June 8th, 2007

Vegan Culinary Activism in 10 Yummy Steps

A little article I wrote for Satya's final issue.

Vegan food is too inconvenient. It just doesn’t taste good. How many times have you heard something along those lines? It seems too many conversations about animal liberation end with those deal-breakers. Now imagine a world where we didn’t have to deal with all that, where going vegan is welcoming, fun and, most importantly, delicious. Today it’s easy enough to look around and see that America is a much more vegan-friendly place than it was 10 or 15 years ago. Supermarkets are stocked with vegan burgers, tofu, tempeh and other protein-rich foods. Cafés offer soymilk, tofu cream cheese for your morning bagel and the occasional vegan muffin. Maybe even your meatball lovin’ grandma enjoys vegan ice cream.

The thing is, just seeing the word vegan—in the supermarket, at bake sales and cafés—is doing more than we know to promote veganism. People are often turned off by images of downed cows and debeaked chickens, and, of course, they should be. But while most people know in their hearts harming animals is wrong, their reaction more often than not is to turn away rather than to turn vegan. Presenting the vegan lifestyle in a positive light makes thinking about it easier. The more readily available vegan food is, the more the word vegan is out there and associated with something positive and yummy, the easier the transition will be. That is where culinary activism comes into play!

Every time I hear animal rights activists engaging in heated debate, I want to shout, “Shut the hell up and go invent a good tasting soy cheese!” Because it’s true, without one we are doomed. Of course, we can’t all invent a good tasting soy cheese (but can someone? Please?), so I humbly offer 10 steps even the most activist-phobic among us can use to help create a vegan world. While these things may seem obvious, maybe even insignificant in light of what animals are going through every day, look at it as a chipping away at our meat and dairy based culture.

Also, dealing with issues of animal abuse can take a toll on a person’s psyche, make us cynical, depressed and, worst of all, make us lose hope. It’s important that we keep our spirits up, and sometimes seeing the words “Vegan Muffin!” in a bakery’s display case can feel like reading a newspaper headline declaring “Bush Impeached!”

To that end, here are 10 yummy ways to do your part in creating the vegan world we all want to live in.

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