Guest Blogger: Until We Eat Again

5 Oct

Please welcome Willie, an American living in Toronto blogging about being vegan while doing his Ph.D. I met Willie in September of this year as we have a mutual vegan friend in common. Very charming fellow! Please enjoy his blog post below.

Hi all!

So today is October 1st, which this year is day one of the Vegan Month of Food, or as it’s more curtly known around the interwebs, VeganMoFo. For those not familiar with this yearly event, VeganMoFo brings together hundreds of vegan bloggers under the shared aim of publishing a continuous stream of content for one entire month—and when I say continuous, I mean a post every day. Why any sane blogger would ever agree to this is beyond me, and why I ever agreed to this is definitely beyond me. Yet here I am, one lunatic among many, signed up and ready to write.

While some bloggers choose to do a specialized theme for VeganMoFo, I’ll be keeping things more or less the same here at UWEA: which is to say, a healthy mix of recipes, restaurant reviews, and general reflections. And today for my first post, I wanted to kick things off with a more reflective post and talk about something that’s been on my mind for a while, and which seems like an appropriate way to inaugurate this month of madness: namely, why I blog.

(And okay, yes, I also wanted an excuse to post these photos of me posing with my friend (and personal photographer)‘s kitten.)


There are many reasons why I started blogging, many of which I’m sure other bloggers share: I wanted to share my food life with others, to keep in touch with friends near and far, to become part of the food blogging community, to meet new people and forge new friendships, to keep a personal record of all the food I make, to help myself remember all the recipes I like, to provide some extra motivation to challenge myself more in the kitchen, and of course, to let my mother know I’m still eating.

These are all excellent reasons for anyone to blog, and even if this were all there was to blogging for me, I’d probably keep doing it. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that blogging is the ideal medium for the vegan movement. That is, I believe that blogging is the best form of activism that vegans have got going for them right now, and that we have more to gain by blogging than does your average food blogger. Here’s why:

Veganism has made some amazing strides since its inception in the mid-20th century. Today, more people than ever recognize the ethical reasons for being vegan, and many are starting to see the environmental and health benefits, as well. And this is great: veganism is not just a diet but also a lifestyle and ideology, and it’s important for people to see and understand this. However, it’s clear that these arguments only do so much, as there are plenty of people who acknowledge them yet keep on eating animals. And this shouldn’t surprise us, since persuading people by reason alone has never, ever worked.

So what’s missing? As I see it, though people may know why to be vegan, they still don’t know how, or if they can. That is, though people may agree that they should be vegan, and may even want to be vegan, taking that extra step to actually doing it and being vegan can be very difficult. It’s not simply a matter of weakness of will, either; rather, what non-vegans need most is information on how to do it: what vegans eat, how we stay healthy, and where we still struggle—in other words, the normal everyday stuff of how we live our lives. In this way, the biggest challenge facing the vegan movement right now is convincing people that not only is veganism right, but that it’s also joyful and doable, even for perfectly ordinary folks. And this is where blogging steps in.

First and foremost, blogging is egalitarian. Anyone can blog about whatever they want; no agent or publicists or book contracts are required. Because of this, most of the vegan food bloggers you’ll find are ordinary folk—people who are amateurs, if not complete beginners, at writing, cooking, and often, veganism. These are not people trying to make a living off you reading their blog; they’re just folk with a story to tell. Thus if the vegan movement wants to show outsiders that vegans are people with lives like everyone else, the vegan food blogging community provides the perfect place to start.

Second of all, blogging is down-to-earth. On food blogs, nothing need be elevated or haute cuisine; and since bloggers are most often not professional chefs, they actually are the perfect example for other non-professional chefs to follow. What newcomers to veganism need most is food that is tasty and also simple, affordable, and unintimidating—and to me, food blogs are the best place to find such recipes, since bloggers themselves are often still relative novices in the kitchen and always on the lookout for new culinary shortcuts and secrets. The ingenuity and small tricks you’ll see and learn on blogs are the sort of thing you’ll rarely read in books or hear from chefs, but they can really take your cooking to new levels. (The abundance of blog photos guiding you along every step of the way also helps on this score.) Which is all to say: if you want to learn how to become vegan, food blogs are an excellent way in.

Finally and most importantly, blogging is diverse. Possibly the greatest asset blogging has over any other medium is its sheer diversity. Since anyone can do it, lots of people do, and the variety of vegan food bloggers you’ll find out there is astounding. And this means that every fledgling vegan has all the more chance of finding a blogger that speaks directly to them and their unique situation. Whether you’re an aspiring vegan mother, father, student, or ultra-marathon runner, there’s a blog for every lifestyle. And this is what non-vegans most need to see: that vegans are just like them, with busy lives and multiple responsibilities—and nonetheless able to eat the foods they know they should.

And that’s why I keep blogging: because I honestly feel like it’s part of something bigger, to whatever small extent; because I want others to hear my story and see how a grad student copes with the pressures of being vegan; and because I think it’s precisely the sort of activism that’s most needed right now if veganism is to gain any real presence in the population.

And I guess that’s part of the reason I signed up for VeganMoFo, too, making this a fitting way to start off the month. So get ready: you’re about to see a lot more blogging here than ever before. Just don’t expect to see another post this long until this month is over.

VeganMoFo #1/31

Until we eat again,

Willie

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