Lil’ Discerning Brutes: A New/Old Era of Fathering

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By Sid Garza-Hillman

I am a father of three young children, and it occurs to me that while the particulars of fatherhood have changed over time—today’s much increased and often equal involvement of fathers in the everyday lives of our children and households (carpool, homework, cooking, cleaning, laundry etc.)—one aspect of fathering remains the same: full participation in teaching our children about right and wrong.

The inspiration for this post came from my 10-year-old daughter who was recently upset about a strongly held family ethic that is literally not shared by any other family in her school, or in our entire town for that matter. Her dismay stemmed from the fact that she found herself having to behave, if only in this one regard, differently from virtually every other child at her school. She made no bones about asking me point blank if she could compromise on that ethic in order to ‘fit in’ with her friends. And here was the rub: allow my child to act in conflict with the very values and morals that I, along with my wife, want to instill in her, OR, essentially ‘force’ her to do what we believe is the right thing even if it means having to be the ‘different’ kid at school.

You might be thinking the answer is simple: require her to do the right thing, the lesson being that doing the right thing is more important than fitting in. The answer for me wasn’t that simple. I wanted HER to make the decision on her own. To weigh the options for herself. I wanted her to understand that there would be ramifications and consequences for her actions that would come from her—not from me, but from her. I was clear with myself on what I definitely did not want—for her to resent me for forcing her to do the right thing, thereby making the act a “I’m only doing this because my dad’s making me” decision rather than a personal value-based choice.

For me, instilling a sense of right and wrong is the exact opposite of programming some robotic child who will just do what I say. It is about clearly communicating the reasons we, as a family, act the way we do (in this particular case it was explaining that our decision to have our family be 100% plant-based was for reasons of compassion, care for the planet and care for ourselves, but could easily have been a discussion about stealing, lying, cheating or any other ethical choice), and allowing her the freedom to then act based on that information. I felt confident she was at an age where she could handle the weight of this choice, and it turned out that I was right, at least this time.

In the end, discussing the issue as we did apparently took the pressure off her. She stayed true to what she believes is right, and the issue has not come up again. So while day-to-day parenting may continue to change over time, hopefully it will always be the case that a parent’s main responsibility is to raise the next generation of discerning brutes.

PS After a quick Google search, turns out ‘Lil’ Discerning Brute’ was the least popular child’s toy of 2011.

Valentine’s Dude

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Whether you’re getting a gift for your lover, your friend or you’re spoiling yourself – I selected these diligently designed Valentine’s Day gifts that will have you swooning in no time.

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Gift Pack of Organic Fudge Squares - vegan & gluten-freeCLASSIC COLLECTION

MODEL MAN: JOEY SLOMOWITZ

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Joey Slomoitz has a love for life, but not just his own. A born thrill-seeker, he’s been utilizing his modeling career to see the world. But there’s more to Joey than enviable abs, an Australian accent and a chiseled jawline. Mr. Slomowitz is a passionate animal and social justice advocate, a parkour and surfing enthusiast and musician, and an optimist when it comes to the fashion industry. I asked Joey about his life, his career and to share some advice.

Joshua Katcher: Were you “discovered” or did you pursue modeling? If so, why?

Joey Slomowitz: I was actually discovered when I was seventeen at a performing arts competition in my hometown in Sydney, Australia. At first I thought modeling seemed silly and a ridiculous pursuit for me, but I eventually decided to give it a go. I started to enjoy it after my first few jobs and became more interested later on after finding out about the opportunity for travel.

JK: How did you come to veganism and what’s it like being vegan in the fashion industry? Are they compatible?

JS: I remember removing red meat from my diet when I was seventeen after having a phone conversation with a friend about trying to eliminate heavy foods and improving overall health. Eventually we came to have a similar discussion about milk and eliminated that too. Gradually, as our overall knowledge of health and nutrition improved, the last thing we were eating was fish. Then when I was twenty, I watched “Earthlings” narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. At this point I gained so much knowledge about the moral and ethical side of consuming; with food, clothing as well as entertainment and consumer goods that I chose to go vegan all the way.

I do believe being a vegan in the modeling industry is a compatible matchup. Even with the challenge of rejecting jobs where fur is used and at times, having to compromise on wearing leather and wool products, I personally believe there is always the possibility to influence those around me and make a difference in the minds of people creating the designs and setting the trends. I believe being a vegan model is something bigger; it’s the responsibility of being a role model.

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JK: Have you ever refused to wear something, or walked off a shoot? Why?

JS: I have always refused to wear fur for jobs in the past. Fortunately I haven’t had to walk off from previous jobs as my outfit was able to be switched out. I’ve seen the horrible processes undertaken in manufacturing fur and I could not possibly stand to promote this by wearing anything made with it.

JK: What would you change about the fashion industry if you could?

JS: I would of course want every designer to make their clothing without sourcing any animal products. What most people don’t realise is that manufacturing animal products (furs, wools and leathers) as a textile is completely hazardous to the environment and that there is nothing ‘natural’ about them. In fact, furs and leathers in particular need to be dipped into a pool of chemicals in order to prevent them from rotting away. As a result, ground water surrounding these manufacturing sites becomes completely polluted and results in health problems for residents located in the area.

I would want to encourage designers to take the approach of creating lifetime products as opposed to fast fashion apparel. I would encourage designers to value the use of recycled materials in their products and reduce their ecological footprint. On top of that, I would want designers to opt for having their products only made in manufacturing facilities that are local, pay fair wages to their workers and provide fair working conditions. In time, I would hope that all manufacturing facilities around the world are raised to an agreed international standard for fair conditions and pay.

JK: How do you internalize the idea that society views your physical body and face as ideal? How do people treat you because you’re good-looking?

JS: If someone tells me I’m handsome, I usually contort my face in the weirdest way I can and say ‘thank you!’. A good sense of humour is often the best start. Otherwise, I don’t think that I am necessarily the ‘ideal’ in physical features. No-one’s perfect. I’m usually too big for the clothing they give me. My understanding is that companies want to use people of different and interesting features to sell their goods. I guess people with elongated limbs such as myself are a good fit.

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JK: I’ve seen you doing back flips and parkour. How else do you stay strong and healthy?

JS: I exercise every day and eat as well as I can. Often beginning the day with an intense ten minute core routine, I always follow up with a healthy bowl of porridge (oats or buckwheat) and a cup of tea. Throughout the day I eat plenty of fruit and veggies and snack on nuts and seeds whilst also trying to eat as many leafy greens as I can. One of my best discoveries last year was hemp seed. Hemp seed has all the essential amino acids and contains up to 30 grams of protein per 100 grams. Rice and beans or rice and lentils are also a staple for me. I also make sure to try out different exercise classes and different workout groups. At the moment, the cold winter has lead me to start taking yoga classes on a daily basis. During the summer however, I was helping to lead group workout sessions for free in the park. I’ve also recently fallen in love with surfing, but that will have to wait until I can find some warm weather.

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JK: Books, music and art. What is inspiring you right now?

JS: I recently read “Way of the Superior Man” by David Deida; a great book about understanding the polarity between masculine and feminine energies, as well as owning your masculinity and living your best life.

I play guitar and sing so am often looking for artists whose songs I can study that will take me to the next level of skill and playing ability. The start of last year, I was obsessed with learning songs by the Beatles. Right now I’m studying John Mayer.

A couple of months ago I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was inspired by an amazing mural by Thomas Hart Benton. The mural portrayed scenes of American workers from the 1930s industrial era. There are so many things about that period that I find timeless.

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JK: Have you acquired a sense of style since working in fashion? What fashion tips do you have for other guys who may not have been dressed by many stylists?

JS: A couple of year ago, I met a stylist here in New York that introduced to me an aesthetic of menswear which I found has remained constant throughout time. To me it meant acquiring some great one time purchase pieces that are designed to last a lifetime. This included items such as raw Japanese denim, a good pair of vegan boots and some cool vintage men’s workwear. I’m definitely inspired by men’s workwear from the introduction of denim jeans in the late 1800s right up until the 1970s. This lines up perfectly with my aesthetic.

I think most people have an idea of how they want to dress, but they’re far too influenced by the marketing of chains that make clothing for the masses. I would say keep in mind what appeals to you and go check out the vintage shops as well as the thrift shops. Shopping around this way, there is always something for everyone and it will be far more individual. You’ll also be recycling and reducing your ecological footprint by not buying anything new.

JK: What must we all try?

JS: Firstly, I think everyone should try a plant based diet after reading up on how to do it properly and all the amazing benefits. If done right, it’s the most amazing and progressive thing we could do for our bodies as well as the ecosystems and the environment.

Someone wise once told me “you will only regret the things in life that you didn’t do”. I’m a big advocate of doing things where there is an incredible sense of adventure. I recently went to Hawaii and had an incredible experience on a dangerous 3 peak mountain hike in Oahu. We should always try things we really want to do that we are also afraid of.

VEGAN BUTCHER, HISTORIC MUSEUM & PINEAPPLE LEATHER

The Herbivorous Butcher, which launched in 2013, is a Minneapolis based, small-batch artisan butcher and cheese shop run by herbivorous siblings Aubry and Kale Walch. They will be opening their retail shop in April of 2015, but for the time-being appear at pop-ups and farmers markets.  The duo have taken on sausage, pepperoni, deli bologna, chorizo, bacon and even launched a Camembert cheese this week – all plant-based of course.

The National Museum of Animals & Society has big plans for 2105, and they are half-way to meeting their fundraising goal. Please watch the video below, and visit their IndieGoGo page.

Our goal in 2015 is to move to a much larger space in a more prestigious location, close to Los Angeles’ museum row. We will continue presenting animal protection issues through world-class curating in a palatable, viewer-friendly manner. The new space will allow us to house permanent, as well as rotating exhibits and appeal to a broader group of visitors. We will also host educational and motivational film screenings, lectures, classes, and events.

• A former leather industry expert, Carmen Hijosa, was fed up with the limitations of animal skin. The textile innovator is now making leather from pineapples with the support of the Royal College of London. You heard that right. The leaves of the delicious, juicy fruits will longer go to waste. Instead, the incredibly strong and fine fibers from the leaves are felted and then processed into Piñatex  –  a supple, lux, strong materials that looks and act like skin. What’s better is that the byproduct of processing is a fantastic, plant-based fertilizer. Say hi to Piñatex on Facebook!

Principled Workout Gear

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If you don’t compromise on your workouts, why should you compromise on your gear? It seems like a contradiction to pursue fitness, whether for health or pleasure, while simultaneously harming workers, animals and the environment. Imagine if, like a comic book villain, you were draining the life-force of factory workers, animals and ecosystems so you could get stronger! That’s sort of what happens with many athletic companies today. It isn’t that they’re sinister so much as they’re negligent in this massive, global, fashion industrial production complex. There is no silver-bullet; no zero-impact workout gear, but many companies are striving towards ideal standards. When it comes to my own Crossfit regimen, I had trouble finding companies whose business ethics matched their products’ performance. Luckily, I found a few great brands I’ll share below.

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It’s been difficult to find a high-quality lifting shoe that meets my stringent criteria: fair, sustainable and vegan. Many lifting shoes are either made with inefficient, toxic and cruel leather (a livestock product), while others are made in dangerous or exploitative factory conditions that go unmonitored. Inov8 has many vegan shoe options and an environmental auditing system in place to track their ecological footprint (no pun intended). In addition they clearly state their  labor standards.
Base layers and running tights were hard to come by in anything but traditional poly. But Patagonia  has a line is called Capilene® made from at least 35% recycled poly, and a line of bluesign®-approved content made in fair labor conditions.

M's Capilene® 1 Silkweight BottomsM's Baggies™ Shorts - 5"

M's Capilene® 2 Lightweight T-ShirtM's Capilene® 1 Silkweight Graphic Crew

If you’re looking for equipment made in the USA, Rogue has a line made in Ohio including  jump ropes, barbells, and lifting straps. The Rogue SR-2 Ballistic Jump Rope and Ohio lifting straps. They are hand made in Ohio. Spud Inc had an insanely strong lifting belt made in the USA from woven nylon, and Massage Blocks offers a recyclable, self-massage solution made in the USA for those crazy knots you get after a few days of working out.

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