Let’s talk about food

One of my recent pet peeves is the concept of “vegan food”. I keep hearing that over and over and it’s starting to make me a little crazy. When omnivores talk about “vegan food” they say it like it’s something a little strange. But really, it should only take a moments reflection to realize the truth. Food is food. Everything that we put in our mouth to eat or drink is food. If you go out to a steak place and order whatever hunk of cow or pig you choose to eat, but decide to have a piece of bread first, do you stop to think of the bread as vegan? Of course not, you slather it up with butter and call it a warm up to the meal. But if you chose to forgo the butter or used a non-dairy spread, would it somehow morph into “vegan bread”? Or how about that salad before the meal. Does the fact that you’re eating a salad at a steak house seem incongruous to you? Is it weird that you’d enjoy something that any vegan might enjoy before you eat your meat? The last time that you ate a piece of fruit, did you stop and ponder that you’re eating “vegan food”? Of course you didn’t. And that’s the very point. Food is food is food. The difference between omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, paleos, or whatever isn’t what we eat, it’s what we choose not to eat.

If you’re an omnivore, you choose to forgo only those foods that you find unpalatable, for whatever reason. Even when I was an omnivore I didn’t eat liver, the taste and texture where not at all to my liking. And I’ve never cared for fish or seafood. For whatever reason, for me it all tastes like a fish market smells and I think everyone can agree that isn’t good.

But now I’m a vegan and the only thing that’s changed is that I decided to stop eating animal products. I still eat food. I still eat much of the same food that you eat, if you’re not a vegan. The only difference is that I have chosen not to eat the things that are demonstrably unhealthy for me, are disruptive to the planet’s climate and perpetuate a culture of brutality and cruelty to beings that are unable to defend themselves. OK, maybe the first part of that statement isn’t really true, but it leads me to the next point.

Just as there is no such thing as “vegan food”, there is no such thing as “healthy food”. Food is either nutritious or not, but there is nothing about food that is inherently health promoting. Health is achieved by eating the right amount of nutritious food and getting some exercise. Eating too much is unhealthy. Eating food that has little to no nutrition is unhealthy. Sitting all day in front of a computer is unhealthy. And any combination of the last 3 is very unhealthy, with the worst being all 3 combined. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

 

 

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