Thursday, May 05, 2011

"Seagans"? Really?

The SFGate has a new blog as of today; it's called "Veganize It!" and it's written by Sabrina Modelle who proposes to spend her time veganizing recipes for readers. Modelle describes herself as having recently completed a 28-day vegan cleanse, in which she also omitted alcohol, caffeine and refined sugar.

By the beginning of March, I knew my eating habits would change drastically forever. Since I am a food writer, I adopted a six-day-a-week vegan/seagan diet with one day for research, cooking, recipe development for clients and dining at the latest and greatest. It works perfectly for me, and it feels like a nice balance for my health and the health of the planet.
Basically, instead of attempting to compartmentalize veganism according to different meals (à la Mark Bittman), Modelle does so according to different days of the week. Unsurprisingly, she also restricts her consideration of the term "vegan" to food and describes her reasons for doing whatever-it-is-that-she-is-doing as being based in concern for her own "health and the health of the planet". Somehow, non-human animals get lost in the discussion.

A so-called six-day-a-week vegan diet would be confusing enough to
The SFGate's readers, since it conveys that one can be somehow logically and accurately qualify oneself as being any sort of vegan when one continues to eat -- or otherwise use -- animal products. However, Modelle's use of the word "seagan" piqued my interest (albeit in a sort of all-too-familiar stomach-churning way). A quick Google search confirmed the obvious, that "seagan" is supposed to be some sort of variation of "vegan" which includes the consumption of fishes and other sea creatures.

Before my Google search, however, I left a short comment in response to her article asking what exactly she means in describing herself as "vegan/seagan", just to get the straight dope. Her response? It confirmed my suspicions and contained an attempt, perhaps simply based on a lack of nutritional information, to justify her not even following a so-called vegan diet for those six days out of seven:
Hi Mylene,

Until recently, I was eating a six day a week vegan diet, but it became apparent that soy products were triggering my migraines. I also eat beans and seitan for protein, but many beans trigger my migraines as well. About two weeks ago, I added fish to my diet. The result being, I eat a vegan diet with some sustainable seafood for added protein a couple of times a week. Seagan is just a made up name that I’ve heard tossed around over the years during my bouts of vegetrarianism/veganism/pescatarianism/ethical omni life. I like six day a week seagan because I’m not pescatarian since I don’t eat eggs or dairy (except on my one day a week). Labels are so complicated, right?
Indeed, labels get awfully complicated. They particularly get complicated when someone attempts to co-opt one which denotes a lifestyle avoiding all animal consumption and tries to fragment it around part-time animal consumption, or the consumption of only certain animal species.

In good faith, I responded to her with the following explanation and suggestion:
I was curious, since you wrote "vegan/seagan" and vegans (by definition) avoid all forms of animal use or exploitation (i.e. food, clothing, entertainment, et al). Limiting the use of the word to food alone is problematic, but using the word "vegan" to describe a diet that involves the habitual consumption of one (or several) type(s) of animal species is certainly an incorrect use of the term. BTW, if the sole reason that you're consuming fishes and and other sea creatures is that you fear you're not getting enough protein (since you state that soy and some other legumes give you migraines), you should consider exploring other really good plant-based sources of protein like seitan, nuts/seeds (and their butters), quinoa, amaranth, oats and various other whole grain products.
Hopefully she'll consider those options instead of thinking that she needs to continue consuming animal flesh to obtain adequate dietary levels of protein. At the very least, however, I hope she'll agree that it makes sense for her to cease using the word "vegan" to describe any facet of her own personal consumption as it stands now, diet or otherwise. As any vegan who's interacted with friends, family, coworkers, food service workers (and so on) already knows, there's already more than enough confusion out there over whether vegans consume this or that animal product. Let's hope that Modelle opts to clarify things rather than muddle them further for the general public. And let's hope that she gives some serious thought to actually going vegan.

15 comments:

Kathleen said...

This is the first time that I have encountered "seagan." I came across another bowdlerized use of "vegan": pregan. I am guessing that pregan means all that you were before you became vegan. Then we have "beegan" for those vegans who consume honey. It's getting so complicated! I keep talking with people who sincerely want to be vegans, but they are afraid. Similar to seagans, they buy into the protein myth.

Thanks for trying to help this person, Mylene.

Adam Kochanowicz said...

Ughhhhhh. Haven't even read the article yet. I'm disgusted by the term already.

I'm a pol-non-murderer. I don't murder people, but I'll indulge in the murdering of Polish people. Mainly for health.

Adam Kochanowicz said...

And nice response to your reader, btw. I fear I would be less patient.

lauren said...

there is already a word for people who eat fish!!! pescetarian.

AAAAHHHHHGGGGG!!!

that didn't help as much as actually screaming, but I'm at work...

iiyama3000 said...

"Health nut" is a perfectly serviceable term to describe these folks tumbling along in the wake of the vegan bandwagon. Why can't they stick with that? Okay, maybe it's a bit pejorative, but they really need to stop trying to co-opt veganism.

The Rational Vegan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MO said...

She's since edited her article and put a strike-through across "a six-day-a-week vegan/seagan" and has replaced it with "a mostly vegan diet". Saying "mostly vegan" to me is like saying "mostly celibate": Either you are, or you aren't, and someone who eats all kinds of animal products throughout the week isn't vegan. And in her comments, she wrote: "I consider myself a dietary vegan". Well, if you're eating fish a few times a week and eating all other animal products one day out of that week, you're pretty much a "dietary omnivore". She just doesn't seem to get it, which is especially evident when she seems to treat animal rights as an afterthought by adding: "That is not to say that the ethics are not important" and then going to great lengths to establish some sort of Compassionate Cred by stressing her commitment to the environment, that she's a Buddhist, that she writes for (welfarist/anti-AR) Care2 and so on.

If you have a few minutes, please do leave a comment on her original article and explain to her that vegans don't eat fish throughout the week and then indulge in an animal smorgasbord the seventh.

Tim said...

Ill take "Mostly vegan" over Seagan ANY day.

Vanilla Rose said...

I really don't get why people who aren't vegan want to hijack the term "vegan". And just by claiming to be something, that doesn't make you it. I could claim to be a 6 ft 5 blonde rocket scientist with a black belt in karate, that doesn't make me one.

Lucas said...

I'm a vegan and I eat sustainable seafood too - sea vegetables!

Jeff Melton said...

I'm an alcoholic 5 days a week and a teetotaler on Wednesdays and Saturdays, except when they fall on holidays.

Nani said...

I really feel like you guys are missing the big picture. She's eating a Vegan diet six days out of seven mainly for nutritional reasons. That is six days work of animals not being killed or exploited to fill her plate with food. It isn't perfect but blowing the shit out of her blog is just counterproductive. Do people really need to be affirmed in their suspicions that vegans are pissy and critical? Let's get real and appreciate ANY effort made to lessen our impacts on the animal kingdom. DUH.

The Rational Vegan said...

@Nani

Were you going for irony there? No one would be saying much if she wasn't calling herself a vegan or some corruption of the word. She eats less animals? Great. She doesn't need to confuse the people by misusing the term.

The Geologizer said...

@lauren,

I hate "pescetarian," too. It was "seagan's" wicked grandparent.

Pescivore is perfectly serviceable term, and scientific, too. Why can't bozos like this pick a word that makes'em sound smart instead of trendy?

Mylène Ouellet said...

Incidentally, for someone who plans to be catering to a vegan (or vegan-wannabe) niche market and who self-identifies as "almost vegan" (or something along those lines), Modelle just uploaded a video of herself to Youtube in March (presumably during her so-called "vegan cleanse") in which she demonstrates how to cook pig flesh.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwMm9iwp7GE

So yeah, she may care about her health or the environment, she may be a devoted Buddhist and so on and so forth, but when it comes to what we owe non-human animals, she obviously thinks that the answer is: a whoppin' nuthin'.

I'd rather support vegan cookbook authors and food bloggers than someone who's essentially following the money and who views non-human animals as things that exist for her to use.