NEW YORK — September 4, 2011. Do you love animals — Do you eat them?
The notion that one can love animals and not be a vegetarian is a tough one to defend. But the decision to go vegetarian or vegan is a very personal one. Most individuals cannot be harangued or convinced logically to go veg. It is something that most of us who have moved on from our traditional diets and upbringings have come to organically — a personal choice that resonated in the gut as well as the head. When it felt right, we made the leap.
I personally never cared for the label “vegan” — I saw young people (geez I feel ancient using that term) with “vegan” tattoos and scratched my head, dislodging some hair I can’t afford to lose, geezer that I am. Like Tim Curry, “I could never get the hang of ideology.” I’ve always described myself as “idiomatic” — my way of saying idiosyncratic. And yet, while I don’t identify as vegan, I suppose I do fall into that category. Recently I was describing my diet to my doctor and he said, “You’re a vegan.” He should know. He’s a vegan as well. And a very youthful 70-years-old. I said, “Yeah ok.”
I went vegetarian as a New Year’s resolution. And so, since January 1, 1985, I haven’t eaten meat. But it was only three years (and change) ago that I gave up cheese. I thought I might miss it but I wanted to lose some weight and it seemed an obvious choice. Voila, I had gone vegan – I had long ago eliminated all other animal products from my diet. I didn’t hold a press conference or print up t-shirts. But I did lose some weight, brought my blood pressure down, and got off some of the BP meds I had been on. I also noticed that my knees worked better. Hoo ahh.
Recently a vegan named Casey, someone who doesn’t brow beat others into adopting her world view, asked me if I wanted to exhibit my art photos in a Vegan Art Show. I don’t shoot images that pertain to veganism — either in my work as a photojournalist or in my artsy stuff — and I don’t publicly describe myself as vegan. But I said ok. Casey works for a church I admire. The Metropolitan Community Church of New York is very, very, LGBT friendly. And they send a contingent from Manhattan to the Staten Island Pride parade, every year. I was pleased I could do something to help them. And to help Casey in her struggle to gently convince people that all life should be celebrated. And that it is possible to move beyond what we were taught as kids — to learn, to evolve, as individuals and as a species. I believe it’s ok to approach the change gradually and I support people who are doing the best they can. And I suport people and organizations that are devoted to teaching peace and acceptance.
And so I invite you to come to the Vegan Art Show – and maybe buy a photograph or a painting. Some of the proceeds go to support the MCC and their efforts to promote nonviolence. The work the church does is important and non-partisan. That much I do know.
Here are the details:
Where: Jackson Hall Art Gallery
3rd Floor, Metropolitan Community Church of New York
446 West 36 Street, New York
(Between 9th and 10th Avenue)
When: September 4 – October 28, 2011
Opening Reception: September 21, 5 – 8 p.m.
I am exhibiting some photos that don’t get seen often – arty Black and White images shot with my battered 1972 Nikon F2, Non-AI Sigma lenses and Kodak Tri-X Pan film. There are two shots taken from NLN, shots celebrating New SDS, but the other items are a bit different from what appears in the pages of NLN. I hope you like them.
Best of luck in finding your own path to peace.