The Two Types Of Vegans

Ok I get it. The majority of the vegan food available is generally not that exciting. It's awful. Unless you're a whiz in the kitchen or have the finances and a prime location granting you access to fine vegan fare, the majority of what you eat may be bland and mushy. And if it isn't bland or mushy, it is probably processed and/or fried to within an inch of its vegan life. So what's the point? Why are we putting our taste buds through this? Before I get to that, let me muse on where I think we (vegans) missed the evolution boat: vegans split into two major camps.

The animal rights camp

Let me start by saying it's a great cause; animals don't have a voice. But you are fighting a symptom, not the cause. Most animal rights vegans I have come in contact with are younger, tattooed, straight edge, rebellious types with a massive ironic love for fake "meat." Members of action for animals and the Animal Liberation Front used to have monthly meetings in my cafe in Seattle until the Feds classified them as a terrorist group. Terrorists fighting a symptom — kinda like America in the Middle East fighting a symptom of an idea. And we all see how that's going.

The hippie dippy crew

I went to a pre-Burning Man party this summer hosted by a nice young man in a Speedo and a cape. He was friends with my yoga buddy and I thought what the hell. My date and I snacked on almond butter sandwiches and popcorn slathered in coconut oil and nutritional yeast. I tried to explain, "See, this is a friend of a friend, and that's why we are wayyy the F out in Brooklyn at this thing and... Oh look they have whiskey." On the other end of this spectrum, you have the 50-60s vegetarian crowd who have long hair and wear John Lennon glasses and celebrate the full moon like it's their birthday. God bless 'em, but it seems the word and concept of flavor has never even registered with them. Pssst, the earth grows herbs and spices too.

So back to the above question of why? The movement towards more vegan options in your diet has a ripple effect throughout not only your immediate daily health, but greenhouse gas emissions, world hunger and other environmental issues. But veganism, like most "isms," can be a polarizing thing, and people feel like they have to pick a side — omnivore or veggievore — and then pick one of the aforementioned camps once they arrive. And then what the heck am I supposed to eat to feel satisfied? Well for whatever reason, you are reading this article and finding yourself more and more attracted to veganism. I say follow that, because the good thing about these camps is that there is some balance there — you just have to search it out.

The most beneficial thing, I think, that came from my parents deciding to be vegan and sticking with it is that they also decided to cook every night. As a result, the kitchen became the central part of the house, and it wasn't about what we were cooking but the fact that we were together as a family — no flags, no banners, no protesting, no isms. Just figuring it out. From that source (veganism) the symptom (animal rights, planet/home) takes care of itself. My sisters and I remain vegan and work in the vegan industry and are able to lead by example, and I think that is just vegan enough.