I want to sound a battle cry today. This is something that's been rattling around in my brain for a long time, and I've been wanting to address it for a long time, but dietitian Virginia Messina has done it much more masterfully on her blog.
The issue? What vegan means, and what it doesn't mean. First, read her article, No Need for Vegans to Give up Fat, Gluten, Soy or Cooked Foods Obviously, Messina is speaking from a nutrition stand-point, making the point that unless you are allergic to gluten, there is nothing wrong with it, that fat is essential to our bodies, that soy is quite nutritious, and that certain nutrients are more, not less, bio-available through cooking.
However, she has inspired me to make a list of my own.
Vegan DOES mean:
- a diet and lifestyle free of animal products, or as free as humanly possible
a life of compassion and respect for all living beings
- ...THAT'S IT!
- gluten- or wheat-free
- low- or no-fat
- health food
- certain brands or companies
- free from refined foods
- free from junk food
- whole foods or whole grains
- a diet in the sense of a weight-loss strategy
- activism, at least activism of any particular sort
- environmentalism (being vegan is the best thing you can do for the environment, but not all vegans have to be environmentalists or even care about it)
- religiousness, or lack of religiousness
- limiting foods for the sake of limiting foods
- food snobbery
- disordered eating
- a fast or "detox" of any kind
However, I think it's about time that we clarify, to ourselves and to society at large, that veganism is not a blanket term for "diet" or "healthy" or "activist" - it's just an effort to reduce animal suffering through judiciously removing animal products and exploitation from our food and lifestyle choices.
Now, I'm off to make dinner: pizza. Delicious chewy sourdough crust (gluten! white flour! cooked!), vegan cheese (soy! processed food! salt! fat!), lots of olive oil (fat!), tempeh sausage (soy!) tomato sauce made with wine (alcohol!) ... still badass, still vegan.
Whew! What say you?