Thursday, December 27, 2012

Vegan ... ish ?

Let's have vegan brunch at 2-ish!  It means we'll plan to get together at 2 o'clock, but nobody's going to get wigged out if it's 2:05 or maybe even 2:15, right?   When you say "ish," it doesn't have to be EXACT.

That's how I like to approach veganism.  It's veganish-ism (yikes).

How about just "vegan ... ish." I like it!

I've been mostly vegetarian for more than 10 years and have considered myself vegan for more than 7 years. But in truth, I've never been 100% vegan, only vegan ... ish.

True, I shop and cook vegan and choose restaurants with vegan options, so theoretically I should always have something vegan to eat.  BUT ... I'm not always in charge of things.  (Believe it or not!!)   I tried being a strict vegan ("no animal products, no matter what"), but it didn't feel right to me.  Being very particular or picky about my food did not fit my personality, and I didn't see how it was helping the animals, to be like that.  Therefore, although I want there to be no animal products whatsoever in my food ... I'm flexible, depending on the situation.

Example: If the extended family chooses a buffet place, and it's not a veg-friendly place .... I'll put together a bright and colorful platter with all of the vegan-looking vegetables, beans, stuffing, rice, bread, etc, without asking if these items were cooked in butter or made with chicken broth.  (I DON'T get things that are clearly made with animal products, like macaroni and cheese, "vegetarian" lasagna, quiche, meat dishes, cream-based soups, etc).  In a situation like this, I have a wonderful meal, one that looks vegan (and very abundant) to the other people at the table.  Is it exactly vegan?  No, probably not.  I call it "vegan ... ish."

The above photo is from Christmas this year; brunch with the family at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco (not something we chose, as you can see from Jeff's happy expression, ha ha). I found three winners for my vegan-ish platter: the roasted vegetables (butternut squash, spaghetti squash, pearl onions, carrots, and broccolini), the cranberry cornbread stuffing, and the veggie sushi.  It was delicious!

Vegan ... ish.  I started this blog to share my adventures and philosophy and hopefully spark some healthy discussion and debate.  Meanwhile I would like to encourage people to go as vegan as they want to be, without fears of judgement from themselves or from others.  It is possible to make plant-based, earth-friendly, local, compassionate choices whenever and wherever you can, without stressing out about the times when nothing is available that lives up to your standards.

What is important, I think, is that you keep making the effort ... keep doing the best you can, and keep continuing to help others to do the same.  If everyone did that, I believe it would make a huge difference for the animals, and it would do wonders for the human spirit.

Thanks for reading and commenting.
See you again soon!


  1. Love your post and couldn't agree more with what you're saying! ;) [I think the biggest challenge is to not go from being vegan-ish when you have *no other option* to suddenly making exceptions all the time like "Oh that little bit of cheese" or "It's just a small scoop of ice cream!"..]

    "What is important, I think, is that you keep making the effort ... keep doing the best you can, and keep continuing to help others to do the same. If everyone did that, I believe it would make a huge difference for the animals, and it would do wonders for the human spirit."
    This sums it up beautifully!!! :)

    1. Yes, Val, I agree ... I think that's why a lot of people are so very strict about their veganism ... they're afraid of going down that slippery slope! That makes sense to me, and I don't want to disparage people who feel that this is what they need to do in order to stay on the vegan path.

      Going 100% vegan and being very strict about is fine, if that's what feels good to that person. For me, that is not what feels good ... for me, it feels fake and phony. Especially I do not feeling like I'm a picky and demanding eater. When I tell people I don't eat meat, eggs, dairy products, cheese, etc, they say, "Oh! So you're vegan?" usually with a tone of fear. And I say, "Yes, well, I'm vegan, but I'm not super strict about it." Then they look totally shocked and perplexed. Then I respond, "Yeah, like if I'm at someone else's house, and there's butter in the vegetables, it's okay." Then they relax, and they understand.

      The truth is, I hardly ever eat dinner at someone else's house, or at a non-veg friendly restaurant ... so this kind of thing doesn't often come up.

      But so many vegans are very strict (and that's fine for them to be that way) ... so if I say I'm vegan, people may automatically assume that I am super strict, too, and I want them to know right off the bat that I'm NOT that way. It's important, to me, to let people know that it's possible to stay on the vegan path while being flexible. You don't have to become "Miss Picky Eater" and "Miss Impossible to Please" if that doesn't feel right to you.

      The truth is, there are more complex questions than simply "Is this food 100% vegan or not?" that I consider when deciding what to eat. Not being a pain in the ass, not hurting other people's feelings, and not drawing too much attention to yourself and to your diet, in situations where it's simply not appropriate ... all of these things matter, too.

  2. Here's why I can't be vegan. I LOVE ICE CREAM. And I'm far, far, far too Italian to give up Parmesan, mascarpone, lasagna, spumoni, frittata, and all those other yummy dishes my grandmother and my mother used to make for us. So I'm vegetarian-ish. And I think you have a totally rational approach to being vegan. You're not preachy, you don't go into swoons if there's an animal product on the buffet, and you make room for people who decide differently.

  3. Thanks Donna!

    Yes, I think everyone should feel free to make their own choices based on what feels right for them. I used to like cheese, but when I thought about what is involved with getting animal milk and making cheese, I decided it wasn't worth it, not to me. Other people look at the same facts and say "Yes, it is worth it."

    It's not something that is cut and dry "this is right, and this is wrong." Because people feel differently about different things.

    For example, is it right to risk your own life to save the life of someone else? Someone would say yes, some would say no. Some would qualify it: "Well, if I had kids, no I wouldn't risk my life, but if my kids were all grown and independent, then maybe I would risk my life and try to save that other person." So even the same person might answer YES or NO, depending on his or her particular situation at that moment.

  4. Interesting comparison, Rachel, and very true!

    I realized the other day, when reading a comment from a vegan cookbook author, that one main thing I despise is when vegans act 'holier than thou'! It was a comment about having been invited with her child to an omni household during the holiday season and the child wouldn't eat the offered food (cookies, doughnuts etc.) and the mom answered "We eat *real* food!" It just irked me as I thought, it's these kinds of vegans who give others (like us) a bad reputation and has the omni world meet us with apprehension and sometimes even dislike from the get-go!..
    I remember, in my vegetarian days meeting a vegan at a BBQ and she was freaking out because her husband (who went vegan because she pretty much demanded it from him) put their veggie burgers onto the same grill that had beef burgers before! She made such a big scene, everyone felt uncomfortable and I thought to myself "Those vegans are crazy!" LOL
    Of course, we all know, those extremists are in every situation in life.. but it struck me as something I knew I'd never want to be!.. Like you said, life and let live! We can't go around and suddenly tell everyone only our way is the right way to live!..