Friday, October 31, 2008

World Vegan Day and Media

November 1st is World Vegan Day and kick-starts World Vegan Month. It was initiated by the Vegan Society in 1994 to mark its 50th anniversary. I'm guessing that veganism will be discussed a bit more than usual in the media as a result for the next week or so. For instance, Time's website has an article called "A Brief History of Veganism" by someone called Claire Suddath. She uses terms like "extreme", "strict" and "ism". Suddoth also insinuates that most vegans aren't really vegan since

like any lifestyle choice that ends in "-ism," there are plenty of people who cheat. The vitamin B12 is found almost entirely in animal products, so many vegans eat fortified food or take a vitamin to get the right amount.
She asserts that "American vegetarianism has broken free of its philosophical [...] roots, becoming an accepted health choice" as if ethical reasons now have less to do with American vegetarians' decision to stop eating animals. She juxtaposes this with veganism by asserting that veganism is "out there on the fringe" and is "still tied to" -- gasp! -- the animal rights movement. She also kinda makes Donald Watson, founder of the Vegan Society, sound like a fearmongerer by stating that when he coined the term and he took "advantage" of a tuberculosis scare to prove that veganism would protect people from "tainted food".

Basically, the article reads as it was written by someone already biased against veganism, but it's done in such a mild way that your average reader, unfamiliar with veganism in the first place, wouldn't really pick up on it, but would just walk away thinking that vegans are radical and hypocritical nutcases who are (or who associate
with) nasty animal rights terrorists.


A San Francisco Chronicle blogger posted that her 5 year old daughter announced to her that she wanted to be a vegan and asked for advice / input. The majority of the responses have been thoughtful, informative and supportive.


Kim O'Donnel of the Washington Post had her live / online discussion, called "What's Cooking?", about meatless eating yesterday; you can find the transcript here. I've written about O'Donnel's "Meatless Monday" food column before. There'll be a special installment of her "What's Cooking?" feature on Thursday, November 13, when she'll be focusing on how to have a vegetarian Thanksgiving.


Anonymous said...

It's interesting to read about recent trend associating of Vegetarianism with health as opposed to Veganism with animal rights. I actually work with Meatless Mondays, the public health campaigns that Kim O'Donnell writes about once a week for the Washington Post, that you mentioned. The mission of Meatless Mondays is to reduce American's meat intake by 15% thus reducing an individual's chances of getting heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Reducing your meat by 15% can be achieved just by cutting meat out of your diet one day per week (we encourage Mondays, hence the name.) If you are interested in healthy, affordable, tasty meatless recipes, I suggest you log-on to We're affiliated with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Medicine, so the site can also be a great resource for health articles and tips.

M said...

What's unfortunate about the website you're promoting is that it actually endorses meat eating (fish, specifically) as part of a healthy diet.