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I’m a girl who thinks about food a lot. As much as it would sometimes be more convenient to just be able to live on Vega bars (which, I gather, are supremely healthy, but which unfortunately taste like grainy cardboard), when it comes to eating, I’m particular. If I’m craving something fried, no amount of rice noodles with raw veggies is going to satisfy me. If I wake up wanting tofu scramble, dammit, I had best get some tofu scramble or I’ll be irritable all day. I know; it’s childish.
Anyway, VeganMoFo has got me thinking about food even more than normal. Tomorrow’s post will be my entry to Katie‘s Iron Chef Challenge, so I’ve been thinking about that and shuffling through my cookbook stash trying to find inspiration about how to execute my idea. I was flipping through Veganomicon and The Uncheese Cookbook before I even had my morning coffee. I’ve been trawling the internet. I’m even thinking about how I’m going to photograph my creation. What all this means is that today, you lucky devils, you get to read my thoughts about not food per se, but rather about thinking and writing about food. How meta!
One of the things that I always talk about when I talk to non-vegans about veganism is thinking about what we eat. I tend to think that one of the biggest reasons humans still eat animals is simply because so many of us (particularly in western societies) just don’t think about what we eat. Sure, lots of westerners count calories and analyze fat content and sodium levels, yes, but all the thought that we seem to put into our food is back-end-loaded. We think about how the finished product (be it a twinkie or a roast beef sandwich or an apple) may affect us personally, but as a whole, we don’t think a lot about where that twinkie came from, or where the ingredients for it came from, or how the places all those things came from are affected by us eating that twinkie, etc. etc. forever and ever.
I’ve heard more meat-eating people than I can count say things like, “Oh god, I so don’t want to know where that burger came from – I just can’t think about it!” To me, that seems so completely wrongheaded (I mean, why would you put something in your mouth the origin of which you can’t even begin to contemplate? Isn’t that super gross?) and absurd, but it appears to be the North American way. This kind of thinking is encouraged by the ever-increasing array of processed foods available to us. If we don’t want to, we never have to see any meat that actually resembles any part of the animal it came from. We don’t go to butcher stores anymore, and we certainly don’t have goats in our backyards. Of course the thing I find most appalling about eating meat (and dairy and eggs, etc.) is the sheer cruelty inherent in that consumption, but more and more, I find the head-in-the-sand mentality that many meat eaters cultivate vis-a-vis their dinners almost as bad.
Of course, we vegans aren’t immune to that kind of thought either. Sure, most of us have acknowledged and put at least some thought into where meat and dairy and eggs come from (for most of us, I think, that’s why we’re vegan), but it’s still easy for us to ignore some of the less pleasant aspects of what we eat. Perhaps we don’t buy fair trade coffee or don’t like to think about the working conditions on the plantation our bananas come from. Maybe we mentally gloss over the environmental impacts of the things we eat, or maybe we eschew the smaller local health food store in favour of the big-business, big-box superstores.
My point here is not that we should all feel guilty about our food. What I’m getting at here is that VeganMoFo (and veganism generally if you want it to) gives us a great opportunity to think more about food, be it how to improve or tailor a favorite recipe (sorry Isa, but the Best Pumpkin Muffins in VWAV are even better with cranberries and a touch more ginger), new and different places to shop, relying less on processed food, health concerns, or the environmental and social consequences of what we eat.
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