Why (People Still Think) Vegan Food Sucks

2014-06-18-031314_blackbird_1024.jpg

As the vegan movement gains momentum, a common perception is that veganism is just another fad diet. The thought of food devoid of texture, flavor, and calories is what many people envision. Even with all the huge advances in vegan meats, cheeses, and desserts, many still have outdated perceptions of vegan food that involves things such as carob and brown rice syrup.

Sadly, the vegan lifestyle tends to get associated with fringe food movements that have nothing to do with veganism, such as “organic,” “gluten-free,” “fat-free,” “raw,” “oil-free,” “non-GMO,” etc. In addition, many of the extreme fad-dieters have also begun to distort perceptions, by lumping “vegan” amongst a myriad of irrational and extreme dietary habits that have nothing to do with veganism.

In reality, veganism is a moral and ethical commitment to refraining from violence and exploitation in all areas, not just diet. Vegans eat a plant-based diet, or a diet that is devoid of animal products, which doesn’t involve the exploitation of other beings. Beyond animal products, there are no other restrictions. Vegans can also indulge in things such as bread, alcohol, and fried foods just like everyone else.

Veganism isn’t just another annoying dietary fad; in fact, it’s well documented that a plant-based diet is nutritionally appropriate and can even benefit human health. The same cannot be said for most other diets that have gained popularity in recent times, but for some reason we tend to continue disregarded a plant-based diet as such.

As a vegan, there’s truly nothing more frustrating than going to a restaurant or an outing and being expected to be satisfied by a salad with oil and vinegar, or a grainy gluten-free cupcake that happens to also be vegan. Just like anyone else, vegans want to enjoy food that’s satisfying. Vegans eat delicious foods like pizza, cheesesteaks, nachos, and doughnuts. There’s no reason to assume that vegan food options should be any less satisfying than any other foods.

So, to the restaurateurs and home chefs out there preparing vegan meals, enough already with the salads and steamed veggies lacking in flavor, protein and calories! Would you be satisfied with a plate of fresh fruit, or pasta and tomato sauce? Of course not. So, why do you expect that vegans should be either?

The only “restriction” to vegan cuisine is the elimination of animal-based products that can be easily replaced with delicious alternatives. Please stop lumping vegan food in with the mulch and leaves that many fad-dieters limit themselves to. It’s not only disappointing to vegans expecting a good meal or dessert, but it continues to perpetuate the myth that vegan food doesn’t taste good!

 

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ed-coffin/why-people-still-think-ve_b_5507392.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Vegan Living: The Path of Compassion

Many people are unaware that there is a word for followers of a fully compassionate way of life. It is the term “vegan.” Although some people who are familiar with vegan practice think of it as something new or extreme in many ways, just the opposite is true.

Hrz_lin3.gif - 0.1 K

Throughout human history there have been people who have attempted to live as harm-free as possible, but there was no particular name for their lifestyle until about sixty years ago. The word “vegan” was coined in England in 1944 by Donald Watson who, along with several other members of the Vegetarian Society in Leicester, wanted to form an alliance of nondairy vegetarians as a subgroup. When their proposal was rejected, they created their own organization. To name themselves, they came up with the word “vegan” (pronounced VEE-gn, with a long “e” and hard “g”) from the first three and last two letters of “vegetarian” because, as Donald Watson explained, “veganism starts with vegetarianism and carries it through to its logical conclusion.”

Hrz_lin3.gif - 0.1 K

In late 1944, The Vegan Society was established, advocating a totally plant-based diet excluding flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey, and animals’ milk, butter, and cheese, and also encouraging the manufacture and use of alternatives to animal commodities, including clothing and shoes. The group argued that the elimination of exploitation of any kind was necessary in order to bring about a more reasonable and humane society. From its inception, veganism was defined as a “philosophy” and “way of living.” It was never intended to be merely a diet and, still today, describes a lifestyle and belief system that revolves around a reverence for life.

Hrz_lin3.gif - 0.1 K

In 1960, the American Vegan Society was born in the United States, founded by Jay Dinshah. It wholly embraced, and continues to embrace, the principles of its British predecessor, advocating a strictly plant-based diet and lifestyle free of animal products. In addition, the American Vegan Society promotes the philosophy of “ahimsa,” a Sanskrit word interpreted as “dynamic harmlessness,” along with advocating service to humanity, nature, and creation. In other words, in order to practice veganism, it is not sufficient to simply avoid specific foods and products; it is necessary to actively participate in beneficial selfless action as well.

Hrz_lin3.gif - 0.1 K

When we understand the origin of the term and the guiding principles established by the founders of the vegan movement, we see that, although inspired by vegetarianism, vegan living encompasses far more than one’s diet. In fact, to be a full member of the American Vegan Society, one must not only be vegan in diet but must also exclude animal products from one’s clothing, cosmetics, toiletries, household goods, and everyday commodities.

Hrz_lin3.gif - 0.1 K

Omitting animal products from one’s life is a passive action. It does not necessitate asserting oneself, it merely involves avoidance. In order to actually implement and realize “ahimsa,” we must engage the “dynamic” part of “dynamic harmlessness.” Therefore, to fully apply the vegan ethic, not only are vegans compelled to do the least harm, they are obliged to do the most good.

Hrz_lin3.gif - 0.1 K

Being vegan is at once complex, challenging, and rewarding because each element of a vegan’s life is chosen with conscious awareness. All options are weighed in terms of achieving the highest good possible. This is not to say that vegans are “perfect” or that “perfection” is even attainable or desirable. This is an imperfect world and we are an imperfect species. However, aspiring to do our best, to ceaselessly reach for compassionate solutions, to strive to attain justice for all life – human and non-human – to live honestly and respectfully, and to lovingly care for our Earth, are far more realistic and reasonable pursuits than dwelling on impractical issues of perfection.

Hrz_lin3.gif - 0.1 K

When people choose veganism, they make an ethical commitment to bettering themselves and the world around them. This is a pledge not to be taken lightly, as it requires us to seriously examine all facets of ours lives. Certainly, animal-free food, clothing, and cosmetic choices are a paramount part of becoming vegan. However, when we delve more deeply into its essence, we see that a vegan outlook extends far beyond the material and tangible. Vegan perspectives permeate our relationships, spiritual beliefs, occupation, and pastimes. As a result, there are few areas of life that the vegan ethic doesn’t touch or influence to one degree or other.

Hrz_lin3.gif - 0.1 K

Becoming vegan is a process. Rarely does someone convert to complete veganism overnight. More typically, people transition to a vegan lifestyle, generally altering their diet first and then gradually replacing their clothing, cosmetics, and incompatible habits with more serene, compassionate options. Many vegans eventually change jobs in order to align their livelihood with their beliefs. Some become activists on behalf of animals, social justice, peace, or the environment; do charitable work; adopt children; take in homeless animals; reduce their material consumption; or any number of other benevolent, selfless acts.

Hrz_lin3.gif - 0.1 K

There is no end to the vegan journey. Vegans are perpetually challenged to do more, to strive higher, to see and understand more clearly, to be more loving and humble. This is the gift of veganism. It is a guide for compassionate living. It is the path of honoring our roots, our planet, all life, and ourselves.

 

Source: http://www.vegsource.com/jo/veganliving.htm

 

 

Choosing Vegan: Are We Imposing Our Beliefs on Our Children?

Choosing Vegan: Are We Imposing Our Beliefs on Our Children?

‘Your children are vegan?! Clever kids.’

This was the comment I received in an online discussion forum when I happened to mention that my boys are vegan. Even typed, the words just oozed with sarcasm. This charmer then went on to question my parenting skills, even going so far as to imply that I was signing a death warrant for my children by feeding them this way – the biggest problem this vitriolic stranger seemed to have though, was the idea that I was somehow a monster for imposing my own beliefs and ethics on my children. In his mind, the choice of whether to abuse, sorry, eat animals should be theirs and theirs alone.

So are we imposing our beliefs on our children?

I’m sure many of you will have heard this comment when people find out that your children are vegan, and it will, no doubt, have been levelled as an accusation as in the example above.

Now, I’m sure I have already mentioned that initially I switched my boys to a vegan diet for health reasons. After much research I decided that feeding them meat and dairy would not be the best thing for their little bodies. It wasn’t so much an ethical decision at that point as I wasn’t sure myself that it was entirely appropriate to make those decisions on behalf of such young children.

Hopefully most of you will agree though, that being vegan isn’t about what you put in your mouth; it’s an entire lifestyle that encompasses not only diet but the clothes we wear, the things we do for entertainment, the way we view the world. A plant eater who is in it just for the health benefits could perhaps justify eating the odd slice of cake, at say a birthday party, or choosing a non vegan meal when out with friends. This began to feel wrong to me though, given my own dedication to cruelty free living.

I wanted to have them live a fully vegan lifestyle. So I started to question what is so wrong about imposing our beliefs on our children anyway. Surely this is, in fact, a vital element of our role as parents and caregivers?

Choosing for our children

If we think about it, every day as a parent is filled to the brim with decision making, from the big, important issues to the smaller details of family life.Will we have our children baptised? Many do. Yet surely this is a fairly major belief to ‘impose’ on our children? Will we let them go to the movies with their friends even though their latest report card left a lot to be desired? What will we teach them about homophobia? What about racism and sexism? Do we let them smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol before 18 years of age (the legal limit here in the UK)? Will we let them have a sweet treat after they have eaten their dinner? I could go on but you get the idea.

Every single day we make decisions on behalf of our children and the vast majority of them fall into two categories: keeping our kids safe and helping them become the people we want them to be.

The way I see it, veganism fits nicely into both categories.

Keeping our kids safe

The moment our babies enter this world we strive to keep them safe, to protect them – it’s pure instinct. Back in the day, a grizzly bear poking about the cave would have been the biggest threat to the offspring. Today I see busy roads and childhood obesity as some of the more obvious dangers. So, just as I strive to teach them the basics of road safety, so too do I want to keep my boys safe from ill health and disease, not just for now but when they are adults too. We know that a vegan diet can help protect us from some of the major killers; heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer et al, so I am doing nothing more than feeding my children the diet I believe will best serve their health.

Helping them become the people we want them to be

As for category two…well that could mean different things to different people. I’ll tell you what it means to me though. I don’t have any major ambitions for them career wise other than hoping that they find a job they enjoy. Will they get married, have kids? Well, that’s up to them. As long as they’re happy, I’m not too fussed. Straight or gay? Hey, they are who they are, it’s not for me to decide, it’s simply my job to love them and support them.

Here’s where I will step in though. If they begin to make choices that harm others, that are selfish, that are violent – that’s most definitely not ok with me.I imagine most parents would share that sentiment with me.

At the moment this manifests itself in small ways. Teaching them to share their toys, teaching them it’s wrong to hit, teaching them that it’s nice to help people. But it also manifests itself in bigger ways too. I’m teaching them that it’s wrong to kick puppies (well, I would if they ever showed any desire to do so, thankfully I haven’t actually had to face this scenario!), I’m teaching them that it’s wrong to eat animals simply for pleasure, I’m teaching them that it’s cruel to steal, whether that be a toy from their nursery friend or the milk from mummy cow that was intended for her own babies. I’m showing them that we don’t take things that don’t belong to us. Simply leading by example is not enough.

Some may label that as ‘imposing my beliefs’ and I suppose they are right but do you know what? I’m going to take that as a compliment! EVERY parent imposes their beliefs and ethics onto their children. In fact, by feeding your nippers dead animals surely you are imposing the belief that the murder of sentient beings for your own pleasure is acceptable. That is not the kind of mother I want to be.

So yes, I’m imposing on them the belief that it’s wrong to do harm to other beings, that it’s wrong to steal something that isn’t morally ours to take and I’m teaching them that violence is not acceptable. What’s so wrong with that?

 

Source: http://www.theveganwoman.com/choosing-vegan-are-we-imposing-our-beliefs-on-our-children/

Compassion Education – Telling the Truth

 

We require children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance for “liberty and justice for all.” We teach kids that Abraham Lincoln, in sum, freed the slaves. We ensure that every child can recognize the icon of Martin Luther King, Jr., and summarize his achievements in one sentence—and then we take the day off in celebration of his life.

We tell kids that it only takes one person to change the world, but we don’t tell them how it can be done.

Our promises are empty: the nod we give to achievements in social justice is void of substantive wisdom.

Why go through the motions at all if not to relay lessons of significance? It is not that children are too young to learn the why’s and how’s of social change. They are capable of much more than our culture gives them credit for. We leave out the grittier details behind achievements in social justice because we collectively believe that children should be sheltered from the “adult” world.

Without much thought, we accept a concept of childhood that sees children as fragile beings who require being kept ignorant of many basic realities. But there is no universally accepted concept of childhood. Notions of what is and isn’t appropriate for children vary throughout history and the world. Kids are more competent and sturdy than we think. When we sugarcoat, oversimplify, or avoid truths, we hinder what our children are capable of, psychologically, spiritually, and morally. We hinder our progress as a society.

The path to a more sustainable and socially just future lies in bravely engaging our children in new ways of thinking and living—even if the topics are challenging. Kids must know what’s at stake, they must understand the power of the individual in a substantive manner, and they must be aware of how, specifically, they can help change the world.

A vegan education (there’s no better curriculum encompassing environmental, health, and humane education) starts where kids are already interested—with animals—and leads to the kind of life-centered worldview critical to sustainable innovations and environmental and social policies. Think how the future of business, industry, and politics would look with such systemic thinkers at the helm.

In my experience, the resistance to the notion of a vegan education is more about adults’ unwillingness to change than it is about kids’ abilities to learn.

When my second children’s book, Vegan Is Love, was released in 2012, major media outlets picked up the news. Not in celebration of a new resource for a new generation of compassionate kids, but because inviting children into an honest dialogue about meat and dairy products was being deemed outrageous and controversial—after all, most parents avoid the day their kid realizes that chicken nuggets do not, in fact, grow on trees. My book threatened to make kids more aware than was comfortable for adults.

While a slew of media talking heads judged Vegan Is Love to be propaganda, dangerous, brainwashing, and even child abuse, vegan families—who have all along been engaging in the work of social change—had a good laugh. After a child psychologist on television called Vegan Is Love “the most disturbing children’s book” he’d ever seen, I received a note from a 10-year-old vegan girl who had seen the segment and asked, “Why is that expert so ignorant?” An even younger girl threw her hands in the air and asked me, “What’s so scary about your book? It just tells the truth!”

Grownups were having a hard time with the concept of social change toward a life-centered, compassionate worldview, while children were understanding it easily.

“Children don’t know the full story!” these skeptical adults argued. “Kids don’t know about nutrient deficiencies or human history or food production or costs! They just want to be nice to animals!”

Precisely. Where better to begin an exploration of the world’s unknowns than from a place of compassion and a sense of justice?

With animals as the centerpiece, my books address how even the youngest of children can put their love into action—through healthy food and cruelty-free choices that protect our bodies, the environment, and all living beings. I cover the emotional lives of animals—the why’s behind veganism—and our choices, the how’s of a compassionate lifestyleThey are picture books, but at their core, my books are about democracy, supply and demand, and engaging ourselves in the public realm. We can give kids this education—and it is one that lasts a lifetime.

To this day, I have never known any child to be overwhelmed by discovering the motives behind veganism—only adults. In this way, the media outrage over Vegan Is Love revealed the invisible forces that shape public thinking about children, food, health, and animals—hindering our growth toward a more sustainable and just world. If the public were aware of the level of disease and abuse caused by eating animals, the outrage would be directed at the pervasive cultural programming, not at a children’s book about choices alternative to the status quo.

Corporations are well aware of the importance of marketing to kids in order to increase profits. But neither our educational systems, nor parenting magazines, nor children’s literature takes the intelligence and abilities of kids seriously enough to help empower them to create substantive social change. Engaging kids is not just good for business—it’s good for a sustainable and just future.

 

Source: http://www.veganpublishers.com/ruby-roth-harming-children-to-protect-them/