Thursday, December 16, 2010

Is Being Vegan Freaky?

I got an amusing email today that I thought I would share with you. The subject line reads: “TLC CASTING ADULTS WITH UNUSUAL EATING HABITS,” which certainly piqued my interest; what kind of show would be looking to follow vegans around? A show titled “Freaky Eaters” apparently. I know that recent studies report that only just over 1% of the American population follows a vegan diet, so technically, I am an adult with unusual eating habits, but I don’t think that makes me “freaky.”

The body of the email reads: “Are you addicted to one specific food? Do you over eat?  Do your friends and family think your eating habits aren’t “normal”??   If so, you may be just what we are looking for!” First of all, I am loving the enthusiasm conveyed with multiple questions marks!! I know that I’m not addicted to one food, unless that food is plants. I know that I don’t overeat, although that’s harder when you eat such low calorie foods. I tripped a little over the last one though. My friends and family don’t question my vegan lifestyle because they are themselves vegans, vegetarians, locavores, and generally progressive people. But, I know a large part of the world doesn’t even know what the word “vegan” means, and thinks I’m something of a crackpot, so maybe vegans are compelling entertainment material for the channel that numbers Sarah Palin among its “stars.”

I did a little research, and learned through Wikipedia that TLC’s “Freaky Eaters” is “[a] show [that] deals with people who have bizarre addictions to food and/or eating disorders.” At this point, I had to assume that they were not pursuing me because of my vegan status; it seems highly offensive to me to classify a plant-based diet as an eating disorder or addiction. But, the fact that this was not immediately apparent to me stems from the fact that choosing to be vegan does mean accepting a somewhat marginalized experience, whether that’s paying the so-called “vegan surcharge” or having to explain what vegan means to the girl making my burrito at Chipotle (yes, rice is vegan). Choosing to live in a way that reduces the suffering of animals and the planet, and nourishes me to the core is a good thing, and more people should do it. This is not a phase; it is a revelation. I look forward to the day when being vegan would never be classified as “freaky” or “unusual,” but rather, the standard.

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