What’s with the Vegan thing?

Veganism isn’t a widely accepted lifestyle, at least not in the Midwest, at least not yet. I get it. If you don’t, just be grateful your beliefs aren’t judged as harshly. (And if they are, then maybe you understand.)

But I’ll tell you something – I have been very happy about converting to full veganism after about seventeen years of moving that direction anyway. It was time. I’m not apologizing for it or downplaying it anymore. This is who I am. I don’t wear leather, I don’t use animal fat on my skin, I don’t eat meat, eggs, cheese, or dairy – and I’ve never felt better about myself.

So here’s the deal. I’m not going to make the case for it. If you want to learn more about the reasons people live a vegan lifestyle, go to vegan.org or search the wide number of blogs or websites. You’ll read that people become vegans to decrease suffering to animals, to promote non-violence amongst humankind, because they don’t want to support the practices employed by factory farming, because they don’t want to kill intelligent life without cause, because of the health benefits, because it’s more environmentally friendly and sustainable, or maybe just because it makes them happy. Do your own research and make your own decisions.

For fun, check these people out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_vegans

Or, more substantively, listen to this guy: Dr. Kim Williams

So maybe I’ll just answer a few questions people have had for me. Since we’re chatting.

It’s just a diet, right? – Some people eat a vegan diet. I’m a vegan. There’s a difference. That means my shoes, my purse, and the stuff in my bathroom are vegan, and I live a life that looks for opportunity to reduce suffering to intelligent life. I’m not perfect or even that great; I’m just trying.

Ok, but why do you have to talk about it so much? – It seems like we talk about it a lot because it’s different. But I assure you, there are plenty of posts about pig roasts, grilled steaks, and meats wrapped in other meats in my news feed. Plenty. Not to mention jokes about vegetarians. Which, yes, even my friends post.

Everything is cooked in butter. – Yeah, you’re telling me. But it doesn’t have to be. Even if you don’t prefer oils like olive or sesame, try Earth Balance vegan butter sometime. I bet they sell it at your grocery store (though it may be called Smart Balance Light).

How can you not eat cheese? – Actually, I just don’t. It was never good for me anyway, nor was I ever really comfortable with it. Then I learned about spiked nose rings for calves. So I’m good.

How can you not eat pizza? – Yes, pizza is delicious. Vegan pizza is delicious. The fact that most pizza places don’t offer it bothers me much more than it does you. Maybe someday they will. In the meantime, I add my own toppings at home, or buy frozen varieties at the store. (Bold Organics, Amy’s, Tofurky, among others sell delicious vegan pizzas.)

What about protein and vitamins? – My, what a personal question. I have medical care, and they test me for these things. I’m fine.

But B12 only comes from animals. That proves you should eat animals. – First, are you aware that meat and dairy are fortified? Does that prove that a meat-focused diet is inadequate? Second, B12 comes from poop. If anything, this proves we should eat poop. If that appeals to you as much as it does to me, then you have two more choices: eat animals who ate poop, or eat lab-grown bacteria.

But vegan food tastes awful. – No, it actually doesn’t. If you’ve had bad vegan food, I’m sorry. Eat at my house sometime. My husband cooks vegan for our family and it’s all delicious. Also, remember that centuries of research and decades of technology have gone into refining animal-based foods. Once society puts as much effort into plant-based options, the options will accelerate rapidly. The advancements in cashew cheese and other vegan products over even the last couple of years are astounding.

I try to live with respect and tolerance for other people’s views and beliefs. It’s liberating. Negativity will only drag you down. So if you’re still reading, let me challenge you to something. No, not a vegan meal. Something else. For the next week, read your own social media posts, and listen to your comments. Before you write or speak, ask yourself: am I saying something positive about what I think, or am I saying something negative about someone else or what they think?

Don’t want to try it? Then don’t. It was just a thought. Meanwhile, I’ve got an order of Japanese Pan Fried Noodles on order with tofu and extra shiitake on the way. Thanks, Noodles and Company!

With love and respect and only a pinch of snark –
E.D.E. Bell
07 September 2014