United we stand, divided we fall

We’ve reised 674€. What’s this for?

l-unione-fa-la-forza3I often think of a sentence my aunt used to tell me. “Simona, take this thin rod by its extremities. See how easily it breaks? Now take a bundle… family should be like this.” This reminds me how connection, closeness and being supported by people who walk on the same path are important. If I see this “family” from a different point of view, the large Italian animal activists’ family, the picture of a bundle is really too far from reality.

The English and American way

It’s true, I’ve always loved and envied UK and USA citizens. I was born with the myth of the big rock bands and groupies, of the flower power and of punk. London and San Francisco were places were alternative people could live freely and have a future; where freedom of thought and speech was granted, where the cultural and social unrest was clearly visible and where I could leave the chocking toxicity of the Italian way of thinking. Unfortunately I’ve never lived in any of these countries but my curiosity for their way of thinking and acting is always alive. In USA they can live their American dream, what about us? What is the Italian dream? Being a football player? Or work in TV? The ALF was born in UK and there you can find the highest percentage of vegetarians, magazines like Cosmopolitan stated they will no more support the fur industry. In US you can find the biggest, extremist and controversial animal rights organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). In UK and in US people go to jail for their ideals, they set up important demos, they demand to be heard… and Italians? What do we do? We argue. All the time. For anything. Italian animal right/welfare organizations rarely co-operate and new organizations start every day… organizations that split immediately in smaller sections, just like our Parliament. A friend of mine pointed out that Italian activists denied illegal actions when they did them, even if they were clearly against animals welfare and against their ideals. And yes in US you have Bush Sr and Jr, but you also have Obama, who are our representative? Berlusconi? Franceschini? Bersani? Are we destined to give up?  Are our good intentions destined to fail? NO. But we must clearly see and know what we want to do, what we MUST do and that we do it FOR THE ANIMALS!!!

Let’s roll up our sleeves

When things become difficult, both fisically and mentally, there are some material points I always try not to forget:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I’m not talking about religion, I’m talking about empathy. We need to be able to put ourselves in someone’s shoes and this is much more complicated when the “shoes” are paws and are biologically different. Life is important to a dog, a hen, a mosquito, just like it is important to me. Is it plausible for us thinking that a cat, a monkey or a mouse don’t like and don’t deserve to suffer like I don’t want to? And please put yourself in a bee’s shoes, or in a fly’s or in a sea kitten’s: see yourself drowning or chocking or being smashed by someone who’s bigger and stronger than you and for this reason he thinks he has the right to kill you. We often say snakes or rats or spiders are disgusting, and we say cows are stupid and good to eat… but are these valid reasons to abuse them? How many people you know that are disgusting or stupid? Shall we kill them all?

We are right. We, activists. Are right. Anybody who fight for social/enviromental improvement is right. And we are righter than anyone else because we give voice to those who can’t speak like we do. Men can get together and start a revolution, but animals? We can be both executioners and saviours for animals. Whose side are you on?

We are not omniscient. Since I went vegan the rest of the meat-eating world asks me a variety of questions I’ve never imagined I could reply to. They ask me about cholesterol, high or low protein level, how to raise a cow, how to save an eagle… and it’s CLEAR that I must save any abused or stray dog, otherwise I am not good person. Raise your hand if you’ve never been asked to host (forever) 5/8 kittens because “you know how to do it, you love animals…”. But when you talk about spaying or neutering, they look at you like a killer or like you’re insane because you go against the cat’s nature. Oh yeah! And YOUR nature is to let the cat deliver her kittens and then tear them apart from her again and again, 2 times a year, forever? Is THIS your sanity? No this is not fair. It’s true we have to raise consciousness on others, it is really important, but people have to learn that they can’t wash their hands like nothing happened.

Co-operation is vital. We MUST always remember that we do what we do for the animals, not for us. If we don’t go to a demo because we don’t like that specific organization we hurt the animals, if we publicly denigrate an activist’s work, we hurt the animals. We MUST remember that they come first, not our unusefull squabbles. I’m talking about you common people, not about politician who care about animals only during election period. But you people who rescue needy dogs, who adopt mice from laboratory, who make demos in summer and in winter… Don’t shut up, raise your voice against those who want to lobotomize you with TV and those who try to put ourselves one against the other in a sad war poor vs poor.

Revolution starts in your plate. You love animals but you’re not able to give up your hamburger. And you own a leather jacket but it’s ok because we eat cows. Maybe you are already vegetarian, but it’s difficult for you to become vegan ’cause you love Nutella and icecream (and maybe sometimes you eat fresh fish…). Well, I don’t want to talk about the problems you’ll have eating meat, the diseases you inflict to the planet and to the rest of the world population who have nothing to eat. I don’t want to talk about how animals are killed or treated and how we consider them “things”, there’s so much literature out there that you can easily get info. But just remember that mankind doesn’t need anything to live. What we see as a “need” (except for water and basic food) is a habit. We can give up almost everything we have and we’ll be able to survive. Animals must be equally considered, but we give them a different importance based on our personal cultural scale. We are shocked by Chinese people that eat cats and dogs, but what should an Indian say to us when he sees us eating cows? And what about an Arab when he sees us eating pigs? Read SKINNY BITCH for an exhilarating but scientifically complete reading and if you’re a man you can read SKINNY BASTARD

Inch by inch. I’d really love to do more for the animals, doing demos and exhibitions, becoming a vet, give them my voice, but often I am stucked in my daily life and work  frustration and really really tired. Pus there are so many abuses we perpetrate towards animals, abuses always new and bigger that most of the time I don’t know where to start. How can I solve this problem? Facing it inch by inch and not in its entirety. We cannot solve everything immediately, and it’s really better to spend time for the animals in the long run. It’s really better working for the cause once a week instead of burning out in a month. You can find many books to becoming an activist, for example:

Striking at the roots di Mark Hawthorne

PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights di Ingrid Newkirk

You can save the animals di ingrid Newkirk

I’d really love to leave you with a sentence that sums up everything, a motto like “Yes we can”, but the only thing that comes to my mind is that it’s true that one can make a difference. Why not you?


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Yes Saturday: #2

We’ve raised 674€. What’s this for?

audienceWhoooooooooaaaaaa. Here I am back from my second “Yes Saturday”. I just want you to know that I came home Sunday morning at 6 o’clock!!! For those who don’t know what the “Yes Saturday” experiment is, please read my last post. So what happened? I went to see my friends VICTIM OF THE SYSTEM in concert, the Italian cover band for System of a Down. The concert took place in Grantorto near Padua at the LAKEJUMP FESTIVAL, actually I thought it was a diving contest but…

I leave home at 8 pm just to be there in time to say hi to everybody. I drive for about one hour and get to the festival. I park the car and walk for 5 minutes among sand and stones in the dark to reach the place. I hear music and voices coming from somewhere in front of me but I don’t hear clearly. I get there and I see that it’s not really a diving contest, but something like a skate contest… I believe. I run behind the stage to greet my friends and many hugs and kisses because it’s more than three years we don’t see each other! They tell me they’re going to play at 1 am because there are three bands. At 1??? In Italy? The country where everything mist be shut down before 2? I can’t believe it. I want to see the contest and I realize it’s not a skate contest, but a snowboard and ski one. What? In July? That’s incredible.

At 11 pm the concert finally start. First to play are MORE THAN MURDER, a Nu Metal band. Great. Really good. Nice scenic presence, ability to stay on stage, and great musicians. Than it’s MR BIZARRO turn, a revelation to me. The band look is really low pitch, it seems like the bass player just came from the beach and the singer is really a cliché: fishnet stockings, purple ripped dress, army boots. But she’s a tiger!!! She sings, screams, shakes, modulate her voice like PJ Harvey and Juliette Lewis of Juliette and the Licks. I think they’re a sort of Italian Paramore because she must be 18. But she’s actually 30! In a minute she jumps off the stage with a katana in her hands and she challenges us like the best Black Mamba. Then the fire-eaters are among us with torch and fire balls. Musicians play it hard, music is intense and overpowering, the singer’s voice amazing! A show I won’t forget soon.

Finally Victims are on stage. Germane, the bassplayer, wears a black mask, the guys are righteously cool and Massimo della Pena from TONIO SCATIGNA E LA GATTA DA PELARE plays with them for the first time. A complete mess, everyone does the pogo dance, a thick dust raises under tens of feet. Energy is palpable in the air. I see everything… a girl drinks Jagermeister directly from the bottle, another guy walks with a huge bottle of wine in his hands. Everything goes smoothly, no disorder, no beef, no troubles… we are all friends and they’re all happily tipsy. Bravo to the organizers that gave what they earned in charity.

The concert is over and I’m sure people will go away soon but… the party goes on till the morning after with several dj set, new people that come and go and the place is completely packed. At 4.30 I head towards home and at 6 o’ clock I collapse on the bed.

Yes! Yes Saturday again and again. It was more than three years I didn’t see dawn and I missed it soooo much! And I learnt also that even though my way of living and having fun may seem childish or inappropriate for my age what I am able to answer right now is… who cares ROCK AND ROLL NEVER DIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!

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Yes Saturday: #1

Funds raised: 504€. What’s this for?

tempoHave you ever said “yes” to everything that came across? Have you ever grabbed every single chance life had to give you? Well I’ve never. I’m the kind of person that has to have everything organized before making a step. I have to be sure that if something goes wrong the parachute will surely and without any doubt, open. For this reason my life is terrible. It’s a complete mess. I try to get everything fixed, to doublecheck every single detail, but something always, ALWAYS goes in the wrong place… and I don’t have the flexibility to accept it. And my life got worse when I moved to this house in the country… In the middle of nowhere, on my own, without neighbors during the winter, in an old house I restored. I would have really spent less money if I bought it completely new… if this has to be the starting of a new day… wow… how lucky!!!

Last Saturday I watched “YesMan” with Jim Carrey. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s the story of a man who tries to avoid suffering by getting rid of others. He doesn’t answer the phone or returns calls, he stays away from his friends and he has a job he hates. Suddenly he met an old friend of his who invites him to a meeting where he swears he’ll say YES to EVERYTHING… and his life changes.

This movie really made me think on how I feel trapped in this spleen-cynical-mistrusty circle. Am I also trying to expel life from me? The answer is not easy: I do not trust people, more often I’m scared not to honor my responsibilities and more-more often I’m disappointed by the goals I have and haven’t reached in my life. Luckily (or maybe unfortunately) I’m not totally involved in the “maudit” mood, so I’m not thinking about committing suicide or stuff like that; I just wait for the days to pass. But… if life has a very little meaning, and it’s destined to a sure end, I could live it in a more adventurous way, couldn’t I? (I guess this is called instinct of self-preservation. So I decided to take this challenge I saw in the movie! But with some changes: I’m starting with one YESDAY a week (Saturday) and I’ll say yes to everything except for:

1.      I’m not saying yes to abuse/torture/killing another human and non human being

2.      I won’t eat any meat or fish or dairy

3.      I’m not going bankrupt for this experiment

4.      I won’t offer any sexual “anything”

5.      Every Saturday will be my YESDAY and here’s what happened on the first day of my experiment…

Some friends of mine and I met in a nice bar in Monselice, but first I got lost in a very small town nearby. We were hanging out fine but then some not so funny anecdotes came out that upset the person with me. We went away in a very bad mood, so my first YESDAY (or, better, my first YESHALFADAYDAY) hasn’t been a very nice experience, but I learnt that:

  • In movies reality is NEVER real. Life is always bigger, better,  faster and more interesting than what it really is.
  • It’s really easier to experiment when you’re single

I don’t want to give up so fast, but is it true that life changes for the best if we accept everything? How about you? Are you stuck in something that you don’t like or that you don’t want to be stuck into and your only wish is to run away? Is it true that, as a friend of mine told me, when we say “yes” we unconsciously accept life? Let me know your opinion, I’m curious… as always.


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14 questions a meat-eater shouldn’t ask but a vegan should be able to answer to

Funds raised: 500€. What’s this for?

greggeI want to do an experiment. Trying to start a new life at the age of 36. It’s been a while since I’m an animal rights advocate but now I’m going to try to take that “extra” step: study veterinary in college and see if a new life in animal rights activism, at 36 in Italy is possible.

Since I became a veg, more than 7 years ago, I had to face several clichés, jokes and silly questions. Here are the most commons I had to answer to. Oh and just for you yo know… Italians are often closed to new ideas or life concepts so what may seems obvious for you it’ s huge mountain for an Italian.

1. Where do you get your protein? Well, this is a classic. I don’t want to talk science, but almost all foodstuff has proteins. Maybe only water hasn’t. There are two kind of proteins in Nature: the good ones that you can finds in vegetables, cereal, legumes etc – those who give you the good cholesterol – and the bad ones that you can finds in the meat – those that give you high pressure (among all). Vegans get their proteins from vegetables. Plus, I’ve never heard of a person (at least in western countries) dying for “protein deficiency”, but there are really many people having cholesterol diseases, obesity and (guess what?) osteoporosis.

2. Yeah ok I care about animals, but fish… it doesn’t have a brain. Well… just because another being doesn’t have blood in their veins or we are not able to hear it screaming while dying, it means it doesn’t suffer. Fish have have nervous systems that comprehend and respond to pain and they suffocate and die when they’re out of their element, just like us if we were put underwater.

3. But meat is soooo tasty. I don’t believe that TASTE is a good justification for meat consumption. Jeffrey Dahmer thought his victims were tasty too…

4. You don’t eat meat, fish, dairy… what do you eat? Only grass??? No. Vegan diet is really various and delicious. Many times people told me “come on, come to the party, there’ll be grilled vegetables and salad for you…”. Actually I don’t like grilled or steamed vegetables that much, but there is so much good food to eat… especially in Italy with our mediterranean diet: all kinds of pasta, cereal, rice, legumes, seitan, tofu, tempeh served in wonderful ways. I’ve just found out the “lupino steak” as well but they’re kind of expensive. Why don’t you check this website out? You’ll surely find out something tastier than “grass”.

5. a) I really cannot cut out meat from my diet because I’m anaemic. b) And look at you. You’re so pale… if only you eat meat… c) you have a headache/stomacache/feetache/toothache/your back hurts? It’s because you don’t eat meat. a) Hey guys guess what? I’ve been anaemic all my life… since I became veg. The problem was that my diet was not balanced (pasta, hamburger and frites always), but I discovered this just after being veg. I used to eat big quantities of raw horse meat. No doctor ever told me about the veg diet to cure my disease. I kept swallowing iron pills and phials forever but then… the miracle. Recently I’ve been anaemic again because of too much work and stress. I couldn’t eat properly so I thought it would have been fair to eat cheese again. How wrong I was. Anaemy was back again like an old boyfriend you don’t want to see anymore. Got rid of cheese, got rid of anaemy. b) Well maybe you don’t know, but meat has no beta carotene so it cannot help you sun tan. I’m pale and I got eye sockets because I work 8/10 hours a day, 7 days a week in an office and in a restaurant. And I don’t like my jobs. I never sunbathe, I’m often tired and stressed. I sleep 3 or 4 hours per night… this leaves shadows under my eyes, not salad!! c) I have headache/stomacache/feetache/toothache/my back hurts as anyone in the world. My life is really stressful for me… for other info please check section b)

6. If we don’t eat animals, thwy will eat us. Ehm… well… I really would love to see that day, when cows, hens, pigs, duck will army themselves to kill us. No ok now seriously. There are millions of farmed animals because of us. We farm them. If factory farming didn’t exist, animals will automatically adjust to the availability of food, space, and shelter (something humans don’t do). Factory farming is so bad that is destroying the vast majority of the forests. We are destroying ourselves with our own hands… and we know it. See this interesting video

7. Hunting is good for the animals. Our habitat is plenty of animals that destroy everything. This is totally wrong. Hunting destroys everything. Only the strong will survive in Nature, but hunters kill everything that moves: the strong and the weak.

8. But factory farmed animals are raised for food, clothing etc… So kids were born to sew balls? Women to serve men? Jews to be exterminated? And can I abuse my son just because I have the power to do it?

9. You’re inconsistent. You speak out for animals but then you walk over ants and flies are killed on your windscreen. I try to do my best not to hurt other beings, but it’s unrealistic not to hurt anybody (when I buy made in China or multinational products for example). I try to avoid any suffering whenever I can and, even though I cannot save all the flies on my windscreen, I cannot NOT see the pain of animals in slaughterhouses, circuses, fur factories, pet stores etc…

10. Vegetables suffer as well. Well this is doubtable. If it suffers it will have legs to run away from danger. And salad as well. Fruit is designed for this purpose: to be eaten from animals to ensure pollination. Vegetables have a different nervous system than ours. My hair and my nails are alive too, but I really doubt they suffer when I cut them. What is real is animal suffering in slaughterhouses or vivisection labs.

11. There are more important things to take care of: kids, elderly people, abused women… These are all great causes to dedicate, but the great thing is that you can do both when you’re vegan. You can save animals AND help whoever else you prefer.

12. You have your opinions, I got mine. Freedom of expression is different than freedom of action. If I don’t like your t-shirt and I tell you, it’s fine, this is an opinion; but if I tear it up from you, you sue me. When you eat your T-bone, your “opinion” has just killed an innocent.

13. Don’t dairy cows need to be milked? This is the best myth ever. In order for a cow to produce milk, she must have a calf. Each “dairy cow” is impregnated every year so that she continues to produce a steady supply of milk. In nature, the mother’s calf would drink her milk, eliminating the need for her to be milked by humans, but on factory farms, calves are taken away from their mothers when they are just a day or two old so that humans can have the milk that nature intended for the calves. Female calves are slaughtered immediately or raised to be dairy cows. Male calves are confined for 16 weeks to tiny veal crates that are so small that they cannot even turn around. But if you like milk… why don’t eat your cat’s or dog’s?

14. Man is omnivore, and anyway… the lion eats the gazelle. Carnivorous animals have claws, short digestive tracts, and long, curved fangs. Humans have flat, flexible nails, and our so-called “canine” teeth are minuscule compared to those of carnivores. We have flat molars and long digestive tracts that are suited to diets of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Eating meat is hazardous to our health.

Well this is just an excerpt of all the questions I have been asked daily. Let me know your comments or tell me the questions you have been asked… I’m really curious.


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