Obsessive? Self-righteous?

Obsessive? Self-righteous? After reading this post, I asked myself if those words could be used to describe me.

(For a follow-up to this post, go here.)

In the post, the author (whom I respect because of her democratic and professional approach towards veganism) discusses the use of meat analogues (ie. veggie burgers, sausages, crumbles, ect.). I find her thoughts informative, and agree wholeheartedly with some of her main points: faux meat isn’t “evil” and can be a part of a plant based diet. What I found as interesting were the comments and reactions of readers. The whole soy debate (soy is bad for you! soy is good for you!) is nothing new (and please don’t rehash this argument here, I REALLY don’t want to be a part of it), but some of the other things people said, were particularly interesting. Like:

Thank you for another grounded post Ginny. I think this new “all processed foods are evil!” self-righteousness is coming from the new “foodie” trend that is absolutely killing me lately. People are jumping the vegan ship like it’s the new hipsterism, sometimes basing their arguments on “processed meat alternatives” . Granted, when I went vegan back in ’94, we freaked out over Mock Duck and the like, because it was such a rarity and a nod to our dietary choices, but it wasn’t a big deal because those options were so limited and didn’t comprise our entire diet. I have noticed nowadays that some people do rely HEAVILY on processed meat alternatives and therefore suffer the consequences of ignoring so many other necessary nutrients they won’t get in those foods…but like you said, it’s not the once in awhile processed foods that are the problem, it’s ignoring the other nutrients. We still indulge in processed foods, desserts, etc. etc…..sometimes even a bag of twizzlers!!! But we’re also incredibly active and primarily eat a variety of whole foods over anything else. THAT is what ultimately matters.
If people want meat alternatives to help them transition, then go for it! The main point is to make sure we don’t tell them that the ONLY vegan foods available are processed alternatives….but I don’t think that will be very hard.

And another comment, which I really appreciate and wished I could have said it myself, although I don’t know if I’d have been bold enough to do so:

It’s funny: like many vegans, I started out eating a lot of meat analogues. Oddly, I ate a lot of meat analogues that I didn’t even eat an an omnivore—namely sausage and hot dogs. Then I got real snooty about my vegan diet, and turned to “whole foods diet”—a phrase I come to despise in all of its cliche glory.

All these years later, what I’ve noticed is (and it’s certainly been good for me, too!) that the vegans who DO eat the meat substitutes and don’t obsess about food seem/appear to be the healthiest to me. Obsessing about food and diet is not healthy. I feel better too not thinking about it so much. Don’t get me wrong: I obsessively take b-12, but that’s where it begin and ends, and I think I am healthier and happier for it.

There’s way too much health obsession in the vegan community — to the point that it’s gotten out of control. You see vegans defending their way of eating (on the internet, especially) as if they have PhD’s in nutrition, and have lived 300 years eating that way. Which is to say, it’s a load of crap.

As my children are getting older, and living in “mixed” household (I’m vegan, my husband is supportive, but omnivorous), I have realized that I need to find ways to make veganism approachable and realistic for my children. For example, the kids see their friends, extended family and dad eat hot dogs, sausage, bacon, ect. I want them to know that they also eat these things, just the “veggie” version. My son calls his cheese “kid cheese,” and his “meat,” “kid meat.” J’s sausage or cheese is called “daddy cheese” or “daddy meat.” There have been points in the last few years when I would have said, no way, my kids aren’t touching anything processed (said with an air of self-righteousness). But now, as reality has hit, I’ve realized it’s much more realistic to strike a balance. Chili with some veggie dogs cut up? If it makes my kids devour the chili, I’m all for throwing in one or two veggie dogs. Veganism isn’t just for me or my benefit. I want to teach it to my kids, show them that they can live in an omnivorous world and not feel deprived or excluded from the omnivorous world. Yes, I want them to teach them that it’s OKAY to be different, but I don’t expect them to never want to eat a hot dog or hamburger, or chicken nuggets. So I need to show them that there are alternatives, and since they’ve never known the difference (unlike many meat eaters who try veggie versions of these things, and are often disappointed because “it doesn’t taste like meat”), their “veggie meat” is normal to them.

One thing I have to say is that I’m fed up with the self-righteous, often obsessive compulsive behavior regarding health that has taken over the vegan movement. It doesn’t help the cause at all and doesn’t make veganism, in my opinion, realistic. I have to admit I’ve been guilty of “demonizing” certain foods (white flour, white rice, anything “processed”). I apologize if I’ve ever come across as self-righteous about my food choices, and please understand, my viewpoint and approach has changed (for the better, I hope) and softened over time.

I’m all for eating organic as much as your pocketbook allows. Whole foods, whole foods, yes. But let’s remember that most people don’t have the time, money, resources, or willpower to eat only organic, whole foods all of the time.

Who wants to be around someone with a “holier-than-thou” attitude, someone who is constantly preoccupied about health/nutrition/food or someone who is so strict in their dietary choices that there is never any room in their life for more than broccoli and brown rice?

One of the things I’ve learned over the years since becoming vegan is to be tolerant towards others food choices and practice an element of compassion in my thoughts and actions towards myself and others. To not think I’m better than so-and-so because what I’m eating happens to be organic, or vegan, or what have you.


Comments


  1. Bliss Doubt
    on April 29, 2011 at 4:12 pm said:

    I understand all that you're saying. I used to eschew meat analogs, asking myself why I would give up meat only to eat things that look and taste like meat. I've since learned that meat analogs simply help people make the transition, serve as sort of a crutch, allowing the same approach to veganism that the eater used as an omni. In other words, becoming vegan won't make you an instant creative cook, and some people go vegan for the sole reason of animal cruelty in the food industry, nothing else, and with no concern about nutrition.I do disagree when you say "…I'm fed up with the self-righteous, often obsessive compulsive behavior regarding health that has taken over the vegan movement."I just don't see that, although I don't watch TV much, so I've seen no Oprah discussions or vegan movie star statements. I follow a lot of vegan blogs that are friendly and helpful, with recipes, photos, book reviews, restaurant reviews, tips, etc. Some are kind of wacky, like "the laziest vegans" which is entirely devoted to packaged foods like vegan pizza and tamales, frozen dinners, "accidentally vegan" things like candies and frozen pastry dough. The blog host says that he never would have been able to make the transition to a vegan diet without the many convenience foods, because his diet as an omni was based around frozen, canned and other convenience things.I do enjoy your blog though.Thank you.

  2. aevi
    on April 22, 2011 at 3:17 am said:

    Thanks! Great timing. I have been obsessing about not being able to do things perfectly myself. Thanks for reminding me what a waste of time that is!

  3. Courtney
    on April 20, 2011 at 5:57 pm said:

    Great post! My thoughts exactly. It's easy when you start being 'vegan' to be overly strict. At one time I was having health problems in a pregnancy and I was that super strict, wouldn't touch white flour kind of person. Lucky for me my health has leveled out and now I have a more moderate balance. Sometimes it's hard with kids when they teach in the Primary lesson that milk is health and your kid pipes up and says "No, only rice milk and soy milk"- I mean what do you say to that?

  4. Gillian
    on April 20, 2011 at 5:31 pm said:

    Great post! I found it easy to get caught up in all the "ideals" and trying to convince others etc. It was exhausting for me, especially since I hate conflict. Then I came across this excellent blog: "www.choosingraw.com". Gena has a much more relaxed position. Sure she eats amazingly healthy! But the tone was different, more understanding of different peoples choices etc. It helped me step back and just focus on what works for me and then just casually talking to others about it as they are interested. Focusing on the most important, like ways to eat more veggies. as Genna from that blog says: add first, take away later.:) Thank-you for sharing your journey with us! I've really appreciated your blog. And way to go on the weight loss!