This is a small argument I have thought about for quite some time every since my dietary change at the beginning of the year. Here it goes, first vegan rant.
I can remember first cutting out meat from my diet in high school. One thing I remember the most is my peers surveying me as to what foods I was able to eat. This conversation piece got old quickly and I tended to avoid providing them with a list they can imagine (and then in their heads decide whether they like the foods I eat for themselves.) I would go down my imaginary list when all of a sudden I hear,
“Ugh, I don’t like that.”
Now that I’ve chosen the vegan lifestyle I find that people don’t even bother with those question asking anymore. The concept must seem too foreign for someone to get a cliff-notes version of what it is to be vegan. Instead I get the pseudo-nutritionists who love to warn me about the dangers that come from cutting out the nutrients I would get from animal meats, and byproducts (things like cholesterol, polyunsaturated fats, and a heavy workload on the digestive system.) I think this video sums things up pretty well.
I have noticed that people in the United States have a difficult time considering giving up certain comforts that they find in food, regardless of where it comes from and how it is made. A more in depth observation I have come across is noticing that while people cannot give up the meat and cheese that they love so much, people also find it just as difficult to expand their horizons when it comes to acquired tastes. Once we find a group of foods that we like we as a nation tend to stick with it and forget about it. For us that is one less thing to worry about. While there are those out there that are able to comprehend the vegan lifestyle and are willing to try new things, these people do not account for a majority of any type.
I am seeing this more and more when I go out to eat with friends and acquaintances. Seeing this trend has compelled me to figure out a descriptive way of explaining the typical American diet based on certain dietary choices. I finally used my computer for something other than the internet and made a few charts to depict my point.
The first chart shows the different variety of foods that certain diets are willing and able to consume. Omnivores theoretically have no restrictions whatsoever. They have access to every type of food that is out there whether it be animal based or not.
Vegetarians have a little bit of restricting involved since they choose to not eat meat of any type (for the sake of this argument, I will not include ovo-lacto, pescatarian, or any other sub-genre diets. Lets just keep things simple for now.)
Lastly, the vegan diet has an even more limited selection when compared to the other two. No eggs, honey, milk, cheese, the list can continue on for a while. Before moving on to the next chart, try and notice that while vegetarians and vegan have a more limited selection of foods when compared to the omnivore, there is still more than half of the food spectrum that is available. The more I talk with others about what I ate or cooked, the more often I hear phrases like, “Oh yeah, that IS vegan.”
The second chart shows the eating habits from these three diets over the years.
Before I explain myself, I would like to say that this is simply an observation from my own personal experiences. I have no doubt that there are exceptions to this data.
Since Americans find a lot of joy from consuming meats, this tends to weigh heavier on what it is they choose to eat day by day. It tends to be that once a certain amount of meat is consumed, the omnivore tends to resort to other non-meat options to keep the pipes clean and from the cholesterol building up in the circulatory system.
Vegetarians seem more willing to try different varieties of foods when compared to their meat eating friends. I can remember having to mentally prepare myself to have to eat certain veggies I was too picky to eat at a younger age. Once I got through with this and made that change, I found myself trying a lot of newer foods both out of necessity and out of curiosity. It is very simple for both the vegetarian and the vegan to choose these lifestyles and resulting in an unhealthier body that can lead to weight gain & health issues. While that is a risk that is involved with changing the way you eat, one must figure out how they will get the harmless nutrients from alternative sources. Since we are identifying the second chart as the vegetarian, then by definition of the term we can conclude that there are some underlying reasons as to why they have not made the switch to a vegan diet. They like cheese and eggs too much, or there are certain foods that have yet to be discovered that may not be appealing to their palate. This is my attempt at explaining why the chart has been slightly reduced when compared with the first chart.
The vegan diet takes the vegetarian acceptance of trying new foods to another level and compels people to venture out and explore the different types of food from all different parts of the world since the underlying motivation behind the lifestyle tends to evolve to a heightened sense of awareness of one’s surroundings. Having talked with many other vegans, there is almost no food we won’t try (as long as the requirements are met.) Sure, we have reduced what we eat to nearly half of what the spectrum of foods around the world to about half, but we embrace all 60% of that.
My dad is a perfect example of this. He has no dietary restrictions. He cooks steaks, pork ribs, omelettes, and the occasional batch of frozen veggies and fruits. I am convinced that despite all of this, he is a pickier eater than I am. I can say with confidence that I consume a bigger variety of foods than he does and he has the ability to eat whatever he wants.
This has baffled me for a very long time. The way I see it (and I hope this makes sense) is if you are not going to restrict yourself, then don’t restrict yourself my any means necessary. If you are going to eat meat, I say have no restrictions when it comes to the meats you choose to eat. Eat whatever comes your way. You (the omnivore) have endless possibilities of different types of meals to consume in a lifetime. Choosing to be a picky eater seems silly if you’re going to eat whatever edible thing comes your way be it animal or not. There is no ideological, moral, or ethical justification for you to choose to not eat this food over that food. You are consciously neglecting a smorgasbord of options because…. well, I don’t exactly know why.
It’s weird ideas like these that keep me up at night. Just some observations I have made that leave me wondering day after day. I will never publicly chastise you for how you live your life. The most I’ll do is contemplate just why people make the decisions they make. Or if they’re even aware that such a world exists outside their comfort-zone bubble they live in. There is a lot of unexplored culinary pleasures out there. Seeing as there are little to no (none that I can come up with) moral, ethical, or logical reasoning behind not trying new things I ask the majority of the population, “why not?”