The Fight Within

My journey as a vegetarian is ever evolving over the past couple years. There are dozens of scenarios that have come my way which make me think and debate on what I’m doing and what I’m trying to accomplish. I have admitted in the past I do eat meat with family occasionally. To refuse food from a family member or in law is very disrespectful in asian culture. And that remains powerful in my decisions today. Though it is very limited and accounts for very little of my diet, I’m often at conflict if my stance should change.

I use to think that some leftover meat being thrown away is terrible and that I would rather eat it and give some sort of purpose to this animal. Rather than it be thrown away and died for nothing. To have died to only be put in a trash can is just depressing to me. No, none of this is an excuse or lying to myself to eat meat. If i felt the need, I would do it

Other times, I do not want to get into a debate or make others feel bad to eat meat. So i just eat it anyway. TO just let people enjoy and not make this some vegetarian agenda. I’m starting to rethink it now. What am I doing and do I hold my morals through. Do I accomplish what I seek by giving in from time to time. I use to say the animal is dead no, lets not waste it. But for me to get my point across and care for animals, the animal would still have died. So my actions will not matter either way. But if do not eat meat at all and let it go, i still hold morals and can shocase others that it is strong .

I know some might baffle that I eat meat sometimes. But I still sa hey better than nothing. Better than me being a 90% or 50% meat eater. But I’m starting to think how I portray myself to others and if I do find resolve to never eating meat, how can others change? Do people look down at me for making exceptions.

I’m starting to think that exceptions are not good. Whatever the scenario. You can take it else for another other goal or mission. Exceptions don’t help my cause to help animals. By me not succumbing to exceptions, that shows my beliefs are strong and that will showcase to others. There is no debate what I want and what my mission is. That there is no discussion on what truly matters but that animals need to be saved and are our friends. Maybe I just need to put my foot down with whomever ad wherever that NO I don’t care for meat at all.

A Whole New World

Exciting news everyone. My future heir has arrived! My wonderful boy Henry has come to this world. My wife is a SUPER FREAKIN TROOPER for everything! You want to talk about pain, talk about suffering, talk about will, talk about fight. She did it all and overcome it. She pulled through so wonderfully and I’m so proud of her! I couldn’t be more happy with everything. I hope to support her in every way possible and take as much responsibility as I can. When you push another human out of you, you need to be treated well. Any person that says child labor is not tough or being a mother is not that hard, I just don’t believe it after this past week.

And that brings me to another thing. How vegan/vegetarian should a child be? My wife and I separately watched “What The Health” while we were in the hospital. It raises questions and concerns my wife and I already discussed. How good is dairy for you? Is it even meant for us? What is behind it? Everything you read and hear is to give milk and protein to a baby. Now its how much do they actually need and even more pressing is it even good for them? I’m glad the documentary was presented in a way to give facts to the viewer. Some vegan and animal loving agenda was not pressed. That would make some big backlash. Give people the truth and let them decide on their own. Hopefully they can see there is much more to the picture than meets the eye.

But now its my turn, is it possible for my child to be vegan? My wife and I for sure want to cut out cows milk, we don’t think its necessary. Other diary products as well we want to cut out. But how much do we know, how much research is out there? How many kids are vegan these days and what are the positives are negatives. As much as I love animals, is my own childs health worth the risk?

We are breaking hundreds of years of tradition and culture when it comes to meals and feeding. No meat, no diary, its a new concept. Even in Europe, I heard cases where parents are thrown in jail when they try to make a vegan lifestyle for their child. Is it that bad? It makes me think about the world I want to bring my child in. What values should he have? What view of the animal world should he have. Do I impress this on him or do the standard and let him decide on his own? I want a better and brighter future for him. I want a world where all life is valued and a healthier world. We got to break the mold and I think its starting. I’m happy documentaries like this are being done, it all starts with education.

We need to take it a step further by guiding more after people have learned these facts and come to a realization. So yes meat and dairy is bad. So what now. I literally thought about. A typical meal for a typical american. Milk is bad for you, eggs are bad, bread is typically white and is bad, bacon is bad, even cheese is bad, yogurt is not even that beneficial, So what are you suppose to eat now? The vegetarian and vegan community are doing a great job in sharing how to change. I hope the public can make the energy and effort to make the changes necessary even if difficult.

Its 2am, I want to be normal and not stop the momentum. Even with my baby here, I need to continue to work hard. The movement can’t not take a break. Everyday counts and the animals need our help.

The Climb In Life

For the past month, I’ve really had time to start sitting and reflect on things. Bathroom remodel is done, organizing the whole house is done, cleaning the whole house done, getting the yard to look nice is done. But a more pressing matter is coming my way. One that will flip my world upside down and cause it crash into a brick wall. But that crash will happen with a smile.

My sweet boy will be arriving in a couple months. This future I have been trying to shape for myself and animals out there will now be shared with the arrival of my son, Henry. I’m happy, nervous, agitated, stressed, elated all at the same time. I can’t wait for him to come. But like how I devote my time now to make my wife happy. My full attention and time will be for my son. Its just life. Time is always managed and too short. And now my time for the cause is even shorter. I will probably be incoherent, pale, and exhausted for the six months after his birth.

I think about my progress and what I have done. I try things here and there. I learned that I can’t go full steam all the time and I burn out. Progress is made little by little. Which I have done but maybe I’m disappointed in myself since I don’t have much to show for it. My life and my wife’s have changed significantly for the better with the drastic low amount of meat we eat and any animal products we buy from respected companies. But my point in all this was to make a difference outside of my own world. And even though its really hard, I know it will be nearly impossible to keep pushing after a child. I have to love my family and make sure everything is provided in the best way possible for them. They are my #1 concern and nothing else. But it begs me to think where does that leave the animals. They will continue to suffer everyday by the millions. One soldier is temporarily leaving the battle.

It makes me think about Congressmen Connolly making a speech to environmental advocates saying they need to be more proactive and ruthless. That to get the message out there, it needs to be out like the old days and having to walk door to door and talk to people. And I think who has time for that? And the average person who cares about animals or environment doesn’t come from a background of bravado to make impact. Wheres the money or backing to do so? My letters have gone unnoticed and I start to think whether to keep writing. Is anybody hearing my message? Is anybody making a change? Is anybody thinking about it all. This is just a mental break and I hope to keep this going. The fight still needs to continue.

I started My Dear Layla with a vision and promise. I’m still keeping that promise.  the vision and passion is still strong and alive.

Egg Advocacy

I stopped by Lotte with my wife the other day in Springfield or Burke, VA. I forget which city it lies in. We needed some eggs and my wife wonders how eggs can be so cheap versus others. I wanted to get to the bottom of it and did some research. How do they make them so cheap? Because they don’t care about animal life. Worst conditions, worst treatment. That’s how you get cheap eggs. I’ll gladly pay the extra money to know my chicken isn’t kept in a 1 foot cell with barely any food, sick, can’t lay down, and inhumane conditions. Also probably bludgeoned to death afterwards as well. I decided to write a letter to Lotte and see what they might have to say about it. If they can maybe stop the selling of those eggs and be on the right ethical path. There are obvious signs its a growing trend by having these alternative eggs grown ethically. Its just one more step needed.


Dear Lotte Management,

I have frequented Lotte Plaza for many years now. I have always enjoyed shopping at your store for its quality products, great prices, and wonderful atmosphere. I am a loyal customer who will continue to shop at Lotte for years to come.

But I come to you as a customer with a pressing matter. Over the years, I’ve noticed at your grocery store along with others a growing trend to provide higher quality and ethically raised eggs. With Lotte on the forefront to provide a large variety and cost friendly ethically raised and sustainable eggs such as Alderfer eggs. I did ample research and found one egg company you carry, Hillandale Farms, is a notorious unethical, cruel, and abusive egg producer. They have repeatedly over years continue to treat their chickens in inhumane conditions. Their efforts to make improvements are minimal and action less. (Links below)

I ask Lotte management to greatly reconsider selling eggs from Hillandale Farms. That Lotte is a place that has compassion for animals where its products come from and does not condone suffering. A small but yet impactful step for Lotte set the industry standard would be with the eggs you sell and no longer carry eggs from cruel business practices like Hillandale Farms. And whether now or in the future, no egg products sold at Lotte will be from businesses with unethical practices.

A common argument for businesses such as Hillandale is that stopping them is “anti-business”. That is not the case. It is simply that we do not condone it because we are anti-suffering. There is no need for suffering just to produce cheap eggs. The same logic is when society does not want to buy clothing produced in a child sweatshop. Are people anti-business? No we just don’t like children to suffer. Its simple.

Your customer base are moral and compassionate individuals who no longer wish to stand for such cruelty. They will support such progressive and moral choices that you make. This will go along with great principles you hold dear of leading, listening, pride and loyalty. Thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Virak Kchao

Links: http://abcnews.go.com/US/hillandale-farms-responds-hidden-camera-footage-showing-decomposing/story?id=31670059

https://www.cornucopia.org/organic-egg-scorecard/

(Worst rating)

Persistence But Respect Is Key

I haven’t heard from or received an email back from Congressman Connolly yet. I emailed him over a month ago. The last letter it took only two weeks from him to reply. I’m sure he has a vast of amount of duties and urgent matters to attend too. I decided to send my second letter again to each of his offices. Maybe his staff might open it up and remind him. I would like a response to my deeper questioning of the matter when it comes to advocating for animal rights and local ordinances.

It reminds me of Shawshank Redemption where Andy Dufrain keeps emailing letters to the county/state, I dont remember, about getting funds for library at the prison. Every single week he writes and sends letters. Every week no reply and rejections. But after a very long time, he gets a response and some money to just shut him up. Maybe I dont want to be that annoying, but I do want Connolly to know I’m not some fluke. I’m not some pushover who thinks this is a meaningless issue. It needs attention and needs it badly. Letters will be sent and he will be reminded that I think this is serious and won’t stop.

Which reminds me, I’m still learning the in and outs of politics and a whose who. But there is a delegate of the 38th district which is where my home resides. Perhaps I fine tune my local initiative into even more local. Time for her to receive some letters too. Time for Delegate of 38th District, Kaye Kory, to meet me.

Letter To My Congressman

They say if you ever want to change something or start in politics. First thing to do is write to your Congressman. If you have concerns, write to your Congressman. Its something thats been instituted since 8th Grade Civics class. Back then, it was representative Tom Davis. And now it is Gerry Connolly. So, lets start, lets get some action. Lets write to my Congressman. I’m sure its not something on the top of his to do list. But hey its an issue that needs to be known. And I’m very fortunate that I have someone who cares. First off, just want him to know he has my support.

Dear Congressman Connolly,

As my Congressman; I believe you are the voice for our biggest concerns and issues in our community. As a lifelong resident of District 11th, I am writing to you in support of your longstanding conviction to the welfare of animals. Animal welfare is of utmost concern to myself and for my district, state, and country.

I praise your valiant efforts in policy making and public outreach for animal welfare. I urge you to continue to support and advocate any legislation which benefits animals. Animals such as our beloved pets need help by stopping puppy mills and businesses that continue support it. Animals such as livestock in factory farming practices that are subjected to immense cruelty and unnecessary pain. Animals such as our district wildlife that are loss through habitat destruction and environmental degradation.

Thank you for your time and supporting these issues. I wish you the very best.

Sincerely,

Virak

But What About The Rest?

I was in Burke,VA the other day to stop by a grocery store across Wakefield Park. We wanted to go pick up a cake for a gathering at my brothers. Near there was Super Pets,  good ole Super Pets! It was a wonderful local animal store in Annandale when I was growing up. Been there for years. So many small animals and tonsss of variety of fish. I loved walking around with my dad and brother to look at all the different animals.

They moved a few years ago to its new location in Burke. I was with my wife when we visited and brought back some memories of a kid. It was a little cramped and much smaller than its previous location. But still tons of furry little animals and fish around. I thought to myself wow what a good pet store. They don’t sell puppies or kittens. At least, these little hamsters, gerbils, etc get a better life. My wife said to me “what do you mean? Its all the same…” I paused and thought, no way.

Then I began to think to myself, yes if puppies and kittens are bred in these little mills and farms, what about all the other animals? I started to do some research and sure enough it didn’t take long to show the atrocities. Its all the same..Really its all the same. Whatever you want to call it, all these animals sold to pets store are in the same inhumane, nearly genocidal and careless system. How naive of me to think it was anything else. There’s no licensed breeders for birds, guinea pigs, hamsters; they are mass produced the same as the rest. How could I exclude them from my message. I’m shouting #alllifematters without considering all the life. Is it a battle that people will understand and feel empathy for.  A gerbil? Why should I care.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the images, like it was a small lab for an ant farm. They are treated and breed in the most disgusting conditions. With thousands if not millions dying. If we can’t even give the proper care to man’s best friend, what is to make me think these people would care for these little ones. They were discarded in bags by the hundreds. The way some of these animals live in these mills are not friendly to the way these animals naturally socialize. I feel dumb and saddened that the problem in my head grew even larger. But I think the battle starts with man’s best friend first and then to others. I hate to say we got to start by saving some before we save the others. Any pet store big or small typically carries the small animals to sell. I mean where did I get my first parakeets? From a breeder, no from a store just like everybody else.

How would society even begin to govern the system for all pets and put necessary rules and protective measures. The one thing sticks to me from a craigslister a year back. If we can’t even treat each other (humans) with respect, how can we expect to treat the pets. The mission continues.

Badge of Honor

I was pleasantly surprised to receive some mail from Mercy For Animals in the mail today. I put it right on my Macbook where I can see it everyday and be reminded of what causes I’m fighting for. However big or small, it is change and any change is better than none at all. I think about how much meat I ate before. Nearly half a chicken for one meal to get the protein for a weight lifting day. A buffet of Korean BBQ on the weekends to enjoy and relax. How many countless animals did I stop to get killed because of my habits. It makes me happy even if one animal is saved.

The provided a bunch of other wonderful materials for anyone who is new to the cause or lifestyle. Websites that can provide a wealth of information. Though I wish they would save the paper for the environment and use the stamp money to pay their animal welfare investigators.

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Awareness on Commute

I was riding the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) on my way to work the other day and noticed an advertisement displayed. Usually its a new business or pushing some travel places. But this time it was different. I saw a chimpanzee in the photo and it was just simple and yet odd. It obviously struck me, it was like a human baby. It showed they are no difference than us. I wondered if any other washington dc metro riders noticed. I’m glad they are able to have awareness to large amount of riders. I hope this has an affect on people.

Local Political Animal Lover

My very own congressman is an animal lover. GREAT NEWS!!!! One way to influence policy as a citizen is to contact your local congressman. Its something you learned in 8th grade civics. Have an issue, write your congressman, they are there to serve you. They will listen. I think back in my day it was Tom Davis.

But for quite awhile now, the congressman for my district is, Gerry Connolly. I saw on a recent facebook post by the Humane Society of Fairfax County that Congressman Connolly invited the Humane Society out for his Federal health benefits workshop. Any press is good press for somebody who is an animal lover. I’m a proud supporter of him and voted him in the last and previous elections. He’s so good that he ran unopposed.

Definitely going to keep him in mind and write him when I get my ideas going. Hopefully I can speak my mind through him for our state political policy. Go Annandale, go Fairfax County, go Virginia!