By Nadia Roch
Originally published in The Flying Shingle, July 29, 2013
When someone discovers I am vegan, they often crook their head to one side, raise an eyebrow and ask with a puzzled expression “what do you eat?” The short answer is food, but the truth is that it’s about so much more than just food.
While the sad image of a slab of unseasoned tofu and wilting alfalfa sprouts may come to mind, the reality is that vegans enjoy a variety of foods from healthy to indulgent and everything else in between.
Eating a vegan diet is similar in many ways to a diet that includes meat. There are a multitude of variations, and just like any other diet you have to make an effort to eat healthfully.
Where vegans deviate from the norm is how we define food. While meat, dairy, eggs, and seafood are off the menu, we still have a bevy of plant foods to choose from including beans, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
Much of the world eats a plant-based diet already, and has done so for many thousands of years. Therefore, we’ve had time to learn how to prepare delicious dishes based on plants alone. Seasonings, different cooking methods, and creative food preparation techniques can turn any combination of plants into a tasty and nutritious meal.
Eating vegan is easier than ever before, and offers many tangible benefits. The staples of any vegan diet are inexpensive and widely available. We don’t have to worry about food spoiling during a power outage and there’s no need to rush home to put away groceries. We can eat cookie batter without concern, and food cross-contamination in the kitchen is a non-issue. Not to mention the health benefits of eating more fibre, no cholesterol, and tons of health-promoting antioxidants.
Veganism isn’t just about food though. It’s a well-developed philosophy that seeks to change our relationship with animals, each other, and the planet. Vegans reject the common assumption that animal exploitation is necessary, natural, and normal. We see animals as sentient beings that have an inherent right to live free from cruelty or premature death. We see each animal as someone, not something.
Practicing veganism is a form of activism. Like many others around the world, vegan or otherwise, I actively seek a world where compassion, equality, and justice are paramount.