I Love the Noughties: A Vegan Decade in Review »
If you had to pick a single word for vegan in the ’00s, it would be “mainstream,” as we watched veganism get wrestled away from the Birkenstocks-and-hemp set. Celebrity vegans and vegan fashion changed the public face of a movement that had been left for dead, and the food came along for the ride, with cupcakes and melty cheese pizza replacing granola. We even went political, passed some laws, lost some rights, and ran for president. Our fad diets beat their fad diets, and now here we are, 10 years later. Older? Wiser? Better dressed and topped with frosting? Let’s see how it all went down.
2000: Alicia Silverstone goes vegan and ushers in the Celebrity Vegan Decade. Yes, there were vegans before 2000, like Ian Mackaye, but it was still a fringe thing, for college activists and crusty old punks. In the ’00s, going vegan equals getting press, with celebrities coming out of the pantry left and right. It was the decade that gave us PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian Alive award, and high profile announcements from Natalie Portman, Ellen Degeneres, Jonathan Safran Foer, Kristin Bell, and other stars like supermodel Petra Němcová and MMA cage fighter Mac Danzig. Love or hate celebrity culture, it’s here to stay, and now it’s going vegan.
2001: Stella McCartney leaves Chloe to start her own designer label, starting the first high fashion vegan shoe line. While most of what she does is out of the price range of mere mortals, in a very real way, this was a good thing for the perception of vegan fashion. “But if I went vegan, I would have to shop at Payless” would no longer be an excuse, and the false dilemma between ethics and looking good was finally gone.
2002: Atkins Diet goes mainstream and gets cred. Dr. Atkins’ book had been out since 1972, but it wasn’t until the early ’00s that people gave it a real try. In 2002, a Duke University study appeared to confirm the worst fears of vegans, that Atkins dieters lost weight and lowered their cholesterol. Of course we all know what happened in the end. Like any fad diet, the guru died and the company went bankrupt, leading to its fiery demise. Why was the Atkins diet such a big deal for vegans? It was the first fad diet to attack the “eating less meat is healthy” argument at the jugular. In the end, we were still right, but not without spending a few years in the low carb wilderness. Dark times.
2003: Dennis Kucinich announces that he will run as the first vegan for president of the U.S. of A., then wins the election with 76 percent of the vote, dissolves the Senate, and ends factory farming by executive decree. Okay I made up like half of that. But admit it, you decided to vote for this guy, sight unseen, the second you heard he was vegan, and his flappy ears or anti-abortion stance didn’t scare you away. Hell, I did. He also helped heal the left after the Green Party split in 2000 that gave us George W. Bush, by giving all of us lefties some hope that the Democratic party doesn’t have to completely suck. After all, any political party with a high-profile vegan politician couldn’t be that bad, could it? Okay don’t answer that. Anyway, give it up for the D-Kuch for making vegan history! Dennis, I present you with this gold plated dino-statue as Vegansaurus’s highest honor. As soon as I have a sec to ‘shop that up.
2004: Wayne Pacelle becomes the first vegan president of the Humane Society of the United States, making that one for two in the “first” and “vegan president” category. For the first time, a vegan is president of the largest animal protection group in the world. He completely broadened/shifted its focus on to farm animals. It makes sense because the vast majority of animals suffering in this world are the ones we eat.
2005: Vegan cheese that melts hits the stores, with the first known appearance of Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Gourmet. “It melts!” the label proudly trumpeted, reminding us of past disappointments, fraught with casein and other milk-based substances that were needlessly present in the so-called cheese replacements of the day. True vegan pizza was finally possible, and so was GRILLED CHEESE (and the great pre-Vegansaurus Mac and Cheese Bake-Off). And with that, we kicked off a revolution in the greatest vegan technology advancement of all. Teese, Dr. Cow, Follow Your Heart, Daiya—before the ’00s, such things were only found at the Whole Foods on Fantasy Island.
2006: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World takes over the world. Seriously, where would we be without this book? It combined every element of vegan baking into a single handbook, a canonical scripture to be read aloud during holy days of rest. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World appeared at exactly the right time, just as the global cupcake phenomenon was reaching a fever pitch, and convinced a skeptical omnivorous world that vegan baking is not only passable, but preferable.
2006: The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act passes, expanding the War on Terror to tofu. Last I checked, violence was already illegal, and politically motivated violence was already doubleplus illegal, but apparently we needed a special law to target animal rights activists. I’ll be the first to admit that our cause, just like every other cause, has its extremists that could use a chill pill. However, the new law did nothing to provide exemptions for whistle-blowing and other undercover investigations, and codified the right of animal enterprises to uninterrupted profits at the expense of free speech. The ACLU, unfortunately, allowed this abomination to pass. Thanks, jerks!
2007: Spotted: Victoria Beckham carrying a copy of Skinny Bitch while shopping in Los Angeles. Skinny Bitch had been out since 2005, but it took Posh Spice to get it on the bestseller lists. While the idea of going vegan to lose weight is hardly new, this was the first successful attempt to bring animal rights philosophy and PCRM’s nutritional science to the diet frenzy mainstream, by weaving our beliefs in with the ideals of Americans who desire “skinny” over “healthy” (these ladies are NOT actual nutritionists, you guys). Those of us on the vegan-lifer side of the fence know that being vegan is anything but a fad diet (and come on, we have pizza and cupcakes now, we’re enjoying life as much as anyone else) but as a subversive social experiment, Skinny Bitch was the first of its kind.
2008: Oprah goes vegan for 21 days. You don’t mess with the Oprahnator. Oprah speaks, everyone listens, and in 2008, she spoke about going vegan. “How can you say you’re trying to spiritually evolve, without even a thought about what happens to the animals whose lives are sacrificed in the name of gluttony?” she wrote at the time. Which is a nice thought, but do we stop thinking about what happens to the animals after 21 days? I didn’t really get it. Anyway, Oprah has a way of sprinkling her magic credibility fairy dust on everything she touts, which means “You’re what?” is no longer the Jeopardy answer to “I’m vegan.”
2008: Proposition 2 wins in California! Although not the first animal protection law to win by popular referendum (voters in Florida and Arizona passed laws of their own in 2004 and 2006) we won a truly epic battle that will protect calves, hens, and pigs from horrible confinement. Prop. 2 won with 63 percent of the vote in the U.S.’s most populous state, and as they say, as California goes, so goes the nation. Put that in your gestation crate and smoke it.
2009: Martha Stewart has a vegetarian Thanksgiving, Obama adopts a breeder dog instead of a shelter dog, and Jonathan Safran Foer proposes that we all eat our pets or give up meat. It was a freaky-ass year.
Erika, Maria, Laura, Megan Rascal, and Meave also contributed to this post. We are fam-i-ly! I got all my sisters with me! OK I’ll stop now.
Vegan Halloween candy, Oprah (!), weekend events, and FINALLY: findings from Japanese whaling research! All in this week’s link-o-rama! »
Meaverly’s computer is out of commission right now (ugh computers are such pieces of shit, except this one, i love you, computer, you are very attractive, please don’t explode on me) and so I’m taking over this ship. Get ready to crash into the rocks! Gloriously!
HERE WE GO:
Natalie Portman is gonna be on Top Chef. WILL IT BE AN ALL-VEGAN EPISODE, now that she is recently vegan!? I mean, we think she is but we’ve been confused before! Here’s hoping the episode is totally vegan but we’re not planning on it because OMG COOKING VEGAN FOOD NIGHTMARE HOW WILL WE FIND FLAVOR WITHOUT USING BABY BLOOD!?!? Didn’t they once have a Quickfire challenge where they had to cook fellow contestant’s children? I’m pretty sure that was in Season 3.
Even though we’re nearing the end of October, Vegan MoFo is still in full swing! If you’re interested in winning some awesome handmade cups & dishes, head to Vessels & Wares to enter! You have to put down your favorite blog entry and PLEASE GOD let it be one from Vegansaurus because I’m like srsly close to the edge today.
Vegan chef Tal Ronnen was on Oprah. THAT IS CORRECT. Now, his book is the 3rd best selling thing on ALL OF AMAZON. Such is the power of the mighty, mighty O. IF you missed it, you can check out his recipes from the show and BUY HIS BOOK. Because it’s really great. And we want him to beat out Sarah Palin and take the #1 spot on Amazon! YOU CANNOT LET SARAH PALIN WIN. I need you to fight like we did back in 2008, people.
Remember when the UN Report, LIvestock’s Long Shadow, came out and everyone was terrified and disgusted? Well, apparently that report grossly underestimates exactly how bad animal agriculture is for the earth. Blarg.
Wayne Pacelle, head honcho of HSUS, posted a great blog entry on 50 things you can do for animals. Definitely worth a read and then TAKE SOME ACTION, LAZY.
Speaking of lists, Rory Freeman has a great one up at Crazy Sexy Life. It’s all about how to be a better person and it’s not all schmaltzy and lame, it’s full of good advice. NOW IF ONLY I COULD TAKE IT.
FINALLY, the results from all the Japanese whaling research (read: killing whales and not doing any research) are in: whales eat krill; and, you can’t inject whale sperm into a cow egg and get a hybrid whale-cow. SERIOUSLY. If this makes you really mad—and it must because you have a brain and a heart—donate to Sea Shepherd so that they can get better at doing what they’re doing because even if they look crazy sometimes (read: almost 100 percent of the time), they are the only ones out there doing this and they will get better.
VegNews has up an awesome definitive guide to vegan Halloween candy because we’re all totally fat around here and gotta have it.
You’ve probably for sure seen this but if not, it’s a HOUND DOG hanging with an ORANGUTAN. Watch it and you’ll want to gouge out your eyeballs when you’re done because you’ll never see something so great again. And you’re into self-mutilation. I guess you’d need to have those two things going for you.
WEEKEND EVENTS WOO!
If you’re all about the street food, there is an event in the Mission on Saturday, Oct. 24th. I can’t tell exactly what it is, film screenings, mainly, I think. There will be lots of food carts on the scene, many vegan friendly. No guarantees obviously b/c those crazy cart food people can change at any moment because nobody is regulating their shit but here’s hoping! I know Wholesome Bakery is all-vegan and they’ll be there so yeah WOO!
Rod Rotundi, he of the BEST NAME EVER, is promoting his new book, Raw Food for Real People, also on Saturday from 3 to 4 p.m. at Omnivore Books. It’s cool that OMNIvore Books is doing a veg event so let’s all show up and turn it out for the vegans and maybe they’ll do more in the future! Oh also, there will totally be free food at this event so I’m gearing up by not eating today (lie) and most of the day tomorrow (lie).
Farm animals, it seems, were everywhere in 2008. One year ago, a shocking slaughterhouse investigation revealed workers torturing downed dairy cows — and prompted the nation’s largest-ever meat recall. And the year ended with California’s landslide vote passing Proposition 2, which will free nearly 20 million hens, pigs and calves from tiny, immobilizing cages on factory farms — in the nation’s largest agriculture state, no less.
…Americans were universally outraged when they viewed the slaughter plant footage exposing workers using forklifts, prods and water boarding to force sick and injured cows to their feet and into the kill box. Congress held eight hearings that addressed not only food safety risks of allowing meat from diseased animals into the food supply, but also on the wanton, extreme cruelty perpetrated against the animals. The California legislature enacted stronger regulations against slaughtering downed cows and other animals. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced plans to prohibit the slaughter of downed cows with no exceptions.
Prop 2 is the most popular citizen ballot initiative in California history, attracting a 63.5 percent landslide. More than eight million people voted in support of the idea that farm animals deserve at least enough room to stand up, turn around and extend their limbs. Oprah devoted an entire show to the issue. The New York Times editorialized in favor of the measure. The media’s interest in and public’s support for Prop 2 demonstrated one of its basic tenets: that concern for all animals, including those raised for food, is consistent with the better nature of every one of us.
In 2008, Americans sent an unmistakable signal to Big Agribusiness that we will not tolerate the kinds of cruelty that have become standard practice. We unequivocally established farm animal protection as a social issue worthy of our concern on a national scale. And we recognized our collective responsibility to show mercy and compassion for those from whom we take so much. As we head into February and the rest of 2009, let’s work to accomplish even more.„
Your Friday afternoon quote!
“Moving Forward for Farm Animals” by Erin Williams, HSUS communications director for the factory farming campaign, in The Huffington Post.
Friday vegan blog link-o-rama! »
1. A whole blog dedicated to vegan cookies. Cookies are delicious and so this blog is BRILLIANT!
2. Vegan Soapbox asks an always interesting question for the omnivores in the house (i.e., me!). “If I care about animals, but still eat animal products, isn’t it better to buy “humane” animal products?”
3. Ezra Klein talks about tofu. We love Ezra Klein.
4. Farmer in Chief, by Michael Pollan. As usual, Pollan merely flirts with the idea of vegetarianism, even though—frustratingly—all of his arguments seem to point to it as an obvious solution. He does advocate for the idea of the White House observing “one meatless day a week,” which has been customary for many administrations now. How about a meat-free weekend?? Or meat just on the weekends? Or how about…a VEGAN WHITE HOUSE? What’s up, Dennis Kucinich!
5. And a response to Pollan’s piece from Erik Marcus of Vegan.Com
6. Frank Bruni of the New York Times visits New York vegan restaurant Candle 79. It’s impressive that he ate there multiple times, but come on: vegan cooks have to choose from a “small larder,” and the cuisine wouldn’t be so attractive to “more hedonistic cooks.” Tut, tut. Candle 79 isn’t the best vegan resto in the world, but veganism is the diet of plenty!
7. Kerry Trueman’s excellent recap of Oprah’s Tuesday episode all about Prop. 2! If you didn’t see it, try and find someone who recorded it because it’s well worth it. Factory farms (even massively cleaned up for TV ones) on MOTHERTRUCKING Oprah?! It’s a damn good day. However, quick note to the fabulous Wayne Pacelle of HSUS: lay off the self-tanner, dude! Er, also lay off taking pictures like this. But other than that, you are kinda the best.
8. We’re not total downers this week, here are some vegan Halloween candy links and resources! Hello, Halloween deliciousness! Also, what’s your costume idea? And please don’t say anything involving the words, “sexy” or “Sarah Palin,” ESPECIALLY not combined. Dry-heaving over here.
And…a very cute animal picture! More here.