Or, the Aspiring Vegan.
I can recall the exact day and time I decided to “explore” the idea of going vegan. It was in 2018, and I was producing the Pacific Coast Fog Festival. I had received a complaint that the ‘Anonymous for the Voiceless’ staff were not remaining within their 10′ x 10′ booth space, and it was my job to be sure that all 400-plus vendors followed the same guidelines.
I had not heard of this group when I booked them into the event. So, I was not aware of the organization’s mission. Their website states, “Anonymous for the Voiceless (AV) is an animal rights organization specializing in edifying the public on the streets with Cubes of Truth and fostering highly effective activism groups worldwide. We hold an abolitionist stance against all forms of non-human animal exploitation and promote a clear and direct animal rights message.”
From down the block, I saw five or six folks dressed all in black and wearing white theatrical masks. As I approached the booth, I could see two large screen monitors connected to a laptop computer showing videos of industrial animal farms and processing plants. There is no need to describe the content any further. I also overheard the pitch, “Did you hear about the 3,000 hogs that drowned in South Carolina?”
When I asked who was in charge, I was directed to a young woman wearing an all-black ‘Anonymous for the Voiceless’ black shirt and a white theatrical mask. I thanked her for being at the festival and explained the provision that required all booth staff to remain in the designated assigned spaces. She apologized and instructed her staff to remain within the booth area.
As I turned to walk away, I couldn’t help but ask, “So, what’s the deal with the 3,000 hogs?”
She said the 3,000 hogs had been locked in a large warehouse and drowned when water from a hurricane flooded the farm. The animals were locked in the pens was so the ‘losses’ could be documented for insurance recovery purposes.
Now, I don’t know if her story is true, an embellishment, or a ‘dramatization,’ and quite frankly, I am not sure it makes a difference. I can imagine the calculation being made in some corporate home office with little to no regard for the animals involved.
The extreme irony of this encounter is that the very next day, I walked up to the grilled sausage vendor and ordered the 12″ sausage with onions and spicy mustard — just like I have done for the past 25-plus years on each Sunday of the Fog Fest. It was tradition, and I made no connection to the message I had received the day before.
It wasn’t until several days later that I thought about the Anonymous encounter and decided to see how far I could get with the whole vegan diet.
I am now able to add a fourth reason for trying some vegan meals. They just taste darn good!
Folks seem to switch to a vegan diet for one or more of three reasons. In no particular order, they are for health, environment, and the cruelty associated with most industrial animal processing.
I will be the first to admit that switching cold ‘tofu turkey’ was impossible for me. I was never a big red meat eater, but a cheese platter with a crisp Pinot Gris, a piece of salmon grilled over an applewood flame, or Asena’s tiramisu had all been my demise.
As I explored the substitute meats and non-dairy alternatives, it became easier to have satisfying meals that I could also share with my omnivore friends and family. I started posting some of these discoveries and other vegan resources in hopes of encouraging others to reduce the amount of animal products in one’s diet. After all, what impact would one person have on the entire planet.
While I was struggling with a full vegan diet, I decided to use the hashtag #failedvegan to emphasize the notion that I was only advocating for folks to add a vegan meal to their regular diet and not to go full on vegan.
After checking out a ton of vegan products, and adapting hundreds of recipes, I can confirm that I am now 95% vegan and incredibly satisfied with my diet. So, I changed the hashtag to #aspiringvegan and added #beyondmeatlessmondays.
This is a very long way of saying that this past weekend, I was able to break my almost 30-year tradition of having a real meat post-festival sausage on Sunday afternoon. Instead, I went home that night and had an equally satisfying grilled Italian sausage thanks to the folks at Beyond and Impossible.
In checking off some of the boxes for veganism, I am happy that I could check off the environment and animal humanity ones, but not so thrilled that I could not check the healthy food box. I recommend checking the labels of all these faux products, because in some cases they can be highly processed and can contain high levels of sodium.
OH! I am now able to add a fourth reason for trying some vegan meals. They just taste darn good!
Here’s hoping you will try one of the recipes or products that I post to social media. And here’s to aspiration and more meatless Mondays.