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06/21/2007

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soychick

I kept rereading this, trying to understand why she sent that letter, especially because I had agreed with you in my own post.

I think she misread the article to read that you ARE "ok" with butter
and fish in your meals, rather than someone that does their best to
make sure it stays off their plate.

soychick

hmm.. my post got cut off.  here it is again.

I kept rereading this, trying to understand why she sent that letter, especially because I had agreed with you in my own post.

I think she misread the article to read that you ARE "ok" with butter
and fish in your meals, rather than someone that does their best to
make sure it stays off their plate.  I understood the article as saying
that you in fact ask all the right questions.  You request the
removal of cheese, dairy and any animal products, but servers and
restaurant reps unfortunately don't always know the answers hence, the
'leap of faith" even in the coveted  Bay Area.

Maybe the "90 percent vegan" pissed her off?   Here is what I'd like to say to her:

To Ms Jeani, I believe Silicon Veggie to be truly 100% vegan,
using the word properly as an educated individual without any attempt
to dilute the meaning.  The 10% is not because she fell off the vegan
bus or because she enjoys abusing the word, its only because we as
consumers believe and hope that the knowledge the servers possess is
accurate.  Not only restaurants but food manufacturers as well.  Look
at <a href="http://www.wholesoyco.com/">Whole Soy
Yogurt</a>, its a disgusting mistake, but its not ALWAYS the
consumers fault if dairy or casein was in it.  The 10% is not because
of laziness, as I am opposed to that as well, but its more for leeway,
for the inaccuracies of information others provide us.  So chill out. 
Attack an ex-vegan or an animal farmer, not someone on the same team.

Michelle (aka <a href="http://soychick.com/soyblog/">soychick</a>)

Elisa

Thanks for your support Michelle!


There's an aspect beyond the leap of faith that other people know what they're talking about, there's having all the knowledge to begin with. For example, I honestly didn't realize until last year that "vegetarian" dishes at Thai food listed in the "vegetarian" section of the menu might actually have fish sauce. And I've been eating Thai food for all 18 years of my veg*n life! Imagine my shock and dismay, right?


So, there's this feeling of potentially being "tricked" everywhere you go...which I confess I find tiring.


The primary thing is that Jeani S. focused on one sentence in the article whrre I confessed that I don't always ask every probing question, that I sometimes take that leap of faith and hope the dish that sounds, looks and is described as veg*n is...and that even as I take that leap of faith I may have doubts, but I let them go...especially if I'm really tired or hungry.


That was the very essence of the column for her, that lack of discipline, I suppose.


The other 390 words were waved away as not good enough.


Jeani


I'm sorry you mistook my response as an attack. I do not expect anyone to be perfect. I am newly vegan myself, and I am not always perfect. I do believe it is impossible for us to be so.


Jeani


I'm sorry you mistook my response as an attack. I do not expect anyone to be perfect. I am newly vegan myself, and I am not always perfect. I do believe it is impossible for us to be so.


Rick

[this is good] Hello Elisa,

For the record, I found your original column rather bone-headed, but at least it had the virtue of honesty. Both your responses to Jeani above are, instead, disingenuous as well as wrong.

You dismiss her critique as narrowly focusing on just a few words. But those few words -- along with the final line of your column, which you simply choose to ignore in the responses here -- are the crux of your argument. If you are not asking, "Is being [a '90 % vegan'] good enough to use the name?" then what is your column about? If you are indeed asking whether being "90% vegan" is good enough to use the name, why should you be surprised that others might answer no? I guess you find the question rhetorical. It's not, though, and "90% vegan" is literally meaningless, as Jeani points out.

You bemoan the experience of being "tricked" in restaurants. Any vegan could relate, and absolutely no one would find you morally at fault if you asked all the right questions and were lied to. There's only so much anyone can do to reasonably ascertain what they're eating. But you go on to say this: "I won't play innocent victim though. There are even times when I'm
pretty sure I'm getting something of questionable vegan qualifications,
and if I'm tired enough or hungry enough, I let it go."

Playing innocent victim is exactly what you proceed to do in your responses here, and it is the height of artifice.

Elisa

Rick and Jeani: Thanks for commenting.

One of you calls me boneheaded and disingenuous and the other implies I
really want to eat animal products, so yeah, I interpret those
perjoratives as attacks.

There's a difference between answering my original question by saying:
"if you ever have any doubts and eat it anyway you don't get to call
yourself a vegan", which is an opinion anyone is entitled to have,
versus implying that I *want* to eat animal products and still call
myself a vegan, which is what Jeani said, and which was the part I
found uncalled for.

And I also don't see how you can say you don't expect people to be
perfect when your response absolutely says that there is no room for
ignorance, forgetfullness, weakness, mistakes, or, in other words,
imperfection.

You don't have to call me a vegan, but calling me stupid and dishonest
seems out of line and, moreover, unsupported to me. I don't have to
like that, guys, sorry. And I don't have to think that it's a positive
way to represent veganism to folks who might be considering making the
journey, either.

Elisa

Oh, the other thing that bugs me is the assumption that because I'm
woman enough to admit i've not been perfect in my veg*n journey it
must, therefore, be a *regular*, repeated occurrence. It most certainly
isn't.

It's a 400-word column, so I didn't bother to further elaborate on the
kinds of situations that put me in the position of feeling I need to be
imperfect. And I don't feel like laying them out here either...ugh,
whiny. Suffice to say they're rare and extreme, but occasionally
unavoidable. (In my opinion of course, others might find a different
way.)

Rick

Um, I called your column boneheaded, which it was (an opinion I'm certainly entitled to), not you yourself. I, of course, don't know you at all, but I wouldn't doubt that you are perfectly nice, intelligent, and the rest. I'm responding only to what I see printed here -- if you take charges that a piece of writing of yours is bone-headed, or your responses to those critiques disingenuous, as personally-motivated, pejorative attacks, I don't really know what to tell you.

Back to the subject at hand: I very much agree that it is not only unreasonable but impossible to demand perfection or some sort of unattainable purity in terms of one's veganism. But "slipping" into eating animal products because of weakness -- the only issue I addressed -- is not unavoidable. In fact, most vegans are able to do this and, in fact, without trying very hard. Ignorance of the content of something at a restaurant, after being misled? That is one thing. Suspicion that animal products are contained but "letting it slide" on account of hunger or fatigue? That is another.

Finally, all I'm saying is that the notion of the "90% vegan" -- the concept around which your original column sort of defensively revolved -- is meaningless, and really is damaging (for the reasons Jeani gave). If you are opposed to animal exploitation and use -- the basis of veganism -- than this applies all the time. It is a fundamental ethical position. If you are opposed to racism, this would animate all relevant moral decisions. To say that one is a "93% anti-racist" or an "87.5% anti-sexist" -- always opposed to discrimination except every other Saturday and on trips to the beach -- just doesn't make any sense. 

Jeani

I guess i just assume that if you didn't want to eat animal products that you suspected might be present, you wouldn't? If all it takes is asking a question to a server, and you opt out from that, I guess I thought that meant you wanted to eat it. I don't think your intention is to hurt animals, but if a simple questions is too much to ask of you, then yah, it would seem that you "want" to eat that.

And, no, I really don't expect you to be perfect. As I said, I know there are things that are unavoidable. I have certainly been told things were vegan that weren't or accidentally eaten things I thought were vegan that weren't. You are human, you might misread ingredients or be tricked or forget sometimes, and I would never fault you for that.

My one point is the one you seem to be OK with, and that is that it is not vegan to eat animal products, when it is within reason to avoid them. I think you agree with that. And for the record, I never called you stupid or lazy or any of the other words you have used. I said I thought you misinterpreted Vegan Freak (which the omission of the online article implied), and I answered your questions, which is that to be 90% vegan is not really to be vegan.

I wavered for a long time before I became vegan, made excuses to my friends that being vegetarian was easy, but it was too hard in my industry to be vegan, and when my one vegan friend told me, no you could do it, especially since I was always perfect at home, and I tried to eat vegan most of the time out, I said you're right, I am making excuses.

I don't pretend to know the context of the few occasions where you ate food of a questionable vegan nature, but you said in your article, sometimes when you are lazy or tired, you don't ask. I just don't see that as vegan. You can tell me I am rigid and judgemental all you want, I'm not judging you as a person. I don't know you! I'm saying that's not vegan. That's it! I have plenty of Omni friends who I think are lovely people, and that you are so close to being vegan is great. You did pose a question, and all I did was answer it. Maybe you didn't want to hear the answer.

Crystal

[this is good]

Elisa did not use the word "lazy" once in her column, so yes, Jeanni, you did introduce the (very negative)

Crystal

Elisa did not use the word "lazy" once in her column, so yes, Jeanni, you did introduce the (very negative) term and attribute it to her. And now you say you don't expect anyone to be perfect, and yet in your letter, you say that you have to comply all the time or it means nothing. Sounds pretty all or nothing...or perfectionist... to me. And, the whole comment about "as you become more educated" is the comment leading to Elisa's interpretation that you are calling her stupid...obviously a hyperbole but still a valid interpretation of the underlying message.

And Rick, I think it's pretty "disingenuous" to say that you didn't attack Elisa, because you called Elisa's column (which is very personal, even confessional in nature) boneheaded and not her.

Elisa

Thanks Crystal, you perfectly express some of what was on my mind about this.

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