new and extraordinary heights.

Here are some names that come to mind, if you see them, say thank you.

Paul Shapiro

Neal Barnard

Betsy Swart

Jon Camp

Erica Meier

Michael Gregor

Drew Winter

Bruce Friedrich

Norm Phelps

Matt Ball

John Robbins

Erik Marcus

Jack Norris

Ingrid Newkirk

Thursday, September 9, 2010


The choices I make tend to alienate me at times. I rarely ever agree with the status quo, and usually get probed, questioned and provoked about these choices. I have been doing my best, and have gotten increasingly better, at clocking out, putting my beliefs on hold for the evening, and enjoying myself. It's not always easy.

There is an internal struggle between wanting to stand up for my beliefs, but trying desperately to have a carefree night. I accept that this will be an issue I will confront as long as my choices are considered different or unusual. My work as an activist centers around the hope that soon my avoidance of meat wont seem so shocking or extreme.

Pretending that the gentleman next to me eating a hamburger isn't grossing me out, or the bartender leaving nothing to the imagination isn't frustrating my feminist perspective are always going to come with the the territory of my over educated disposition These are both difficult tasks, that I suspect in time will get easier, well here's hoping anyway.

The previous list of, lets call them, "quirks" I presume are quite frustrating to my friends and family. However, I have stumbled upon a few ladies in the last couple of months that have been so unbelievably supportive, that I must take the time to recognize how amazing support really feels.

I believe so deeply in my cause and to have my friends take a genuine interest is so rewarding. To be able to come together, 4 different personalities, with such ease and comfort is truly amazing, and has made my summer so memorable. I don't know what my future holds. My plans to go to DC and fight for my causes hasn't changed, but what I will inevitably leave behind has. Thank you, divas, for your open minds and unwavering support.

You have also opened my mind to a few things I have yet to try-wink!

With gratitude,

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Dear Friends,

I have never been one to do anything half way. Whether its a job, a relationship, a friendship. I am all or nothing. However, with regards to my activism, I have learned that things may not be as black and white as I once thought.

When you take the first steps on a journey to enlightenment, what you find along the way may be so amazing, that all you want to do is share your insight with the world. My naivety, however, got the best of me. I convinced myself that all I had to do was share information with friends, family, strangers, whoever, and they would join me on my new found mission. Real life, it turns out, doesn't work like that. After months of my passion getting the best of me, I now realize there are strategies and tactics that are more effective than others.

Thanks to my friends (who are as wise as they come) and seasoned movement members I met at this years Taking Action For Animals conference in DC, I learned invaluable lessons about effective activism. I plan on employing these new strategies as staples to my activist efforts. Although I hold my beliefs to a very high standard, I by no means would ever way to condemn someone else for their choices. All I can do is invite others to entertain new ideas and introduce them to some alternatives that will benefit their health and the planet.

So, I hope this post can serve as an apology to anyone with whom I got a little "preachy." I am truly sorry. This journey is one of trial and error. I understand now that a gentler approach, one in which all I can do is plant seeds and hope to see them grow, is the best direction to take. I am open to all questions and will offer help to anyone who has the inclination to widen their circle of compassion.

For the Animals,

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


"People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost."

- H. Jackson Browne

Lately I have been thinking about choices. Unfortunately we have strong ideologies in our society that celebrate certain choices and merely acknowledge others. If one chooses a life of independence, service, and social justice, instead of revering and celebrating these people they often find themselves ostracized and alone.

A life that centers on higher education, learning, research, activism, philanthropy and years of servitude, may ironically be seen as empty through the eyes of our dominant culture.

Successes based on the pursuit of social justice are not held to the same regard as a conventional choices regarding marriage and family. And I for one think this needs to change.

This was brought to my attention via facebook: A young woman announced that she was engaged. With all the congratulations! and the i'm so happy for you! remarks you would think this woman just won the nobel peace prize. Meanwhile, achievements such as a Masters degree, or a Ph.D, or a new job, that actually take hard work, are barely thought twice about, let alone celebrated as grandiosely as say a pregnancy or engagement.

This is not to say that i don't enjoy celebrating the choices of others. To feel genuine happiness for others is a truly extraordinary feeling. I just want to put forth a plea for change. It is time that so called unconventional choices, those that take time and passion, be celebrated just as grandly.

Sometimes it is hard for others to acknowledge those who don't walk on the same path as them. They may think they are merely still waiting for their lives to start. I beg to differ. One can gain fulfillment from so many things. Open your eyes to the joy of everyones choices. Cause after all, thats exactly what they are. Choices.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My Leather Shoes

This is a lesson on forgiveness. Forgiveness of the self. Forgiveness for my leather shoes.

I came across an enlightening article that centered on the danger of activists preaching absolutes. The problem with absolutes is that they are destined for failure. You are highly unlikely to inspire someone into a certain lifestyle by preaching a code of conduct that can seem overwhelming and nearly impossible to adopt.

As much as I would like to inspire people to give up meat, I realize now that the only thing I can do is lead by example. Any kind of preaching or moral high ground usually backfires, resulting in an increase of meat consumption out of spite. To counter this, I plan to continue to spread my message, all the while being mindful of my methods. I am by no means a "food elitist," I have just ingrained a sense of awareness regarding the horror show that is modern day farming, and the detrimental effects of consuming a meat based diet.

To anyone who wonders "what do you eat?" I answer with the beauty of expansion of food choice that a vegan diet brings. I have a new found love affair with food. I am more open to trying no cuisines that I would've normally not given the time of day. I crave healthy fuel for my body, instead of an instant gratification that is achieved with a lot of fat and sugar. My passion for cooking is in overdrive. In fact I'm hungry now!

Going back to my leather shoes... I have been going through an internal battle. I look down at my shoes and I punish myself for the blatant hypocrisy. What has amazed me in the subsequent introspection, is that instead of focusing on all the positive changes I have made, and relishing on how amazing I feel, the energy I have, and how my disposition is just well, brighter, I focus on how I won't fully be authentic until I get rid of all my leather shoes and purses.

The big picture here is the need to accept yourself for exactly where you at any certain time. I don't want to miss out on celebrating all the positive changes because I am disappointed in myself for the downfalls.

I know in my lifetime I will aid in the alleviation of animal and human suffering. I have to be proud of my past accomplishments, my present contributions, and my future successes.

One day my leather handbags and shoes will be part of my past. But until that day comes, I need to stop punishing myself. And to anyone else who holds their behavior to high standards, I salute you. But remember, nobody is perfect. It is just important to keep working towards the goal at your own pace. You will get there.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I have been doing a lot of thinking about the ethics regarding meat eating. Since my conversion almost 3 years ago, I have been convinced that eating meat is unethical. Bruce Friedrich is the expert regarding animal ethics. I watched a video of a debate on animal ethics at Harvard university. His knowledge and insight regarding the unethical behavior of meat eating is, in my opinion, impossible to refute.

If you care about the environment.

If you care about world hunger.

If you care about animal suffering.

If you claim to care about any of the three things above, eating meat is not an option. Plain and simple. It is unethical to eat meat.

I think that is where the disconnect happens for so many people. The violence, the environemental distruction, the world hunger that is fueled by our current food culture, is to most poeple, invislble, or to use Bourdiue's sociological term, an aspect of symbolic violence. We have been so ingrained to accept the status quo without questioning whose interests are being served. Special interst groups invest millions of dollars to ensure they control what ideology is fed onto our society. And most people blindly accept it. Stories are told to us and we just assume that we are powerless to question the way things are. We tell stories about the ham on Christmas, or the Chicken Noodle soup when we were sick, turkey on Thanksgiving. It is time to rewrite our stories to exclude dead animals. I hope my kids tell their kids stories about the tofurkey on thanksgiving, and the veggie burgers on 4th of July.

We are in need of critical thinkers. Our everyday behaviors are reinforcing a status quo that is detrimental to our society. Global warming, antibiotic resistance, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, all running rampant in our society. Children today are the first generation in years who are predicted to have shorter life span than their parents. The status quo is unacceptable. It is unethical. Everytime you sit at your table to eat, or in our society zip through a drive thru, you are expressing to the world what you are choosing to support. Just because you arent doing the cutting, does not mean you aren't responsible. It is unethical to eat meat.

To anyone who takes the time to read this and is saying to themselves that is just not an option to cut meat totally out of their diet, I understand. My suggestion is to go meatless one meal a week, then maybe one day a week. Take it slow. Statistics show that if everyone took meat out of thier diet for one meal a week, it would be equivalent to the removal of 5000 cars off the road. Staggering isnt' it? Think about it.

We have been spoonfed an ideology fueled by speicial interst groups who try desperately to shield you from the truth. They do this because the more people that know the truth, the less they will be inclined to buy their products. Slaugtherhouses are nearly impossible to penetrate by the public without an undercover operation. The operators of these facilities know that if the public even stepped onto the property, and smelled the blood and burning flesh, meat consumption would decrease. Isn't it amazing that no one questions where our food comes from? Start questioning.

People may think they are being philanthropic by writing a check to a charity every month. I don't think that is what philanthropy is. Philanthropy means engaging in a level of conscoiusness concerning the suffering and emerging climate problems our chidren are set to inherit. Eating meat is unethical.

Vote with your fork, what do you support?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


INTERDEPENDENCE-a dynamic of being mutually and physically responsible to, and sharing a common set of principles with, others.

This word was the theme of today's yoga class. During class I would reflect back on this word and its significance and relevance to my everyday life. Amber, my instructor for the day, made some amazing points concerning how the North American attitude is that of a more "independent" lifestyle. In fact, I would argue, we pride ourselves on our independence. However, I think it is central to the health of a nation or a planet for that matter, to ingrain in ourselves that our actions effect everyone around us. We don't live in a bubble, we are a part of a community, and it is vital that we all do our part to ensure we leave our communities in good health for future generations.

To live interdependently expresses our connection to every human and non-human animal around us. We must not simply see animals as means to fulfill our independent lives full of greed and gluttony. Animals and people should be working together, sharing our community, making our earth healthier for our children and our children's children.

Days can come and go so fast to the point when a year flies by in what feels like minutes. If we set an intention of interdependence, we can guarantee that we will work together, instead of against our community. The results will be amazing.

When we support the slaughter and suffering of innocent animals, we are choosing an independent, selfish life, that not only destroys the environment and ecosystems, but proclaims to the world a refusal too work together in harmony with the earth.

Think about it.

Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. Without interrelation with society he cannot realize his oneness with the universe or suppress his egotism. His social interdependence enables him to test his faith and to prove himself on the touchstone of reality.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dancing Monkey

For my first entry I should go ahead and explain why I chose the name Dancing Monkey for an animal rights blog. I think I wanted to use it not only because it reminds me of someone I love, but to express how even though I am strict with regards to my beliefs, it is important to have a level of flexibility in your life. Some may be offended by using an animal as a pet name for a child, but it happened in such an organic, natural way, that for me, its just plain adorable. And to those people I say, lighten up.

My niece Payton is 16 months old and quite possibly the cutest little girl on the planet. The motif in her nursery was cute little pink monkeys and the theme took off. She has a little stuffed monkey that she carries around, she couldn't love that thing more. So there she is, my cute little monkey. And if you thought it couldn't get any cuter, throw on some Mariah Carey Christmas music, and my little monkey dances. Ridiculous. You'll fall over laughing. It's a joy to watch. So, I dedicate the beginning of this to her. She is important to me not only because she was brought into this world by my sister, but also because she is a constant reminder of what is truly important.

So here we go.

I will use this space to share thoughts, important articles, issues in the movement, issues in my life, tips on green and vegan living, as this is a transitional period for me and I am always on the hunt for ways to make that easier. I will share those tips for anyone else going through this change, cause it sure ain't easy.

It is also a means to document the burden that is the blessing in my life. The knowledge that innocent animals are suffering everyday so people can eat them. It's plain wrong. One day everything just clicked for me, and I was done eating meat forever. It's a life changing experience, one that I have grown to have immense passion for. This calling has saved me. It is everything to me. I am now a human billboard for my cause.