Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Vegan Friends, Gifts, and Activism

"Mink don't care about your next vegan potluck. Fox yearn for freedom while we swap recipes and eat cupcakes." -Victor Vanorden

I recently read this powerful quote on Facebook from an interview with Kellie and Victor VanOrden.

In a conversation with vegan friends, it came up that the vegan superheroes used to be the hardcore, the activists, the people who were getting arrested for the cause.  Now it's the cooks, the bakers, the business owners.  Sweet activism/cupcake activism, whatever you call it, has it's place...but have we watered down our own cause by becoming a coffee klatch of sorts?  Are we too caught up in our own vegan foodie communities that we've lost sight of the big picture?  The whole idea really gave me pause as the calendar approached the mark when I would be embarking upon my thirteenth year of veganism.

And then the holidays arrived.

Awesome MVG care package: Crazy Rumors (peppermint plum), Brad's kale chips (THE BEST), Sweet & Sara s'mores and dreidel, and a chocolate hazelnut Mast Brothers bar
I gifted vegan goodies to non-vegans.  I was the reason that 80% of the food at my office holiday party was vegan and, since it was awesome, the dialogue was effortless and continuous, eventually reaching aspects of veganism other than diet.  My non-vegan co-workers bragged about the various vegan-friendly brands I've turned them onto- from Espe to Matt & Nat to Alternative Outfitters.  Of course the world doesn't revolve around consumerism, but let's face it; we do vote with our dollars.

Thanks, VM!
It's not all about food either, but isn't it nice to be thought of and to be able to participate in ritualistic eating that we've, in the past, been relegated from?  As it happened, this holiday season I received a boatload of extraordinary love from vegan friends far and wide- mostly in the form of delicious vegan delights, pictured throughout this post.  All were heartfelt, with contents brimming with personalized touches.

Boundless gratitude for the ridonkulously kind and generous booty from MS: YES that is the best "chewy caramel" I've ever eaten; sugary, crunchety snickerdoodles; peanut butter(y) cups; soft ginger(bread) cookies I inexplicably devoured like I'd never had an issue with ginger, and chocolate chip (!) banana bread (cause without them it's pointless).
I ate and enjoyed.  I shared the goodies and the vegan word.  I felt part of a community and I wanted to do more.

Cocoa V chocolate pretzel clusters (thanks, BSGP!)
I suppose that could have been achieved by jointly participating in leafleting, a protest, or an undercover endeavor instead of enjoying a holiday dinner together, but we didn't. I suppose that instead of exchanging tasty morsels we could have made donations in each others names.  Maybe we should have (some did; thank you HK!!).

The Kind Life's chocolate peanut butter cups, courtesy of PS
So, what is the answer; I know I can do more, can you?  But, if it weren't for this kind of activism, sweet activism (which begets "community" activism), family friends wouldn't be aware of farm sanctuaries and the reason for them, co-workers wouldn't have otherwise known what a vegan was or why, and my mom wouldn't be vegetarian.  So yes, I can do more.  But living a vocal, vegan life every day: educating people in earnest rather than condescension; leading by example with fashion forward, cruelty free products; donating as much as I can afford to the vegan charities I support; emailing companies regularly in commendation of their vegan options or in request for some or more; proudly living a vegan life without apology- sometimes it's all the activism you can muster in a day.  I do what I can and I will try to do more, but all this is something.

"Thank you for the delicious pie, which we shared with friends on boxing day.  You may yet convert me to veganism!"
But lest we not forget that veganism is mistaken as a dietary choice mainly because food is the predominant part of many cultures.  Most people don't give a second thought to realize the cruelty behind everyday "textiles" (leather/wool/silk), cosmetics, cleaning products, etc.  By sharing your own vegan enlightenment on this and other issues, you interest people, open their minds, make them think differently, and spread the vegan word; it is not for naught.  Try it with family, friends, co-workers...whoever is in your vicinity.  My friend HB recently coined the term "Supermarket Activism", wherein you- only when appropriate- suggest various vegan items in friendly conversation to other shoppers that may be reaching for the same or similar thing in your vicinity.  This really works!  Sometimes you meet other vegans who respond with, "I know; my wife and I love Daiya", and sometimes you'll come up against a non-vegan who'll say, "There's really no cholesterol in Almond Bites?"  Plant seeds of veganism wherever and whenever you can.

that which needs no introduction, thanks to my own personal inside scoop: BYOL
So an unabashed bravo to the hardcore protesters whom I appreciate and aspire to.  But also a special thank you to my vegan friends who are not only sweet/community activists, but who keep me grounded, thinking, and full.


  1. Well said. There are many forms of activism, and we need all of them.

  2. Very, very nice post. I'm not as vocal as I should/could be (about anything, really) but I prefer to show support in non-consumerist spheres. I will have to work on that.

  3. I think the movement needs a variety of types of activists because you never know what issue will bring someone over to "our side."

    When I went vegan it was all about health and diet and had very little to do with animals. Clever vegan cooks and chefs pulled me into the movement. As time went on I also learned more about the ethics of veganism and I firmly plant myself in the ethical vegan camp now. But I wouldn't have gotten there without fabulous food activists.

    Great post!

  4. In conversation with a good friend a few years ago, I realized that until animal liberation actually happens we have no idea what type of activism actually is most affective. Until then we have to keep trying anything that seems affective.

    That said, I know from studying social movements and in particular abolition, that we need to make the goals of our movement more mainstream before they can really have a massive social impact. As such, getting arrested and committing various acts of terrorism doesn't seem like the best way to change peoples hearts and minds.

  5. Great Post. You forgot to mention that the pint of pumpkin "which needs no introduction" was a gift!

    While I wouldn't say that your nutrition inspires me you continue to be an inspiration ;)

  6. really great post, Bean!

  7. Activism takes different forms for different people. You are definitely exposing people to the vegan life style and taking away the "what do vegans eat" aspect of people's doubts. Very few people can even hear the message of veganism if they don't first see that it just isn't that hard to be vegan. Well done!

  8. Love this post and agree so much that activism can take so many forms...and all are needed and should be supported. Keep on keepin' cupcake!

  9. Excellent post, and thank you for sharing!!

  10. Wonderful!

    I have been vegan myself for over 20 years and cannot tell you the number of people who have gone vegan due to the delish foods they've tried...either through me making them or through them using the recipes from my books and blog.

    It's a stealth method for sure...but I really believe to my core that it works! What better way to make someone want to stick with a positive change than to help them ENJOY it?? Power on, vegan foodies!! : )

  11. We all eat and we all give/receive gifts. We were going to do those things anyway, whether we are vegan or not.

    There's no conflict between eating vegan cupcakes and other types of activism. One doesn't take the place of the other.

    I know there are some activists now who object to vegan potlucks and vegan social events, but we are going to socialize anyway. Is it so wrong to socialize with other vegans?

    And I don't think the socializing replaces or interferes with activism. I would even argue that it enhances activism because we feel supported in our beliefs and our veganism.

    Sure, there are some people who just go to potlucks and would never be caught dead at a protest, but those people weren't ever going to attend a protest anyway. Don't blame the potlucks.

  12. This was an EXCELLENT post and I'm so pleased to have my goodies in it. :) I'm also blushing at the compliments. When I come run in NYC, I'll have to bring you a big thing of caramels. LOL.

    I do a lot of baketivism and we do food giveaways and get folks trying vegan noms. I've helped at events where we grilled vegan meats and gave them out at a huge festival, once to predominantly male paintballers out at the paintball field and to tailgaters, all with excellent results.

    I also do protests and have leafletted but I'm shy and I HATE leafletting (I'm TERRIBLE at it)... so I choose to focus other places. Mostly by doing free illustration and design work for local AR groups. I've done flyers, brochures and the local vegan boutique sells buttons I illustrated and designed (which is SOOOO COOOOL).

    My personality leans more towards things like sharing food, recommending books, recipes and websites, commenting and educating online. Things like that. I did write an essay that will be published in a book(!) of AR essays, too. I favor the quiet and the more one on one activism since I'm socially anxious and timid.

    We need all of us working to our own strengths and just living our lives as happy, healthy and proud vegans. Each of us makes more ripples than we can even really know, just by living vegan and being ourselves.

  13. Thank you all for your accolades, support, and insight; the comments are my favorite part of this blog! I am proud to know all of you and to be on the same side. xoxo

  14. What we're aiming for is a sea change, a paradigm shift.

    Vegan potlucks and giveaways are a part of building the world we want to see - a world full of peacableness, cooperation, sharing, and non-exploitation. Creating a positive, loving vegan culture is a creative and empowering thing, and it helps recharge our batteries from 'fighting the good fight' against all that is exploitive and violent.

    I see nothing wrong with that!

    Thanks for this post. Have a wonderful New Year, full of deliciousness and hope!


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