vegansaurus!

09/28/2012

The New York Times asks, Can vegans and carnivores get along? “Duh, of course,” says Moby  »

Seems like the New York Times is opening its innocent baby eyes to the realities of vegan life, i.e., it’s ridiculously great to be vegan these days, and also, we can get along with omnivores just fine.

Who agrees? Moby, our elfin mascot for do-gooding white guys.

If we go back 25 years, there was a lot more intolerance in the vegan world. … There was a lot more militant us-and-them approach. And that, to a large extent, seems to have fallen by the wayside, both from a vegan perspective and from the non-vegan perspective. Vegans are perfectly happy now, for the most part, to hang out with people who don’t agree with them 100 percent And maybe one or two nights a week, carnivores seem pretty happy to go to a vegetarian restaurant.

What do you all think? I mean, until animal agriculture becomes so globally unsustainable that people are forced to stop eating meat, we vegans can’t live isolated from non-vegans. So let’s live in tandem, drag them along to our wonderful restaurants, woo them with baked goods, and teach them of our ways.

And I know, when you talk about it like this, veganism sounds like a total cult, but we’re not crazy; we’re right. Also, Moby thinks we’re better looking, which is totally true, right?

I was out to dinner last night at a Japanese vegan restaurant downtown, and I’m 47, and most of my friends were in their 30s and 40s, and I was looking around and to some extent I felt they had all discovered this fountain of youth. … I’m not even going to include myself in this, because I think I look kind of old and homeless. But the people I was eating with, they all looked at least 10 years younger than they actually were. And all of them had been vegetarian or vegan for at least 20 years.

[Photo by S. Diddy via Flickr]

(Source: The New York Times)

09/27/2012

Per the New York Times, everything’s coming up vegan in Los Angeles!  »


Creamy corn ravioli with tomatoes at Hatfield’s

You know how we can’t shut up about Los Angeles having better vegan options than the Bay Area? Turns out, the New York Times totally agrees with us:

In fact, from power tables in Beverly Hills to pubs in the San Fernando Valley, the surging popularity of plant-based diets is drastically changing the dining landscape. That shift is under way in various cities around the world, but it’s happening in an explosive way in and around Los Angeles: at the elite gastronome-magnets, at casual gathering spots and everywhere in between.

And then Jeff Gordinier goes on to list some of the many amazing vegan foods available in L.A. There’s also a slide show that makes me want to move down south at ONCE. I love San Francisco, but where is our creamy raw pea soup? Where is our giant sandwich with deep-fried avocado? Where can eat creamy corn ravioli and shamelessly ogle celebrities?

If you like to torture yourself with all the amazing L.A. vegan food you can’t have, there’s always our pal Quarrygirl. She knows how to live.

[Photo by Anais Wade and Dax Henry for the New York Times]

06/15/2011

Guest post: Food accessibility is a vegan issue  »

I was sitting at my desk, staring at my coffee, when my co-worker walked in with a bag of cherries and said, “God, organic fruit at the farmers’ market is fucking expensive.”

At least we have a farmers’ market nearby selling local, organic fruit and vegetables, I thought, and my co-worker has the resources to buy some. When discussions of veganism and privilege come up–as they seem to be doing with increased frequency—there’s some understandable defensiveness from vegans, and some valid concerns that the “veganism is for rich white people” trope is both wrong and insulting to anyone not rich or white. But there remain striking differences food access across communities. This should concern everyone, but especially us veganism advocates.

A recent survey [pdf] by the very rad Food Empowerment Project (FEP) lays out the data. Looking at Santa Clara County specifically, they found that:

“On average, higher-income areas have twice as many locations with fresh fruits and vegetables compared to the lower-income areas…14 times more locations with frozen fruit and six times more locations with frozen vegetables.… In addition to being generally less available in lower-income areas, the variety of produce is also limited in these locations.”

Some of these findings are helpfully laid out in chart form:

Other sections point out things that should be obvious to those of us who live, work, or generally exist in urban cores, but are worth stating plainly: there are fundamental differences between supermarkets and small corner groceries; meat and dairy alternatives are virtually nonexistent in many communities, despite high levels of lactose-intolerance in some of those populations; that, along with being “cash-poor,” many providers in low-income communities and communities of color are “time-poor,” way too overstretched by multiple jobs and responsibilities to travel to a distant shop for decent produce, return home, and prepare dinner. The FEP study calls this “environmental racism.” Check out the full thing, along with their recommendations, here [pdf].

Your ability to make healthy food choices shouldn’t depend on your address or income, and lack of access to fruits and vegetables amounts to a public health crisis in many places. The growing trend of farmers’ markets accepting food stamps is a welcome development: by expanding access to good food rather than restricting access to junk, it’s also a much smarter, and less paternalistic and classist way to encourage people to eat well. (Another option would be to eat all the locavores, provided they were humanely put down, with reverence for all that they would provide us, but that’s a topic for another post.)

As vegans, it should matter to us especially. When we tell others to go vegan–which we should–it’s crucial to consider what barriers might stand in their way. Some are ideological, reflective of long-standing habits and assumptions, but some are more practical, like whether they can get to a market that sells non-gross apples. The ability to do so does mark a sort of privilege that needs to be recognized and dismantled, even if anti-vegan internet goofballs like to cite it for their own purposes.

And finally, concern about food security and access shouldn’t be the domain of a borderline-sociopathic “locavore” community that seems to raise these issues only to argue that we need to kill chickens in our yards. We shouldn’t cede that ground (sign a petition against at-home chicken-slaughter right now!). Everyone deserves decent food, produced sustainably, locally, and without poisons, and vegan advocates should be on the frontlines of that push. The FEP’s work is a good place to start.

Rick Kelley is a recent transplant to the Bay, having fled the brutal Minnesota winters for warmer climes. He spends his days at a Oakland workers’ rights nonprofit and his evenings probably playing moderately accurate renditions of Propagandhi songs with his awesome partner and their rescued pup, Bandit. He’s also currently active in organizing against Oakland’s “Let’s All Kill Some Chickens in Our Yards For Fun” proposal. He used to blog, and might do so again someday.

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