This blog is a celebration of the wonderful world of vegan cooking. Enjoy!

* The title of this blog refutes the dangerous idea that veganism is a weight-loss diet and that all vegans are skinny. Conversely, being a-not-so-skinny-vegan is also not the same as being overweight or unhealthy. All food intake must be part of a balanced lifestyle.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sometimes being vegan is a little too much effort...

Seriously. Condoms?!?!

I've known for years that my pill has animal derived products in it. I take it anyway. Just like I get immunised anyway. I do my best but if a vegan had cervical cancer they wouldn't be asking if the medicine was animal derived; they'd just be getting the medicine. Unless they were a really good vegan. I'm doing my part but I'm not perfect and I'm okay with that.

As a maths PhD student most my friends are also maths PhD students or at least have a maths/physics degree so I'm constantly surrounded by these highly intelligent specimens who all happen to fall somewhere relevant on the autism spectrum. In plain speak, they are a bunch of socially retarded dorks who get a little too excited when Terry Tao is in town. So when I step away from the group and interact with non-maths people (yes, ladies and gentlemen, the world is filled with three types of people: those that are good at maths and those that are not) I sometimes find it very vexing to try to understand the world from their point of view.

I think this is similar to the vegetarian/vegan movement or any movement. We form little groups and are so concerned about being the best little vegan we can be (or sometimes just better than everyone else) we lose sight of the bigger picture and how to spread our message. Vegans make up only 0.1% (or something equally ridiculously small; it's hard to get a good figure) of the world's population. We shouldn't be grouping ourselves on forums and making fun of each other because we didn't know that this really obscure additive was animal derived or that that company may provide a vegan option but did you know what they did last summer to this sheep... you get the picture. I mean, these are all very important issues and it is important that we are aware of them but it's also important that we don't just educate each other but that we also encourage each other.

I saw a post by someone on a vegetarian society forum today where the person asked if condoms were vegan (hence my link). It's a perfectly valid question and maybe the person didn't do as much research as they possibly could but they still came to the right circle of people to ask the question of. The only reply the person got was that normal people would know how to use the search function and have found previous posts on the same topic. Again, this isn't untrue, but it isn't exactly helpful either.

So this is one of the reasons I started this blog. As much as I want to interact with other vegans (I actually have zero vegan friends) and would love to swap recipes etc I would much prefer, any day, to have my vegetarian and omnivore friends over for a great vegan meal so I can share with them how rewarding it is to be vegan.

Was this a big long rant so that I can feel better about using animal products in the medication I take? Probably. But I'd like to think it's more about encouraging ideas than stamping over someone's little indiscretions. I have a friend who is a strict vegetarian except for salmon. She doesn't eat any other fish just salmon. But it doesn't make what she does, excluding the salmon, any less important. I would much rather an entire world that only ate salmon and no other meat than what we have today.

So being vegan (or even vegetarian) is sometimes a little too much effort so let's encourage little changes in everyone instead of picking flaws in an already very small group.


  1. I'm so with you on this post. I get so sick of forums etc. where people spend so much time nit-picking to the nth degree about ingredients instead of enjoying their vegan food and lifestyle.

    Does it really matter if a little butter from a knife, or a drop of honey, gets on your food? So many use the term 'contaminated' as though they're gonna get a dreadful social disease or something worse.

    And we wonder why we're thought of as fanatics.

    On the medical side: I've had radiation treatment for cancer. Yes, when I was getting it I did think of the horrific experiments that were probably done (what medicine hasn't been tested this way?), but I also had to think of my wife and children, and myself of course.

    Can I mention another pet peeve? Veg*n forums which seem to concentrate on posting every animal horror story that can be found on the net. I can understand it if, say, a circus is coming to town and we can send off a letter or sign a petition. But what is the point of linking to single events that are now in the past? Just being vegan (or vegetarian) is already doing so much for the cause of cutting back on animal cruelty.

    Thanks for the chance to vent.

  2. dorks who get a little too excited when Terry Tao is in town
    Too excited?! Many of us only went to one of his two Brisbane talks!!

  3. I would much rather an entire world that only ate salmon and no other meat than what we have today.

    I think salmon wouldn't. It isn't important how many types of meat we have but rather the amounts. This isn't just nitpicking but rather it is an important distinction. Less quantity not less variety should be the goal.

  4. Geoff raises an interesting point, but I would take it further. There are two factors to consider:

    - how much we care about each animal
    - how much meat we can get from each animal

    Perhaps readers here would say that they value all animals equally, but I don't.

    Perhaps we could take a cow as the base unit of how much we care about animals. Killing a cow is as bad as killing (say) 10 salmon, which is as bad as killing 5 chickens, etc. We can all have our own value systems.

    So, you then look at how much meat you get from them. I have no idea what the numbers are, but say you get 20 times more meat from a cow than from a salmon. That would mean that eating cow meat is (with my animal values given above) half as bad as eating salmon.

  5. I know you are just trying to annoy me, Dave Barry. While what both of you have said may be 100% correct I do believe you've missed the point.

  6. Dave, your system sounds nice in theory but it reminds me of the concept of utility in economics. How can you say what a cow is worth compared to a chicken? At best it is a simplification because some animals suffer more in our attempts to farm them. For example, a kangaroo could be considered more valuable than a cow but we shoot wild kangaroos for meat and raise many of our cows amongst their own filth in feed lots. I advocate looking at animals on a case by case basis.

  7. but it reminds me of the concept of utility in economics.
    I think you meant to say, and it reminds me of utility. ;)

    How can you say what a cow is worth compared to a chicken?
    We can at least make some sort of guess. Perhaps you could take into account how well developed the brain is, etc.

    You could certainly add other factors such as how the animals are treated into my little model. I only thought of it an hour or two ago - I didn't mean for it to be considered comprehensive.