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.