For a really long time, I’ve wanted a t-shirt that says, “I think, therefore I am… vegan”. So I made them. There is a few for sale in the store. They are ethically produced, sweat-shop free, screen printed by a socially-conscious Australian company.
Political Message shirts
I love political message shirts. I made my first one for a protest against mandatory detention, back in the Howard era. I found a shirt with Arabic writing along the top, so I wrote TERRORIST underneath. It parodied the hysteria of the time, so was a hit in activist circles. Whenever I wore it, I had people coming up to me, asking if I could make them one. So I made them.
I’ve made a few other t-shirts, often using stencils and spray paint. My favourite is a stencil of Barack Obama. Now I can wear his face on my shirt… but I really want his voice on my phone’s GPS (I need all the confidence I can get when following directions).
With 3 children, my usual style of vegan activism is to bring a tray of super-enticing vegan food to morning tea at playgroup/kindy, with a little sign saying “vegan”. Chocolate cupcakes with white icing and cherries on top were really effective. The immediate effect is get people talking about what’s in their food; it generates recipe swapping and talk about veganism. Over time, there is a gentle shift in the culture to include vegan food in all morning teas, where once there was none. I’ve seen a couple of mums go vegan, and a few others commit to vegetarianism.
Now my biggest child is at school, I am up against a culture of sausage sizzles. At every event there’s carcinogenic processed meat being fried; there’s no vegan-friendly or even vegetarian alternatives. To elicit some change in this tradition, I’m going to have to get involved in all the organising committees. Last year I tried to be a committee mum (at kindergarten) but failed, due to the overwhelming sickness of pregnancy. I was absent at most of the meetings or I was silenced by nausea. But this year will be different: it’s the first of many years as a school mum and I’m not silenced by the nausea of pregnancy. I’m wearing my position loudly on my shirt; I’m determined that my kids not be overlooked in a carcinogenic culture. I hope to introduce healthy, environmentally-friendly food to social events, and ensure that no one is excluded because of catering decisions. I don’t expect the whole school to go vegan, but I do expect inclusion for all children in the diverse school community.