Happy Herbivore Blog

Happy Herbivore's Convore Community Discussion Group

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: News

Hi I'm Scott (a.k.a. Mr. Happy Herbivore). This is my first guest post on HH.

I'm here to tell you about a new feature/service for the HH community. I've always wanted to provide tools that allow our community to interact with one another better.

For example, we have comments on blog posts, but these tend to be single threaded conversations. We also have Facebook but it is very news driven so what is here today is gone tomorrow. Plus with Facebook, there is no easy way to find or reference our previous conversations. Meanwhile Twitter is a soapbox, and lots of cool stuff happens there, but it is very one-on-one.

We need a way for users to interact with each other and we've tried to make that happen. First, with the HH Meetup Groups. Then with forums and a chat room, but nothing has worked very well.

Soooo.... Enter Convore (pronounced "Con-vore"). With Convore, you can chat in real time. You can create topics and search for topics. It even tracks un-read messages so you can go back and see everything you missed!

And like HH, Convore uses Django to power the website. (nerd talk)

Anyway  Enjoy, engage, and make friends. =) see you there!

Vegan Bullying is not Acceptable Either

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

After yet another young life was taken too soon by the hands of hate, many of my friends took to their Facebook pages to share this message:

"The girl you just called fat? She has been starving herself and has lost over 30lbs. The boy you just called stupid? He has a learning disability and studies over 4 hrs a night. The girl you just called ugly? She spends hours putting makeup on hoping people will like her. The boy you just tripped? He is abused enough at home. There is a lot more to people than you think. Post this as your status if you're against bullying."

I have always felt very---very fortunate to go to a high school where bullying was non-existant. At my high school everyone was free to be exactly who they were -- gay, straight, bisexual, or anything in between. It didn't matter how you looked physically, who you prayed to, who you made out with or slept with, what color your skin was --- everyone was treated equally. Sure not everyone got along, and there were clear groups of friends, but no one group "ruled the school" and no one -- and I do mean, no one, was harassed. The students at my school wouldn't have stood for it. (To put this all into further perspective, I went to High School in the 90's).

So to hear bullying goes on in High School's today, in 2011, is devastating. It's sad. I wish there was something I could do other than tell today's teenagers that High School eventually ends --- stay strong and know that you are perfect just the way you are.

but today's post isn't necessarily about the bullying in High Schools, but the bullying in the vegan community. 

During the blog book tour, Sarah of Gluten Girl in Austin asked me why there is so much conflict in the vegan community -- noting she'd seen vegans hating on other vegans, vegans hating on vegetarians, and the like. 

In the middle of answering her, my inbox pinged... an email alerting me to a new comment on an old blog post titled "10 Reasons I Love Being Vegan" in which I discuss all the benefits I've experienced since going vegan 4.5 years ago...

Back when I originally posted it, Ashley left the following comment:

"I found myself nodding and agreeing with nearly every thing you wrote. I'm not 100% vegan but even giving up meat 8 years ago I felt a lot of the same things. And the veggie community is so welcoming you can't help but make new friends. And it's a special bond to have with friends that also went veggie, they understand where you are coming from."

A nice, genuine comment that I greatly appreciated---only Joe left this comment in response to her last week:

"The fact that you're a vegetarian makes your comments less relevant.  You don't know what you're missing.  The feeling you get from being  a 100% vegan is like nothing else.  It is so extremely different from being a vegetarian.  What are you afraid of? It really is just fear that's holding you back.   Stop being so scared and selfish.  Be bold and selfless."

I was abhorred. angry. disgusted. embarrassed. I immediately wrote Ashley just in case she was notified of a response comment.

She'd had indeed read it, and while her response to me was kind, her reaction was sobering. Ashley was hurt. angry. upset. and what stuck with me the most were her final words "It's people like THAT that make me not want to go to the vegan side."

I'm still puzzled why vegans attack other vegans saying they aren't vegan enough. Or why some vegans gang up on vegetarians. Or why I even felt like I had to say this. 

I say we should applaud people for the efforts they are making, rather than belittle them for where they fall short. 

We don't know why someone is or is not vegan. Maybe that person has a medical condition that requires them to take pills that only come in a gelatin-capsule. Maybe they raise their own chickens, love them like children, and consider it a symbiotic relationship to eat the chickens' eggs. Maybe they have allergies -- severe allergies, that make it extremely difficult to be vegan but they are trying... 

Being vegan is about being compassionate, and we should show that to others. I have always tried to make Happy Herbivore a safe space where anyone can feel welcomed and not judged. 

People like Ashley---they need our encouragement. They need our support. They don't need people preaching at them telling them they are wrong and how to live their life. It would be much more effective to congratulate Ashley for being 80% vegan, than hit her over the head for not being 100%.

Be kind. and lead by example.


UPDATE: Ashley responded:

I'm overwhelmed by the response to this. When Lindsay first brought this to my attention, I was hurt. Very hurt, then, to be honest, I was somewhat worried about what the reaction would be by people. [HH: I informed Ashley I'd be blogging about this] 

I trusted Lindsay would make this tasteful and to the point, which she did. Now reading everyone's comments, instead of feeling hurt, I'm thankful. I'm thankful that Joe said what he said, because without it I would not realize the overwhelming support people have for all happy herbivore choices :). None of you know me personally, yet I feel like you are all great friends.

Thank you Lindsay for posting this, thank you everyone who supported this post.
And Joe, I hope you are humbled.

It's a small, small world

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

When social media was first coming out -- and a lot of people were skeptic, or thought it was annoying, or generally couldn't see the appeal, I was all in.

I looked at social media -- or actually, let me go back one step further, I saw the Internet, as the single tool that would take us back to the village. A global village. I knew we'd become one all encompassing small town. 

GaryV---who I've had the pleasure of meeting in real life, and being online buddies with, really goes into detail about this in his new book The Thank You Economy, only he says it a tad more succinctly than I am here. 

Point being, it's an even smaller world than we all imagined.

Flashback to my childhood. I spent a big portion of it in Orlando, Florida---living every child's dream of hanging out with Mickey on the weekend. One of my favorite rides at Disney World was "It's a Small World" (here is a video of it on youtube). Looking at it now in 2011, and not through the eyes of an 8-year-old in the 80s, make it kind-of corny, but I like the message all the same (even if I'll be signing the song the rest of the day. So will you if you watch the video, so I apologize).

I've always been amazed by the "6 degrees of separation" phenomenon and how small this world really is. For example, Scott went to a small military school which none of you have probably ever heard of and then yesterday, here on the island, a non-US island, we saw a car with a sticker for his college...

But what spawned this post, however, was a recent interaction caused *by* this blog. Earlier this week, I put up a note inviting bloggers to interview me as part of my virtual blog book tour. (I've really enjoyed doing these interviews, btw -- read them here.).

One lovely woman, named Clara, wrote me and one of her questions asked where in Florida I lived... she was curious since she lives in Tampa. 

I wrote her back that I lived just outside of Tampa, during High School, and that my sister still lives there. I don't know WHY I also put what High School I went to -- she didn't ask, after all, but I added "I went to PHU."

Clara immediately wrote back "PHUHS? I went there too! Maybe that's why you have always looked familiar?" Then, moments later, Clara and I realized that we were in the same graduating class. 

Our high school was quite large, bigger than many private colleges (like Scott's, for example,) so it's not totally crazy that we wouldn't have instantly recognized each other (especially since we've both married and changed our names) but still...

and this is riding of a similar email I got a few months ago. Alissa had emailed me and said "you probably don't remember me, but I was a year behind you in middle school, lived in the neighborhood next to yours, and we rode the bus together for two years." I did remember her. 

Then she continued, "Anyway, I've been reading your blog for a long time, but it wasn't until you posted a picture of yourself the other day that I realized Oh. My. God. I KNOW HER!" 

I'm very happy to have reconnected with both Alissa, and Clara, even if I didn't really know Clara to begin with. I really do love these kinds of stories. Even living on this island, I am constantly reminded how small the world is --- like that my neighbor here is from the same town in PA that my entire extended family lives and they know of each other.

I think as this "media age" continues there will be more stories. and I, for one, look forward to them. I am so thankful to social media and the Internet because I've reconnected with a lot of people I've lost touch with, I've met so many incredible people -- close friends, through twitter, blogging, facebook, etc., that I can't imagine my life without them in it.

For all the unsavory parts of the Internet (privacy? what privacy?) and the fact you can't take things back, or ask for a "do over" (quoting that famous line in The Social Network, "The Internet isn't written in pencil, it's written in pen") --- there are a lot of awesome parts... and I am happy to be part of a large global village, that has a small town feel.

p.s. I'm giving away a copy of The Natural Vegan Kitchen on Facebook today. It's not fat-free, but many of the recipes are and the author focuses on fresh foods, which I really like.