Sunday, November 08, 2009

"But What DO Vegans Eat?"

Just a short little rant tonight:
I so often get asked "But, what do you eat?" and I wish I had a short, easy answer because it seems so very simple to me.

I can understand the confusion though, I've noticed lately more and more people have begun to equate veganism with restrictions and limited, (and boring!) meals.

Every time I order a "vegan" meal at a special function or on an airline, it comes with salt-substitute, Splenda for my coffee and fat-free cookies for dessert. Who said I wanted those?

Even many fellow vegan bloggers are jumping on the no-carb, raw-foods, no-fat, gluten-free
bandwagon, which is probably furthering the general misconceptions about veganism. Some vegans may eat that way, but that's their choice, not some vegan "rule".

Being vegan does mean eating outside the mainstream and it is very different from the way "typical" Americans eat, so people often think that different = "restrictive".It also (unfortunately) sends the message that vegan diets might be difficult and less appealing and that's too bad, because they definitely don't have to be.

People assume everything I eat, cook or blog about must be healthy, low-fat, raw, low-sodium, organic, high-fiber, flax-filled, gluten-free, low-carb, preservative-free. But that's not what defines a me as a vegan.

Simply put, I try to have a diet and lifestyle as free of animal products as is possible. That's all.
I love my fried tofu, my glass of wine, my Oreos, my frozen vegan TV dinners and my trips to Taco Bell just as much as my trips to the farmer's market for fresh produce.

There's nothing wrong with a little salt, or fat (*gasp*) or fast food, in moderation of course. Yes, I try to keep my family's meals simple, healthy and inexpensive, but also, INTERESTING and appetizing. It's not a "restricted diet" by any means - no one ever leaves my table feeling "restricted" or "deprived".

I eat a much wider variety of foods than I ever did before becoming vegan, all the while doing my part for animals, the environment and our health. My friend and fellow blogger Bazu says it far, FAR better than I, please check out her fabulous list of "What Being Vegan DOES and DOES NOT Mean."

Obviously there are those with genuine, diagnosed allergies, and this rant is not directed at you, but I think we need to clarify, to ourselves and to society at large, that veganism is not a blanket term for "diet" or "healthy" or "activist". Sometimes I (and most of my vegan friends) are a little of all three, but sometimes we're none of the above.


The Voracious Vegan said...

BEST POST EVER! This was pure genius, I loved reading every word of it.

I get really frustrated at the misconception that vegans eat only tofu and twigs! People seem to pity me when they hear I'm vegan...but that quickly goes away when I wow them with my triple fudge cupcakes!

And I am definitely not a picky eater, much to their confusion. It is just that animals ARE NOT FOOD. Other than that, anything goes!

I feel best when I eat fairly healthy meals with lots of raw....and cupcakes and potato chips and some fried sambusa, too!

Veganism is amazing, eclectic and diverse, just like vegans!

Yvonne said...

Thanks for writing this. I've been criticized by family for being "closed minded" and "judgmental" and "hyper restrictive" and "extreme" for not eating meat. As if eating meat was some kind of a free pass to an all embracing lovefest.

It's weird when people you don't even know are more embracing than your own family. So thank you, really, thank you.

VeganView said...

I see you felt the need to do what I did :)

Tofu Hunter said...


julie hasson said...

I couldn't agree more! Thank you for this post. I have more people say to me "oh you're vegan, so you don't eat wheat or sugar than". So annoying...

Bianca said...

You had me at fudge! That looks delicious. But yes, I agree that vegan should not have to mean healthy. I also love a good Saturday binge drunk with friends (yes, I do that), late night runs to Taco Bell for 5 Layer Burritos, and cupcakes with loads of buttercream! I also enjoy raw food cleansing and green juice and such. It's all about balance really.

nyvette said...

& nicely expressed with humor!~peace

VeganView said...

I didn't think you were being a weird stalker or plagerizing in some sort of way...There were a few thoughts that were word for word that I had written that you used so a little shout out would have been nice, no biggie though.

Sarah said...

Where is the recipe for the fudge??

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

Sarah - The fudge:

Vegan my way said...

After seeing this blog one day I started using it as my go to answer/tag line.

-them - So... What DO you eat?
- me - I eat food.

Blog (not mine)

So clever, so simple.