Veganism: The other V word that makes people cringe

Veganism. HOOO BOY. What a humongous topic, right? It’s a natural segue for me since I became a vegetarian a little over a year ago. Actually, I would bet that if you knew that I recycle, compost, drive a fuel efficient car and own a Mac, you’d say I was a breathing vegan stereotype. But hear me out. Stereotypes are harmful but sometimes, SOMETIMES, they are in place out of an acknowledged truth many are aware exists. And many things in this world have natural progressions. If you were in an English class you really enjoyed, you’d likely take an advanced version of it next semester. And because of these classes, you’d probably end up reading and falling in love with certain authors and a particular style of writing. From there, you might branch out to other genres and start reading more and before long, you’d be writing and your writing would evolve. Not long after, you’d venture into the publishing world and make money. WHAT? I know, real green money. Go you.

Hopefully you see where I’m going with this. Veganism is a natural move from vegetarianism. Publishing is a natural progression of establishing yourself as a writer. Eating better is a natural progression of wanting to be healthier. Becoming a vampire is a natural progression of having an aversion to garlic but insatiable taste for blood. Who knew? You knew, that’s who.

Back to veganism. I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries on food and factory farming, diseases and the health industry, food myths and different diets. There’s a lot out there so I just started to watch a little of everything, even on the stuff I knew about but didn’t subscribe to fully. Like on the addictive nature of sugar (this is irrefutable) and the effectiveness of the Ketogenic Diet (not into this diet, but I learned quite a bit) because it limits sugar and carbohydrate consumption. But I just finished a documentary that I’ll continue to carry with me like I do Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. This one is called The Invisible Vegan, about the unhealthy dietary patterns within the African American community.

What I love about The Invisible Vegan is that it compels each of us to examine the role of food in our culture and to dismantle the ideas that hold us back from making better eating choices. One of the biggest reasons against veganism pointed out in this documentary is how this lifestyle change is considered to be a white thing. I get it, I’ve thought this before too, but it’s a silly argument. Actually, it’s not an argument at all. Caring about animal welfare isn’t a white issue. Wanting your community to be healthier and live longer isn’t a white issues. The desire to create a more sustainable world is not a white issue.

Factory farming and slaughter houses are not humane. I sincerely believe that if more people saw footage of the deplorable conditions these animals live in, they’d think twice about what they ate. In the documentary, writer and activist Christopher-Sebastian McJetters says we lose our humanity when we consume meat. We are so separated from our food sources that we aren’t even curious about the foods journey to us. When it comes to dairy, it starts getting real when you think about how weird it is for humans to be drinking the stuff created for calves by their moms. Imagine a human mother’s breast milk being fed to cows. Weird, right?

My goal isn’t to typify the annoying vegan everyone dreads. I don’t want to shove my beliefs down your throat because honestly, the biggest changes happen when something within you clicks of your own free will. I just want to give you the facts. Veganism isn’t a white thing. We don’t need to hurt and kill things to survive, there’s enough plant-based food to feed us all. You can eat a plant-based diet and still be healthy. You can eat plant-based and still be big and fit if that’s what you want (giraffes and cows are, to name a couple). Vegan food doesn’t taste bad and it pushes you to cook more. A plant-based diet can be affordable and sustainable. It can fill you. No, eating only plants doesn’t make you less of a man. Yes, you can still shower and be a vegan. No, you can’t use deodorant and be vegan.

Kidding, please, for the sake of us all, use deodorant.

If you want to learn more about what happens to animals on factory farms and slaughterhouses and/or want to know how you can adopt a plant-based diet, is a great resource to browse.

If you’re looking for some suggestions on vegan alternatives for some refrigerator staples, here are my favorites:

Milk substitute: Simple Truth Oat Milk–the texture is the closest thing I’ve found to milk and unlike almond milk, which can be too watery, tastes awesome in coffee.

Ground beef and chicken substitutes: Quorn products. I can’t say enough good things about this brand. I discovered them by luck because my friend bought them while hungry and when I tried one of the faux chicken nuggets, I was floored. The texture is on point but the flavor is even better, I’ve had the nuggets, spicy meatless patties, and grounds. Can’t tell the difference, no joke. I say this as someone for whom chicken was the hardest thing to give up.

Vegan Mayo: Follow Your Heart Soy-Free Vegan Mayo–this is the first vegan mayo I’ve had that I can’t tell apart from the classic.

Butter substitute: Earth Balance Soy-Free Butter Spread–my way of testing if alternatives taste like the real thing is to try them by themselves. I tried this butter straight on and could not tell the difference.

Cheese-substitute: I’m not gonna lie, I have yet to discover a cheese alternative that tastes and behaves like cheese. I’m convinced there is no such thing. I hope the world proves me wrong someday.

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Veganism: The other V word that makes people cringe

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