‘Speciesism: The Movie’ | Review + More

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
Mark Twain

Speciesism: The Movie

Last week, on January 23rd, ‘Speciesism: The Movie’ made its Texas premiere at The Magnolia theater in Dallas. The documentary was written, directed and produced by Mark Devries, who was present at the screening.

Walking into the film, I expected an exposé about the way humans treat nonhuman animals, along with a philosophical discussion. I wasn’t wrong, but I also wasn’t expecting much humor. While I had heard that the movie had some humorous moments, I was surprised to find myself (and other attendees) truly laughing out loud several times. Devries himself narrates the documentary, managing to articulate and raise important questions about complex and heavy issues without boring the audience. He made us laugh, without belittling the issues. For those wondering, animal abuse footage was kept to a minimum.

Speciesism: The Movie

Devries, who was not vegan when he made the documentary, begins by asking questions. These questions beget more questions, fueling a journey of discovery that includes investigations, expert insights, and conversations with everyday citizens. The film ends up challenging an extremely under-recognized form of oppression ingrained in our society (and the implications, as such)–that is, the conventional, anthropocentric notion that animals hold no value beyond human use.

I appreciated Devries’ rational approach and inquisitive nature, which encouraged viewers to think for themselves. Also, I really would have liked to see more appearances from women and vegans of color and their perspectives on speciesism and other forms of oppression. However, as a conversation starter, ‘Speciesism: The Movie’ definitely has my recommendation. I would love to see a sequel exploring the intersectionality of the issues more in depth.

A philosophical discourse in itself, this is an approachable and stimulating film that serves as a compelling start to a worthwhile conversation we ought to be having about how we treat nonhuman animals, and what that says about us. I gave the movie a standing ovation, as did the other attendees who filled up the whole theater. Regardless of whether or not you are vegan, this is a must-see for anyone interested in animals, philosophy, the environment, human health, systems of oppression, posthumanist theory, or bio-politics.

For those who have seen the film…
If you’re interested in the film’s topics, the movie’s site has some post-viewing recommendations. Also, here are some of my personal recommendations about related topics (for watching and reading):

Please let me know your thoughts if you have read or watched any of the above, and if you have recommendations.
Also, please see the related articles below for more material relevant to these issues! There’s so much to discuss and read about, so I simply had to include more related articles. 🙂

Ego vs. Eco

PSA (for UT Arlington students):
The film’s philosophical points were reminiscent of class discussions from the animal studies literature course I took in 2012, with Dr. Stacy Alaimo at UTA (possibly my favorite literature course ever–take it if you can). Through examining and discussing the works of philosophers and thinkers like Nussbaum, Bentham, Montaigne, and Derrida, the class held regular discourses about the representation of animals in human culture and the ethical implications of our widespread mistreatment of other species. ‘Speciesism: The Movie’ would have fit the curriculum very well. Those of you who have taken Dr. Alaimo’s class, I highly recommend this documentary.

Related articles (check these out!):

Did you see Speciesism: The Movie? What did you think of it? Please share your comments below!

Top 10 FAQ at Vegan Club’s Activities Fair Booth

Vegan Club Activities Fair Spring 2014

Thank you to everyone who visited the Vegan Club’s booth at the UTA Activities Fair earlier today!

Although I have graduated, I am still pretty involved with the club, so I was in charge of the booth at the Activities Fair today. We handed out a couple hundred mini chocolate chip cookies, soy/almond milk samples, and educational pamphlets with information and recipes!

Here are the top ten recurring questions we received at the booth today. Thank you so much for stopping by to chat with us–hopefully you will find the resources below useful!

  1. Do I have to be vegan to join the Vegan Club? I’m not vegan, but I want to eat healthier–can I join?

    Being vegan is not a prerequisite for joining. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or non-vegetarian, you are welcome to join our club! We are not an exclusive group–we are here to help anyone and everyone who has questions about veganism on campus.From our Facebook page:

    Our purpose is to promote the varying aspects of veganism in a positive manner. We aim to inform the public about veganism and its impact on animals, human health, and the environment. We hope to disprove the negative stereotypes about veganism in our efforts; we are not an elitist group and we accept all members who want to learn, vegan or not. 

  2. How can I keep in touch with the Vegan Club?Milk and Cookies with Vegan Club UTAFacebook is the best way to keep up with our events and the best place to ask questions! If you need a recipe suggestion or have questions, people in our group are always ready to help with answers from experience, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can also follow the Vegan Club on Tumblr.
  3. What is the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan? Why don’t vegans eat dairy?

    Here is an excerpt from my detailed blog post about different types of vegetarians, originally published on The Shorthorn, UTA’s student news website on September 18, 2013. Read the post to learn more about students who are vegetarian or vegan at UT Arlington.

    All squares are rectangles, but a rectangle isn’t necessarily a square. Similarly, a vegan is a type of vegetarian, but a vegetarian isn’t necessarily a vegan.

    A vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat, but they might eat eggs and/or dairy. A vegan is someone who avoids animal products period, including dairy, honey, eggs. Vegans also avoid animal products such as fur, leather and wool. I gave up dairy in high school for a variety of reasons, the first being my love for the animals.

    I love cows, awwww!

  4. I’ve been wanting to become a vegetarian/vegan, but I don’t know where to start–can you help me?

    Before you make drastic changes to your diet, be sure to consult your doctor first. You can definitely count on us to answer your questions, based on our experiences, but don’t use us as a replacement for your physician.Here are some free resources that may be helpful to you (check them out for advice and tons of recipes):
    + VeganKit.com
    + Oprah’s Vegan Starter Kit
    + ChooseVeg.com (My favorite part of this site is the “Build A Meal” section!)
    + Veg Starter Kit | The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
    + Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating | Vegan Outreach
    + 7 Back to School Vegan Essentials
  5. Where can I eat vegan food?

    Curried potatoes and chickpeas served over almond jasmine rice with sweet apple cole slaw. The Vegan Club has worked with several other groups to get UTA to install a veggie line that carries vegan options (the chefs are also very accommodating–just ask), though it could use some improvements. Places near campus that have vegan options include Beirut Cafe, Pie 5, Smiling Moose Deli, Cool Berry, Potager Cafe, Freebirds, Chipotle, and Mellow Mushroom. My favorite place is Loving Hut on Matlock, the closest vegan restaurant to UTA (about 15 minutes away). They have a great selection of vegan pizzas, wraps, sandwiches and rice dishes. Pictured below: Loving Hut’s carrot muffins.https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=628208733913622&set=pb.132147763519724.-2207520000.1390439568.&type=3&theater

    DallasVegan.com has a useful printable dining guide that features many vegan restaurants and options around DFW.

  6. Are there vegan options at fast food restaurants like Jack in the Box?

    I tend to avoid most fast food chains. However, sometimes my omnivore friends insist on going to a fast food place. If I am put into that situation, I turn to VeganEatingOut.com to read up on all the vegan options available–I always research my options before going out, so that I know how to make the best of my options. Here is their guide for Jack in the Box.
  7. How do you get your protein? I’m into fitness and am worried about getting enough protein as a vegan.

    Protein is not as hard to get as you may think! Beans, tofu, and nuts, among many other foods, all have protein.In 2012, UTA kinesiology senior Courtney Redden and her classmates conducted an interesting study about veganism and exercise. You can read about their findings, learn about Redden’s triathlon fitness routine, and check out her workout playlist in my article on The Shorthorn’s site.Protein Infographic
    The veg starter kits mentioned above (#4) have advice for getting enough protein, also. Still worried that veganism will hinder your fitness goals? Check out this list of top 10 vegan athlete blogs–being a vegan athlete is completely possible.
  8. How many types of vegan milks are there? Soy, almond, hemp, coconut, rice, cashew and hazelnut are the main types of alternative milks. Each kind usually comes in three flavors, on average (plain, vanilla, chocolate). So, I estimate that there are about 21 types of vegan milk out there! In my personal experience, most of these (if not all) can be found at Kroger and Whole Foods on Lamar St. in north Arlington. Even Target, Wal-Mart and CostCo carry soy and almond milk now.
  9. How can we get UTA to have better vegan options?Vegan Brownies at UTASo glad you asked!

    This is an ongoing effort with us. Here’s a little history…In 2012, the Vegan Club collaborated with seven other student organizations and Student Congress to pass a resolution calling for a vegan dining line on campus. Our hard work paid off. Student Congress voted and passed the resolution UNANIMOUSLY, and the vegan line was installed the following semester.

    However, since then, the line has changed to a vegetarian line, sometimes having vegan options…vegans often have to special-order meals.We’ve come a long way in expanding the options (there’s soy milk at breakfast and lunch now), but we have a long way to go. Vegan Club appreciates the dining staff very much, and would like Dining Services to follow through with all of the goals in the resolution we passed.

    We want to be in a position to regularly follow up with Dining Services to ensure that the cafeteria does continue to keep plant-based options available and varied for students.  Another step that has not been taken by UTA, though it passed in the resolution, is the labelling of all ingredients on the dishes served at Connections Cafe. Even non-veg students, some of whom have allergies or are health conscious, have voiced their concern about the need for more ingredient clarification.Vegan Club needs more enthusiastic individuals to join the group to voice our concerns (that’s you).

    We are currently looking for a student to carry out the officer role of Dining Services Correspondent. Because we all have many roles to play as officers, and because many of us are seniors (or grad students, like me) we feel the need to assign this duty to a specific person. If there is enough interest and participation from our members, maybe a dining committee can be formed. If you are interested, please comment on this post, or email veganclubuta(@)gmail(.)com and to let us know of your interest!

  10. I want to go vegan, but I love [insert food here] too much–do I have to give up my favorite foods to go vegan?

Vegan Alfredo Fettucine
Vegans still enjoy pizza, mac and cheese, ice cream, phở, cookies, even candy bars…you name it!  Whatever you like to eat, there is probably a vegan version of it. Eliminating dairy is not a limitation–I always think of it as an opportunity to experiment with new ingredients and flavor combinations.

If you have a specific craving, please leave me a question about it in a comment, or make a post in the Facebook group. The Vegan Club is here to help you, so please don’t hesitate to ask us anything you want to know about veganizing your favorite foods.

We handed out two kinds of chocolate chip cookies today, and got many requests for the recipes! Come back on Friday to get the recipes.

Any other questions? Please let me know! 🙂

Merry Christmas!

Vegan Hot ChocolateHi everyone,
I would just like to make a post dedicated to sincerely wishing my readership a very merry Christmas (or happy holidays, if you prefer)! Thank you all for following my blog–I appreciate your readership more than I can express in words!

In honor of today, I am sharing the following Christmas/winter playlist and some handpicked related articles below from my favorite places on the internet (I’ve also included some of my recipes for your reference).

If you have a quiet moment this holiday, feel free to check them out if you’re interested in reading about what’s usually on my mind during the Christmas season (and all year, really–yummy food and world peace are always relevant in my book).

I hope your holidays are filled with love and light, and I wish you and your families all the best for the upcoming new year.

Continue reading

Why I Ditched Dairy | A Dozen Reasons + A Christmas Playlist!

Almond Milk and Vegan Cookies
Happy belated World Vegan Day! Last Friday was World Vegan Day, and November is World Vegan Month! It is also time for Christmas carols! Yessssss. This year, I couldn’t wait and actually made a playlist the day before Halloween. If that’s wrong, then I have zero interest in being right.

Prepare yourself for a long post below. While you read, feel free to listen to my playlist of of Christmas carols and songs that make me think of winter. Please enjoy! 🙂 Continue reading

‘Blackfish’ Documentary | My Personal Thoughts + UTA Students Weigh In

1004682_500184376737646_1841609029_n

If you haven’t seen Blackfish yet, you need to check it out. The documentary about SeaWorld has been making waves, and not just among animal activist groups. I got to interview some UT Arlington students about the film for work.

An excerpt from my article, originally published on The Shorthorn, UT Arlington’s student news website, on October 23, 2013:

A killer whale named Tilikum killed Dawn Brancheau, one of the most experienced trainers at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 24, 2010. This was the third time the whale was involved in an incident resulting in a human death.

“Why is SeaWorld surprised that a wild animal did this?” university studies senior Tania Rodriguez said. “You isolate them from their natural environment and put them in a tub, and then you wonder why this happened?”

Rodriguez, who is a member of the Mavs Marine Biology club, says she recently viewed an online trailer for the documentary Blackfish. It spiked her interest, because she recalled Brancheau’s incident from 2010.

The film made its premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in January and has been well received by critics, receiving a 98 percent “Certified Fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes. It has also made an impact on pop culture — after seeing the documentary, the directors of Finding Dory made the decision to modify their animated movie’s depiction of a marine animal park. CNN will broadcast Blackfish 8 p.m. Thursday.

Continue reading