Sunday, April 30, 2006

Stereo-typed vegan

Maybe I'm just still moderately bummed out from attending the vegan potluck three hours ago, and feeling like it was one of my worst experiences eating out; or maybe this article is legitimately bad. Seriously though, I was not prepared for the social awkward moment at an event I hadn't even anticipated as being awkward. And maybe that's my problem too; I just need to assume every place that I eat in public is some sort of battle ground where no food is safe. But I really thought it was a friendly, good break from studying event that would not cause me any anxiety (and the need to further procrastinate on my thirty page paper due tomorrow). Not someplace where I would get made fun of for my "obsessiveness" when I looked at the bag the bread originally came in and found out it had honey.

It's not even that I mind that there are things at an event that I can't eat--quite the contrary. I get legitimately excited when I find out there is even one choice that I can eat at a public event, because that means I don't have to go to the back pack for my next meal. I don't expect people to think of every diet that could possibly exist; it's a choice I made, and in no way should it really effect the way the people I associate with choose to live their life. I'm just saying, if you call something vegan--it should actually be that. And I think a group calling itself by that name should really be my best shot at understanding this philosophy; and yet I was so disappointed. I have experience with people insulting my veganism--just not with members of that group, I guess.

Apparently there's some unwritten rule that when you go out to eat, all rules are off; and you should just hope for a vegan meal because you can never be sure what you're going to get. I really don't think it has to be that way at all. I think that you shouldn't just compromise what you believe in because the people sitting around you may look at you funny if you order only a drink, and smile and only participate in the conversation.

Either way it is, my being upset or the article; this blog really hasn't seen me in my "crazy hippy-tree hugging, ingredient checking" vegan mode (that we all just know every vegan has), that I think it's really entitled too. I just hate, and I think a lot of people do, to be tight cast into a role that I don't fit into; but other people think I fit into because they have previous ideas about what a word means. And I really hate negative stereo types for veganism; especially made by people who claim to have all the knowledge, because they tried it once for a couple of weeks; and so therefore, must know everything about the subject.

At first, I was really pretty excited about reading this little blip of an article. Veganism while traveling?? That says me all over. I was strangely drawn into anything that the author had to write about. But my difficulty with what was written, despite my intense want to like it, started fairly early.

One: I seriously raise my eyebrow at anyone trying to tell me how impossible it was to find vegan food in Portland, Oregon. I know for a fact it's one of the top five rated veg cities in the United States. You are doing something wrong if you can't find vegan food there.

Two: An offhand comment of how they were prepared for the worst though, because they had brought an apple and bag of pretzels--which obviously can sustain a family for the entire weekend. Do I pack for "the worst"? No shit. Between my paranoia about other people making my food "behind my back" (aka the scary non-veg friendly kitchen), my traveling every other weekend with being on about a thirty dollar a month food budget, and my general distaste for what a big group of people call good vegan food, which I call moodily, "the gross looking stuff with lots of onions and spicy things that's are going to make my mouth hurt"--packing food is like packing my toothbrush. (Which, as a small foot note, I have recently realized is not all that automatic with people; numerously finding myself in a room where there are three other girls, but everyone is asking me for toothpaste--but just to clear up any misunderstandings--I view toothpaste packing as one of the very first things to be put in the bag. Especially seeing as most travel related trips I go to revolve around a lot of speaking.) But I am entirely realistic in my packing, or so I like to believe, and it is not uncommon for half of my luggage to actually be an assortment of food that meets normal nutritional needs. And while I might not be a nutritionist, I do know that an apple and some pretzels even for one person, is not going to get anyone very far. Talking like it would, is just asinine, and any writer trying to give a perspective of what vegans go through when they're traveling, should not further the stereo-types that veganism is synonymous with eating disorder.

Three: Sort of off the last point, but; the obscene reliance on one food, and that one food being a meat substitute. Let's not even get into the discussion of how gardenburger products aren't vegan--lets pretend it's another product that actually is. (Though personally, I love propping up soy substitutes not actually designed for people who don't include meat in their diet, but for people who have realized that eating seven steaks a week sort of raises your cholesterol; or people who like saying now and then,"hey look everyone--I'm eating a vegetarian meal, like it's some exotic delicacy that they don't eat a third of the time, and just never think about it.) Acting like your vegan life would have ended, had it not been for a pre-packaged Kellogg's product is so ridiculously narrow minded, and has no basis in actual fact- but with how other people think vegans live. Honestly? The only soy substitute I've had all month is tofu and soy milk, and if I didn't have that, I would be cooking with a few more pounds of lentils, beans, nuts, and water and wouldn't even think twice. Fake meat really isn't a big turn on, when I know what it's trying to imitate.

Four: Totally unnecessary comments about how you long for a steak. It doesn't even make sense logically. Who exactly is your target audience? (Damn, probably the same people who buy Morningstar to make themselves feel good). I find it hard to believe many meat eating people saw an article about vegan traveling and thought, "holly shit; this was exactly what I was looking for and want to spend my valuable online time reading!". On the other hand, I think a number of people generally interested in veg*nism might have clicked on it to read it. Making comments like this about how hard it is to be vegan for a month, are worse then not putting out any article on it. Without articles that try and give you the facts they've discovered about something they've essentially stuck their big toe into the ocean with, a lot less negative press would be circulating.

No comments: