what is baseline veganism? part 2

However, a few qualifications are in order. First is that humans are, indeed, omnivores. Our body has evolved to eat a variety of food. However, just because we CAN eat a variety of food types doesn’t mean that we SHOULD. Based on what I’ve read, I’ve come to see nutrition like this: as with sweets and alcohol, we can eat meat in small quantities, but for long term-health it’s best to follow a vegan diet. This brings me to a second point, namely, that in terms of ethics an absolute injunction against eating meat doesn’t really make sense. For one thing, all life is predicated on the consumption of other life, whether we like it or not. Carnivores eat meat, and unless we’re prepared to slaughter lions and wolves and the like because they are fundamentally immoral, then we have to admit that survival is a mitigating factor. Carnivores kill other animals because that’s how they evolved, and meat is what they need to survive. In human, omnivorous terms, this translates to: if the choice comes down to killing and eating an animal or starving to death, I certainly wouldn’t choose to starve to death. Veganism doesn’t work as an absolute.

There are more aesthetic reasons not to be so absolutist: not everything animal-related is harmful to animals. Milk, for example. Even though it’s not especially healthy in large quantities, it doesn’t hurt the cow to drink it. Same thing with eggs, or honey. The point isn’t to argue for vegetarianism, but to say that flexibility in a vegan diet means that we can be sure that the occasional treat of milk and eggs can from well-treated, free-range, organic animals that have not been made to suffer. Even eating meat, on occasion, may be acceptable if we take Michael Pollan’s point that there’s more to food than nutrition. Food is intrinsically tied to culture, to socializing, to enjoying the good life. I happen to enjoy sushi – forget beef and chicken – and like indulging in a good Japanese meal on special occasions. I don't necessarily see a problem when this is the exception and not the rule, although this does play fast and loose with the actual rule.

So this brings me to the rationale behind “baseline” veganism. Baseline, because the vegan diet serves as the, well, baseline for eating on a day to day basis (as opposed to vegetarianism, which allows animal-derived food as part of the diet). But a baseline is just that; a starting point. A guideline from which it is okay to deviate on occasion. A baseline vegan, or bVegan, is someone who adheres to veganism while allowing for limited compromises and deviations.

Or, a bVegan is a vegan who isn’t propped upright by a stick up the ass.


Nick said...

Speaking as another bVegan I can understand where you are coming from. I happen to be part of a vegan social club where people tend to be a bit uptight. The people themselves are quite nice. My wife and I enjoy their company but I do tend to see them being a bit on the extreme side when we get on the topic of food, as you mentioned, the lack of eating honey for example. I've even tempted the Raw Food diet and I can assure you that it isn't something I relished and it appeared for lack of a better term, unhealthy over the long term. Not to mention the food prep was rather involved.

To me eating is part of socialising as you have mentioned. I enjoy going out to eat with friends and others. I don't believe eating should be a burden or something to be uptight about.

However, do I think there should be more vegan restaurants or regular restaurants serving vegan food? Yes I do. Some classy ones would be nice instead of the 'alternative' style that seems so in prevalent here.

That's my take on things. :)

Frederik Sisa said...

That's a nice thing about LA - even though there are plenty of restaurants that forget to include options for vegans, or just include a boring pasta primavera kind of dish, there are also a fair number of true vegan restaurants. Some are very classy, other's are your vegan fast food.

Raw can be delish - we have some gourmet raw restaurants. But agree that the food prep is very involved, and I don't buy into raw's nutritional rationale.

How does this vegan social club work? Do you meet at people's home, or do you try different restaurants?

Nick said...

We actually belong to the Vegan Meetup group here on the Gold Coast of Australia. www.meetup.com As well we are members of The Vegetarian and Vegan Society here in Queensland. http://www.vegsoc.org.au/ This allows for some social meetings of like minded people. The Meetups happen at restaurants and the occasional BBQ. We even had a Hare Krishna chef to teach us some recipes. The food was fantastic.

The unfortunate part, as I've already stated is the lack of restaurants to go to. We're a bit behind LA and most restaurants are 'alternative' style cafes, not really restaurants you want to spend any quality time in.