Vegan Freak

vegan freak

Since embracing a plant-based diet (90% Vegan Plus), one of the most frequent questions I get is “why?” — why go vegan? At first, this question confused me in its audacity. If someone told me they were embracing a diet or exercise regimen, I wouldn’t ask why. Rather, I would ask how it was going for them. I’d ask them what the experience was like. And I would assume they were adult enough to make their own decisions and leave it at that.

But not veganism. Because deep-down, Americans think vegans are freaks.

Our relationship to food is a fervent one. We “follow” or “practice” a diet — words often reserved for the faithful adherents and disciplined disciples. And in the U.S, we bow at the altar of The Meat, The Dairy, and the Holy Wheat.

Of the nearly 2,000 pounds of food consumed by the average American, nearly 50% is animal meat, dairy, cheese, or eggs. In fact, the single largest food group — 30% — is non-cheese dairy products (i.e., think sour cream, yogurt, and milk. Unfortunately, vegetables come in a distant second at 20%.

average american diet
Average American eats nearly 2000 lbs. per year

Or think of it this way — how many American admit to rarely eating meat?

  • 23 million American adults — about 10% — say they rarely eat meat.
  • Only 3% of American adults follow a vegetarian diet.
  • Less than half of 1 percent are vegans.

So, I have a request for my friends: please try and understand my position here. For the past 5 months, 90% of the time I’ve been an outsider, a heretic. Instead of asking why I’m trying this experiment, please ask me how it is going, or what I’ve learned.

But if you are really curious as to why — please take this 8 Question Vegan IQ test first.


8 thoughts on “Vegan Freak

  1. TMatteran test confuses me. What point are they trying to make I wonder… It surely will demonstrate that most folks don’t understand nutrition. But even fewer people can grasp the complex relationship between iron, calcium, (and other nutrients) and your heath, not to mention the various other foods that can impact absorption of those nutrients.
    Most people learn about nutrition from hearsay and the media, if they learn anything at all.

    • Heidi: I think I’m making several points by linking to the test.

      1 helping understand what and what not vegan means.
      2 helping understand the actual concerns of a vegan diet.
      3 helping understand the myth of a vegan diet.

      Ultimately, my experiment is about discovering what works for me and makes me feel and be healthier.

      What my post is most concerned about is how some are responding quite negatively towards my experiment. If the end goal is for me to be healthier then why are people asking why I’m doing it? I don’t ask why people are doing Paleo or Atkins or any other diet. Why then is there so much concern about vegetarianism or veganism? The “why” question seems loaded with “I know what’s right, and what you are doing isn’t right, so why are you doing it”? Why not curiosity for how I feel and what the experiences like instead?

      Here’s an example: when I post a photo of a new recipe, which also happens to be vegan & often gluten-free, many of my friends will poke fun. But in the past when I posted photos of meat & dairy centric foods there were no jabs. There was adulation of the bacon, of the cheese, of the pasta.

      Why the different responses?

      My thought is that our culture is very meat centric. Anything outside that norm is cast aside and mocked. It’s different and that is what our culture does with people that act differently. That saddens me because many of my friends are very open minded about many other things. But when it comes to food their narrow-minded religiosity and moral supremacy can shine.

  2. Great post. For us, going almost vegan has been an amazing experience. We’ve discovered so many different types of food that we never thought about because our meals used to consist of a meat and a couple of simple sides, where the meat was the high point of the meal.

    It seems that you went Vegan for the health benefits, which is basically why we did also, but after reading “The World Peace Diet” I think that the ethical reasons are just as important.

    From my experiences, I have found that you really have to explain to most people why you don’t eat meat or dairy, but not vice-versa. A lot of the meat eaters that I know seem to be in denial about the health risks associated with meat, not just the long-term, but also the short-term ones like foodborne illness. Its like they know that its bad, but they don’t want to really now how bad it is.

    • Dmitriy: Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I did adopt a mostly plant-based diet in response to some health concerns, both family and personal ones. As health is a personal matter, I prefer to not talk about it, which is why the question of “why” rubs me the wrong way.

      There does seem to be a need to explain the “why” with a plant-based diet, and not the “how” or “what”.

      One of the things that this experiment has taught me is that with diet, like religion, there is a “norm”; a certain cultural expectation. When you deviate from that expectation, an expectation that just is and should not be questioned, you are looked at strangely.

      Diet is a very personal matter, as is religion.
      Diet has with life or death consequences, as does religion.
      Diet has the faithful and practicing, as does religion.

      And a fundamentalist diet seems to attract many of the negative consequences of fundamentalist religion, too. The blind observance; the cultish group-think; the idolization of a figurehead; the black/white rules; the product proselytizing.

      I’m finding that many have exchanged a fervent religion for a fervent diet.

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