The first time I saw Amy Milton do stand-up was the first time I did stand-up. It was at the KC Hall in Edwardsville, IL, and I think we both killed. Although, Amy wouldn’t know, because she bailed before my set – probably because the audience was full of scary small-town conservatives. Also, I think it was her birthday. Amy told really smart and charming jokes about her childhood, and I admired her openness and intelligence. Maybe it sounds creepy, but from that day on, I decided that Amy and I would be friends. If Facebook and my warped sense of reality count for anything, I was totally right.
Meet Amy Milton.
What is your name?
How long have you been a non-vegan?
I’m 27. I assume that’s what this question is asking.
Why have you decided not to be vegan?
This is the tricky question. I never feel okay with myself after eating meat. Currently, I’m mostly a pescatarian, and I’m trying to move away from fish and eggs for environmental reasons and because I know “cage free” just means a bigger, slightly less awful cage and not a healthy environment. I’m 99% sure it’s cool to eat most bugs, both in a flesh-machine-not-conscious-being way and a sustainable-farming way, and I wish our culture would head in a direction where those qualifications were a priority.
There are huge cultural and historical pressures to ignore the fact that the way we treat animals is a problem. Imagine all of the people who you believe improved the world, who were on the side of the righteous, and imagine them all having been devastatingly wrong on one very important moral issue. Like, all the good intentions in the world, but child murder level wrongness. Would you renounce your heroes or minimize the sin? How much of our history would we have to reject, with an amount of revulsion and shame approaching that given to slavery or war crimes, if we considered the slaughter and abuse of other conscious species even half as deplorable as the slaughter of humans? As far as I can tell from my admittedly limited understanding of animal intelligence, although they lack books, recorded history, science, and all of the cultural alterations that come from those developments, a surprising number of species have shown signs of human-or-near-human complexity of consciousness, relationships, and emotions, but with a sometimes totally different biological background.
I know all of this, I think about it, I feel bad about it, but I’m still struggling to convince myself that being vegan or even vegetarian isn’t too much work and sacrifice. Individuals of course have a responsibility, but it’s bigger than that. There are a lot of steps between where we are currently and a culture that naturally accepts veganism. But I think it will happen in our lifetime if we overcome our denial and defensiveness.
Vegans have a reputation as morally superior dickbags (and some are, as is the case in any group bound together by principles), but I think the stereotype mostly comes from meat eaters’ defensiveness. I know that’s where my discomfort with the topic comes from, and I remember having a similar impression of atheists (again, yep, some actually are jerks) when I was struggling furiously to remain a Christian by ignoring what I increasingly found to be true and obvious. How we treat animals is truly and obviously wrong. But it’s hard to put out proper effort and care to avoid every truly and obviously wrong thing that we accept and participate in every day. So much of our merchandise and produce come to us through slave or near slave labor. We waste food and energy and water and fill the oceans with trash. We have unjust wars and over-stuffed, profitable prisons. I’d go on, but everyone already knows. We’ve come to a point where we know too much about how fucked up everything is for an honest, informed person to live according to his or her principles, so we shrug nihilistically and pretend to be amused by how screwed we’ll be if we don’t change. I’m trying to get out of that mindset now by making small improvements rather than demanding perfection like it’s on me to save the damn world. All or nothing is nuts.
So yeah, I haven’t really decided not to be a vegan. I just haven’t become one yet.
Where do you get your protein?
Although I do eat fish, eggs, and dairy, most of my protein comes from lentils, quinoa, nuts, kale, etc. I’m very selfish and lazy, so I want to make my transition into vegetarianism painless by developing better habits beforehand instead of avoiding meat and finding replacements at the same time, which will result in crankiness and Taco Bell.
What vegan food do you fear you’re missing out on as a non-vegan?
Does not being vegan mean I’m not allowed to eat vegan food? Is this like when I was seven and took communion without being baptized? WHY ARE THERE SO MANY RULES!?!
Do you eat fish? You eat fish, right?
Are there any animals in your life, such as pets or funny neighborhood squirrels? Tell us a story about them.
No pets currently, but I’m about to move into an apartment with an 80 lb, 2-year-old Rottweiler mix. So that will be fun.
What do you do for fun besides eating meat and dairy?
Man, it’s really hard to find time for anything else. Do people really ask vegans what they do other than be vegans? I guess they might think you have to spend all of your time foraging for seeds or something. Extreme fruitarians who only eat stuff that naturally falls off of plants probably do have trouble finding time to do anything but gently shake branches and guard their spoils from squirrels.
Do you have any upcoming projects you want to plug?
Comedy vs Everything podcast; World’s Greatest Comedians at St. Louis Fringe Festival June 19-21.
Make up a question of your own and answer it.
Do you know how to get cat pee smell out of carpets?
No. I’m sorry. I’m trying to figure that out.