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11/23/2009

Holy Cranberry: Six Reasons to Be Thankful You’re a Vegan this Thanksgiving  »

I think I saw a live Turducken today. I am as good at IDing woodland creatures as a former Ranger Rick reader can be, and that bird quacked like, but was so not a duck…oh, John Madden, what hath thou wrought? Clearly meat-stuffed-meat enthusiasts have figured out a way to grow this…”delicacy.”

Already spooked by the foul ghost of Thanksgiving fowl, I come home to this: Thanksgiving Turkey Substitutes: The Least Appetizing Choices on HuffPost Green.

Whoa, whoa heeeyyy now! I thought we were all pals here?

"Wacky alternatives"? "Bizarre foods"? Not "all turkey substitutes look particularly appetizing"?

God bless us all and to each our own choices but APPETIZING?!? Hey, you know that plastic baggie of guts that comes in your turkey? That neck that looks like a skinned phallus? Mmmmm can’t wait ‘til the button tops on that goodness. Ew. Maybe those making sauce of boiled innards shouldn’t throw—OMG YOU GUYS THAT NECK THING IS SO SICK.

That said, what’s a few disparaging pics of Tofurky between friends? It’s the spirit of the season to forgive, give thanks, (and make lists), so here it is:

Heck YES I’m Thankful to Be a Vegan on Thanksgiving!

  • We make awesome dinner guests. Good vegans have learned the fine art of asking what they can bring to alleviate the burden of cooking vegan on a host who might not know how—so we never show up empty handed, and we’ll probably introduce you to something new and more delicious than another green bean casserole. (I am not hating on green beans. Green beans are people too.)
  • We pardon ALL the turkeys. Gobble. You’re welcome.
  • No after-dinner tryptophan coma means we can do the dishes, beat you at touch football, and have more room for pie. PIE.
  • A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving? Easily vegan.
  • Want to turn green? Think about this: Turkeys produce 130 times as much doody as the entire human race. Not good for anyone’s environment.
  • While there are still “ooh vegan weirdos Tofurky WHAT?” sentiments out there, there are also growing voices of vegan sanity out there—the louder, the prouder, the more it’s talked about, and the more varied reasons people have for ditching meat, the more we’ll ALL have to be thankful for.

Why are you thankful? Pass the mashed potatoes and Happy Thanksgiving.

PS: Giblets is the cutest word for the grossest thing. Also? Nut loaf rules.

This is an 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 Apr. 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.

10/30/2009

Vegan Diplomat: Comeback Kids  »

By now you’ve made the decision, come out of the crisper, and are living a full, vegified existence. Whoo! The payback for telling the world your hot little garbanzo-bean secret? It’s like posting something on the internet—every one gets a crack at commenting.

Now, I’m a vegan from the non-Facebook Farmville. You better believe I’ve heard the best of the Guide to Meaty Proclamations. The one that actually makes me chuckle? “SALAD IS WHAT FOOD EATS.” Because ew, and yes—and re-eats, and re-eats, and re-eats, and re-eats. (Four times, four stomachs, though I will have to run that through Dad’s Department of Ruminants fact-checking.)

Last weekend an amazing quote contradicting that notion made the internet rounds. It was Michael Pollan saying, “A vegan in a Hummer has a lighter carbon footprint than a meat-eater in a Prius.”

That’s a hell of a T. Boone Pickens—the ultimate comeback to “just eat a pork chop,” and sure to make a meat-eater test drive that math. Then one did. And decided that by comparing a “heavy meat-eating diet” to a vegan one, the carpool doesn’t add up. But the virality of the original statement vs. the contradiction proves one thing: snappy ain’t just for peas.

Every time a cold cut is thrown, there’s an opportunity to convert. But it’s what you say, as much as how you say it. Are you ready with your killer (METAPHORICALLY) vegan comebacks to these classics?

“When you eat meat, it leaves you satiated,” (courtesy of some of Bravo’s Toppest Chefs.)

Actually, a combination of fiber from vegetables, fats—that also are readily available from vegetable sources like avocados and nuts—plus protein (hello tofu and beans) makes you feel amazingly full. Here, let me make you my famous vegan burrito—if you want seconds, it’s on me.

"But Meat is All-American! ‘Dogs! Burgs’! Doooood steaks! WHY DO YOU HATE AMERICA?”

I love America, it allows me to make the best choices I can to live a life that will provide liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all living creatures. I think there was something about being “created equal” and “inalienable rights?” That seemed like such a good idea, I just extrapolated it to all living creatures. Got a light for my sparkler?

"PETA is a bunch of nutjobs. Do you throw paint on people in your spare time?"

You like sports, right? But even being a baseball fan, you pick a team to root for. Well, PETA is just one team in Sport Vegan, and just because we eat tofu, it doesn’t make us all Yankee fans. PETA plays in a pretty Yankee, high-profile way, but there are tons of other teams to root for too, like the Humane Society of the United States or Farm Sanctuary. And whether or not you agree with PETA’s style, they do have some great resources like, “I Can’t Believe It’s Vegan.” (Hey, did you know Glenn Beck respects PETA?)

"Giving kids a chance to see that meat isn’t all that is indoctrination.

This last one is courtesy of the aforementioned Glenn Beck who, well… likes consistency, personal choice, PETA, and making Al Gore eat things, namely, his words. In a response to the UK climate chief’s assertion that meat is wrecking the planet, he got some attention by saying that giving kids a Meatless Monday was indoctrination. It played pretty badly . But, and this goes back to words mattering, if you read his whole original statement, he’s not necessarily against giving up meat [for others]—he’s against giving up choice.

Oof. Well, we might not have that “choice” for much longer, and it’s not great thinking…but it’s a little harder to argue with? Ask Al Gore.

Have you been hit with a particularly un-Tofutti Cutie meat attack? What do you hear most often? What’s your favorite ultimate comeback?

This is an 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.

10/16/2009

Parents Raising Free-Range Vegans: You’ll Eat That Nugget, and Like It?   »

Parents rule. Literally, they’re supposed to be the rule makers, the head of the household, the buck stops before somebody gets grounded. But sometimes, like last night’s parental usurping by BalloonBoy Falcon Heene (“we did this for a show”), kids know best.

Highly publicized accounts of vegan parenting gone tragically wrong muddle the ongoing debate: should parents raise their children vegan? My favorite vegan parenting philosophy, told to me by the parent of a two-year-old being raised animal-free, “Right now, I’m in charge of what goes in her mouth. If she wanted to eat dog poop, I’d stop her. That’s my job while she can’t decide.” Disclosure: Despite the number of adorable sprites populating my friends’ Facebook feeds, I have no kids. I have also eaten dog poop, but I WAS two at the time, and the memory only exists in legend. It underscores the notion though: tiny kids just don’t know better.

What happens when kids are a little older and do know better? Blame it on the information age if you want to use the pejorative—but kids have access to more knowledge and are making corresponding life realizations earlier. Whether it’s more middle schoolers coming out of the closet, or more kids raised on chicken nuggets deciding, while still sitting at their parents’ table, anything in nugget format isn’t food—how should parents react?

This week, Huffington Post blogger, Donna Fish, wrote a post entitled, “Help! My Daughter’s a Vegan.” She launched in right away, “Am I supposed to be happy about this?” continuing to say that thinking about food too much seems “dogmatic and obsessive.” A mom who loves her T-bones she acknowledges she’s playing dietary roulette, citing the ground-beef paralyzed dancer, but meh—cheeseburgers are good! The conflict of an omnivorous parent of a veg child is summed up, “I have had to go against the fact that I hate that she is doing this, and support her.”

And then the kick-cringer: “Maybe it will just be a stage.” This isn’t a unique reaction. Longtime vegetarian Mike tells of a similar parental response: “My mom told me ‘it won’t last.’ That was 13 years ago. Does that make me veg out of spite?”

When a child makes a decision in opposition of a parent’s beliefs, to what extent are parents required to support it? On the scale from allowing it to happen, to making sure there are veg options on the grocery list and soy milk in the fridge, it strikes me that hoping it’s a stage is on the patronizing side. If a child is old enough to articulate that they don’t want to eat animals and provide an age-appropriate reason, to undermine that assertion of self, logic, and compassion is to prove that they’re not willing to support other expressions, be they “I’m gay” or “you made all of Colorado look for me while you made me hide in the garage.” Not cool. But, it takes a village (I hear.) Even if we don’t have kids ourselves, we can still be solid vegan role models for kids who might not have them at home—and a resource of info for parents who might be facing parenting a turned-veg kid. Maybe buttons? “I’m a Vegan, (Let Your Kid) Ask Me How.”

How supportive were your parents (or friends or significant others) when you vegged out? Is support important? There’s plenty o’ room for your coming out stories below…

P.S. If you’re a parent whose kid has seen the veg and you’re figuring out how to support their decision—whoooo! Here’s a treat for the trick or: the Top 10 Vegan Halloween Treats. If your kid wants to dress as a chicken instead of eat one, filling up their pumpkin it’s as easy as those good ol’ ABC123s.

This is the latest 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.

10/01/2009

Have You Heard the Good News? Vegans in a Missionary Position…   »

You’ve tackled the OMFGGGWHHYYYY, that decision every girl has got to make for herself—and you’re converted. Here’s your Big Book of Seitan, thanks for joining us. As we saw in the comments last time, people are pretty passionate about their own personal whys—and are ready to wear it loud and proud.

That’s natural.

When you’re feeling great, healthy and happy with your choice, the lifestyle, the good you’re accomplishing, and gripped with the Vegenaise fever (honest to God, I’m not a vegan—I’m a Vegenaisan) it’s only natural that you start to talk about being saved. Spreading the word. Getting others to accept tofu as the Lamb of…not lamb. You want others to feel as good as you do.

That’s natural too.

It’s the ultimate passive-aggressive plea: strong and silent.

In the book of Matthew (that’s the one with all the “begats”) you see how a little movement like Christianity is born, grows, and spreads. Religions grow with a little help from their friends. Mormons know this. They’re the name-badge-wearing kids sent to your door in the hopes that if it shows up on your WELCOME mat, you’ll welcome it into your life—and tons of people do. While numbers are tricky, surveys report the Mormon Church has grown significantly and despite being less than 200 years old, the number of Mormons in the United States is roughly equal to the number of Jews. That’s some hustle.

Of course Mormons—or any religion, John Travolta/Tom Cruise and the stress tests included—have no monopoly on proselytizing. Companies like Amway, Pampered Chef, and Mary Kay recruit on the basis of enthusiasm, as does everyone’s favorite uncle, Sam. Yeah, the military recruits too.

So. As enthusiasts of a group, do we as vegans have a responsibility to be fruitful and multiply? Not by breeding baby vegans (necessarily) but by convincing others to join us. Where does veg-proselytizing fit in to your life? If you do it, what’s your approach?

  • Do Unto Others: You don’t want anyone coming after you with the “it’s only an egg, what’s the big deal?” argument. So you keep your choice to yourself, and let others live and let live—if they so choose.
  • Be Holy As I am Holy: You lead by living. You entice people to go veg by showing them it’s easy, it’s rewarding, and goldurnit, it’s the right thing to do. You’re a quiet crusader, convincing and converting by example.
  • Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show: You’ve seen the light, you’ve been saved, and you’re mounting a revival tent show—you don’t hesitate to tell anyone, anytime how they could better serve themselves, animals, and the planet. You preach the gospel of putting down the cheeseburger—loudly.

As for the pitch, you can make your “sell” just like tofu—ranging from silken to extra firm. Similarly, there’s a right time to use each kind: the boss at lunch might rate a silken, while the roommate gets the full-blown, Tempur-Pedic extra firm. And yes. Survey says it’s a continuum of proselytizing and chances are you fall somewhere in betwixt these—but where? Have you ever convinced anyone to veg out—and is being a missionary a required part of being a good vegan?

This is the second 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.

09/09/2009

Bid on Dinner with Zoë Stagg at Brassica Supperclub! DO IT.  »

So the lovely Zoë Stagg (seen on the pages of Vegansaurus before and will soon have a regularly featured column here WATCH OUT WORLD!) is offering herself up to the highest bidder (NOT LIKE THAT PERVS! Okay, maybe like that. Are you attractive? BE HONEST.). We think a Vegansaurus reader should get on this. Awesome vegan lady, awesome cause, awesome dinner. Win win win win win.

Zoë writes:

Okay, if Sarah Palin can auction off a private dinner with herself to benefit Ride 2 Recovery (starting bid $25,000…) perhaps I could do the same? You know, scaled to my… let’s just say, scaled as differently we are.

HOW’S ABOUT IT?!? Have dinner with me at Brassica Supperclub to benefit Honor Flight, the fantastic charity that provides free trips to WWII (and other) veterans so they can see the memorial dedicated to their efforts. Let’s say we’ll start the bidding at $25. I’m at least worth a thousandth of a Palin, right?

After all, as the poet laureate John Michael Montgomery says,

I’d give anything to make you mine, all mine…

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