Can abolitionists and pragmatists ever trust each other?

I get a quite a bit of criticism from some people for my blogposts and videos. I’m being told that I’m telling people not to be vegan and that hence I’m an anti-vegan. I’m being told I’m not vegan myself because I’m not picky about wine, because I would eat a steak for 100.000 dollars (which I can use for animals), or because I would make small exceptions if I thought it was better for people’s idea of vegans and veganism, and therefore for the animals.

Trust

It seems that abolitionists in particular have a hard time with what I write. I should actually put the word abolitionist in quotation marks, because all of us in the animal liberation/vegan movement are abolitionists, at least in terms of objectives. In terms of strategy, we differ: my tactics and communication are often not abolitionist, but rather pragmatic and incremental.

I realize there is a chasm between abolitionists and pragmatists, if I can put it that way (I use the word pragmatist rather than “welfarist”, which is the usual opposite of abolitionist, but which is a complete misnomer). And I have been thinking about that chasm, and what could be at the basis of it. Because the animosity and downright hostility that these two groups feel for each other, at times defies explanation.

One would think that we could agree to disagree on strategy, and that at least we wouldn’t second guess each other’s intentions. Yet that’s exactly what happens. What’s at the core of the hostility seems to be a lack of trust. Abolitionists don’t seem to trust that pragmatists really, really want an end to animal (ab)use, that they really really want a vegan world. Conversely, I think some pragmatists may have similar doubts about abolitionists, believing some might be more interested in a vegan club than a vegan world.

Somehow, we need to find that trust; the trust in each other’s good intentions and in each other’s love and respect for animals. If we then differ about what strategy is efficient, or even think that the other’s strategy will not lead us to where we want to be, things won’t get so out of hand.

Like I said, I’m a pragmatist. I don’t tell people that veganism is the moral baseline or that they should go vegan, but suggest that they take whatever steps in that direction that they are comfortable with. I suggest we are patient. I suggest people don’t spend too much time worrying about what’s in bread or wine or fruit juice, and over doing the impossible. I suggest that every step is good. I never say meat is murder, I don’t accuse people of being immoral, selfish or hypocritical if they are not vegan, as we won’t really endear people to our cause this way. I also suggest that we need to work together with other organisations, sectors, companies, governments and that we need to be practical and pragmatic in this. I believe that a big mass of meat reducers is a faster way to arrive at a vegan society than slowly increasing the number of vegans (though I think both should be done). I also believe that people can evolve from health concerns to animal concerns, so I talk about what I think interests them.

Basically, I want to make it easier to eat vegan, and I believe that convenience is the basis ofwhich we can build our critical mass. All of that doesn’t mean I don’t believe the world should be vegan. I believe in that as much as the people who unequivocally say that vegan is the moral baseline believe it. I also believe it’s realistic to get there. I do believe that not just the suffering of animals is wrong, but also taking their lives.

I think saying that we need all approaches is way too easy, and I believe some are better than others. I follow the one I think is best, and I hope you do the same (the one you think is best, that is). But I believe that an in-your-face, veganism-is-the-moral-baseline-approach can coexist with a pragmatic, incremental approach.

What I also believe is that it will be a lot harder to be successful if we don’t trust each other.

41 thoughts on “Can abolitionists and pragmatists ever trust each other?

  1. Excellent post. I think social networking is a mixed bag in this regard: it both brings us together and tears us apart.

  2. “I believe that an in-your-face, veganism-is-the-moral-baseline-approach can coexist with a pragmatic, incremental approach.”
    They obviously can coexist, but that doesn’t mean that anything done by a vegan actually helps animals. Some things hurt animals.

  3. “…the animosity and downright hostility that these two groups feel for each other, at times defies explanation.”
    In my many years of working to create a more humane world for animals, this is the single one thing that I’ve been left most confused about. And most concerned about because of how it’s set the movement back and made our work that much harder.

    I agree wholeheartedly that “all of us in the animal liberation/vegan movement are abolitionists, at least in terms of objectives”, but based on much of the behavior I’ve seen from strict abolitionists, I’m very often left wondering if “some might be more interested in a vegan club than a vegan world”, rather than creating a more humane world for animals.

    That being said, I think you’ve hit on an important issue with this post about trust, Tobias. I consider myself to be a pragmatist, too, and this has molded how I present myself to non-vegans and those who are thinking about or have started on the path towards becoming vegan.

    This post is very timely for me because earlier this week I left a comment on another blog in which I inadvertently offended an abolitionist. I didn’t intend to do that, but in hindsight I realized my wording could have been better and more compassionate.

    That experience and this post has made me see that I not only need to think of non-vegans in how I conduct myself and what I say, but to also consider abolitionists, as well. I need to remember that I’m presenting myself as a pragmatist to not only non-vegans, but abolitionists, as well.

    Non-vegan, abolitionist, pragmatist, or wherever we fall on that line, I need to try and remember to “trust in each other’s good intentions and in each other’s love and respect for animals.” Mistrust does nothing but set us back.

    Thanks, Tobias. You are a very wise man. 🙂

  4. “…the animosity and downright hostility that these two groups feel for each other, at times defies explanation.”

    THE MEAT INDUSTRY IS BEHIND IT. How hard is this to figure out? We are experiencing an industry paid effort to distract-divide, demoralize. Gary Francione is at the center of it (though Tom Regan might be the first–he agrees with Francione and came along not long after Singer’s mass marketed book came out). Do you really think the meat industry and other exploiters–with the money they have, wouldnt seek to undermine animal advocacy? The oil industry knew climate change was real in 1980. So why would we assume the meat industry wouldnt be thinking about potential threats to profits from animal advocacy?

    Sure, there is so much video information now on farming and other atrocities and this will certainly make people upset and impatient–but this is not what we see. We see people who claim to care about animals actually having no interest in helping animals beyond a personal boycott strategy (not totally unusual in itself–same thing happened in the days of slavery-Benjamin Lay and the Quaker Free Produce Movement demonstrates this) but where the Fifth Column Vegan comes into it is that they tell people: do nothing for animals but a personal boycott strategy. Do not support petitions or single issue campaigns. Do not support large orgs in their attacks on massive animal agricultural industries. I have seen people say “go vegan or do nothing.” If someone gives up meat they say: why bother?

    No true vegan animal advocate would be like this. Paul Watson already commented on this. If these vegans were real-they would be going out and sitting in front of slaughterhouse trucks or sabotaging businesses. But Francione calls that violence. Regan calls that violence.

    Francione has said supporting vegan products is no better than a sex offender using a blowup doll to abuse–so on one hand he says big orgs target economically vulnerable industries and on the other he says dont support vegan businesses.
    Come on–identify that there is an industry created effort to distract-divide-demoralize.

    Gradualism isnt a fraud-it is reality. These “abolitionists’ have no plan to spread veganism and end animal exploitation. If they were sincere they would find a town with 0 vegans and convert them to veganism.

    The meat industry is busy in cyberspace.

    1. I can’t deny that what you’re saying makes a lot of sense; a lot of the scenarios you’ve described I’ve seen many times myself. This is the first I’ve heard of the meat industry being behind it all, though. You’re saying that Francione & Regan are agents of the meat industry? Like they actually work for or are paid off by the meat industry?

      1. Most of the animosity we see comes from the abolitionist approach camp only. I dont see gradualist attacking abolitionists except when the latter have been disruptive–Paul Watson’s recent articles on Vegan Purists. He even announced he was banning discussions of “what about cows?” on his facebook groups. Will Potter also mentioned something about it.

        Francione is most definitely being funded by the meat industry or some other exploitation interests. There is nothing in his words and actions that suggests he wants animals to be helped–he has stuck to the same argument since 1992 with the exception being that as more obvious awareness and progress has been built-he has attacked it more aggressively. He used the same argument against PETA that vivisectors used–that they killed animals capriciously–callously–with no responsibility placed on those who bred the animals that end up in PETA’s care. That is what an exploiter says. His arguments are totally in alignment with them! Watch his appearance on CNN with the cat abuser case–he does not promote veganism–he attacks advocates. Same with his NYT article on horse carriages. He might occasionally throw a gesture to his vegan audience in his blog or facebook pages but what does he do in the mainstream when he has a big audience? And most of these attacks we see–are variations on his ideas.

        Regan–if I had to bet I would say he is an agent as well but I havent looked deeply into his record-I dont like what I am seeing though. He wrote an obscure article on vegetarianism for a Canadian Philosophy magazine in October 1975–probably months after Singer’s Animal Liberation reached mass market bookshelves (Singer’s book had the big audience, Regan did not). I assume his Case for Animal Rights was the same. It came out around 1982? Big publication or obscure? He co-authored the Animals Agenda article in 1992 advising advocates not to do targeted “welfare” campaigns and in his recent interviews he echoes Francione (though it appears he contradicts himself-he said he used to support ALF in the 80s but now they turned violent. He said in 2001 he supported “welfare” campaigns but in 2011 opposes them like Francione). Regan isnt as aggressive as Francione, but the ideas match. Its always possible Regan saw an opportunity to jump on the academic AR bandwagon for monetary reasons I suppose but it wouldnt make sense for him to preach the same ideas–dont attack industry, just advocate veganism. But I havent not seen him in the major media–that would be the test to see if he was doing something like Francione–downplaying animal concerns or making advocates look bad.

        1. I’m not sure if you saw in my first comment above where I wrote “based on much of the behavior I’ve seen from strict abolitionists, I’m very often left wondering if “some might be more interested in a vegan club than a vegan world”, rather than creating a more humane world for animals.” A lot of what you’re saying does back that up.

          I see you have a blog, I’ll check it out.

          Do you happen to have any links to Paul Watson’s recent articles on Vegan Purists you mentione? Or where they were published originally? I tried googling, but came up with with mostly more attacks on him, such as Francione’s website. Thanks!

        2. It was an entry on Paul Watson’s facebook page. He did an article on the subject around January and again a few weeks ago.

          Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory
          The Cult of Competitive Purism
          Essay, by Captain Paul Watson

          Every time we save a whale, a dolphin or a turtle, I hear the same criticisms. What about the cows, what about the pigs or the chickens? We get this crap from both the killers and from people in the vegan community.

      1. So he is just a career opportunist. That’s possible too. But he did help promote Francione and has an odd habit of agreeing with thins that dont harm industry. Let’s bring out some quotes by him. This comes from:
        Animal Rights Philosopher Tom Regan Addresses a New Generation
        “ARAs who think that arson and other forms of destruction of property are forms of “non-violent direct action” are free to think what they will. Certainly nothing I say can make them change their minds. I will only observe that, in my opinion, unless or until these advocates accept the fact that some ARAs use violence in the name of animal rights (for example, when they firebomb empty research labs), the general public will turn a deaf ear when their spokespersons attempt to justify such actions.
        So the real question, I believe, is not whether some ARAs use violence. The real question is whether they are justified in doing so.”

        **Regan calls destruction of property violence
        What does he think about taking animals from labs?

        “One other thing. In the ‘80s I supported the A.L.F. and other activists who were breaking into labs and other dungeons of animal abuse, to document how horribly animals were being treated and to liberate the prisoners. With videos and photos in hand, no one could deny the truth. Personally, in retrospect, I think these actions would have been even stronger if the rescues had been open rescues. That said, A.L.F. actions back then, in addition to liberating prisoners, performed a vitally important educational purpose.”

        **Frederic Douglas said open rescue worked to benefit the slaveowner not the slave. DxE’s Wayne Hsiung has spoken in favor of open rescue. How does open rescue help animals? I can see how it would harm animals–if the rescuer is charged they may be forced to turn over the rescued animal or go to jail.

        Regan: ”
        Somewhere along the way, between then and now, A.L.F. actions (in my opinion) took a violent turn. When buildings are torched today the story the media tells is about “domestic terrorists,” not the dungeons of animal abuse. The vital educational purpose has been lost—in the ashes, so to speak. I have more to say about this in Chapter One of Empty Cages.” **in other words: Buy my book!

        Regan in 2011: “I don’t think ARAs should be working for improved welfare for the prisoners exploited by the animal industrial complex. To make such improvements will only make their exploitation more socially acceptable and, as a result, perpetuate the very evils we oppose. To my way of thinking, as I wrote twenty-five years ago, “to reform absolute injustice is to prolong injustice.”

        Regan: “If things were as bad as ARAs say they are, there should be an enormous amount of inhumane treatment brought to light by government inspectors. Yet this is precisely what government inspectors do not find.”

        A reader’s question to Regan: “In 2001, Prof. Regan was interviewed by Claudette Vaughan (originally published in Vegan Voice). The complete transcript is available now at this link. In response to a question then he said:

        “ARM activists can be both radical and realistic. On the radical side, we work for empty, not merely larger, cages. On the realistic side, we know that the cages will not be empty tomorrow. The wall of oppression has to be taken apart one brick at a time. We are not going to have every right of every animal respected in one fell swoop; but we can have some rights of some animals respected in an incremental basis. For example, we can pass legislation that prohibits debeaking or face branding of cattle, legislation designed to respect an animal’s right to bodily integrity within a system of exploitation even while we cannot thereby end that system of exploitation. Changes like these (incremental rights respecting changes) are the kind of change I support, the kind I think anyone committed to animal rights should support.”

        So it sounds like he is all over the map.
        But he did co-author an article with Francione and to this day has not criticized Francione for his attacks on advocacy.

        Shill–opportunist–you decide. I would be interested in exploring whatever mainstream media appearances he has had to see if he does the same thing as Francione–wasting the opportunity to educate the public (not just speak to activists).

        HumaneMyth comes to mind. People tell me how great peaceable Kingdom is–but it has had no distribution. By contrast, Food Inc, which doesnt promote veganism, has had a much larger reach. And yet HumaneMyth, the website by the makers of PK, is very aggressive in attacking Whole Foods and like Francione, sees activists as the problem and ignores industry. Regan also ignores industry, and focuses on activists.

        1. I think the litmus test for activists is this: how much do they want to help animals? What role do they see the exploiters have? How much do they criticize exploiters vs activists? What plan do they have to change things? Does their plan agree with industry exploiter interests or animals? How widespread is their audience? Who are they talking to? The public or activists?

    2. Could you kindly provide reference for this statement, I am not able to find any good ones. “Francione has said supporting vegan products is no better than a sex offender using a blowup doll to abuse”

  5. Yes, I’ve very often said I feel as if my work to help the animals has been made twice as hard because of the struggle to rebuild bridges torn down by abolitionist vegans. I’ve wondered if one of them were standing in front of a sow in a gestation crate, or a chicken in a battery cage, or any animal about to be killed or being abused, and if they had the power to save that animal… could they turn their back on that animal and say, “Sorry, my philosophy won’t allow me to save you unless we can save all the other animals in the world & the rest of the human race is vegan.” Could they actually turn their back on that animal? To me that’s just beyond comprehension.

    I often think of the starfish story, where the boy can’t save all the beached starfish, but he does what he can, and it makes all the difference for those that he can save.
    http://www.starrbrite.com/starfish.html

    Ok, all this being said, I think we’re getting off the message of Tobias’ post here, so I’ll check out your blog for more on all that you’ve talked about.

    Thanks for the name of the Paul Watson essay, I’m sure I can find it now. Thanks again!

  6. I don’t think there is any distrust between abolitionists and pragmatists on each others’ intentions. The disagreement is with the strategy and methodology, that’s it.

    – Abolitionists insist that any and every form of use/abuse should be looked down upon and protested against
    – Pragmatists also feel the same way internally, but bury their feelings inside, and try to win with patience and strategy

    In other words, real pragmatists are abolitionists with lot of self restraint and in for long game.

    However, there are 3 different parameters here to determine one’s overall personality:
    1. Belief
    2. Feeling
    3. Actionizing

    As long as someone continues to believe in abolitionist approach, and also feel intensely but moderate their actions with certain strategy (that they firmly believe in), they could be called pragmatists.

    But the moment feeling quotient goes down, then there is a serious problem of dilution of ideology. These are the people who say that they “respect choices of meat eaters”. Exercising self restraint and not criticizing is one thing, but to actually come out and say that they respect abusive choices is a different level altogether. This is what angers abolitionists on a regular basis. It is the intention of these people that comes under scrutiny most of the times. This personality is not covered in this article, they cannot be really called pragmatists, they are something else.

    However, so called abolitionists also show unreasonable traits at times. They can go ahead and question/criticize everyone, but they don’t like when someone questions the line that they draw in their own lives. They usually feel that the person who is asking question or criticizing is way worse than him/her anyway, so no need to answer them. Well, there is a point, but there is also lack of humility at times.

    Personally, I consider myself as pragmatist. I never spell it out that I respect others’ non-vegan choices (Sometimes I even say that I ‘tolerate’ it in this democratic setup, and I say it respectfully). But I also try not to offend most of them. Instead, I just try to share more info with them, time to time, on case by case basis, and hope they would understand and change. I am also very conscious of my indirect cruelty footprint in various ways, and I remain humble about that instead of defensive.

  7. interesting thoughts krishna, thank you. i bookmarked your reply for later reference.
    I liked the idea of a difference in restraint. there’s certainly some truth to that, though i think it’s more than just that.

    Also, i think the lack of trust is real (in some cases)

  8. (Sorry for the late response)
    Could something like the following be the case? If you find something really extremely ethically unacceptable, it offends you so much that you cannot simply try to pragmatically, incrementally reduce it, but you only want to stop it. Think for example about genocides, or the IS executions. Can you imagine negotiating with rebels committing a genocide to only kill half the amount of people each day compared to what they did so far? Or negotiating with IS that if they execute more people, they should do it by shooting them in the head rather than more painful ways of murdering?
    I think many people would find it unacceptable to negotiate with persons whose beliefs and/ or actions are ethically so far removed from ours. They should simply be stopped. What abolitionists are saying, then, is that they find any kind of animal abuse completely unacceptable and are not willing to deal with people who e.g. still drink cow milk or eat cheese. It’s a way of showing off their ethical stance or drawing strict borders.
    Probably a lot also has to do with what is morally acceptable in your community. So in that sense it relates to the vegan island. Are you living in a small community where anything that diverges from strict hard-line veganism is heresy or are you putting yourself in the context of the society you are living in, where most people mindlessly eat meat almost daily.

    1. i can understand that position, kevin, and i think in a way many of us feel that way. two things that help me not to think like that is 1. i think it doesn’t help and 2. truths, moral judgments, what’s right and wrong… are things that evolve and that in that sense are relative. today it is not generally considered as true that eating animals is horrible. most people don’t see it like that, or they have difficulty seeing it like that. There’s, i think, a lot of attenuating circumstances for them in order for us not to judge them the way we judge murderers etc. That means, in my view, that we should behave a lot different than the total and resolute condemnation that you suggest…

      1. I don’t suggest the condemnation. I was trying to see things from an abolitionist perspective. I’m only vegetarian, not vegan at all, so from an abolitionist’s perspective I’m evil as hell 🙂
        Just wanted to share some thoughts on this topic. I think your pragmatic approach is a wonderful suggestion and it should be adopted to a lot more than veganism only. But a caveat is that some kind of relativism looms if you’re don’t want to take a hard-liner stance on any principles. Fascinating stuff. Ethics in a globalized, (locally) secular society is quite a challenging topic in general, I think.

        1. yeah, i think it also depends to a large extent on personalities, in the sense that some people may need more clarity and black-vs-whiteness in order not to fall down some slippery slope…
          in any case, i think hard lines are most suitably applied to things that we all agree on, like antiracism or whatever. in other cases, even thinking that we are right to apply hard lines will often have negative consequences, imho

    2. Thanks a lot for your reply, Kevin. You’ve helped me to see abolitionist vegans in a much more compassionate way. I’m going to print out your reply (if you don’t mind) and keep it handy for when I find myself frustrated with them.

      I agree 100% with the vegan philosophy, of course, and I feel strongly about everything you wrote in your first paragraph. But I realized a long time ago that being an “angry vegan” doesn’t help the situation. This was after I saw how it was turning people off and giving them a negative view of veganism.

      One of the biggest obstacles we face when working for animals is that the majority of people think genocide, murder, and harming other humans is wrong, but they don’t think the same way about animals. Heck, I’ve volunteered at animal shelters (dogs & cats) that hold fundraising events selling hot dogs and hamburgers. The fact that there are people in our society who obviously care about animals, but not making the connection between all animals shows how just deeply entrenched eating meat is.

      I decided that converting people to a certain philosophy was less important than creating tangible results for a more humane world for animals. So, I had to face the truth that I didn’t live on a vegan island, and I had to view things as you wrote, “in the context of the society you are living in, where most people mindlessly eat meat almost daily.”

      I too “find any kind of animal abuse completely unacceptable”, and if I had my choice I’d much rather not “deal with people who e.g. still drink cow milk or eat cheese.” But I decided that for me, creating tangible results for the animals was much more important that showing off my “ethical stance or drawing strict borders.”

      But thankfully things are changing, not fast enough, but at least it’s going in a positive direction. The fact that it’s considered a norm now for their to be a vegetarian section on most restaurant menus says a lot. Unfortunately, we won’t speed up these changes by refusing to budge on an ethical stance, even if it’s the most humane and kind stance in the world. If anything, I’ve seen that it actually slows these changes down and makes people resistant to them.

      We are in many ways like salesman, and we are much more likely to make a sale if we offer lots of options and not just push only one model. Forcefully trying to push that one model will make it even harder to make a sale.

      Ok, I could ramble on about this forever, sorry! Thanks again for your input, Kevin. 🙂

  9. Glad my response helped, Christine.

    I think I use the community as reason/excuse for why I’m not vegan (yet). Because it offers sufficient support for me to be vegetarian with reasonable effort and acceptable impracticalities, but not for being vegan (I believe). Likewise, you could say that it was much harder to be vegetarian 40 years ago, or nowadays in, let’s say, Argentina. Context matters a lot.

      1. My main excuses:
        1. Eating ‘on the road’. If you walk into any random shop/restaurant you have a good chance of finding some vegetarian meal. But vegan?
        2. Lack of choice in the supermarket. You need to go to biological or specialized shops to find sufficient vegan goodies and this takes time, which I lack severely.
        3. Social acceptability. My family more or less willingly puts in the required effort to deal with my (and my kids’) vegetarianism. I think us going vegan would be frowned upon as trying to be ‘even more difficult’.
        4. For the kids, I’m not 100% assured that we can safely raise them vegan. Or maybe we can but again with more time and effort, which we cannot afford right now.

        Go on. Excommunicate me 🙂

        1. well, if we can go on a bit, this is what i think is interesting here: how unvegan would you say you are? do these reasons mean that you don’t try at all, or that you have reduced on cheese, milk, eggs…?

          1. I’ve certainly reduced. E.g. I used to drink lots of cow milk and have replaced that with rice or nuts drinks at home without any issue. But e.g. at a hotel I eat my cereals with cow milk sometimes.
            I eat cheese quite regularly because you cannot buy vegan cheese easily (special shop visit needed) and because the majority of vegetarian options I find in shops/restaurants contain cheese.
            Ordering food (vegetarian pizza yes but not vegan), buying ready-to-eat salads (cheese) or meals (dairy products in general used),…

  10. Glad my reply helped, Christine.

    I think I use the community as a reason/excuse for not being vegan (yet). I think my community offers sufficient support for being vegetarian with acceptable effort and impracticalities, but not quite for being vegan. I should probably try harder 😉

    1. Oh yeah, context is everything, Kevin! One of the most difficult things for me was accepting what context you actually live in vs. the way you wish it would/should be. In some ways I’ve found I have to live in denial that the world I live in can be so horrible, not just to animals, but to our own species. It’s like that blues song, “If I didn’t go crazy, I’d surely lose my mind”. 🙂

      The cold hard fact is that you have to work with what you have, not what you wish you had. After you accept that, you can then move on and work towards creating how you wish it would be. If you don’t accept that, you are going to stay stuck in how you think it should be, and things probably won’t change on their own.

      Context also comes into play as far as you “just” being vegetarian, and not vegan. If you are stuck in the context of wanting a perfect 100% vegan world, that won’t be “good enough”. But in the context of the world we actually live in, being vegetarian is something to applaud. I’d much rather see a little bit of something than a whole lot of nothing (not to insinuate that being vegetarian is “a little bit”).
      🙂

      I seem to always go back to this from the website for a group called “One Step for Animals”:

      “We would rather help three people start eating half as many animals than convince one person to be a strict and strident vegan.”

      http://onestepforanimals.weebly.com/

        1. Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to look into something like that myself. Do you live in the Netherlands, too? I see the website is there and in France it looks like. I’m in the U.S., but I know there are lots of delivery services like that here, too.

  11. Ok, thanks. You’ll have to please forgive me for sometimes being the “ugly American”. Do I have this right? Belgium and the Netherlands both have Dutch as the official language? I’m always amazed at how well your English is, not just spoken, but written. It’s much better than a lot of Americans, which is kind of sad considering it’s our native language taught in school here.

    I lived in Germany for 5 years and like to consider myself a bit more worldly than most (most Americans anyway), but I have to admit I never learned much about the Netherlands and Belgium.
    Sorry, this is getting off topic. 🙂

    1. That’s cool for me to find out that it’s Swedish, Tobias…my last name is Swedish and my dad is half Swedish.
      They actually sell a brand of water here in the U.S. called “Smart Water”. I’ve drunk gallons of it, but it hasn’t had any effect on me yet. lol 🙂

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