Sunday, June 30, 2013

So Far, So Good...


I won’t even bother to make excuses for not posting, because there isn't a good one.  Although we have slowed down posting here, we are pretty active on Twitter (@VeganTwins).  Please feel free to follow us for humorous anecdotes about being vegan parents, “preachy” vegan “propaganda”, and our political views, all mixed in with adorable photos! 

So Astral Defiance and Defy Aster are 3 years and nearly 4 months old, folks! From the outset Lucas and I knew we would be scrutinized more than other parents because we are vegan, anti-consumerist, and very nontraditional. No, my kids don’t watch Sesame Street, eat goldfish crackers, or visit zoos or circuses, but they are happy (for moody, tantrum-throwing 3 year olds) and thriving, and it is undeniable.  Astral and Defy are STRONG and powered completely by plants. They have respect for all sentient beings, are super happy to be vegan and will question anything they consider to be unjust or unfair in a heartbeat.

The highlight of their big 3 year old appointment in March was peeing in a cup for the first time, and they did it expertly.  Astral weighed in at 37 lbs and Defy at 35.5lbs and almost 40 inches tall for both.  I am sure they are well over 40 inches and maybe even 40 lbs by now.  Astral has almost always been slightly bigger than Defy, and he has always eaten more. They both still drink their kale smoothies and eat well, although they now also enjoy the occasional sweet treat.

"Cows' Milk: Double Yuk!" -vegan kids say the darndest things...

I just love how stoked Daddy gets when he scores against a 3 year old in air hockey...

Daddy has been conducting his own version of pre-school by homeschooling the kids for as long as I can remember, and you can really see the results.  Recently, they have started learning how to read some 3 letter words and do some basic addition and subtraction. They also seem to have a better grasp on logic than some adults we know. I could go on to tell you how creative, articulate, smart, funny and super handsome these guys are, but I’ll spare you the bragging. We are just so proud of them.  Yes, these dudes are special, but daddy and I feel that every single being is special in their own way, and that’s something we will always try to impart to Astral and Defy. 

We continue on our quest to raise compassionate, critically thinking people who question everything and everyone. So far, so good…

In March the boys were finally able to build a snowman after waiting all season. Meet Hunter S(nowman) Thompson...

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Discovering A Non-Vegan World…

Exactly 1 week before Astral & Defy turn 3! (2/24/13)

It sure has been a while, but we're back for another post! We refuse to give up this amazing platform that allows us the ability to share our experiences with veganism, raising vegan children and vegan pregnancy. Our analytics show that even though post frequency has declined, more people than ever are searching for vegan information and finding Our Vegan Pregnancy. We want to continue to be an example of how veganism is healthy and manageable during all stages of life. Astral and Defy are almost 3 years (plus gestation) of living proof!

Since my last post at the end of October the boys have been progressing rapidly per usual. I find it just too annoying to rehash every single milestone of their lives at this point. Every day something new and amazing happens (in our minds). So instead of the same old stuff, I’m just going to post a ridiculous amount of cute photos (of which there is no shortage) and hand it over to my absolute favorite vegan daddy to see what he has to say about Astral and Defy’s recent developments as vegan toddlers:

Astral and Defy are increasingly becoming aware of how non-vegan the world currently is outside of our "vegan bubble". They get that most of the items in grocery stores are derived from animals, but don't seem to have a problem with wanting any of them, even with all the bright, colorful packaging emblazoned with likable (by-design) cartoon characters. We just tell them that the items contain animal products and that's that, end of story. Like most kids their age (and probably most adults) they understand that it's wrong to intentionally harm animals when it's unnecessary to do so. They just have a different understanding of what necessity is because they know they don't need to eat animal bodies or animal secretions (or otherwise consume animal products) to be healthy and happy. 

This understanding of what's wrong with exploiting animals for "food", with the ubiquity of animal-derived "food", and with the non-necessity of consuming animal products has led to some interesting situations for us as vegan parents. Sometimes I take the boys into a coffee shop during the day. This coffee shop has a big picture of some milky liquid being poured into a coffee-like liquid, and every time the boys see it they loudly go on and on about how it's not vegan, it's cows' milk and it's for the baby cows, "they hurt the cows for that", it's "just not right", etc. Honestly, I love having the opportunity of openly agreeing with them (probably to the surprise of anyone listening). "Yea, I agree, fellas. It's not right. Cows' milk is for baby cows, not for us". I can assure you that if you're ever in this situation, you will draw plenty of attention from bystanders.

Then there are situations with relatives. Earlier this month while visiting grandparents and other relatives in the Midwest, Astral and Defy became suspicious of certain things they saw at grandma and grandpa's home and kept asking us which relatives eat animal products. For the first time we had to explain to them that nobody there is vegan, and DnA seemed a little confused and saddened by this idea. Unlike DnA, Kenya and I weren't always vegans, and we remember that at one time we too had no clue about the realities of animal use. We don't in any way want to condone any animal exploitation, but we also don't want the boys to think less of their otherwise incredibly thoughtful, kind, supportive, and loving family members. We told the boys that not everyone understands that animals are exploited and inevitably "hurt" to obtain animal products. This lack of understanding might be true in some cases, but it felt somewhat dishonest, and none of us seemed satisfied with that response. We just didn't know what else to say when put on the spot.

Although grandma ate vegan and made many delicious vegan meals throughout our entire stay (including a veganized version of a 100 year-old family pretzel recipe), not everyone else did. One morning grandpa was sitting at the dining room table, eating his very non-vegan breakfast and washing it down with a tall glass of cows' milk. Astral and Defy noticed, and one of them asked him if he was, in fact, drinking cows' milk. Grandpa said "yes", thinking nothing of it. The boys then began complaining and ultimately refused to sit at the table with him. Again, we didn't quite know how to deal with that kind of situation, so we just used the dining room table when he was finished. Grandpa sort of laughed it off and tried to tell the boys that he was simply drinking milk, just like them. Astral made a face, crossed his arms, said "no!" and he and D walked away. Fortunately, Astral and Defy still enjoyed spending time with grandpa after that, just not so much during meal time...

Please feel free to contact us at or follow us on Twitter @VeganTwins.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Vegans, Procreation, and "Overpopulation", Oh My...

"There are definitely too many of you!" 
If you spend enough time reading vegan blogs, websites, and social media, or if you frequently participate in vegan forums, you will inevitably encounter vegans making arguments against human procreation. Invariably these arguments are premised, at least in part, on the assumption that the world is overpopulated with humans and that the size of the human population is the primary driver of just about every ecological and social crisis we are facing today. Often the people making these arguments go even further, suggesting that there is no ecologically acceptable place on this planet for humans because humans are destructive and parasitical by nature. Some vegans will even go so far as to declare that procreation is decidedly not vegan because, given all these obvious problems caused by human overpopulation, the decision to add to the surplus of humans harms countless nonhuman animals.

These simplistic arguments - that "there's too many people on earth, just look at all the destruction humans cause to the planet" and "obviously 7 billion humans is too many because that's a really, really big number" - are typical among the vegan and non-vegan anti-procreationists/populationists, but if we examine them we can begin to see how they are deeply flawed and how they necessarily obscure much more than they reveal.

The truth is that most of us 7 billion humans are not endangering the planet; The primary drivers of environmental destruction, pollution, resource shortages, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, species extinction, climate change, and many other pressing problems often attributed to "too many people", are, in reality, our unjust political and economic systems -controlled by a small minority of humans- and the military industrial complex that allows them to function and expand. The tragic irony of the blame-the-"breeder" position is that the vast majority of humans are actually the victims -not perpetrators- of this profoundly exploitative system in various ways.
We need to understand that our materials economy is designed to create an endless supply of "cheap" disposable stuff merely for profits gained by a small percentage of humans (think about the "1%" articulated by the Occupy Wall Street movement), and not for the needs and well-being of humans or other animals, for the health of our ecosystems, or to create sustainable and equitable social systems. Rampant ecological destruction that negatively affects the lives of many humans (particularly marginalized groups) and countless other animals is inherent in this infinite growth economic model, from the extraction of materials and resources, to the production, distribution, and disposal of all this stuff, much of which is intentionally designed to become obsolete after a very short period of time. 

Additionally, it has been reported that the US Department of Defense is "responsible for the most egregious and widespread pollution of the planet" and that "This impact includes uninhibited use of fossil fuels, massive creation of greenhouse gases, and extensive release of radioactive and chemical contaminants into the air, water, and soil". Futhermore, "the Department of Defense ... produc(es) more hazardous waste than the five largest US chemical companies combined. Depleted uranium, petroleum, oil, pesticides, defoliant agents such as Agent Orange, and lead, along with vast amounts of radiation from weaponry produced, tested, and used, are just some of the pollutants with which the US military is contaminating the environment". It should go without saying that the vast majority of people on this planet are not included in any decision making process within the US DoD.
Many people challenging anti-procreationist/populationist arguments often attempt to shift focus and blame onto individual consumption choices, and in some ways this also misses the point. According to Annie Leonard, author of The Story of Stuff, 97.5% of solid waste in the United States comes from industrial operations, not household waste, and up to 97% of  all energy and material that goes into manufacturing products is simply wasted. This is not to say that individual consumption choices don't matter, but clearly the vast majority of us have little or no immediate control over, or even any say in the decisions made that use the most resources, produce the most waste and pollution, and cause most ecological destruction.

Moreover, populationists often tend to overlook or ignore substantial inequalities, and thus disparate levels of consumption, even within rich nations. In reference to individual greenhouse gas emissions, David Satterthwaite writes that "...the lifetime contribution to GHG emissions of a person added to the world's population varies by a factor of more than 1,000 depending on the circumstances into which they are born and their life choices..."

On top of all this, it's downright silly for vegans, of all people, to argue that the planet is overpopulated with humans when it is estimated that "livestock" systems occupy nearly half (45%) of the global surface area. This is a true overpopulation problem for the planet: we breed billions of land animals into existence every year -roughly 8 times the human population- just to exploit and kill them for unnecessary purposes, misusing vital resources and causing widespread pollution and environmental catastrophe. Not to mention the many billions of aquatic animals unnecessarily killed every year, brutalizing our oceanic ecosystems.
Can we seriously maintain that the size of the human population (or even human existence), in and of itself, is the main driver of the destruction of our world? The issue of human "overpopulation" is, and historically has always been, a huge distraction.  
Note that none of what I have mentioned above even addresses the fact that the human population is not currently exploding as many populationists claim. Rather, it is experiencing a global trend that will likely result in stabilization, if not decline, later this century. Nor did I address the inherent racism, classism, and misogyny in an argument that focuses blame on women's bodies and on folks that still have rising populations: mainly poor people of color. Nor have I begun to address the history of the "too many people" position, or what groups of people have constructed these arguments to justify elitism, racial supremacy and oppression, or how overpopulation theory has been, and is currently, put into horrifying practice.

If anything is "not vegan" or unethical, it's attempting to shame fellow vegans (or anyone else) for their reproductive choices and relying on flimsy "overpopulation" arguments to validate one's own shallow misanthropy. Now that's a real shame, and we should not tolerate such nonsense if we are truly concerned about challenging oppression and promoting social justice...