Vegan is for everybody!
We all have a picture or pictures of what a vegan looks like. Maybe your picture is a white girl with dreadlocks asking you to sign a petition. Or maybe it is a thin woman with sleek hair, luminous skin, and a “namaste” t-shirt. Maybe it is a militant dude with lots of tattoos and no time to answer your questions. Whatever your picture of a vegan is, I want you to put it aside for a moment and ask yourself what a vegan lifestyle has for you.
bell hooks famously argued that feminism is for everybody. What she meant was, feminism isn’t just for women, or just for middle class white women. The principles of feminism have implications for all people, including children, men, and marginalized people of all sorts. Similarly, I want to argue that vegan is for everybody. Wherever you are coming from, a vegan lifestyle may be for you!
While we may not all care about exactly the same things or share all of the same concerns, we all care about what we’re eating. And I think most of us at least occasionally consider how our food choices affect our health, the environment, animals, and other humans. If these are thoughts you sometimes entertain, a vegan lifestyle may be what you are looking for.
Not all vegans are vegans for the same reasons. Some of us begin eating only plants out of concern for our health. While a plant-based diet isn’t synonymous with a vegan lifestyle, it may lead to a vegan lifestyle. Many people find it much easier to connect with the plight of farmed animals after they stop eating them. Others become vegan because of the environmental impact of factory farming — including greenhouse gas emissions, oceanic dead zones, consumption of water and arable land, deforestation for grazing, and runoff pollution in waterways. Many of us become vegans the old fashioned way: we conclude that it is not ethical to use animals for our food, clothing, labor, or entertainment. And whatever other reasons may lead you to consider a vegan lifestyle, it is hard to deny that humans who work in animal agriculture are often subjected to dangerous and gruesome working conditions for very low pay.
I think most people are able to see some appeal in a vegan lifestyle. By far, the most common reaction I get when someone finds out I’m vegan is “Oh, wow! That’s awesome! I could never do that.” They then proceed to explain (without being asked) why they feel they could never be vegan. Common reasons include not being able to cook, not being able to give up fast food, not having time to plan meals, and not wanting to give up cheese (it is always cheese!).
I suspect that stereotypes of vegans — who we are, what we eat, and what our lives are like — turn a lot of people away from a vegan lifestyle before they ever fully consider it. Images of a rich white lady in yoga pants buying organic wheat grass at the farmers’ market. A sad college student picking at a salad with no dressing while everyone else eats wings. A person with too much money buying a cart-full of specialty foods at a specialty store. Lisa Simpson. Gwyneth. Paltrow.
But it doesn’t have to be like that! You don’t have to go to protests. You don’t have to change your politics. You don’t have to wear hemp clothing or patchouli oil. You don’t have to shop at the farmer’s market! (You totally can do all those things, though. You do you!).
Vegan isn’t an exclusive club. Anyone can join. All you have to do is eat plants and buy things that aren’t made of animals. You can shop at your own grocery store. You can start with simple recipes and expand from there. You can even eat a surprising amount of the foods you already eat. Oreos? Oh, yeah. There are so many commercially available vegan alternatives to your favorite meat and dairy foods, the transition can be nearly seamless. You can even buy and make cheese. Yes you can!
I want this blog to be a resource for people who are curious about a vegan lifestyle. If you want to adopt a healthier diet, take your environmentalism to the next level, or just stop eating animals and their secretions, I’m here for you! I want to share my adventures with cooking and eating, including lots of simple, accessible recipes. I plan to include reviews of store-bought vegan products, too. Finally, I want to share reflections on my motivations for being vegan and what I believe a vegan lifestyle has to offer all of us.