Sunday, October 11, 2009

On a box of (vegan) soap?

In the scheme of things, a month is like a kernel of quinoa. No, smaller. Way smaller.

So when I spent last month eating only vegan food for Vegan for a Month with some co-workers, I hardly learned all I wanted to know about the lifestyle. But for any non-vegans, here are some random thoughts on the experience...

1. Lots of label-reading.

Here, Jessica and Kristin inspect the PARAGRAPH of chemicals listed on this jug of "punch" at a co-worker's baby show.

I can't remember if it was vegan or not, but I think we all decided to pass.

2. Finding lots of great things to eat , though, was easy. Really!

Hummus and heirloom tomatoes at Fido.

Vegan tamales from Rosepepper.

Roasted root vegetables and fennel from Margot Cafe.

But my favorite experience happened at Jamaicaway. The owner Ouida Bradshaw shooed me out the door at lunch one day and told me to come back in an hour so she could whip up enough curried tofu and sides to apparently feed an entire island. So nice! (Another reason to visit Jamaica? As if I needed one.)

3. Working as a food writer, I've learned that turning down food -- especially food that's been carefully prepared and offered as a gift -- can be pretty offensive. So the hard part of veganism for me was disappointing people. I appreciate food most for its ability to bring people together, and sometimes I felt like veganism had a divisive vibe. I decided that if choosing a vegan lifestyle is about NOT harming, I would prefer to weigh the consequences of choices on a case by case basis. For example, if someone’s grandmother had offered me a specially prepared slice of homemade pound cake with an entire stick of butter in it, well, sorry. I would have eaten it.

4. If you haven’t already read it, the World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle will gently -- in a calming yoga voice -- scare the be-jesus out of you about what goes into your body. Very interesting. Next I’m going to read The China Study, which I heard is A.) Like walking on glass to get through, so we’ll see B.) The most comprehensive nutrition study completed to date C.) The basis behind Whole Foods’ in-house health philosophy (for what it’s worth).

5. When the subject of animal mistreatment at factory farms comes up, I get annoyed with people who cover their ears and shriek, "I don't want to know!" Really? Well that's just irresponsible.

6. This stat from Food Inc. will forever make me pause before eating meat.

"If every American skipped one meal of meat per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off U.S. roads."

As will this New York Times cover story about hamburger and some of the disgusting companies that sell it. Gag. How is this allowed?????

7. Lastly, we’re all in this together, right? We had some negative feedback from vegans who didn’t seem to think our efforts were serious or comprehensive enough. And while, yeah, a month is just a blip and hardcore vegans should totally be commended for their longer-term discipline and commitment, I would argue that even small changes make a difference. Regardless of our experiment’s scope, it truly changed how we think about food and gave us new perspective. Jessica (who asked at the beginning of the project if a margarita was vegan) has decided to stay the vegan course indefinitely. And if we’ve inspired even one person to think about their choices, then great! As Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina noted in Becoming Vegan: "Every step you take towards a more compassionate world is one of celebration." Word.

So now how about a little music from one of my favorite famous vegans, Conor Oberst, in a video that's all kinds of coming together. So beautiful.

1 comment:

grizaham said...

I think i would like to try to have a Vegan Day once a month or week. I love all kinds of food so I think that would be neat. I would also have to have a Hot wing day in there somewhere too.