The Ghosts In Our Machine

Samantha and Chris’ Ghost-Free Journey: Day 5

Photo of Marineland Protest, by Jo-Anne McArthur

After 4 days of their journey, mainly focusing on fine-tuning their Ghost-Free lifestyle, Samantha and Chris are interested in discussing animal advocacy today.

Samantha and Chris, you mentioned wanting to share vegan resources and having conversations with non-vegans, as well as ways to effectively communicate about “the ghosts”. What has been your vegan/animal advocate experience up to this point and where do you want to go from here?

Coach Rosemary and Coach Donna

The opinions we express as GFJ Coaches are ours personally. We are not professional health practitioners.Β  Neither are we treating a specific health care issue.Β  That means we are not offering advice on health-care problems. If youΒ  are experiencing a health-care problem, it is important to seek the advice of a health professional. However we are experienced, practicing vegans and we look forward to coaching you on your journey..

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  1. Chris Beeney January 11, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Trying to weave vegan lifestyle into someone’s life is sometimes the best way, not always but sometimes. I believe you should be upfront with your philosophies on veganism and animal cruelty but not come down on someone for being a meat eater. It’s the same with religion; there’s so many people out there just going “You’re doing it wrong” or “You’re going to hell.”

    Forcing anyone to do anything is not going to work. We’ve all had parents try to force us to do stuff at some point in our life and sometimes we do it, but begrudgingly and it makes us not want to do it in the future.

    One recent example that I have is waffle day at work. The group all put in $10 a piece to buy a waffle maker and supplies. Granted the waffle mix has egg in it, and I’m not participating, but still… the other day I overheard them talking about how they ran out of eggs. I told them they really should use egg substitute… it’s shelf stable and there’s a lot of it in one box so they won’t run out very quickly. I then explained that egg is just a binding agent anyway and doesn’t really add flavor, so it’ll taste the same.

    When I have some extra fundage, I’m thinking of bringing it in myself, along with some shelf stable soy milk. Maybe I can get one or two of them converted, at least for the waffles, and for the fact that they don’t need to go to the fridge to get eggs and milk.

    • Coach Donna January 11, 2013 at 9:39 am

      It is so true that you can’t force someone to change. True change must come from within – or else chances are that it will not last for long.
      What you are doing at work sounds ideal. Have any of your co-workers ever asked you anything at all about the whys of your lifestyle ? I remember that you mentioned on Day 1 that you told them a bit about the dairy industry.

    • Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 11:14 am

      They’ve only asked me what’s wrong with milk. They haven’t been curious about anything else other than occasionally asking what fake meat is.

      • Chris Beeney January 11, 2013 at 11:15 am

        That was me above :3

        • Coach Donna January 11, 2013 at 12:38 pm

          Chris, I don’t think that their lack of curiosity is all that unusual (unfortunately). It sounds like Samantha would like to feel more comfortable in going to protests, etc. Is this something that interests you also?

        • Chris Beeney January 11, 2013 at 12:41 pm

          I would be ok with protests but just find myself with so much to do already and not enough time to get everything done. I don’t mind protests though I’ve never been to one.

          • Coach Donna January 11, 2013 at 2:52 pm

            Sounds like you and Samantha have incredibly busy schedules. Protests are only 1 form of activism – not everyone feels comfortable with them. I went to numerous ones when I lived in NYC. I found them to be energizing – being surrounded by others who believed in the same cause – even if I didn;t know any of them.
            You will find the form of activism that suits you best for this period of your life. Things can change based on your jobs, where you live, etc – and then your form of activism might also change. I think that the important thing is that we all do something and act as role models of happy, healthy, compassionate people who embrace a kind way of living.

  2. Coach Donna January 11, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Good Morning Samantha and Chris.

    As I reflect on the past week, it seems that you have done a great deal of advocating already.
    Chris, your presence and non-compromising stance in your work place is a wonderful form of advocacy. We know that this is not easy to work in a place where nobody else seems to ‘get it”.
    Samantha – you mentioned that you made a wonderful vegan lunch for co-workers on Black Friday -and that even your mom is giving veganism a try.

    I think that sometimes we forget how much advocacy we do – simply by being who we are.
    I am really looking forward to today’s discussions!

  3. Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 9:36 am

    I have actually never been to a protest. I used to distribute political pamphlets and hang posters before I was legally able to vote.

    I am an active petition signer. I actually seek out petitions to sign that relate to animal rights issues. Other than that, I tend to be good at fundraising and I love to volunteer.

    I guess I have always been “scared” to go to a protest. This is probably more because I get anxious in situations where I do not know anyone other than Chris. I am not the kind of person who goes out with the intent to make friends. Not that I am antisocial, I just have a tendency to be reserved at first (ask Danielle lol).

    I would love to become a part of something larger than just me. I want to start taking part in protests as well as more work with fundraising and volunteer work related to animals.

    • Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 9:41 am

      I posted my first response at the same time that you posted this, Samantha. All of the ways that you advocate are great, and trying other forms can be intimidating at first. It’s funny how you say you’re afraid of going to a protest because of the social aspect…I thought you were going to say you’re afraid of being arrested!
      If you’re more reserved, socially then more intimate forms of advocacy may be more comfortable. Demonstrations and protests are not for everyone, and that’s ok. Maybe start with a fundraising event, volunteer, etc.
      What organizations are you interested in?

      • Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 9:52 am

        I do want to start getting out of my comfort zone and attending protests. My parents told me something growing up that has stuck with me. If you get arrested, make sure it is for something that you did to help others. I would prefer not to get arrested (even though they have better cable and medical care in jail). My mom used to tell me from the time I was about 5 years old that it was okay to tattle or step in if anyone was hurting another person or an animal.

        I like The Ghosts in Our Machine (I was following you guys since I became vegan) and Our Hen House. I am not aware of many others. I guess I just don’t really know a lot of what is out there or how to make that connection.

        I actually aspire to be more like Danielle in my vegan lifestyle.

        • Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 10:03 am

          Your Mom sounds like a very wise woman πŸ™‚ If you’re interested in local or regional demonstrations and that type of advocacy, you can look into Western NY Animal Allies, Animal Animal Rights Advocates of Upstate NY, Toronto Pig Save….to name a few. I guess it depends on your interests and focus for advocacy.

        • Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 10:08 am

          I would love to get involved with anything directly related to animals. I wanted to go help at Toronto Pig Save and go to the Marine Land protests but have to wait until I get a passport/enhanced ID so I will be able to re-enter the US afterwards πŸ™‚

        • Coach Donna January 11, 2013 at 10:12 am

          I love the website Kind Green Planet – one of the key people behind it is Marisa Miller Wolfson (creator of the film Vegucated). Marisa has a very kind, gentle approach – you will see when you poke around the website that there is a section called ‘Vegan at Heart:. There are helpful resources listed on this site too :

          It sounds like you have progressive and understanding parents! It is wise to know your comfort level and your strengths. I know that ever since following the Ghosts project, I have wanted to be more like the wonderful makers of this film. Unfortunately, I am not a photographer or a film maker or a producer….. But I can help to spread the word.

        • Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 10:15 am

          I really think I would like to branch out from my normal work with companion animals to work with “farm” animals. I am mostly a city girl but I love them so much. I actually grew up with a pot-bellied pig for a brother. He lived in our house, slept in the bed, and spent time with the dogs and our rabbit. My mother rescued Sigmund from a petting zoo in a grocery store parking lot.

          • Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 10:26 am

            Samantha, did you know that Farm Sanctuary has a volunteer program? They run from April – September ( I think), and you can help right at the Farm. There are also a few wildlife rehabs in the area …if you’re interested, I can get you the info.

          • Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 10:30 am

            I am aware of the Farm Sanctuary volunteer program, I am on their e-mail list. Chris and I would really have to go out there for the weekend (or at least overnight) to participate in that. It is on our to-do list for this year and hopefully his work schedule doesn’t interfere.

            I would love some information on local wildlife rehabs.

        • Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 10:20 am

          I actually recently re-watched Vegucated recently with Luna. I love the approach that entire film takes, it is a lot kinder and gentler than many I have seen. To me it makes the message clearer and easier for omnivores to relate to.

          When we got to the part where the pigs were crying, Luna cried with them until they stopped. It seems that she knows that they are not any different from her.

    • Coach Donna January 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      Samantha – since you are comfortable handing out pamphlets, have you considered doing work with Vegan Outreach? Perhaps they are already active on your campus – if not, you might be able to start something up. It would be a great way to connect with similar minds too.

      • Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 4:42 pm

        I am thinking about starting something up on campus, because there is not a noticeable presence. I will check this out.

  4. Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 9:36 am

    I completely agree with Donna, you are both advocate just by being vegan and who you are. Whether it’s at work making waffles and offering alternative ingredients, or Samantha talking about animal testing at LUSH, you seem to be naturals!

    We all bring different talents and interests to advocacy; it’s a matter of finding your niche, or growing out of your comfort zone for some.
    Great start of an important discussion today!

    • Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 9:58 am

      Both Chris and I do our best to be knowledgeable vegans. Knowing not only the reasons why we made this choice, but also knowing about the ghosts, dietary needs/nutrition, and substitutions are all crucial parts of being both vegan and advocates.

      It is not possible to know everything, but the more you know the better you will be able to help people to their own enlightenment.

  5. Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 9:43 am

    I try to tread very carefully so as not to become “that obnoxious vegan girl”. I was actually re-reading part of Davis’ GFJ where you were talking about social/cultural stereotypes. I try very hard to break that stereotype but am not bothered if people try to put me in that box.

    When I talk to people about being vegan it is usually when they seem curious or ask questions. I LOVE to bring vegan food to events and watch non-vegans love it (except apparently Chris’ co-workers). It is even better when they don’t know that it is vegan before they eat it. I made super creamy mashed potatoes for the meal I brought to work and people where really surprised that there was no dairy in them (I used canned coconut milk).

  6. Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Food is a major way to reach people because it’s so ritualized and part of almost every social function. So many people can’t fathom how eating a diet free from animal product could be possible, and my you bringing them delicious food, it help to break down the stereotype of how difficult it is to eat this way.
    A wonderful book that I find to be extremely helpful is Melanie Joy’s, “Why love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows”. Another is Will Tuttle’s “The World Peace Diet”. Have you read them? I think they are important books to read for advocacy and activism. Of course, there are so many others, and if you’re interested I can list more!

    • Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 10:02 am

      Those are all on my reading list πŸ™‚ I have yet to read any of them however. The budget is tight with me going to school full-time and we don’t usually have a ton of extra money. Once things even out a bit financially, I will have to pick them up.

      I am also banned from most libraries due to my inability to return books in a timely manner. I will have to see if they are available at my college’s library.

      • Chris Beeney January 11, 2013 at 11:31 am

        She’s banned by me, not by the library. πŸ˜‰

  7. Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Here is a 60 min. video of a Melanie Joy presentation on the psychology of eating meat….free!

    • Debra Roppolo January 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      What a great conversation! I’d like to suggest another book, too: The Animal Activist’s Handbook by Bruce Friedrich & Matt Ball. Not only will you find some great insights about effective advocacy, I think you’ll probably find ideas for different kinds of advocacy you may not have thought of. It’s a small paperback, $15 USD. And if you haven’t done so already, also check out Farm Sanctuary’s Compassionate Communities page:

      • Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm

        Debra, this is a great suggestion. I haven’t read this one, but your suggestion reminded me of another good read …Nick Cooney’s “Change of Heart” and Rae Sikora’s “Planet Peace Daily”.
        Rae Sikora has a wonderfully direct and loving approach to activism, and her website and book are great resources.

        • Danielle Legg January 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm

          Rae Sikora is absolutely amazing! Sam, do you have a kindle? If so, the books mentioned are also available there. ALSO really, the library is an excellent place to suggest that they carry certain books. While I was staying with my folks I asked for several books that they didn’t have, that not one library in the system had, and the best part? They actually ordered them! So now books like Every Twelve Seconds, Exposing the Big Game, and Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds, are available. Even if YOU don’t pick these books up, requesting them gets them on the shelf for people to see, that matters.

        • Chris Beeney January 11, 2013 at 1:22 pm

          Danielle, Sam is against ebooks. The only problem with libraries is Sam feels like the book is hers after she gets it so then if I don’t take it and return it myself, it never goes back. So we tend to buy them instead and have our own library.

          • Danielle Legg January 11, 2013 at 6:44 pm

            Oh dear me!

  8. Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Since this is your last day on the GFJ, please feel free to open up the discussion topics. Do you have any questions or other topics you’d like to discuss?

    • Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 11:51 am

      I was wondering what people use for flea control for their pets? I forgot to ask the other day.
      We have tried using a spray designed for cats and dogs but it didn’t work well and one of the cats was sensitive to it.

      • Debra Roppolo January 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm

        I only use the stuff from my vet, only, ever. Over the counter stuff can make your pets sick. Was it tested on animals? Yeah, probably, but my cats also don’t eat a vegan diet. As I’ve said, I grudgingly accept that I live in an imperfect world. My first responsibility is to the animals in my care and I won’t take an unnecessary chance with their health.

      • Chris Beeney January 11, 2013 at 12:40 pm

        We also use stuff from the vet. We tried a natural flea medicine once and a cat lost some hair from it for a long time so we’re hesitant about natural flea meds.

        • Danielle Legg January 11, 2013 at 6:49 pm

          I also use the products from my vet. I don’t use the advantix because it’s FDA approved, and what the representative told us was that what that meant was required animal testing. (Tests like the LD 50-the lethal dose where 50% of the animals die) I’m not down with that. Arcot HATES the flea and heartworm stuff, but really, right now, we’re doing it when it’s warm, and I stretch it (which is off label)
          I agree this is one of those grey areas. Their health and happiness is paramount. We do our best not to hurt other to ensure that. Arcot does his part by being vegan πŸ™‚ Peke does her part by melting my heart and being cute.

      • Coach Donna January 11, 2013 at 12:45 pm

        ha – Rosemary and I seem to share one brain sometimes – I didn’t see that she already posted the Peta link πŸ™‚
        Like Debra, I use what the vet recommends – mostly because we live in an area that is know to have the worst tick popluation anywhere. Lyme disease, Erlichiosis,Anaplasmosis, etc (not even sure if I am spelling these correctly) can be really debilitating. If not caught early on, there can be major health issues. Indeed, this is another one of those grey areas.

        • Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 12:51 pm


    • Chris Beeney January 11, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      Another little known fact is that Arizona doesn’t have fleas. Fleas can’t survive above 90 degrees for more than a day or two (not sure on the exact time frame) — though we did have one summer in which the a/c was broken out here and it got up to 90 for a whole day and fleas were gone the next day. It’s not always practical to crank up the heat that high for that long though, and many would have a hard time adjusting (we’re just used to it since we moved from Arizona).

      We do tend to use the vet recommended flea medicine rather than cooking us all for a day but thought some others may want to try this if they can stand the heat πŸ˜‰

  9. Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Again, we face another difficult topic as we did with using medicines for humans. I don’t think there is a black or white answer; it depends on your ethic, your particular companion animals’ health issues,etc.
    Here is some additional information on possible alternatives. I’ve also heard from some people, that essential oils can be used as a preventative.


  10. Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    One more about essential oils for our loves…

  11. Coach Donna January 11, 2013 at 12:35 pm
  12. Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Sadly, we can’t really use the essential oils for Luna. She and the cats sleep together and gives each other baths. Cats are very sensitive to essential oils.
    The household cleaning tips we mostly do anyways because we have a lot of fur kids.

  13. Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    This is Vawn…later renamed Dawn when we found out she was a girl <3
    Activism and advocacy to me, is anything you can do to help a fellow being. Whether it's a demonstration or sharing information in a respectful manner, it's all the same to me.

    Vawn was rescued by my son and his roommates at college. She was wondering around their townhomes and pond but had no shelter or protection. With a little help, the guys transported Vawn to a wildlife rehabilitation farm about an hour away. They are not vegans, but cared enough about Vawn's life. Perhaps this simple act could be one that plants a seed in those that witnessed their care and concern....perhaps even for themselves.

  14. Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 4:12 pm


  15. Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Vawn again

    • Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      As we near the end of your GFJ, Donna and I would like to thank you for sharing your “fine-tuning” vegan journey. We hope that you learned a few new things and have more to think about and consider as you move forward. The learning process never seems to end, and there is such a wealth of new information and resources available. One of the things that stood out in your GFJ was seeing how within your busy lives, you still take the time to live with awareness and consideration for our animal friends. Best wishes to you both!
      For the Ghosts, Coaches Rosemary and Donna

      • Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 5:08 pm

        Thanks to everyone for this wonderful opportunity! We do not often get the opportunity to have these kinds of open and honest conversations with other vegans.

        We are very thankful for all of the wonderful information and resources that you provided us with. We are currently drooling over food options that we were previously unaware of. A vegan shopping spree is in order I believe.

        Both Chris and I look forward to chiming in on future GFJ and furthering our activism…for the ghosts.

  16. Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    One day I hope to have some land in the country so I can rescue (and foster in some cases) wonderful beings like Vawn. Hopefully that day will come soon πŸ˜€

    • Coach Rosemary January 11, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      Make sure you let us know when you do this Samantha so we can plan a visit.

  17. Nina January 12, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Dear Samantha, Chris, Coach Donna and Coach Rosemary,
    I wanted to thank you all for the wealth of information you shared in your 5 Day GFJ. This is an incredible resource for everyone to refer to and share in the future! I have learned a lot by following this journey and am happy to have an archive to refer back to!
    For the Ghosts!
    Nina Beveridge
    Producer, TGIOM