Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Just Baking Brownies

I’ve been writing this blog for 3 months now, and I thought this would be a good time to take stock, and reassess my mission for this blog. My pensive mood was motivated by something I read while researching vegan brownie recipes. In a post titled, “Your Vegan Brownies Are Kind Of A Big Deal,” Eccentric Vegan writes, “Quite a number of animal advocates look down disdainfully at vegans who spend their time primarily cooking and baking.” I was disappointed to read this, as my experience in joining the vegan community has been one of inclusion and exuberance. Most of the vegans I have encountered describe themselves with words like “joyful” and “compassionate.” They are encouraging, helpful, excited, and energetic.

Eccentric Vegan’s reflection was motivated by a post on Eric Markus’s blog, In discussing a new book, Markus writes, “You know what kills me about publishing Every morning, I see the books my readers purchase through the links, and I’d say that for every activist-oriented book that sells, people buy at least fifty vegan cookbooks. We all want a vegan world, but only a tiny handful of us have realized the enormous personal power we have in bringing this world closer. The rest of us are off baking brownies.” I felt chagrined at first, like a child being scolded, because apparently, I am a bad vegan. But then, I felt incensed, because Eric Markus is wrong.

The definition of the word “vegan” was established by Donald Watson in 1944 as such, “Veganism is a way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom, and includes a reverence for life.” Think about the presence of animals in your life. Where do you rely on them the most? For food, obviously. When I decided to try being a vegan, what was the first thing I did? I stopped eating animal products. This was the most immediate and comprehensive way for me to eliminate my personal exploitation of animals. Other ways to reduce your negative impact on other animals is to stop wearing leather clothing and shoes, and wearing wool clothing. This is not something I have embraced completely, but it is something I am more aware of. But,  changing what we eat unequivocally makes a bigger impact than changing what we wear.

When I first meet people, and they find out I’m vegan, they do not ask me my opinion on farm subsidies, or the ethical treatment of animals, or what is really wrong with eating eggs; they ask me what I eat. They ask me where I get protein, and calcium, and what I’m cooking for Thanksgiving. Because above all else, veganism starts as a change in your diet. Activism starts with what you eat. Even just reducing the amount of meat and dairy products you consume can make an enormous impact on the treatment of animals, and the progression of Global Climate Change. This blog is my form of activism. Every day, I post my attempt to make veganism more accessible, more appealing, and more compelling. And I think the food I share makes as strong an impact as a PETA film. Change is most effective when it comes from a place of sincerity and passion. My joie de vegan comes from my food, so that is what I write about. As I’ve said before, every little bit helps. One egg is produced from 25 hours of a chicken’s suffering. One batch of vegan brownies prevents 50 hours of misery. No matter what else you are doing, even a batch of brownies can make a positive change.

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