vegansaurus!

04/21/2011

Clearing the MeatPhotoGate air!   »

Disclaimer: I am a columnist and the editor-at-large for VegNews magazine. I obviously have ties to the magazine and I am proud of my relationship with them. That said, I am not in the office for day-to-day decisions, and other than emailing my advice on how I thought this whole thing should be dealt with, I haven’t talked to them about it. Because I have ties with VegNews, I didn’t want to comment on the situation unless I could be 100 percent honest about my feelings, and I feel I can be now. Yay for expressing feelings! (I say that because I’m a woman.)

When the whole thing surfaced, I have to admit, I was taken aback. I knew that VegNews used stock photos (I mean, I have eyes) and honestly, I didn’t think it was a huge deal. I thought it was industry standard, and dismissed it as that. Bigger things to tackle, etc. Reading a lot of the insightful and brilliant comments on Megan’s post (our readers are the BEST. Even when you’re mad at us, I still love you for being all opinionated and sassy and on it!) and all over the internet, I realize now that I was wrong about the use of stock photos. Although I sympathized with VegNews' initial response, I knew when I read it that it wasn't the apology and commitment to change that people needed to hear. I think it’s understandable that VegNews responded the way they did because when you’re the target of an exposé!!!-style post like that, your natural inclination is to defend yourself. They’re human, just like all of us. I know I’ve said stuff here on Vegansaurus that was not right, and been called out, and had to eat shit and promise to be and do better.

But I’m telling you, I did not come around immediately! As it stands now, I’m super-stoked about their sincere apology and I’m ready to move on with them to become an even better and radder magazine. There are incredible, passionate people who work at VegNews—some of the best vegans (and people!) I know—and I would honestly say that even if I didn’t have ties. Hell, I wouldn’t be involved with them if I didn’t think that! Life is too short to half-ass it, know what I’m sayin’?? So, now you know what’s up with me, because my opinions are very important and that’s why I blog! Also, for the occasional free sample of candy. That is also why I blog!

But before I can move on, there are a few things I would like to clear up as a self-appointed MeatGate Scandal Expert (you love it) (maybe). A lot of information and misinformation has been going around and it’s hard to know who to listen to. Different authorities in the vegan community took different stances and I think that’s good and everyone should have their say. Now normally, your girl (that’s me!) doesn’t like to talk smack on other vegans—ex-vegans, bring it on! but vegans, not so much. But when someone is exploiting a situation and spreading misinformation, I gotta start flapping my gums. That’s why I want to address Erik Marcus’ whole reaction over on Vegan.com. I was disappointed and a little freaked out by how he handled things. He’s posted 10 times on this issue. For real, 10 TIMES. AS OF YET. To put this in perspective: Quarrygirl, the blog that “broke” the story, posted TWICE. Marcus? TEN TIMES. I mean, I guess it’s a break from his incessant blogging and reblogging of Jamie “save America’s fat kids via organic skinless chicken breasts!” Oliver and Mark “not vegan but okay we love him too” Bittman, but jeezus louiseus!

I’d like to respond to a few of the things he said. As someone who is involved with VegNews, I know some things the general public does not (read: I’m fancy), and so I thought it would be helpful to clear up some of Marcus’ not quite-truths and frankly kinda-crazy statements. Fun! Here goes:


In the beginning
, Marcus was dropping bombs like:

I should offer some analysis: with the exception of the New Yorker, the Economist, and a handful of other periodicals, most magazines suck. 

That should read, “With the exception of a handful of white-male-dominated magazines that I read when Mark Bittman tweets about them, all magazines suck, because I am an expert on magazines!” Did a magazine kill his mom? Really, it’s just bizarre and snobbish.

More wisdom:

It’s the same kind of sociopathic know-you’re-gonna-get-caught-but-do-it-anyway behavior you would expect from a Ted Haggard, a Larry Craig, or a Bernie Madoff.

He just compared VegNews to BERNIE MADOFF. I’m sorry, WHAT? No, they are still a vegan magazine with a dedicated vegan staff, who are doing a lot for the cause. They are not sociopaths swindling people out of their life savings. Some perspective, please.

But enough about VegNews. Niche lifestyle magazines are for chumps who still think it’s the 1990s. They’re filled with ads for overpriced supplements and yuppie doohickeys, and the editorial content is typically assembled by short-timers who don’t give a shit.

Just a cheap, weird blow. Niche lifestyle magazines are actually doing pretty OK right now, and I’d love to know where he gets his intelligence. And this is rich: FILLED WITH ADS for OVERPRICED SUPPLEMENTS. All Vegan.com does is push supplements so Marcus can make money off the site! It’s called RUNNING A BUSINESS. As for the bit about “short-timers who don’t give a shit”, many of the contributors to VegNews are people Marcus links to all the time, including Mat Thomas and Mark Hawthorne. It’s clear to me he hasn’t read the magazine in a long time (maybe ever?). He later states that VegNews doesn’t pay its writers, and I know that to be untrue. I feel like he’s been holding onto some grudge toward VegNews for eons and saw this as the time to unleash his bottled up anger. Kinda like when you have all these things you want to say to your mom and then one day you just burn her house down? Kinda like that. And what really sucks about the whole thing is many of his posts could have just been sent to the editors at VegNews. As he was on the advisory board, he could have advised them a bit instead of posting 10 times. There’s something to be said for getting two sides to a story, too.

VegNews has always had the chance to leverage strong editorial judgment to bring you the very best of the vegan world, but they consistently squander that opportunity and instead give you lowest-common denominator crap like wedding issues, celebrity fluff, and popularity contest awards.

Again, he obviously hasn’t read VegNews in awhile (or ever), because they have some of the strongest, hardest-hitting reporting on vegan issues out there! Just a few that come to mind are Mark Hawthorne’s excellent “Injustice for All” piece on the human cost of factory farming, Marla Rose’s plastics exposé, Mat Thomas’ piece on food recalls, and “The Price of Free Speech” by Will Potter. Yeah, total fluff. Marcus also gripes about how their content isn’t available for free online. Again, they’re a business, and never claimed otherwise! If he’s as concerned about the trees as he says he is, they offer a tree-free edition. Also, they provide updated blog posts on their website every day. Honestly, about as many as Marcus does, with the added bonus of no begging-for-money posts. I get it, I make a little money off of Vegansaurus (roughly  25 cents a post, no joke) but I never attacked anyone else for trying to earn a living. Plus, he gripes about their celebrity coverage and writes about Jessica Simpson and Natalie Portman on the regular! I mean, so do we but we love that that shit and don’t claim otherwise! Methinks he’s upset he never won any of the popularity contests. :(

After VegNews issued an apology [pdf]Marcus wrote:

A post-mortem on this mess and its favorable conclusion: QuarryGirl and I—as well as everyone else pushing VegNews to do the right thing—got a lot of criticism for our efforts this week. 

Uh, dude. Don’t count yourself in with Quarrygirl. They had the balls to BREAK the story and do not have a relationship with VegNews. Up until the day of the scandal, Marcus was on VegNews' advisory board. He needs to stop taking credit for something he didn’t do. I also enjoy that he refers to Quarrygirl as she, when it was Mr. Meaner, another writer on the site, who broke the story. It’s a website, dude, it’s not a “she.” I mean, if Marcus thinks he’s in the trenches with QG doing god’s work, he should at least come correct. Another difference between Quarrygirl and Vegan.com? Quarrygirl allows comments, whereas Vegan.com does not. Ironic that he should run his mouth about VegNews' commenting policy and not leave himself open to deal with public response. Uh, I guess you can comment on his Facebook page if you have an account and want to give him more “likes.”

It’s clear to me that Marcus has a bone to pick with the publication for whatever reason. Maybe it didn’t want to go to the prom with him? Tears!

I totally understand the need for everyone to talk about this publicly and to sort out their feelings. People need to be heard, changes needed to be made, and ultimately, it’ll make VegNews and the vegan community even stronger. And that’s exciting! Let’s take veganism to the Next Level, and I know VegNews will be there making the movement look pretty and smart. Now that this thing has been done to death,* I’m excited to put my energy into pushing forward the movement, too!** Of course, I had to get a word in on all this shiz because DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS FOR ME TO KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT!? I swear, I developed hemorrhoids from the strain. LAURA! GROSS! What? You wanted to know how I feel, and now you know! Now, who wants to get drunk and talk about kittens? Holler at your girl!

*Those of you who asked for my contribution, THIS IS YOUR FAULT. You know I’m one wordy bitch with THINGS! to SAY! Did someone say something about getting drunk? Because YES PLEASE.

**Like, check out these vegan geniuses who are already launching a vegan stock photo site! It’s the same geniuses behind Food for Lovers vegan queso, that Texas-style cheesy wonder food we love! Here’s to vegans coming up with solutions and making that shit happen. To you, I raise my plate of MEGA NACHOS and my Tofutti Cutie (breakfast!) because you’re rad!

Epilogue to this long-ass post because I know you’d like to hear more from me: Marcus is still at it! Just today, Marcus blogged about Nikki Bennoit getting arrested for leafletting at a community college and then goes on to basically bag on community colleges for being less than “real” colleges. Yuck. Way to make all vegans look like snob elitist jerks.

12/17/2009

The poor vegan’s guide to eating raw and organic on the cheap in the Bay Area  »

As an early 20-something living in the Mission, working for just above minimum wage at a peace nonprofit in East Bay, balancing my drive to be an ethical consumer while adhering to a hella tight budget can be a real challenge. To avoid breaking the bank, I often bypass expensive bars, shops, concerts, clothing stores in favor of free or inexpensive local shows, lectures, art openings, meditation classes and second-hand clothing and wares.  But as an ethical vegan who eats primarily raw, when it comes to feeding myself and those I care about, there are no exceptions: I refuse to purchase anything but organic, local when possible, fresh produce and raw vegan food.

It’s a no-brainer that a diet rich in raw foods is extremely healthful and sustainable for the planet. Cooking foods, especially greens and other nutrient-dense vegetables, kills their live enzymes and makes them less usable by the body. I personally believe that life is about balance, and I am certainly not out to keep anyone from downing ample quantities of Souley Vegan’s sinfully good baked Mac n’ Cheese. But it’s indisputable fact that we vegans need to care for our health. I would argue that the raw food movement has been really remarkable in that it brings a lot of folks to veganism that might not otherwise be motivated to care about food-justice issues. The vegan and raw food movements definitely intersect, but it would be naïve to say that someone who is raw is vegan. Many raw foodists eschew cooked foods but still eat raw dead animals and consume feminized animal protein (raw cheese, milk, etc.).

Unfortunately, raw organic vegan food in the Bay Area has gotten a bad rap for being pretentious (ahem, Landmark) and/or financially inaccessible. This keeps a lot of lower-income folks, especially minorities, out of the raw food movement. A recent raw food festival I went to at the Living Light Raw Culinary Institute in Fort Bragg, Calif., featured speakers, music, tons of raw food products and ultra-fancy, expensive appliances like Dehydrators, sprouters, spiralizers, and ultra-fancy juicers and blenders and, unsurprisingly, very few young people and people of color. This event only further confirmed my suspicion that the raw vegan divide seems to follow class and age lines, and that’s something that I think can easily change. It’s something I want to see change.

So how is it possible to be an organic raw vegan food while living on the cheap? My first piece of advice is to glean as much information as you can from the Internet about what raw foodism is all about and how to do it right (you probably won’t feel super hot if you eat only raw nuts and dried fruit). For some Bay Area-specific tips, check out my nifty guide below. If you’re lower-income and struggling to be a raw food vegan, please share your story with me. I would love to help us band together to figure out creative ways to make raw veganism easier and more fun!

1. Go to Farmers’ Markets as they are about to close. Many vendors offer surplus produce at free or heavily discounted prices.

2. Check grocery stores produce sections for bulk bags of slightly bruised or perfectly ripe organic produce. These are often marked down to almost nothing.

3. Find a Food Not Bombs in your area: The vegan organization provides free, mostly organic vegan meals, which often include raw food.

4. The Gratitude Bowl. Café Gratitude offers a sliding-scale raw vegan dish. It’s filled with kale and tahini and is very filling. If you can afford to subsidize someone else’s bowl, it’s a great way to support lower-income folks’ access to raw food veganism.

5. Visit Alive!* at the Tuesday and Thursday Ferry Building Farmer’s Markets. They offer many hearty items at a much smaller price than they do at their restaurant.

6. Host a raw vegan potluck with your friends. Everyone can chip in and defray the costs while creating a delicious spread. Try Gone Raw for recipe tips.

6. Buy Kaia Foods.* A raw vegan company located in Oakland, Calif., Kaia is committed to making truly affordable raw foods including granolas, sunflower seeds and fruit leathers that are delicious and totally healthy. Plus they donate 1% of their profits to combat world hunger.

7. Sprout your own sprouts! Bike over to Rainbow (or any other grocery store) and pick up some bulk dried chickpeas, mung beans, lentils (just not kidney or black beans, they are poisonous raw!), soak them overnight, then let them air-dry in a mason jar with a bit of cloth or mesh on top. Rinse them once or twice a day, letting them air dry until they have cute little tails. To avoid any bacteria that might grow in those wet, moist environments, after sprouts are full grown, soak them in a bowl of water with a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide (it’s totally safe!) for half an hour. Rinse, and store in an airtight container in the fridge for super-filling, super-cheap, protein-rich, crunchy treat for salads, wraps, etc.

*Full disclosure: my beautiful, also raw vegan girlfriend works at Kaia Foods and I myself worked for a total of one days at the Alive! Farmers’ Market stand.

This post was written by Sarah E. Brown. Thanks, Sarah!

10/22/2009

Michael Moore, the herbivore!?  »

I am totally stereotyping you based on your dietary habits, but I would guess that most of you Vegansaurus readers fall somewhere in the “not retarded” side of the political spectrum. With a notable Ron Paul/libertarian contingent in there somewhere (I’m looking at you, Silicon Valley!) (Also, WTF is wrong with you? That dude is an anti-gay, anti-women’s rights bigot who looks like a living toothpick, and Ayn Rand was a delusional social Darwinist and, more importantly, a crappy writer!). So, what I’m saying is: you should totally go watch the new Michael Moore film!

Capitalism: A Love Story is Moore’s least partisan, most personal, and most common-sense film yet. And also probably the most radical, ‘cause he wants to get rid of the Stock Exchange, but hey—I’m poor and don’t own any stocks so whatevs. I know tons of people who agree with Moore’s ideas love to complain about his way of presenting them, but to you folks I say: uh, if you don’t like your progressive facts sprinkled with humor and blatant expression of the author’s opinion, then why are you reading Vegansaurus?

Anyways, in Moore’s most recent post to his website, “Michael Moore’s Action Plan: 15 Things Every American Can Do Right Now,” he lists 14 things that anybody can do to fight the destructive cycle of corporate greed, and ends with the duh-but-friendly advice, “Take care of yourself and your family.” Among Moore’s recs: get enough sleep, be nice, read books, and eat “mostly plants.” Although Moore doesn’t come out and say that veganism is where it’s at, hey, it’s a start! As Vegansaurus’ head honcho wisely said, “We need to reach out to Moore, not attack him for being a live-action Hamburglar.” Yeah, it’s hard to reach out to someone you can’t even put your arms around, but dude-–the most successful documentary filmmaker in history is advocating a plant-based diet! Woo hoo! There’s been a sort of contentious relationship between Moore and Animal Rights folks because of stuff like this but let’s put that behind us because he can and should be a great ally.

Mad thanks to Ben Pearson for his ability to leave the house and watch movies and report on shit for us. You’re doing better than the rest of us, sir.

09/17/2009

Coming Out: Six Reasons to Be a Vegan (and why we should love them all.)  »

In the beginning, there’s OMFFGGGGGWHHHYYYYY???

Since I would reckon more of us came to the big V based on our own decisions, and not because we’ve been raised that way from birth, we undoubtedly will face the original question: WHY??? Hiss what you will about Mr. Bourdain’s Hezbollah vegan quote, right or not, he voices what a lot of people outside our tofu bubble think: vegans are wacky, proselytizing, fringe-y martyrs who use crystal deodorant, let rats out of cages, and don’t know nothing about good eatin’.

I grew up on a farm, where animals are respected and well-treated but not anthropomorphized. The first rule of Farm Club? Don’t name any animal that isn’t allowed in the house. My family adapted to my coming out…admirably quickly, but I’ve answered my share of questions. I’ve stood in a country kitchen, the circus freak/bearded lady fielding queries like, “will you kiss a guy who’s eaten meat?” Answer: “The standard rates of oral hygiene still apply.” I’ve sat around fancy foodie dinner tables and answered the “NO FOIE GRAS? What’s the point of living?” And I’ve had to “pass.” And by “pass” I mean: I’ve hidden my reasons for being vegan because if you’re not an animal rights-er, you’re seemingly null and void within the V-world clubhouse.

It’s not only prejudice from within—omnivores also usually assume you’re vegan because of the rabbits, George.

I don’t have a slew of vegan friends—but my mixed crowd has proven a perfect testing ground for all of the WHYYYYYS, and how important it is to distinguish between and embrace all of the:

Six Kinds of Vegans

The T. Boone Pickens (or, the Van Jones, if you prefer.): This one is all about the environment. Growing a varied vegan diet takes only a fifth of the land that a typical omnivorous diet does. Methane gas and manure aside, that’s land we can be using to grow windmill farms, not hamburgers. It’s all about energy, the first country who figures out how to get their energy for free—from the sky, the wind, water—without burying themselves in pig dung, wins. Meat and oil go together in way more ways than fondue, and it’s a great reason to go veg.

The Penn Jillette: Penn Jillette is an outspoken Libertarian, a “not in my name” advocate. He argues if he’s morally opposed to offing a cow himself, he can’t outsource that dirty work. It’s the personal responsibility, conserve and help yourself, man-as-island argument. Do your own thing, sir.

The Matthew Scully: The religious, George W. Bush-connected, like Lambs-to-slaughter vegan. Scully is a Christian vegan, but Hindus and Buddhists also give up the Surf-and-Turf for Salvation and Enlightenment.

The Posh Spice: Yes, the Spanx in the center of the book Skinny Bitch is the Cher Horowitz (see below) but the outfit it’s dressed in is all Posh. Meat is unhealthy, it’s pretty gross when you think about it, and you’ll be healthier and skinnier if you don’t eat it. So soy up and slim down. The very act of her carrying a copy of the book inspired more than a few converts, even if David Beckham didn’t come free with purchase.

The Rich Uncle Pennybags: It’s all about the Benjamins. A pound of $teak vs. pound of beans? There’s your five-to-one ratio from the T. Boone, just in dollars.

The Cher Horowitz: Finally, here’s your traditional, animal rights, Alicia Silverstone-for-PETA reason. You like animals, you don’t want them treated cruelly or killed. This can also apply to those against factory farming, but you have to say you’re a Horowitz with a twist of T. Boone, just to be fair…

First, I would love to put of these people in a house, Real World-style. Second, as long we’re all camped out here on the fringe of society, fractures and judgments from within, don’t help us none. Can’t we all just get along? Think about it: which is a more compelling group to join: one where it’s all hard and prejudiced and unwelcoming—or one where it takes all kinds? The more reasonable reasons exist, the more will embrace them. Let’s entice by example. If we’re accepting of all the reasons someone would become vegan, the more vegans there will be.

Inclusionary = fruitful and multiplying.

Who cares why someone’s a vegan, as long as they are. The benefits are the same. But am I mistaken in my notion that the Cher Horowitz is seen as the OG/OTP reason for going veg?

So yeah. I’m a T. Boone/Penn Jillette with Posh rising. Wanna make something of it?

This is the first article in a recurring series, The Vegan Diplomat; The Art and Politics of Being Vegan in any Situation Society Throws on Your Plate, brought to us by the lovely Zoë Stagg. Zoë writes about politics, pop culture, and social media. She went cold-tofurkey—total omnivore to vegan on April 26, 2006 and never looked back. Despite her rural upbringing and the fact that her dad may have wanted her to enter the Dairy Princess pageant in high school, she firmly believes in the conservative nature of veganism. Her last non-vegan meal was a Turkey Lean Pocket. Ew.

04/21/2009

“ The way Americans eat has lots of problems, to be sure, but telling people that the historical basics of their diet are gross and unnatural isn’t the best way to get people to change. Maybe if Masson were more interested in reform, he’d recognize that, as much as animal life deserves respect, so does human culture. It’s reasonable to ask people to eat less meat and dairy — it’s even reasonable to ask them to go completely vegan. But we have to understand that this represents an enormous shift for people, a break not only with habit but with history. Sometimes it’s good to break with history, but it’s always hard, and animal rights advocates need to recognize that. „

Maria posted that quote from the Jezebel piece on Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and veganism.

Jezebel - Animal Advocate Doesn’t See Why Veganism Is So Difficult To Do - Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

I have some thoughts on this. They are posted below (with a little help from Meaverly!) I’d love to hear other thoughts on the article, as well. Unless they’re different than mine. If that’s the case: you’re wrong, go away!

Okay, Jezebel piece on veganism. I’ve got some issues witchu.

In the post, the writer talks quite a bit about our substantial “human culture”* in relation to meat eating. In the history of “human culture,” meat and dairy weren’t a part of every meal until very recently. Whether because of culture, cost or convenience, that’s just how it was. Relatedly, the modern factory farm couldn’t be further from how things were even just 30 years ago. It’s a big leap from hunting animals ourselves to buying them wrapped in Styrofoam and plastic at Safeway. This “human culture” argument reeks of b.s. to me but I’ll still point out that a break from the status quo in “human culture” is how most of the great things happened in the history of the United States.

I think Jezebel has a stronger argument for the difficulty of becoming vegan with the communal act of sharing a meal. It’s hard to order something different than your friends and then respond when they ask you, “Why did you get that?” It’s hard to say no to your grandmother’s pot roast or famous apple crisp**. Food is often how we show our love to those around us. Sharing a meal with your family can often be one of the best memories a person has. It’s a difficult thing to deal with because when you turn down Grandma’s food, it’s like you’re turning down her love. My friend actually told me that he didn’t know if it was harder to come out to his parents as being gay or being a vegetarian! Craziness!

So, yeah, it is hard. It might be the hardest thing about becoming vegan or vegetarian. But you can do it. You can bring your own food to the meal and still participate with your family. It’s different but you can do it. It’s likely that once your family sees that you are for real about this and it’s not just a phase, they’ll most likely start making food that you can eat and might even change their relationship with what and how they eat. My dad who is WAY into meat, pretty much only eats it a couple times a week now because of his health and also because that’s just how my parents eat now. I like to think I had some influence on that. Also, now he’ll live longer and not die from fat clogged arteries, another delightful side effect from his meat consumption (and that’s not just me, that’s his doctor! Who isn’t vegan! Snap! Kinda!). And at the risk of sounding slightly preachy, it feels REALLY good to live in a way that you’re not supporting animal torture and killing. I don’t know how else to put that last part to make it sound not as in your face because that’s what it is, it’s animal torture and then it’s animal murder. Hm, I guess murder is worse than killing? But also more appropriate.

Another problem with the Jezebel argument is that she’s talking about younger kids, in particular college students, and unfortunately there are a lot more VUGs than LUGs. Then two months out of school, they quit being veg when they find a new partner who loves to eat steak. Those former vegetarians/vegans are actually the most dreaded people to deal with for two general reasons. First, because their vegan lifestyle was another trend to follow, like spending your weekends getting high and making out with other ladies in front of dudes to the sweet sounds of the Dave Mathews Band. That’s fine, we were all experimenting in college (er, except for that Dave Mathews Band part) but that’s not how your everyday, committed vegan behaves.

Second (and remember the “generally” that preceded all this), there is the ex-veg who liked the animal-free lifestyle of their youth, but didn’t keep it up after school because of lack of support/willpower/spine/empathy. These people tend toward the jerky side because of their guilt, and some of them like to talk about how their doctors prescribed them a meaty diet because they “got all weak and sick and anemic” during their veg years***. Sometimes they come to their senses and return to their ethical lifestyles; those who don’t can get kind of obnoxious in their justifications of why not.

Now listen: long-term vegans and vegetarians aren’t preachy. You hear A LOT about the preachiness because the self-righteous vegans are the ones the media love because, guess what, they make great news! Talking about all of the vegans and vegetarians who comfortably live amongst us? Not so interesting.

I am open to any questions from my omnivore friends about veganism and I think (hope) they know that but that’s the extent of my outreach to those directly around me. If someone wants to become vegetarian or vegan (for the right reasons) then no matter what stands in their way, they will do it. The fact that it’s harder to find vegan food (which really isn’t that true!) or that they love the taste of bacon too much or that it’s a part of their “human culture”—those things don’t matter. You become vegan because you don’t want to contribute to the wide-scale suffering and exploitation of animals. That’s it. I hope that people who are truly interested in vegetarianism or veganism don’t come across the judgmental vegan (or the very common judgmental meat-eater talking waxing obnoxious about the judgmental vegan) and it scares them off veganism. I hope that even if they do, they’ll reach out until they find the thousands of us who aren’t. I want to think if someone really wants to be vegan, it will happen. But I don’t know how true that is. I want it to be. Argh! Damn humans being all crazy and shit! I’m off to have a delicious vegan cupcake before I get all super bitchy or cry-y.

*I believe that “human culture” deserves respect, but I’m willing to side with an animal life vs. “human culture” as relates to food. I’d be curious to ask the author—who obviously doesn’t think veganism is the problem, but rather the people who are vegan—how do I help others make the decision to become vegan without sounding preachy or judgmental? I mean, I can ask my omnivore friends how to do this, but obviously I’m not very successful; they still eat meat. When I first became vegan, I thought I would show factory farm footage and explain the things I learned about animals in horrible situations and everyone around me would immediately go veg. To be honest, it still boggles my mind that they don’t.

**my grandmother, bless her crazy ass heart, was a certifiable anorexic so I never had that problem. Maybe that’s why I’m vegan???

***Secretly, most of us don’t buy it. Collectively we have a lot of friends with a unfortunate genetic tendencies and/or diseases who are also vegan or vegetarian, and their diets are 0 percent detrimental to their health. If you’re worried about your health, talk to a (real, with-a-degree, licensed) nutritionist before you talk to any doctor. MDs don’t get much training in nutrition; their advice isn’t the best you can get.

01/19/2009

Counterpoint: Mission Street Food  »

Last year this project began on the street; flatbread sandwiches served out of a taco truck parked just off Mission. It took off immediately, popular with omnivores and us vegans, thanks to Wonderful Person Anthony Myint’s crispy scrumptious king trumpet mushrooms + roasted garlic + triple-fried potatoes number. Oh it was heaven on flatbread, and even $1 less than the posted price when we asked for it vegan-style, without the creamy sauce. (for pictures, revisit Laura’s review)

After just a few weeks (and only one public fuss), the taco truck line grew too long, and the street food moved to a borrowed restaurant on Mission. This is where they started to lose me. First, they expanded the menu, which ought to have been a boon, but this meant they eliminated their two vegetarian items, and introduced a “meat-smoked rice” dish. The next week, it was rare beef with glass noodles. I kept track of these changes through the Mission Street Food blog.

On the last December night of business, MSF offered their first new vegetarian entree since leaving the street: smoky rice with shiitake, cauliflower, and tofu tempura. This in contrast to the smoky rice fried in duck fat with duck confit AND duck “cracklins.” Had you gone the previous week, you could have enjoyed the return of the mushroom sandwich, or pie with “bacon ‘snow,’” your choice.

Now Mission Street Food leaves me conflicted. I love the idea of a line cook at an established restaurant wanting to create his own menus, without the funding—or even desire, I don’t know—to open his own restaurant; Myint established a little place in his (our!) neighborhood where he could serve whatever food he wanted, and collaborate with other chefs to make fun crazy meals with bacon! and rabbit! and whatever the hell else they felt inspired to make that week. The community-togetherness part is integral to this Mission ideal so many of us love idealize, and the inventive-food part is integral to our stomachs.

Misson Street Food is a project that brings the Mission closer to being that creative, unpredictable, community-oriented neighborhood it’s supposed to be. I would sincerely recommend it to anyone who enjoys tasty plates of murder. But OK, glibness aside, when the MSF crew began eliminating their vegetable dishes and expanding their meaty foods, they disappointed me. I read the menu every week, hoping for something vegan or at least easily veganized, but until recently the best we’ve been given is an occasional side dish. I love my neighborhood, but I do not love it enough to wait an hour to split three orders of the same single side.

Do I think that MSF is obligated to “cater to all of us” and all of our diets? Not necessarily. Still, the Mission is full of vegan-friendly restaurants, and hungry vegan people, so in that spirit of community and neighborliness, it makes sense to offer a vegan dish. Cooking without animal parts doesn’t limit a person’s choices so much as shift your focus to other ingredients—not that I wanted to make that argument, but it bears repeating—and with the variety of dishes the MSF crew has offered so far, I’m sure they’re capable of making some good vegan food as well. Why they haven’t so far, I don’t know; then again, I haven’t asked, either. Clearly the demand from the omnivorous crowd is high enough that they haven’t needed to court us, and if business keeps on hopping, they may not ever have to.

So Mission Street Food is a success! I’m happy for them. Of course, I wish they that they needed vegan community support. I also realize that the vegan community is small enough that our support wouldn’t mean much either way, and I wish that were different too. I wish I had a satisfying, full-time job and health insurance. We all wish a lot of things. In the community spirit, perhaps if we ask the MSF people nicely, they’ll put more vegan-friendly dishes on future menus. They just announced that from now on all MSF profits will go to charity; they are obviously really good-hearted people. There’s no harm in asking, anyway. 

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