One-Upping the Fuddy-Duddy Vegetarians
As a vegetarian, Pearl is finding it quite difficult to swallow the veganism trend. Those of us who have shunned meat for ethical, religious or health reasons have always hovered silently in society’s epicurean background. Being ridiculed by restaurateurs who consider pork belly to be the apex of gastronomy, slurred as “leftie greenie weirdos” by right wing shock jocks, we have suffered social stigma for our diet and beliefs and we have been forced to dine at home or suffer the tiresome vegetarian lasagne offering that appears on restaurant menus as a patronising afterthought.
But some time in early 2016, bored and vacuous ‘influencers’ decided that yoga and kombucha weren’t cutting it as wellness fads. They were seeking a diet that would make them more mindful, grateful and centred; one that would allow them to play pretend hippy while saving random animals.
But, of course, it all had to be taken to the extreme, one-upping those fuddy-duddy vegetarians and going the whole hog by becoming vegan, while the rest of Australia remained overweight from a diet of fast food and soft drink (not counting Dominos’ vegan mozzarella pizza, of course).
It’s amazing how veganism emerged out of nowhere, usurping the sugar-free trend overnight. One minute the affluent middle class are chowing down on nose to tail beef broth, the next they are smugly shunning eggs, honey and dairy, existing on nothing but plants in the name of clean eating.
While once upon a time it was difficult to find a decent vegetarian restaurant, now the Hipsterville ‘burbs are awash with cafés eager to stay on-trend with vegan offerings.
I should be grateful, but I’m not. I fear that veganism is just another hypocritical fad, in the same way that Yummy Mummies embraced organic and fair trade to offset their diesel-spewing 4WDs. They started with paleo, sidelined into kale, kombucha, green elixir and paddleboard yoga, and turned eating vegetables into something uniquely hip – as if we needed the educated and affluent to point out how healthy a meat-free diet is.
At the same time, I am not seeing an equivalent demand for vegan shoes and bags, and where are the mass protests over Big Gina’s live cattle export to China, or the slaughter of donkeys to satisfy China’s demand for ‘medicine’ made from equine skin? But, I am seeing a wellness industry and ‘influencers’ eager to exploit the vegan market with crap like, “There is a desire for something deeper,” and, “There’s a profound shift; people want to invest in themselves, not a handbag.” Hell, that sounds like profound pig poo to me, not an ethical, healthy diet.
I truly believe that if the world embraced a meat-free diet (not as an affluent trend but as an ethical, cheap and healthy way of eating), we could solve a raft of environmental and political problems. But when I see photos of an attractive blonde family with their vegan pedigree dogs residing in an affluent suburb and bragging about their “mango, berries, flaxseed, chia and spinach vegan morning smoothie” I actually want to puke – it’s not about animal welfare, it’s about one-upmanship and bragging rights.