the spirit is willing, but the flesh is so so tasty
July 28, 2015 10:04 AM   Subscribe

The Rise of the Reducetarian (yup there's a word for that) Like tofurky? Thank a reducetarian. Part-time vegetarians are the ones driving vegan restaurants, vegetarian blogs and meat-free options at restaurants and grocery stores.

While we all know that vegans are just better than most people, for a variety of reasons not everyone is up to the challenge. So for those of us who've cashed in our v-cards, but still want to contribute to the health and environmental benefits or live more compassionately, there's reducetarianism.... aka flexitarianism.... ask conscious moderation.

Think one person (or one day) doesn't make a difference? Think again:

... the rise of vacillating, part-time vegetarians who are actively trying to reduce their meat consumption is more significant than the growing number of categorical, self-identifying "vegetarians" or "vegans." This has led to an evolution on the supermarket shelves—the number of food products carrying a "vegetarian" claim has apparently doubled to 12 percent, while one in eight meat buyers would now consider buying half meat and half vegetable protein across a week's shopping.
(Read Mintel's full report here)

Maclean's article "The Rise of the Flexitarian"

Reducetarian.com

The Original Reducetarians
posted by St. Peepsburg (126 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
This vegan lauds them because if they are driving the trend then that means more things for me to eat when I go out to restaurants.
posted by Kitteh at 10:06 AM on July 28, 2015 [30 favorites]


Kaizen.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:07 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Thanks, reducetarians!

Seriously, it's not about purity, it's about better.
posted by amtho at 10:08 AM on July 28, 2015 [33 favorites]


The truth is that I think of myself as a vegan but am actually a reducitarian, given that I fall off the vegan wagon with startling regularity.
posted by Frowner at 10:13 AM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


The truth is that I think of myself as a vegan but am actually a reducitarian, given that I fall off the vegan wagon with startling regularity.


crawl back on the wagon homie

we have nooch and avocados
posted by Gymnopedist at 10:14 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


You are welcome!
I cook vegetarian for myself and order that way at restaurants (mostly), but if a friend or family member does the work to make me a tasty [meat] meal, I still want to be a gracious guest and enjoy what they have labored to provide for me.
posted by agentofselection at 10:15 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm assuming "reducetarian" is meant to allude to terms like "vegetarian" and "pescetarian", but man, that's a terrible word.
posted by monospace at 10:15 AM on July 28, 2015 [9 favorites]


but man, that's a terrible word.

I had to spell check it like 3 times before hitting post, it is really awful.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:18 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Flexitarian sounds better, i.e. a veg[etari]an who is flexible, not dogmatic. Plus it has an x.

I hate labels, but as they are inevitable, I will choose to self-identify thusly.
posted by tempestuoso at 10:19 AM on July 28, 2015 [9 favorites]


The biggest benefit, to my flexitarian eyes at any rate, is the massive improvement in meat substitutes (different from straight tofu or tempeh, which are their own delicious things) over the past decade. It's not just black bean burgers anymore; it's sofritas at Chipotle and chik'n nuggets and actually good vegan sausage.

(Vegan cheese still needs a lot of work though.)
posted by thecaddy at 10:24 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well I'm a level 5 vegan. I don't eat anything that casts a shadow.
posted by Elly Vortex at 10:24 AM on July 28, 2015 [24 favorites]


I guess it beats "Pollanite"
posted by gwint at 10:24 AM on July 28, 2015


Yeah, Flexitarian has been around for a while hasn't it? Why the odd neologism? (At first glance I thought it was about people reducing the clutter or material goods.)
posted by oddman at 10:24 AM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, like with excerise (or housework?) I work better if I don't adopt the purist /all or nothing approach. it's not about denying meat it's about appreciating vegetables (plus I want to not get gout)
posted by The Whelk at 10:25 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'll use whatever word you want.

Which says something; I still insist on using a hyphen in 'e-mail'.
posted by amtho at 10:25 AM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


And reducitarian makes me think of the old fashioned term for dieting "reducing" which


Ewwww
posted by The Whelk at 10:26 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Seriously, it's not about purity, it's about better.

Yeah, I admire the shit out of vegans, but it's a hard lifestyle. I tried it for a few months and could not make it work. Vegans are better on ethics and on environment but I can't get there, so why should I get too preachy at people reducing their own impact to the best of their ability but still eating meat when I only go ovo-lacoto?

Restaurants should definitely all add a few non-meat choices. Lots of people will try it even if they do eat meat and it shows off your talent as a chef if you can be versatile in your ingredients.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:27 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I eat mostly vegetarian (not vegan) during the week because it's highly varied, tasty and cheap. Protein comes from all sorts of things, including soy products, legumes, dairy, and free-range eggs. Chicken and fish might show up once or twice a week, and I use up part of my beef share on the weekend. I'm someone who's decided to be an omnivore who emphasizes plant foods more than most, but I don't think I'm vacillating or in need of a fancy name either.
posted by maudlin at 10:30 AM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm all for new and interesting culinary creations (seriously, I *love* to cook and experiment), but I guess I kinda have a problem with stuff like this:

"The idea is that the best meal a person could have is one without meat."

What?! No. I mean... it's far from a scientifically-supported conclusion to say that. You personally might think that a meal is best without meat, but when you drop stuff like that in your argument it gets some folks' dander up because (to quote the Dude): "Yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man".

I sorta get the moral argument. It doesn't resonate with me personally, but I at least understand it.

I definitely get, and do indeed connect with the resource-utilization argument (meat takes a lot of resources to make, provided you don't consider insects to be meat.) There's a reason why ready access to a choice of meat has historically been a luxury!

But when it comes to the health arguments for reducing meat intake it's pretty easy to go off the rails into quack science territory, and quick.
posted by -1 at 10:30 AM on July 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


True story: we had a business luncheon a few weeks ago at what is considered one of the best restaurants in town. We ordered well ahead of time because everyone else--I am the low person on the totem pole--was going to be there for most of the morning for a mid-year review (I was at the office alone). I ordered possibly the only thing I could have veganized: a roasted veg panini.

Let me tell y'all that if I had had to pay for that fucking panini, I would have been so pissed. If the best restaurant in town can't make a roasted veg panini decently then they have a lot of nerve.
posted by Kitteh at 10:31 AM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I recently used some of Beyond Meat's, eh, product, in a quesadilla. It was really good. I could totally see that stuff go mainstream as a substitute for ground meat.
posted by monospace at 10:32 AM on July 28, 2015


Restaurants should definitely all add a few non-meat choices

Preferably not just white/beige foods with cheese.

Also a trend I'm wishing would stop: Vegetarian food seems bland? Make it spicy! (I'm looking at you, Elmo's Diner)

Really, cooking folks, there are other flavors. Lime; lemon; vinegar; basil; mushrooms; nuts; fruit sauces. I have a whole imaginary blog where I help chefs figure out how to make their non-spicy bean dishes amazing.
posted by amtho at 10:32 AM on July 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


"The idea is that the best meal a person could have is one without meat."

What?! No. I mean... it's far from a scientifically-supported conclusion to say that.


Nope, it's 100% scientific fact that Palak Paneer is the best possible meal.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:33 AM on July 28, 2015 [16 favorites]


Spicy as shorthand for all veg food is lamentable but I did find I'll actually drink your 12-green smoothie if you put like, a tablespoon of cayenne and paprika in there
posted by The Whelk at 10:34 AM on July 28, 2015


Anyway, I really like to see this vs. people seeking out "humane" animal products because it means that they realize, on some level, that something's inherently wrong with animal agriculture (I hope). I also like the increased selection of products and restaurants, which makes it more convenient for people to go vegan (and for me to be vegan). It's at the point where you pretty much have to give nothing up because the vegan alternatives are all so awesome. I was just on Warped Tour for 26 days talking to kids about veganism etc. and at this point I know an excellent alternative for pretty much anything you can throw at me.

I'm assuming "reducetarian" is meant to allude to terms like "vegetarian" and "pescetarian", but man, that's a terrible word.


I think it's referring to people who opt to eat fewer animal products instead of excluding them entirely, vs. those who give up specific animal products.

Flexitarian sounds better, i.e. a veg[etari]an who is flexible, not dogmatic. Plus it has an x.


I think "dogmatic" is a little unfair here. It's just a firm commitment to avoiding unnecessary animal suffering/exploitation wherever possible. /pet peeve

I cook vegetarian for myself and order that way at restaurants (mostly), but if a friend or family member does the work to make me a tasty [meat] meal, I still want to be a gracious guest and enjoy what they have labored to provide for me.

Y'know I hear this a lot -- that people worry about being perceived as rude if they refuse a meal at a friend's house or whatever. I have found it to be pretty much a non issue. People tend to be respectful when you stick to values that are important to you. I just call ahead when I visit people who aren't aware that I'm vegan and say that, hey, no need to bend over backwards to feed me. I've never had a bad response from any family or friend.

(Vegan cheese still needs a lot of work though.)

Have you tried Field Roast's slices or the gourmet cheese from Miyoko's Kitchen? The latter isn't really practical to have all the time, but I've heard it's very good. Also, she has a book out called Artisan Vegan Cheeses, so you can learn to make your own!

Yeah, I admire the shit out of vegans, but it's a hard lifestyle. I tried it for a few months and could not make it work. Vegans are better on ethics and on environment but I can't get there, so why should I get too preachy at people reducing their own impact to the best of their ability but still eating meat when I only go ovo-lacoto?

What was hard about it for you? I'm not trying to snark or anything, I just have a genuine interest in what makes being vegan difficult for people because one of my pastimes now is standing around educating people about veganism.

sorry guys bear with me I still haven't managed to get my Vegan Activist hat off after nearly a month on the road
posted by Gymnopedist at 10:34 AM on July 28, 2015 [5 favorites]




I'm pretty dogmatic about vegetarianism and I won't eat meat at all, and don't want to, but I think this flexible approach is the one I'm going to take as I contemplate giving up animal products entirely and shifting to veganism.

I'd like to live in a world where we didn't need a word to describe this practice as it would be understood that people would either be vegans or people who ate low, low levels of animal products, and the only question you'd need to ask someone is whether they ate vegan or not.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:36 AM on July 28, 2015


crawl back on the wagon homie

we have nooch and avocados


Oh god, how often have I crawled back on the wagon! But then there's free pizza from the good pizza place and I didn't have time to pack a lunch and...crash.

I'm pretty resigned to being mostly-vegan at this point. And I mean, I have nooch and avodados even as we speak, although I tend not to use them together.
posted by Frowner at 10:37 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm going to jump on the word-coining bandwagon and label myself an 'Opportunarian'. I eat vegetarian (pescatarian to be strict, but my seafood consumption is really, really low), except in 3 cases:

1 - Mr. Fig orders a meat dish known to be delicious OR something that is intriguing. I will take one bite. maybe two. (i.e. tacos al carbon at our local taqueria or bacon cheesecake )

2 - I go to some event, like a food/wine festival or fundraiser where many chefs are offering small portions of their food. OR, go to a fancy prix-fixe beer/wine-pairing dinner or something like that. If there is meat there, I will eat it. This happens like, 4X/year at most.

3 - I am travelling, and this will be the only time I will be able to get this dish.

Over the last... 6-7 years or so, I've noticed a huge improvement in veggie options at restaurants (something other than salad or a grilled portabella), and it is awesome. There is definitely room for improvement, but things are way better than they used to be.

On preview: I -hate- grilled veggie paninis, sandwiches, etc. They are mushy! Almost always! Why is that the default veg option at a ton of places? Who started that trend? It needs to die.
posted by Fig at 10:39 AM on July 28, 2015 [9 favorites]


Have you tried Field Roast's slices or the gourmet cheese from Miyoko's Kitchen? The latter isn't really practical to have all the time, but I've heard it's very good. Also, she has a book out called Artisan Vegan Cheeses, so you can learn to make your own!

I have made amazing vegan cheese from Miyoko's book as her products are not likely to be anywhere my part of Canada anytime soon. Field Roast was just allowed to be sold here again following the Canadian government's attempt to enforce an outdated rule that vegetarian meat substitutes have to be tested (!) on animals before they can hit the shelves.

I just got Miyoko's book, Homemade Vegan Pantry, and it is blowing my mind with all the cool stuff you can make.
posted by Kitteh at 10:40 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


crawl back on the wagon homie

we have nooch and avocados


Hey Frowner, no need to run after the vegan wagon, we have nooch and avocadoes on the Omnivorous Omnibus too!
posted by Elly Vortex at 10:41 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hey Frowner, no need to run after the vegan wagon, we have nooch and avocadoes on the Omnivorous Omnibus too!


But do you have a High Horse that you're not actually supposed to ride?
posted by Gymnopedist at 10:42 AM on July 28, 2015 [9 favorites]


If the best restaurant in town can't make a roasted veg panini decently then they have a lot of nerve.

YES. And it's so common for very good restaurants to totally half-ass their vegetarian options -- which is better than not having them at all, except that I get my expectations up and then have them cruelly dashed. The French restaurant my family went to for Christmas last year was very proud of their vegan entree. Which was a roasted head of cauliflower, almost entirely unseasoned, and a tiny bit of delicious fancy mushroom.

I'm not sure what they were thinking -- "Sure, an ENTIRE HEAD OF CAULIFLOWER with no sauce or seasoning sounds bad to a normal person, but vegans LOVE vegetables!"?

But in some ways it's a virtuous cycle -- the more people are vegetarian (or flexitarian, or pescetarian, or whatever), the more demand there is for better options, and the more better options exist, the easier and more welcoming it is to become veg*n (or flexitarian, or pescetarian, or whatever) without feeling like you're signing up for a life of garden salads and badly cooked tofu.
posted by Jeanne at 10:44 AM on July 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


I just got Miyoko's book, Homemade Vegan Pantry, and it is blowing my mind with all the cool stuff you can make.


Whoa, thanks for the recommendation. Didn't realize she had other books.
posted by Gymnopedist at 10:44 AM on July 28, 2015


Oh and if you're in Cleveland and want to try a restaurant with great vegan sandwich options, go to Melt (as long as we're talking about vegan sandwich options). That place made me so happy.
posted by Gymnopedist at 10:46 AM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


What was hard about it for you? I'm not trying to snark or anything, I just have a genuine interest in what makes being vegan difficult for people because one of my pastimes now is standing around educating people about veganism.

Greek yogurt, cheese, and milk for tea were the items I just could not find adequate substitutes for. (I like soy milk a lot, but it doesn't work in tea for me.) I also couldn't find any chicken substitutes as good as Quorn that were vegan. I count calories to keep an eye on my weight and daily nutrition pretty religiously so I become very conscious of, "This is a food choice that is making me unhappy," because I have everything quantified and can see what is worthwhile for me and what isn't.

There were also some cost issues. For example, I like frozen pizzas, and there are some vegan ones that are good. The Tofurky brand with Daiya for example, but it is three times the cost and much smaller than a store brand pizza with cheese. Tough on the budget.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:46 AM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


When are scientists just going to figure out how to make a decent-tasting, afforadable steak in a petri dish? That's the day I'm waiting for.

But yeah, as someone who would love to be vegetarian but due to financial/health issues, can't, I've just tried to limit my intake of meat to one meal per day if that.
posted by bgal81 at 10:47 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


YES. And it's so common for very good restaurants to totally half-ass their vegetarian options -- which is better than not having them at all, except that I get my expectations up and then have them cruelly dashed. The French restaurant my family went to for Christmas last year was very proud of their vegan entree. Which was a roasted head of cauliflower, almost entirely unseasoned, and a tiny bit of delicious fancy mushroom.

OH GOD. I mean, what? No.

I realize it's easy for non-veg friendly restaurants to not even try, but hey, you know what? I have a pretty decent disposable income, I like good food, even more, I LIKE paying for food. And I am happy to give you my money if you will at least give me a decent meal.
posted by Kitteh at 10:48 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Greek yogurt, cheese, and milk for tea were the items I just could not find adequate substitutes for. (I like soy milk a lot, but it doesn't work in tea for me.) I also couldn't find any chicken substitutes as good as Quorn that were vegan. I count calories to keep an eye on my weight and daily nutrition pretty religiously so I become very conscious of, "This is a food choice that is making me unhappy," because I have everything quantified and can see what is worthwhile for me and what isn't.

If you just tried soy milk, give the unsweetened almond/cashew ones a shot if you aren't allergic or anything. I really dislike soy milk for most stuff, but I found that cashew milk was perfect in tea. Can't really speak to greek yogurt/cheese if you've tried the available alternatives, since a lot of people don't end up liking them. There are some vegan yogurts but I've never sought them out. Definitely try Field Roast's cheeses if you haven't already, because most people consider them to be the best (and Daiya is pretty universally considered Kind of Gross at best, so a lot of people try it and then get put off of vegan cheese forever). Also, on chicken, did you try Gardein's vegan chicken? I found it to be almost eerily accurate.

But yeah, the prepackaged stuff can run pretty expensive. I found that I saved some money because I did a lot of cooking, and generally cooking vegan is cheaper than cooking with animal products (rice, beans, legumes, etc. vs. meat/dairy/eggs). I found that the money saved there allowed me to splurge more on the prepackaged stuff. YMMV obviously.
posted by Gymnopedist at 10:54 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


There are some vegan yogurts but I've never sought them out.

They are good, but they don't pack the same nutritional punch as plain greek yogurt.

And yeah, the Wegmans brand fake beef and chicken strips were good, but they didn't do the chicken breast style things as well.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:57 AM on July 28, 2015


*blink* *blink* Like maudlin, I'm an omnivore who just... doesn't actually eat much meat for a variety of reasons. (In my case those boil down to a mixture of "I'm cheap," and "vegetables are tasty," with a minor side of "unhappy about factory farming but also really broke.") I hate deli meat, so I nearly always end up ordering vegetarian sandwiches and frequently check the vegetarian option at conferences and things because I find the food is a bit higher quality. I like some forms of tofu when they're not pretending to be meat (although you could not pay me to buy a tofurkey) and I've been eyeing this vegan roast for some time because it looks interesting to put together and also pretty yummy. I make vegetarian meals on a frequent basis and most of my meat-inclusive meals use meat as more of a garnish than a main course.

I was... not aware that that constituted being on the vegetarian spectrum or that I was "falling off a bandwagon." I feel kind of weird now, because I balk immediately at people who try to sell me on veg*n foodstuffs as "like meat but cruelty free!" I don't want to eat something pretending to meat, I just want to eat interesting things that shine on their own merits and I like a lot of plant-based things. Mostly, I'm feeling pissy, because vegetarian options are genuinely attractive to me in and of themselves and I really resent being characterized as a "failure to be sufficiently veg*n" when I am in no way aiming for that achievement.

I kind of want to go eat something omnivorous out of spite now.
posted by sciatrix at 11:02 AM on July 28, 2015 [9 favorites]


For things like yogurt, milk for tea, etc, I try to make my own because I am often discontent with the alternatives out there, but I utterly and completely realize that I choose to do that, and not everyone can or wants to, and nor should they.
posted by Kitteh at 11:04 AM on July 28, 2015


sciatrix my jokey bandwagon comment was directed specifically at someone who directly used the "wagon" terminology; I'm really sorry that it got your goat

For things like yogurt, milk for tea, etc, I try to make my own because I am often discontent with the alternatives out there, but I utterly and completely realize that I choose to do that, and not everyone can or wants to, and nor should they.


If you have any vegan yogurt type recipes please feel free to send like, all of them my way. Or milk recipes, but I think I'm good on those. I always feel at a loss recommending people yogurt alternatives because I was never that into yogurt, pre-veganism, so I never spent a lot of time with them.
posted by Gymnopedist at 11:08 AM on July 28, 2015


It's not just black bean burgers anymore

I have to say that after years and years of eating lots of cow, especially burgers, I'm finding that eating more than a couple of bites of steak or burger isn't really agreeing with me anymore, and I end up feeling bloated and groggy.

Happily, this has coincided with the resident teenager deciding that she might be a vegan... I'm going to give her this article and see what she thinks, but meanwhile I've started cooking some vegetarian/vegan stuff and here are our favorites so far:

Serious Eats Black Bean Burger (Kenji does a thing called The Vegan Experience, here are 60 recipes from a couple of years ago)

Food Network Tofu Tacos
posted by Huck500 at 11:08 AM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've shifted from pescatarian - which I've been for maybe 8 years - to vegetarian in the last few months, but I'm not sure if I could do vegan. There is so little choice here in eating out - as it stands there is usually one item on a menu I can eat (I hate goats cheese and feta so I usually have to get the mushroom risotto over the goats cheese and caramelised onion tarts. Seriously, those are the choices. Oh God how many mushroom risottos have I eaten!) If I went vegan I'd have to bring my dinner with me in a Tupperware box. So I'm hoping this trend widens the choices. And for the love of God we can take close up photos of Pluto but we can't make convincing meat-free bacon? What is with that?
posted by billiebee at 11:09 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


sciatrix You kinda beat me to the comment I wanted to make. I love meat, and meat-based foods. I love vegetarian foods. I love even vegan foods. If it's tasty, I'll eat it. That's my rule.

Though, WTF is "nooch"?

*cursory google*

Nutritional Yeast? That's a much better name for the stuff than "nooch." Jeez, people.
posted by SansPoint at 11:10 AM on July 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


I am totally tackling that veggie wellington recipe for Kenji Alt-Lopez this year for Chrimbus.

Gymnopedist -- I was never much of a yogurt fan either pre-veg, but I dig the cashew one in Artisan Vegan Cheese.
posted by Kitteh at 11:11 AM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


makes me think of the old fashioned term for dieting "reducing" which

"Dieting" is almost old-fashioned, too. I saw a counselor a few times while I was pregnant, a woman a couple decades older than I was, and I mentioned trying to eat a healthier diet. "No, don't diet while pregnant," she said. I told her, I'm not, just trying to improve my diet. She just kept saying, no dieting while pregnant. We were kinda speaking past each other and she wasn't getting I was talking about diet, as in the food I eat, not as a description of a weigh-loss plan.
posted by JenMarie at 11:11 AM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


sciatrix my jokey bandwagon comment was directed specifically at someone who directly used the "wagon" terminology; I'm really sorry that it got your goat

To clarify, your specific comment wasn't what irritated me; it's this idea that I'm partaking in an ethical movement I have relatively complicated feelings about/a "part time" veg*n/striving but failing to be vegetarian/vegetarian-lite/what have you. It's not just you, it's an attitude that's basically woven through every link in the FPP and I find it fairly obnoxious.
posted by sciatrix at 11:12 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've shifted from pescatarian - which I've been for maybe 8 years - to vegetarian in the last few months, but I'm not sure if I could do vegan. There is so little choice here in eating out - as it stands there is usually one item on a menu I can eat (I hate goats cheese and feta so I usually have to get the mushroom risotto over the goats cheese and caramelised onion tarts. Seriously, those are the choices. Oh God how many mushroom risottos have I eaten!) If I went vegan I'd have to bring my dinner with me in a Tupperware box.

My strategy at vegan unfriendly places is to just order a ton of french fries, cover them with ketchup/bbq sauce, and eat them with a fork like an Adult. Or get a lot of drinks. Or both. It's worth it just for the look on your server's face when you say "yes I want 3 orders of french fries."

So I'm hoping this trend widens the choices. And for the love of God we can take close up photos of Pluto but we can't make convincing meat-free bacon? What is with that?

Bacon is basically just salty + smoky + sweet + fatty. There are many ways to accomplish that. This one is excellent on BLTs.
posted by Gymnopedist at 11:13 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Nutritional Yeast? That's a much better name for the stuff than "nooch." Jeez, people.

It's like, four more syllables, though.
posted by Gymnopedist at 11:15 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


sciatrix, I feel you on this, the vegangelical aspect to this puts me off too.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:16 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


sciatrix I'm wondering about the asterix in vegan - I haven't seen that before, what's the reason? (Apologies if that's a stupid question. It wouldn't be my first.)

Gymnopedist I'll give the coconut bacon a go. But what I really want is juicy fried bacon on soft white bread with brown sauce. There's never going to be a satisfying alternative to that. (I hope you appreciate the sacrifice, piggies of the UK...)
posted by billiebee at 11:20 AM on July 28, 2015


I was at my slimmest and felt best eating as a work-week vegan. I ate salads, beans, fruit, nuts, and seeds mainly (and cut back on grains and sugar). I like tofu but I'm not big on meat-replacement foods. Probably because I really don't like meat at all. On the weekends I'd have pizza and dairy and sweets if I felt like it. Once I had a kid, though, finding the time and energy for making a salad for myself when there was a half eaten quesadilla or grilled cheese sandwich seemed impossible. Now that my son is older and I'm working outside the home again, I am trying to get back to that M-F vegan eating. But I never pack a lunch for myself (that's a bridge too far for me since I'm packing one for my son every morning), and it's harder than you think to find a vegan salad.
posted by JenMarie at 11:21 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's a shorthand I've seen used around when people are trying to find an umbrella term that includes both vegetarian and vegan people--no worries re: clarifying. Not a stupid question at all!
posted by sciatrix at 11:21 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe we could move towards describing the food we eat, e.g. "most of my meals are vegan", rather than feeling the need to label ourselves and lump on the associated guilt/pride.
posted by tofu_crouton at 11:21 AM on July 28, 2015 [18 favorites]


posted by tofu_crouton

Eponysterical (and delicious)
posted by billiebee at 11:24 AM on July 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's a shorthand I've seen used around when people are trying to find an umbrella term that includes both vegetarian and vegan people--no worries re: clarifying. Not a stupid question at all!

To add to that explanation, * is a wildcard character which stands for an unspecified number of characters in various operating systems. It's been around for decades but is showing up more now in popular usage (see also: trans*).
posted by aws17576 at 11:24 AM on July 28, 2015


Maybe we could move towards describing the food we eat, e.g. "most of my meals are vegan", rather than feeling the need to label ourselves and lump on the associated guilt/pride.

*shrug* I like the pride. It's an accomplishment to sacrifice things you love for a higher purpose. Damn would I love a cheesesteak or Italian hoagie or big plate of scrapple right now. I could eat several pounds of Lebanon bologna in a few minutes if I felt it was okay for me to do it.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:24 AM on July 28, 2015


Any mention of Tofurky is guaranteed to make me think of Jim Gaffigan's bit on vegetarians:
I like meat, I do. But you know who seems to be really obsessed with meat, are vegetarians. You know, for people who don’t like meat, they seem to eat a lot of vegetables that are mashed up and shaped to look like meat. “I find meat repulsive. I’ll have a veggie burger with fake bacon, and could you serve it to me dressed like a cow? I don’t like meat. I just like to call meat late at night and hang up. Let’s drive by meat’s house. Does meat ever ask about me? I don’t care. [singing] I ain’t missing you at all! Missing you!”
(joke presented for topical reasons, not with an intent to mock vegans or vegetarians, I'm an omnivore and I still love vegetables mashed up and shaped to look like meat. Just today a coworker was talking about making "crab" cakes with shredded zuchhini and I demanded a recipe.)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:30 AM on July 28, 2015 [10 favorites]


To clarify, your specific comment wasn't what irritated me; it's this idea that I'm partaking in an ethical movement I have relatively complicated feelings about/a "part time" veg*n/striving but failing to be vegetarian/vegetarian-lite/what have you. It's not just you, it's an attitude that's basically woven through every link in the FPP and I find it fairly obnoxious

I was just reading a few days back about how it's common for extreme minority groups to distance themselves from "moderates" in this way. It can be kind of frustrating because a lot of time vegetarians/flexitarians whatever are people who are most open to the vegan/animal rights message if you reach them in a way that is kind and understanding. You can see this in action all the time on Reddit with the occasional drama between /r/vegetarian and /r/vegan (plus usually /r/vegancirclejerk gets dragged in for some weird reason). I mean, on the other hand, just keep in mind that this is really close to a lot of people's hearts. There are a lot of vegans in particular who were longtime vegetarians and express the sentiment that they wish they'd known about what goes on with eggs/dairy sooner, etc.


Maybe we could move towards describing the food we eat, e.g. "most of my meals are vegan", rather than feeling the need to label ourselves and lump on the associated guilt/pride.


Veganism isn't just about food! ;)
posted by Gymnopedist at 11:31 AM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Heh, and despite how much I like Gaffigan I hate that particular joke. You can tell why from my comment right before you posted it. :P
posted by Drinky Die at 11:32 AM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Heh, and despite how much I like Gaffigan I hate that particular joke. You can tell why from my comment right before you posted it. :P

On tour I had to bring up a lot that hey, I didn't give this stuff up because I didn't like the taste of it. Of course I'm gonna be hitting up all the delicious vegan meats.
posted by Gymnopedist at 11:36 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well yeah--and animal rights is something I'm honestly not very receptive to for the same reasons I became a behavioral zoologist and why I'm heavily invested in animal welfare and ethical management of animals. I find the mindset of animal rights to be weirdly anthropocentric in a way I'm not particularly comfortable with, and groups like PETA and others have gone a long way to cement that notion.

Which is partly why I'm so cranky, I suspect. I'm very much a moderate with respect to animal welfare, and "thinks factory farms are incredibly unethical and should not exist" and "thinks meat is inherently unethical" are not remotely the same thing. My ideal, frankly, would involve me being directly involved with slaughter/raising of my meat so that I could ensure deaths were quick and painless. I work directly with research animals, and I sometimes euthanize animals in pursuit of my research. My eating less meat is not in any way a statement that I am on the path to embracing animal rights, and I really resent vegan groups in particular waving people like me as evidence of impending victory.

Grar.
posted by sciatrix at 11:47 AM on July 28, 2015 [25 favorites]


Going vegan was, personally, an easy choice to make as I have never liked the taste of meat since I was a kid and I got overly attached to the animals on my grandparents' farm (pig-slaughtering time remains a bitter memory from a very young age). I was vegetarian most of my life, automatically opting for veggie options wherever I went solely because I did not like the way meat tasted. It didn't become a personal statement or lifestyle until about five years ago when I did my own research about the farm industry and was heartbroken at the way all animals are treated. I don't pick fights with omnis. 90% of the time I quietly endure how shitty people are to people who are vegan when all I've ever said is, "No thank you, I don't eat meat or dairy" at whatever place/online forum/etc.
posted by Kitteh at 11:49 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, sorry Drinky Die! I find it funny because I actually love veggies mashed into shapes, as mentioned above. I get to eat a burger-shaped sandwich and have it be secretly full of stealth salad? YAYYY

I also used to informally cater a lot of department events in my old place of work, and now I officially handle it in my new job, and I'm fairly strident about not just having vegan and vegetarian food, but having multiple vegan and vegetarian options so it isn't all iceberg and mushroom risotto (see above) all the time.

Vegetarian is easy, but when you're trying to brainstorm five vegan appetizers you quickly realize how easy it is to default to putting cheese on/in things!
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:50 AM on July 28, 2015


And to clarify: I have zero problem with vegans I know, I know you guys get a lot of shit. I'm specifically resenting the assumption that my philosophy about animal welfare and management must be aligned with anyone else's based on my diet.
posted by sciatrix at 11:51 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, PETA are sexist, fat-shaming, asshole shitheads and I really resent them being trotted out as the standard for animal rights/vegans.
posted by Kitteh at 11:51 AM on July 28, 2015 [12 favorites]


It's the "I find meat repulsive" part I find annoying. I love Tofurky and similar products. People who just plain don't like meat are a subset of vegetarians, ones more likely to avoid the Tofurky. So it's like calling a group of people hypocrites for something they didn't do by lumping vegetarians all together.

Yes, I know, "That's the joke." I'm gonna go microwave up a hot pocket.


hotttt pocket.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:58 AM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I came to here say nearly exactly what sciatrix wrote, sans being a behavioral zoologist. And besides that "reducetarian" normalizes a particular level meat eating.

People are eating less meat - that's a trend that's great for the environment and animal welfare, there's no need to create an identity label around it to junk it up.
posted by deathmaven at 12:01 PM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well yeah--and animal rights is something I'm honestly not very receptive to for the same reasons I became a behavioral zoologist and why I'm heavily invested in animal welfare and ethical management of animals. I find the mindset of animal rights to be weirdly anthropocentric in a way I'm not particularly comfortable with, and groups like PETA and others have gone a long way to cement that notion.

I'm not a fan of all of his viewpoints, but Gary Francione offers a lot of good counterpoints to the welfarist perspective you describe, if you're interested in entertaining opposing viewpoints. This is good if you have an hour to kill, but his website has some essays/blog posts that lay his views out pretty well if you want me to dig a few up.

Also yeah, not a huge fan of PETA for a great number of reasons. The kids touring with them were all really nice, actually, but yikes, the overall organization.
posted by Gymnopedist at 12:06 PM on July 28, 2015


I like their Cincinnati Chili recipe though. (I substitute TVP for the frozen crumbles and add beans, but they have the spice mix right on to my taste.)
posted by Drinky Die at 12:08 PM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like their Cincinnati Chili recipe though.


Their literature is also pretty nice without the wishy washy "even if you like meat maybe try vegetarian for half of next tuesday?" that Vegan Outreach does. Like, their Guide to Going Vegan is really well targeted for 21/under and their Vegan Starter Kits are well put together. Plus the blow up orca Baby Spice (like, 10 ft in diameter no lie) they had on tour with them was pretty cool.

But yikes, some of the other stuff they get up to. Boggles the mind.
posted by Gymnopedist at 12:12 PM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hey, my half-assed "cook mostly vegan at home" lifestyle isn't totally useless! (Deven Green voice) Look at the good I do.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:12 PM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really want to go to the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary Hoedown this year but my budget just doesn't have the flex. So many farm animals! Oh man, the peegies!
posted by Kitteh at 12:19 PM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


i'm encouraged. i was a veggie for 15 years, then re-incorporated a fraction of my former meat/dairy back in. maybe i'm doing my part, after all.

i'm still hoping someone with charisma and a twitter account will start the 'Half Campaign": half the meat, half the bottled water, half the gas. just to get the ball rolling, ya know?
posted by j_curiouser at 12:25 PM on July 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


Fig, your rules for eating meat almost exactly mirror my rules for eating non-kosher food stuffs-- I generally avoid pork, shellfish, etc., except for when it's clearly something "special" (regional speciality, extra fancy food, etc).

But yeah, count me among the many "Folks who generally try and limit meat consumption but who aren't vegetarian or vegan for a variety of reasons and never really thought they needed a name for it".
posted by damayanti at 12:41 PM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was a vegetarian for ten years, then started eating meat again five years ago. I don't particularly like meat but I wasn't doing the work to be a healthy vegetarian and was eating too many carbs and not enough protein, so I started eating meat again out of laziness. About three years ago, when we had a very young foster child and I was pregnant, I told my husband that we could eat the same four meals in rotation, or he could take over cooking. He took over cooking, but his way of cooking is meat+veggie+starch, always. I think it's time for me to get back into doing some of the cooking because I'd like to do (way) more vegetarian meals.

I need to get better about planning an actual vegetarian meal that doesn't include fake meat, though. How does that work? Veggie side dishes for veggies? I have several vegetarian cookbooks but I'm out of practice and not great at planning comprehensive meals where things work together.
posted by SeedStitch at 12:43 PM on July 28, 2015


I end up planning a lot of meals around legumes -- I'll often make a lentil soup, lentil stew, or something like lentil sloppy joes (the "Snobby Joes" from Veganomicon), and then some vegetables in the stew/soup or on the side. Or else something like tacos with black beans. But I tend towards fewer comprehensive meals and more "A pot of stuff on rice! A pot of stuff in a tortilla! A pot of stuff in a sandwich!"
posted by Jeanne at 12:51 PM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Same. We eat a lot of bowl meals. Not complaining, but it does sometimes strike me as odd...
posted by Kitteh at 12:54 PM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think Brian Kateman would try to call me a reducetarian, but I'll continue to call myself a vegetarian who prefers to eat vegan. If the term helps someone, they can have it.

If you ask me if I eat meat I'll say no and that I would prefer not to, but if you then serve me meat knowing my preference I will eat it while silently wondering about your grasp of social graces (quite likely also remarking on how novel it is to be eating meat and taking time to dissect any intriguing anatomy as available). To waste the food and create a fuss causes me more stress than it's worth. The animal has been killed and my creating a fuss won't end the desires of my hosts who likely eat my entire meat intake for a couple years in a week. Anyone who thinks I'm a hypocrite or that I easily shed my ideals is wrong, anyone who thinks this often difficult evaluation is an ethical failing on my part would do well to think again.

I try to approach my diet from an ethical standpoint: my ideal is to minimize harm to the planet's ecology and constituents in aggregate and to sentient lives individually (self included).

I tend to think the requisite ethical evaluations can be tricky.

Are shrimps or fish harvested by SE Asian slave labor more or less ethical to eat than a cow ranched in a reasonably sustainable and reasonably ethical way by first-worlders in my region who are well compensated? Which induces more suffering? There's really no good way to resolutely sort out how the suffering of slave worker-hours compares to the suffering in the life and death of a cow (and in either case, the attendant phenomena supporting both).

I think these sorts of questions ought to be difficult to evaluate for anyone who looks hard at them -- though it's clear which to prefer if you only use a heuristic based on whether or not the prey animal is mammal or not and I certainly see some appeal in that. But all the same, there's an inadequacy in the heuristic if my #1 preferred vegan food source depends tremendously on aggressive use of insecticides and pesticides -- I might begin to wonder how many lives this amounts to in terms of birds, fish, small mammals -- careful thinkers might as well wonder this about any farming practice.

Inevitably, some plants and animals are dying so that we can live and I think it is good to be mindful of this and which lives and where we draw the line. If I have to kill some animals to keep my crop does it really matter if it's the crop or the corpses I'm eating? To me, the answer has always been and remains so that in eating the crop one also eats some part of the corpses.

I agree with Kateman that all or nothing thinking on the topic of animal product consumption can be destructive or counterproductive. If accepting "reducetarian" is what it takes to get more people to eat less meat, I can accept it, but I will continue to default to and endorse and promote vegatarianism and veganism grounded in careful and dynamic ethical considerations.

But really amtho says it better.
> Seriously, it's not about purity, it's about better.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 1:00 PM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I need to get better about planning an actual vegetarian meal that doesn't include fake meat, though. How does that work? Veggie side dishes for veggies? I have several vegetarian cookbooks but I'm out of practice and not great at planning comprehensive meals where things work together.

The Veganomicon is great and has a bunch of full meal combination suggestions at the back.

I'm also really into this recipe sans peanuts and with an oppressive amount of garlic/red pepper served over rice.

Couple vegan recipe websites:

Post Punk Kitchen
One Green Planet

You can also just google around for vegan versions of different dishes. I find that "vegan" is a better keyword for finding recipes even if you aren't vegan. A lot of times "vegetarian" will just turn up a bunch of just cheesy versions of cheesy/meaty dishes.
posted by Gymnopedist at 1:00 PM on July 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


Hey, this is me! I was a serious vegan for years, and eventually backslid into occasionally-pescatarian. My values haven't really changed so much as my willpower and the amount of energy I'm willing to put into maintaining an ethical diet. It's hard, especially living with people with different dietary restrictions. Because I learned how to cook when I was vegan, and still own mostly-vegan cookbooks, it's not so hard for me to eat vegan meals every time I'm cooking or choosing my own food, and to not stress out about it so hard when someone else is cooking for me. My husband is an omnivore, but we keep our house almost entirely vegetarian, so in practical terms this means I'm eating an ovo-lacto meal a few times a week, and maybe fish once a month, if that. In the broader scheme of things, eating like this is a huge reduction on the animal products consumed in my household, even if I don't get to claim the vegan label anymore.
posted by libraritarian at 1:07 PM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you ask me if I eat meat I'll say no and that I would prefer not to, but if you then serve me meat knowing my preference I will eat it while silently wondering about your grasp of social graces (quite likely also remarking on how novel it is to be eating meat and taking time to dissect any intriguing anatomy as available). To waste the food and create a fuss causes me more stress than it's worth. The animal has been killed and my creating a fuss won't end the desires of my hosts who likely eat my entire meat intake for a couple years in a week. Anyone who thinks I'm a hypocrite or that I easily shed my ideals is wrong, anyone who thinks this often difficult evaluation is an ethical failing on my part would do well to think again.


I've posted this before, but a few years ago my ex and I were going to the christening of our friends' child and we're staying with one of their parents. The Mum was making dinner on the night we arrived, and before she started said "Now, I hear one of you is vegetarian?" I said "Me, but honestly, don't go to any trouble." "None at all" says she and off she went. When she called us all in to dinner she says "Ok billiebee, for you I have chicken." But the thing is, that's what she had made for everyone. Our friends were mortified, but I was just grateful that this nice woman was feeding us and letting us stay, and I wouldn't have dreamt of offending her. And the chicken was already dead, so it felt like it would be worse for that to be in vain if it went in the bin. So I ate it and was mindfully grateful for its wee life and death, and for the occasion. If anyone thought that was unethical I wouldn't be in the least bit concerned. (Although to this day I have no clue what her actual thought process was.)
posted by billiebee at 1:15 PM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ah my first thought was that there was a worldwide crowd dedicated to the perfect reduction sauce.
posted by sammyo at 1:42 PM on July 28, 2015


Imagine my surprise to see there's a Tedx talk and that they're happy to take my tax-deductible donations.

(Speaking as someone who's lived/eaten this way for decades.)
posted by aught at 1:56 PM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Lack of decent seasoning/sauces is my number one reason for *not* picking a vegetable dish, most of the time. I had to discover on my own that a lemon/garlicky approach makes broccoli (which I normally dislike) good, which is great when I'm eating at home, but apparently restaurants think I must want bland steamed veggies, indifferently-roasted bland veggies, or super-spicy veggies. I don't like spicy food! I want delicious veggies, dammit. Veggies cooked by someone who knows how to make them taste like something, and I don't mean by drowning them in cheese. Around here, that is still a novel concept. So I tend to eat meat when I eat out. But I eat a lot less of it than I used to.
posted by emjaybee at 1:57 PM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Once I had a kid, though, finding the time and energy for making a salad for myself when there was a half eaten quesadilla or grilled cheese sandwich seemed impossible.

This is my main problem with going vegan. It seems like you either have to choose between a huge time commitment, or buy prepackaged so as not to spend the time and so lay out a lot of money. And that's not great for the environment, either.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 2:11 PM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


The more people become "reducetarian," the clearer it is that eating animal products is something we can opt in and out of. It's not inevitable.

That puts the animal industry on the defensive, and that's a good thing. The burden is on anyone who confines and kills sentient beings to prove that what they are doing is ethical.

When those who do are openly asked to justify what they do, few will come out looking good.
posted by andrewpcone at 2:16 PM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is my main problem with going vegan. It seems like you either have to choose between a huge time commitment, or buy prepackaged so as not to spend the time and so lay out a lot of money. And that's not great for the environment, either.

I haven't found it to be an enormous time commitment. There's a learning curve at first as you find new recipes and stuff that you like, but it's not that bad. I do cook for myself more than the average person, but I've always enjoyed that. You can always cook stir fries etc. in bulk and freeze/refrigerate them to make your time in the kitchen cover more meals, too. And of course it's not an all or nothing cook for yourself OR eat exclusively prepackaged stuff -- you can find a balance that works for you and your budget. It's totally worth it.
posted by Gymnopedist at 2:30 PM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


bland steamed veggies, indifferently-roasted bland veggies, or super-spicy veggie

One of the nicest things I've ever had in a restaurant - made by a chef who obviously gave a shit about this which is rare - was aubergine (which I don't normally like) in a miso broth with cauliflower purée. It was divine. One day I'll figure out how to make it.
posted by billiebee at 2:37 PM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Once I wrote here on the blue that I find veggie substitutes ridiculous, and I got a lot of heat for that. So I'll try a different approach. In our family, we never, ever eat anything from factory farms. No meat, but also no eggs, milk or dairy; and no processed food which includes food from factory farms. When they were small, I showed the kids a documentary about McDonalds, and they have never again wanted to eat there.

We eat meat; but since meat from organic farms is expensive, we use meat carefully. A chicken will be used to its last element. 400 grams of ground chuck beef will last for a week in different iterations.
We eat fish, but only when we know how that fish has lived. We do not ever eat farmed fish or endangered fish. I know the fishermen I buy from, and they know they can't sell unethical fish.

Most of all we eat food, and a lot of that food is vegetable. When I was very young, my aunt and uncle were following a macrobiotic diet. I loved their food, but also the food a local young Italian cook was making, inspired by the macrobiotic diet. For me, the inspiration from Japan and Italy became formative. In both countries, meat is an extra. You eat meat when you can afford it, and that is rarely. So there are thousands of recipes for wonderful vegan or vegetarian food.

I never really liked tofu before I visited Kyoto, and I have yet to see a tofu here that I will eat. But you Americans have far better sources than I do here in Europe.

But: it is really easy to live a vegan life with excellent food, and what I really hate is all this ersatz food, when vegan food can be so great. Look at Israel: they do a lot of bad things, but whoa, they have vegan foods in place. Or look at NOMA, one of the best restaurants in the world: like most Danish restaurants, they have a vegetarian menu
posted by mumimor at 2:53 PM on July 28, 2015


I will probably always be an omnivore at least part-time, but whenever I cook for anyone besides just the occupants of my home, I almost always cook vegan for the accessibility factor - not only can vegans eat it, but the egg-allergic, the lactose-intolerant, the religiously-restricted, or people with no restrictions at all. It's not that hard. It would take me some extra thinky-cycles to do all my meal-planning that way, for a while, but I would survive if I had to.

As a Californian, I can't ignore the water cost of the meat and dairy I eat. I am also concerned about the human cost, though, of almost all the food I eat, since I grow very little of my own. All my food is tainted with exploitation. But I am finding ways to eat less meat, and more water-efficient meat when I eat meat, because that seems like a reasonable thing to do.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:55 PM on July 28, 2015


What was hard about it for you? I'm not trying to snark or anything, I just have a genuine interest in what makes being vegan difficult for people because one of my pastimes now is standing around educating people about veganism.

Expensive, time-consuming, irritating to my entire social circle and alienating to my family, requires inordinate amounts of cooking (which I despise), anathema to my live-in partner. I mean even if I wanted to be a vegan, which I do not even a little bit want, it would require an almost saint-like rejection of my entire current world.

I have no interest in sainthood.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:18 PM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Expensive, time-consuming, irritating to my entire social circle and alienating to my family, requires inordinate amounts of cooking (which I despise), anathema to my live-in partner. I mean even if I wanted to be a vegan, which I do not even a little bit want, it would require an almost saint-like rejection of my entire current world.

I have no interest in sainthood.


I think you're imagining veganism as a lot more ascetic and monk-like than it actually is. I haven't found my social circle or my family to be as bothered by it as I expected. There's some friction every now and again, but mostly my family (which is from the rural South) is very accepting and more or less Gets It. My Vietnam veteran dad even texted me a couple weeks back saying he might "consider a limited vegan diet" and asked me to send him a list of vegan stuff to get at the grocery store. None of my friends have been dicks about it.

Hasn't really been expensive or time-consuming. People get the impression that veganism is expensive from all the prepackaged specialty products, but all the staples -- i.e. beans, rice, legumes, oats, fresh produce -- are relatively inexpensive especially compared to animal products. I do actually enjoy cooking, so I probably underestimate how hard that can be for people, but there are plenty of quick/easy recipes one can make in large quantities and eat over several meals. Anyway, it can't be both expensive and time consuming, at the very least.

The live-in partner thing can be pretty tough, though, so I'll grant that that can make it difficult.

But of course if you're not really acquainted (or if you are acquainted but haven't Made The Connection in capitalized vegan slogan speak) with the reasons veganism is a positive thing, every difficulty that comes with it appears pointless and unbearable. Being ethically motivated really makes all the difficulties kind of seem insignificant and lame.
posted by Gymnopedist at 3:36 PM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is kind of starting to feel super preachy to me and exhausting to read, Gymnopedist.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:40 PM on July 28, 2015 [14 favorites]


Sorry MoonOrb. I'll take my vegan activist hat off now.
posted by Gymnopedist at 3:42 PM on July 28, 2015


Being ethically motivated really makes all the difficulties kind of seem insignificant and lame.

Yeah I also lack that entire component (terrible person, basically - I've watched all the exposes and smelled the factory farms from the highway and all, and just...I feel it's a shame and would support any and all reform, and would/do pay mightily for more responsibly farmed meats, but that's the extent of it.) I was a vegetarian for nearly a decade and just loathed it - sickly, overweight, undernourished and eventually grew to just hate food and eating. I would never voluntarily go back.

But no worries, I'm sure climate change and famine will lead to a mandated universal vegan diet before I'm dead.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:43 PM on July 28, 2015


I am definitely in the crowd of people who eat a mostly vegetarian diet because it feels good and like the right direction to move in on all levels (though I could totally do even better). I'm not in love with the word "reducetarian" (neither is autocorrect). Much prefer "flexitarian" or, heck, let's go crazy - "omnivore". That does still suit, doesn't it? I mean I eat plants and meat, mostly plants. I rather thought that was still omnivorous.
posted by angeline at 3:52 PM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think this thread veered off into the usual "omnivores feel attacked, vegans counter too" and there is deliberate cherry-picking parts of comments on both sides in order to start the same old arguments.

Let us not do that, please.
posted by Kitteh at 4:14 PM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


That puts the animal industry on the defensive, and that's a good thing. The burden is on anyone who confines and kills sentient beings to prove that what they are doing is ethical.

When those who do are openly asked to justify what they do, few will come out looking good


This is laughably ethnocentric.
posted by deathmaven at 4:16 PM on July 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think this thread veered off into the usual "omnivores feel attacked, vegans counter too" and there is deliberate cherry-picking parts of comments on both sides in order to start the same old arguments.

Let us not do that, please.


I agree. Apologies for being complicit. I've been doing face-to-face conversations about for like a month, so I really forgot about the way stuff gets lost in translation/you don't have the luxury of reading body language etc. when you discuss this stuff online. Sorry guys. Feel free to come to my house for vegan BBQ if you're in Orlando and we can be friends.
posted by Gymnopedist at 4:34 PM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Are shrimps or fish harvested by SE Asian slave labor more or less ethical to eat than a cow ranched in a reasonably sustainable and reasonably ethical way by first-worlders in my region who are well compensated?

It's an interesting dilemma. I'm curious where exploited migrant farm workers end up in that equation.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:19 PM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


You're truly a monster if you're eating any farm workers. I'm surprised I have to point that out.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:24 PM on July 28, 2015 [10 favorites]


Billiebee started it!

posted by tofu_crouton

Eponysterical (and delicious)
posted by billiebee at 11:24 AM on July 28 [5 favorites +] [!]

posted by Room 641-A at 5:27 PM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


You're truly a monster if you're eating any farm workers. I'm surprised I have to point that out.

Census takers are fair game though.
posted by Gymnopedist at 5:51 PM on July 28, 2015


Census takers are fair game though.

Too stringy, and marinated in pride at their civic duties.
posted by angeline at 6:32 PM on July 28, 2015


... Was replying to the triple French fries order post

What do you do with fries fried in duck fat? I've seen that many many times, although most of those restaurants had a vegetarian/piscetarian option, unsure about vegan because that's just too much rules and trouble for me to care.

[edit: Big Copy paste problem "solved"]
posted by coust at 7:40 PM on July 28, 2015


What do you do with fries fried in duck fat? I've seen that many many times, although most of those restaurants had a vegetarian/piscetarian option, unsure about vegan because that's just too much rules and trouble for me to care.

I've never seen that (and I always ask), but if I did see that I would just get something else. I have yet to run into a restaurant I couldn't order anything at. Fries is just my go to order to not have to worry about miscommunications and having to send stuff back when I'm basically just there to be social. If there's a bona fide vegan option on the menu I'll just get that. Else I'll order something with a couple subtractions or substitutions. When you start looking for it, you're often pleasantly surprised at what's available. Like a month ago I went to a random pizza place with family and they had the option to get Daiya, like Red Robin offers vegan Boca patties, etc.
posted by Gymnopedist at 8:03 PM on July 28, 2015


Maybe the duck fat is a regional thing? I'm in Florida and I've never even heard of it being done.
posted by Gymnopedist at 8:03 PM on July 28, 2015


There is a local (Houston) pizza chain that offers vegan cheese as an everyday option. You can put any topping you like on the pizza, so frankly once you pile on the toppings the "cheese" tastes just fine. It's pretty freaking awesome to be able to eat pizza in a group like a normal American so I'll happily pay for the extremely small upcharge for vegan cheese.

The other nice thing is the truly amazing variety of dairy-free ice cream that is commercially available right now. The ice cream post the other week came up with some great options but I have to say that my current favorite is So Delicious' Cashew Milk Salted Caramel Cluster (aka Pralines and Cream). Addictive and delicious and worth every penny.

And yet I'm not vegan. I'm a lactose-very-intolerant, meat-isn't-my-bag, factory-farming-is-evil person who falls off the wagon kind of a lot. Sour cream, yo.

It's handy to have a label (I prefer flexitarian because really, who doesn't?) but probably not necessary. My weird food things--besides the lactose and the meat, I also don't eat mushrooms, peppers, and a few other key "vegetarian" vegetables--provide endless hours of amusement to my co-workers and are a pain on the road. No label needed.

Also, what is up with so many veg*n dishes featuring mushrooms, peppers, and eggplants? Am I the only one who prefers tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower?
posted by librarylis at 9:17 PM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh I meant to explain why I led off with pizza and ice cream. They're part of my bigger theory on American social food culture. Pizza and ice cream are classic party foods from childhood to retirement days. If you can't/won't partake in either dish, then you're left on the outside looking in with all the concomitant social issues that brings.

We've gotten a lot further food-wise these days and, as some of the articles mention, that flowering of choice comes in part from flexitarians. I, for one, am very grateful!
posted by librarylis at 9:21 PM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sour cream, yo.

I was talking to the vegan catering guy for Warped Tour last week and he was saying he couldn't source vegan sour cream one day so he just worked something up with like silken tofu/vinegar/garlic/spices. I have no idea if it's any good or convenient for what you use sour cream in but it struck me as a really cool idea.
posted by Gymnopedist at 9:22 PM on July 28, 2015


BTW no you're not alone, I totally prefer tomatoes/broccoli/cauliflower. I do like hot peppers though. Just not a fan of like bells or greens.
posted by Gymnopedist at 9:23 PM on July 28, 2015


I don't like eggplant but I totally love mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes. Not all at once, mind. But I love them!
posted by angeline at 10:00 PM on July 28, 2015


What was hard about it for you?
I'm a big fan of vegetables and plant sourced foodstuff for economic and health reasons. I'm also a fan of having some smaller amount of animal-based foods... for economic and health reasons. Some micronutrients are far more available from meatstuff than plants (and vice versa), and the cheapest and easiest path to avoid B12 (or whatever) deficiency is to just eat whatever animal product is on sale here and there.

Sure, you can have a perfectly healthy vegan diet if you plan for it. But, I don't have any stakes in veganism, and I just want the cheapest, thought-free, healthy meals.
posted by The arrows are too fast at 10:07 PM on July 28, 2015


angeline: Too stringy, and marinated in pride at their civic duties.

Yeah, you want to go with sedentary office workers for that veal-y texture.

(When I thought that it made me pause: was mentioning veal, with its animal welfare problems, going too far? Then I realized I was already joking about cannibalism, so hey, might as well keep going too far further.)
posted by traveler_ at 12:23 AM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sure, you can have a perfectly healthy vegan diet if you plan for it. But, I don't have any stakes in veganism, and I just want the cheapest, thought-free, healthy meals.

Soylent is vegan! kidding, mostly

(When I thought that it made me pause: was mentioning veal, with its animal welfare problems, going too far? Then I realized I was already joking about cannibalism, so hey, might as well keep going too far further.)

vealy: OK
veal: :(
posted by Gymnopedist at 4:59 AM on July 29, 2015


cheapest and easiest path to avoid B12 (or whatever) deficiency is to just eat whatever animal product is on sale here and there.

Plenty of omnivores develop b12 deficiencies for various reasons. It's not a bad idea for everyone, period, to just supplement the stuff, especially since it costs like 3 cents a day to do so.
posted by Gymnopedist at 5:03 AM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


[Hey, Gymnopedist, you're sort of dominating the thread with a ton of comments, maybe dial back a bit? Thanks.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:08 AM on July 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


I just popped in to say

SNU-SNU!!
posted by numaner at 7:33 AM on July 29, 2015


Plenty of omnivores develop b12 deficiencies for various reasons. It's not a bad idea for everyone, period, to just supplement the stuff, especially since it costs like 3 cents a day to do so.

Yeah.

Industrially produced livestock generally has lower levels of B12 to start with. It's not just randomly present in meat, it's made by gut bacteria that they may not necessarily pick up naturally in an industrial farm. So, you know what they do? They supplement the feed. If you are just worried about the most efficient B12 delivery, the vegan method of just supplementing yourself directly is probably the best bet.

The Framingham Offspring study found that 39 percent of the general population may be in the low normal and deficient B12 blood level range, and it was not just vegetarians or older people.

posted by Drinky Die at 7:57 AM on July 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


We (family of three) were vegan for about 6 years (though not vegangelical - what works for you works for you, live and let live, teach by example not preaching etc.) and then we moved to Germany. It is possible to be vegan in Germany - plenty of Germans are - but I am not fluent in German, and now I had to read labels in a language I barely understood, and explain our requirements every time we went out to people who didn't quite get it, and it was freaking hard so ... we became vegetarian.
Then we moved to Turkey. Eating out as a vegetarian can be hard. Really hard. Even 'vegetarian' meals are often not vegetarian. Most places do not understand the concept, so you will get a blank look if you ask for a vegetarian option. And eating at others places is a big deal here and if you start asking for special meals for reasons other than strict medical reasons (and even then) you are seen as extremely rude. So now we are vegetarian at home and relatively flex out.
Do I feel ethically compromised? Most of the time. Is it a much easier way to live? Definitely. But I have realised that beating myself up about it is not going to do much other than make me feel crap so I guess I will just try to feel okay because I am using less resources by trying even if by my previous standards I am failing.
posted by Megami at 5:12 AM on July 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


That's funny Megami, I found vegan food pretty easy to find in Turkey. Mercimek corbasi (red lentil soup) was available pretty much everywhere, even chain restaurants. Cig kofte is vegan and super tasty. The pide places would make a pide without cheese on request and most restaurants would have lots of options for different simple vegetable dishes. The kitchen restaurant places were the best, loads of vegan options, although the menu would change daily.

I am not strictly vegan, although my vegan friend tells me that I can identify as vegan. I don't think the labels necessarily help, but it is a quick way of getting the message across without explaining the vagaries of my dietary choices. I can definitely eat vegan, so it is a safe way to describe my diet to strangers. The more people who 'identify as vegan' and ask for vegan food, the more likely it is to create a market for it.

veggie side dishes for veggies

As you say SeedStitch, you are just out of practice. One of the most liberating things about not cooking with meat is not having to think of meals as meat dishes+side veg+starch; no second fiddles, just an orchestra working together. Or something. It's communism on a plate! This also works for the stew, stir fry, curry, salad or bake options.

One thing that meat eaters seem to have some consensus about is that bacon goes with everything, so just add bacon on top of an egalitarian plate of vegetables as a stop gap for those who consider themselves meat dependent.

I have lived with a few people who don't like cooking, I mean to the extent that they wouldn't even boil an egg or cook rice or anything. Their diets were salad, bread and protein in the form of ham, cheese or fish. Replace the last three items with humus, baba ganoush, avocado or some processed veg* thing and you're flexing your tarian, no cooking required.

I was recently slightly amazed to find a place that marks the food that is not vegan on the menu, rather than the other way around. I think that is a good way to approach the issue.

Having been vegetarian for most of my life I am over cheese as a one size fits all solution to the chef's problem of what to offer the vegetarian. Most places will be very happy to provide something vegan if given the chance, chefs generally like the challenge. If they don't, then at least the request might register as something they should consider providing in the future.
posted by asok at 6:53 AM on July 30, 2015



veggie side dishes for veggies


When I make veggie side dishes for veggies, it's usually because I have a heavy or starchy main dish - beans, curry, fried polenta cakes, braised tofu, etc. And then I have maybe some salad greens or some sauteed spinach or something - very quick and a pretty simple flavor profile.

When I'm cooking for myself, it's usually "here is a giant plate of cauliflower rice with cashews", but when I'm cooking for others, I think of the veggie side as a way either to add missing nutrients (greens when the main dish isn't super greeny) or a contrast - plain when the main is spicy, crisp when it's stewed, etc.

Cooking for myself, I sometimes also make simple fried tomatoes - I just cut them up and fry them on the skillet. Or sauteed asparagus - it takes about three minutes.

I have to say - one thing about vegan cooking is that clean-up is almost always easier, no meat grease or cooked-on cheese.
posted by Frowner at 7:24 AM on July 30, 2015


Going vegan is definitely the way to go. It's not only more humane, but you also feel so much better about yourself. It may be tough for some people to go entirely vegan. It's about being creative with your food and learning new ways to bring together recipes. There are also loads of great vegan recipes out there that are amazing and easy to make. For example here is a recipe for Korean Ramen Noodle soup that I used. It's super flavorful and fairly simple to make. Good luck!
posted by PD5370 at 12:09 PM on August 22, 2015


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