I really wish that Mark Bittman would just get over his obsession with clinging to the word 'vegan'. I really do. A few weeks ago, I wrote about his public proclamation that his mostly plant-based (i.e. omnivorous) diet had led to his supposed protein deficiency. In today's "Bitten", Mr. Needs-To-Get-a-Dictionary slippery sloped himself into what he describes as yet another type of veganism. Yes, folks: Once upon a time, according to Mark Bittman, you could be a "vegan before six". Today, according to Mark Bittman, a meal that includes animal-based ingredients can be called "almost-vegan". And why fish sauce? "I swear it made the dish – though it would have been okay without it," he wrote. Throwing in a teaspoon of a substance derived from dead animals just for the sake of your tastebuds is about as "almost vegan" as having a chicken's leg with rice and a salad. It sounds as if he's well on his way to soon living out the VBM (vegan between meals) scenario Mary Martin presented in a recent satirical post on her blog.
The truth is that (as Martin points out as well), veganism isn't just about diet. It's ridiculous to call yourself a vegan every single time you put something into your mouth that isn't animal-derived. As Prof. Gary Francione states on his Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach website:
Veganism is not merely a matter of diet; it is a moral and political commitment to abolition on the individual level and extends not only to matters of food, but to clothing and other products, and to other personal actions and choices. It is important to recognize that just as an abolitionist with respect to human slavery cannot continue to be a slaveowner, an abolitionist with respect to animal slavery cannot continue to consume or use animal flesh or animal products.
Veganism is also a commitment to nonviolence and it is imperative that the animal rights movement be a movement of peace and nonviolence.
So why is an omni foodie like Mark Bittman, who demonstrates over and over again that he has no concern whatsoever about the plight and enslavement of animals--why is he so obsessed with clinging to a word that stands for the complete opposite of what he represents? Oh, to be a fly on the wall of one of his therapy sessions. Just once and either before or after six. I'm not picky.