Straight Edge (xVx) Veganism and Vegan Photography

Lifestyle changes. I’m 3-and-a-half weeks into a strictly vegan practice, and it’s going great. I can’t possibly quantify how much more physical energy I have. I’ve gone through a menstrual cycle without breaking out. I’m sleeping better. My concentration is better. Everything is better. One less animal dies a day because I no longer participate in a corporate, profit-driven order that is completely and utterly tragic.

Being a lifelong vegetarian, the move to veganism wasn’t an enormous leap. But dairy, eggs, and honey are powerful hold outs. Yet when I finally faced the cold brutality of the dairy and egg industries, there was no question I had to opt out. Check out the movies Earthlings ($2.99 on YouTube), Cowspiracy (Netflix), and Food Inc. (Netflix) for some life-changing wake up calls. Earthlings is an especially tough movie to watch, but please, be strong and see it through.

Change leads to more change, and I’ve been looking at Straight Edge Veganism. Straight Edge (xVx) is grounded in the 80s punk rock movement, but has evolved into a largely, but not necessarily punk lifestyle of purity that excludes any and all alcohol, intoxicants, prescription drugs, nicotine, meat, dairy, eggs, honey, and leather and wool. It also includes veganic gardening, which we’re transitioning to at our little homestead. I’m so close to Straight Edge anyway, it wouldn’t be much of a leap.

Last weekend, I gave both of my leather jackets and my leather belts to Goodwill. This winter, when the boots come out again, I’ll weed out all the leather footwear. I have a thick wool poncho I love, but it will go too. A colleague of mine asked why I can’t just use these items until they’re worn out and then discard them. The truth is, I just can’t stand to have these items around me anymore.

I have an empathic friend who won’t enter a Wal-Mart. The last time she did, years ago, she felt in her bones the misery of the millions of factory workers who make the plastic junk and cheap widgets that Wal-Mart is flooded with. She left with a headache and feelings of despair, and never went back. Now I understand what she felt.

That’s how I think about leather and wool now. Fur was never on my radar, and I thought that because of that I had it together, but veganism has shown me that there is no room in a compassionate life for leather and wool either. And when you really let yourself think about it, it’s just gross to wear dead, dried animal skin as clothing.

It’s a path of discovery and a slow evolution. As the days pass, you look at each component of your life and find things that are not in keeping with a really pure vegan lifestyle, and they have to go. Animal products and by-products hide themselves in the most surprising of places. We’ve become inured to it all.

Most of my adult life, I’ve been a photographer, with a short career in wedding photography, a long career in photojournalism, and adventures in medium format and pinhole photography. Now, there’s vegan photography to consider. A vegan photographer captures images of all things vegan and animal compassion, from vegan gatherings, demonstrations, events, and protests to the awesome beauty of animals, nature, and insects. The mission is to promote veganism by using images to stimulate consciousness raising. Sounds like a new path to me.

I’m very happy and grateful to be where I am now, and I like the changes that are happening. I’m particularly indebted to vegan pioneers like Gary Yourofsky and Ellen Fisher for inspiration and motivation. Living vegan is challenging when you’ve been weaned on the mainstream or nearly mainstream, but it’s completely liberating, energizing, inspiring, and doable. And sane, kind, compassionate, peace promoting, Earth loving, people loving, animal loving, good, and right.

Live in peace.

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