All their food is hidden under this snow and they don’t know what to do with themselves. Eileen knows about these sort of things.
I sit next to her at Planning Board meetings so I can whisper to her when I don’t understand something, like once when we had an entire hour-long meeting about a SWPPP and I just played along until finally the chair asked if anyone had any questions, and I said “Yeah, just a quickie: what’s a SWPPP?” And then Eileen explained about Stormwater Pollution Protection Plans asked if I wanted to come to her office ever and discuss stuff like how to read the architectural renderings we’re given, and then we spent a few hours with her showing me that you can tell how steep a site is by how wiggly the lines are on the maps and stuff. I like Eileen.
I hit a deer the other night. My car did. Jacob was driving. The deer hit me, really. My car. But the part of the car closest to my body. Deer body / car body / my body all in a tiny three-foot proximity. We were going slow on a wiggly road and a deer crashed right into us, huge body perpendicular to the car, everything at the wrong angle all of the sudden. We weren’t hurt, the car needs major bodywork, probably a new hood, but what happened to the deer? We went back and looked for him, but he disappeared. A slow death, then. Caused by my car. My fault, as a human. The deer are wild this time of year. Desperate. We’ve taken over their entire ecosystem, so they have no choice but to do the same to us. They’re everywhere, everyone I know has hit one. Lucy, Kate, and I all hit the first deer of our lives this year. Huge traumas, all of them. It takes days to come down. Country life. Back in the car, shaky, we talked about the strangeness. Two vegans, having such a violent interaction with an animal. Some people go out of their way to inflict violence on animals. Most, really. We go out of our way to do the opposite, but it still happens. I thought I was OK, but right before Jacob started the car again intense nausea hit me hard and I said, “wait,” and got out and threw up.
The whole thing made me think about my veganism practice.
That’s what I liked about this email: just a good vegan, trying to do better. My kind of woman.
I’ve been up late at night the past couple of days worrying about veganism and privilege and how I may or may not be unintentionally contributing to that stereotype. I’m so stuck inside my head and I wonder if you have anything to say on the subject. I know you are a busy busy busy lady but you are one of the smartest people I know and I respect your opinion quite a lot.Basically I’ve been worrying about how veganism has unintentionally become inaccessible to people who think they can’t afford stuff like organic cashews or kale. I wish there was a way to celebrate the world’s rich plant-based history, to show people that you can cook hearty vegan meals with very simple ingredients- you know, the dishes people cooked when animal products were still major luxuries. But I’m so frightened by the fact that out of all the vegan cookbooks I own, only two of them are authored by non-white vegans (Terry Hope Romero & Miyoko Schinner). Where are all the vegans of color?! I want so badly to try to fix that but I feel like it would be appropriative- like who am I to write a cookbook about vegan Malaysian or vegan Ethiopian food? I’m a punk-ass 20 year old white girl from New Jersey who goes to an overpriced liberal arts school. My scope of the world is very limited.
And I don’t want to deter myself from doing what I want to do with my life either, which is cook amazing vegan food and show people how fucking cool and awesome and easy veganism is, but I don’t want to be another one of those overly-cheerful white women with perfect hair and ten different recipes for vegan mac & cheese, and I definitely don’t want to become a ‘white vegan savior’ (ie. “I’m a privileged, healthy, upper-middle class white woman! You can be just like me if you go vegan!) It’s not even about that anyway; it’s about saving animals, and of course the more people who go vegan the more animals we can save. But because veganism has become so quote unquote “trendy” in the past few years, it seems like the face of public veganism is now that of a skinny white woman yoga-ing her way down the street in Williamsburg while drinking a green juice. Of course, these people should be commended for helping begin to lift veganism out of obscurity and actually make it appealing and accessible to some people– it just breaks my heart that the only people it seems accessible to are the ones who can ‘afford’ to do it.What do you think? I’d love to hear if you have anything to say.
Oh god, we’re so fucked. Moving on!
3) Find some ways to free veganism from the stereotype of middle class kale-obsessed yoga moms. For example, leave your gentrified-ass neighborhood (or, in my case, county) and cross the river to Poughkeepsie and see how to work alongside food justice activists to bring vegan food to the working-class communities there, instead of blissfully rejoicing about another organic CSA with its $800 memberships opening up in your town. (Not to say CSAs aren’t the raddest, just that we need them + so much more, concurrently.)
4) FOR FUCK’S SAKE stop obsessing over veganizing bland American shit-food. Once I said something like “god I fucking hate white people’s food” on this blog and everyone got all huffy but you know what I mean. (What I mean is that I fucking hate white people’s food.) Like, how about a 10-year moratorium on mac & cheese recipes? CASHEWS AND NOOCH, WE FUCKING GET IT. Maybe let’s work on veganizing the dairy-rich kormas of India and Pakistan for a while, OK? Not Twinkies.
OK YES maybe I am extra angry about this because a few weeks ago I made this Turtle Bar thingie that yes I am mega-proud of and yes it’s fucking aaaaaammmmmaaazzziiinnng (it’s true!) but people are creaming their pants over it like there’s no tomorrow when no one loves the damn Hazelnut bar as much even though to my mind it’s twice as good. The same style but more classy, you know? More European.
The truth is that vegans want crap, and the market naturally complies. We (my biz, that is) sometimes indulge with high-end crap, and it’s fucking depressing how muc
h the high-end crap outsells the beautiful, typically more inclusively- & internationally-flavored (but not “ethnic” my god–oh heyyyy this post also talks about all the same stuff as I’m talking about here! What a great post.) chocolates.
5) Whitewashed vegan food markets—WTF with all the dedicated vegan markets and health food stores in this country selling like 50 kinds of soy and cashew cheese and no fucking chilies? Two kinds of rice, two kinds of noodles, but 870,000 types of chips? What is up is that vegans want soy curls, chips, GMO Tings, and cashew cheese, not anchos and pasillas and forbidden black rice and sticky rice and bean thread noodles and acorn noodles and rice flake noodles. Demand (and buy, and get your community to buy) better shit at your vegan/health food stores, and you’ll get it.
6) Vegan food businesses: Related to #4, ok, actually exactly the same point as #4: you need to make more foods from peoples all around the world. Seriously. Even us. We have the shivas, the yuzus, some more, but we could do more. The problem, of course, is that having to help people pronounce Vandana Shiva and even yuzu 80 times a day gets old, as does explaining that yuzu is alemonyJapanesecitrusahybridoflemonandorangeitsreallyniceoneofmyfavorites and listening to customers unaccountably pronounce it “yazu” for reasons that all of us LL shop slaves are real confused about all the time.