I’ve been vegan for about three months now. Before that I only ate animal products when I was grabbing food at a restaurant due to familial pressures. “Chinese eggplant? Don’t you want some of my beef with snowpeas?” Blech. I can still tell you about the perfectly cooked pork belly with the chipotle-blueberry sauce I ate some years ago, but upon further reflection… was I a fan of the meat or was that combination in the sauce that awesome?
I have a tendency to keep things to myself. I have yet to tell my family, some friends, or my coworkers. Mostly people go “want to eat here?” Then I either finagle a place with a vegan friendly option, where people just think that my order choice is generally weird, or I just don’t go. My family’s tendencies towards the animal productatoriums of the Darden family of restaurants tend to be the dagger. For whatever reason, it’s easier for me to tell people I’ve just met I am a vegan, whereas the longer I’ve known people, the harder it is. I’m confident explaining what I am, but I’m a little hesitant when explaining why I’ve changed. Is it health reasons? My family has more cancer than a zodiac crab fishery. Is it to give Gaia a big ol’ hug? Sure Whoopi, I know those cartoons were horrible and I forgive you, mostly because James Coburn voiced Looten Plunder.. hmm all the EcoVillans were awesome. Cut down on pointless animal torture? Sure, why not. On a more fundamental level, why does my decision need justification? People do dumber shit all the time and nobody bats an eye.
There’s a certain amount of conflict between the two sides of my attitude towards food. Foodies pride themselves on experiencing the new: preparations, foods, what have you. Vegans eliminate whole groups of food, whether it’s for ethical, environmental, health, or just because they feel like it. No meat. No dairy. No eggs. No honey in many cases. Many people have a tendency to be jackasses to vegans, and I have yet to understand why. Is it resentment towards what’s seen as a holier-than-thou attitude? Is it an extension of the “Annoying People From New Jersey” phenomenon? (10% really are annoying and give the other 90% a bad name) Will there inevitably be animal products in something that I eat? Yes. Do I do my best (check origin of enzymes, mono and diglycerides, blah blah) yeah. Do most places use bone char to “refine” sugar or gelatin in there somewhere? (Yeah that’s right. I went Penny Arcade for that one) Probably. But I can do my best not to eat it. And I guess another question I don’t really understand is, why is everybody else ok with this – is it a “use the whole buffalo” kind of thing?
At their heart, both movements revolve around a reflection as to what food is and where it comes from. Sustainability, quality of product, seasonality, exploration of food and culture. Inserting a “think” step into the whole cooking process is not a bad thing.
Some randomly collected tangential thoughts on my transition to veganism. I still own 3 pairs of leather shoes, a leather belt, and a leather wallet. I bought these before I went vegan, and aside from not being too thrilled with their collective performance (shoes are doing ok) I still use them, and will replace them with better performing, non-animal materials as they give out. I’m still wrestling with people’s attitudes towards animal testing (cosmetics – it doesn’t make sense, lab testing – mostly doesn’t make sense and needs stronger thought and review) I saw a shirt with a cartoon cow on it that read “There’s no such thing as Mad Tofu Disease” and while it was a little out of my price range considering it was made from organic cotton, harvested at night by a virgin during a full moon, etc – I’m thinking I might spring for it as it entertains me. Veganism makes sense but the macrobiotic and raw food ideas strike me as bat shit crazy. I am interested in vertical farms and don’t see how long-term space exploration can be done while eating meat. I’m down with Norman Borlaug, but still think Monsanto is kind of shady.