May 22, 2007

Happy Shiny Vegans Having Fun Without Cupcakes

Before anyone else falls for that handmaiden of the Farmer's Market Industrial Complex, Nina Planck claptrap about how vegan is no way to have a baby or raise a kid, have a watch of this documentary from Current TV. It was made by some hardcore investigative journalists who went undercover with various vegan families in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to discover the truth.

What they found will astound you: milk has great advertising. Cupcakes are scary. And vegans are the only kind of parents who don't want their kids to get cancer. When the revolution comes, let's all flee to Williamsburg. BYO Beans.

Vegan Parenting, produced by Melissa Fornabalo [ via dt reader joshua]


Wait, when the revolution comes, where are they going to get their soy cheese, and their soy milk, and their soy burgers, and their soy hot dogs, and their soy chicken breasts? Veganism is a complete byproduct of the commercial farm system.

I also love the "animals in nature don't drink each other's milk" argument. It's like the religious right's "animals don't have homosexual sex" argument. You're just showing that you don't really know much about animals.

There's nothing wrong with veganism, but there's a lot of misleading arguments in this video - like the false equation cow=healthy vegan, so I can do it too. Cows are able to get plenty of nutrition from a vegan diet because they're ruminants and have four stomachs. Rather than pointing fingers about what is more moral -- vegan/veggie/omnivore -- and casting suprious pseudo-scienctific justifications in support of idological choices, we could ALL do a better job of making healthy food (minimally processed, lower in fats, etc) more affordable and more widely available. I don't mean affordable and available for the college-educated, gentrifying hipster set who frequent cafes in Williamsburg, but affordable for everyone in society, and especially for children, so they can start eating more healthy at an earlier age. School lunches would be a great place to start.

This reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw once: "Roses are red, violets are blue, vegans are annoying."

I'd love to see a side-to-side comparison of the three main mom's menu plans - one mom looks like the life has been sucked out her elbow, while the other two look like they REALLY enjoy those Vegan pancakes.

Fortunately all the kids look pretty healthy and happy, aside from the militant fruitarian in the last shot.

I find this kind of funny because my wife was vegetarian (not vegan) until she got pregnant -- the first sign of which, before the positive test and everything, was an overwhelming "Ohmigod I need to eat hamburgers. Now."

gosh Greg,
One minute you're talking about the "crazy vegan parents", the next you're apologizing to the ones that aren't crazy, and the next you're smacking around the vegans again. I'm not vegan, not even vegetarian. In fact, I would probably fall into Ms. Planck's worldview but this whole anti-vegan thing over the last couple of days strikes me as just a little pathological. Or perhaps veganism doesn't involve enough conspicuous consumption. IMHO your posts seem to work better when you're just singing the praises of a sweet stroller or trashing the latest crap and not the lifestyles of others. But it's your blog so what the hell does it matter.

[I'm annoyed by stupid vegans as much as I am by stupid, Hummer-driving Bugaboo owners. I'm more annoyed by being played by manipulative or sloppy media, though, whether that's a NYT op-ed, a Vegan-bashing wire service story, or a sappy Vegan propaganda documentary. Believe me, I hear you on the contradictory elements of the post here, but I am conflicted and still largely uninformed on the issue, and when people who I know to be sane--like you or Scott--call me out for being wrong, I'm likely to reconsider. What can I say? I hate the industrialized food we're surrounded by, and yet I love McDonald's pies. -ed.]

Am I a really terrible person for wanting some of these "animals are our friends" parents to spend a few nights out alone on the Serengeti, say, or to swim not with dolphins, but with bluefish?

My little omnivores weren't taught any disconnect between their food and their friends the animals-see, I get everything "right," too. They were taught that every creature has got to eat, and sweet little chicks and chipmunks taste as good as cheesebugers to owls and hawks.

The disconnect, and the disrespect, is to waste anything. So, yeah, bring on the roasts and the steaks, and the oxtail soup and hot dogs to use up the icky bits. We can eat sitting on our leather sofa (more healthful for the asthmtics among us). Heck, for dessert let's have jello-then even the moldy hooves and hides will have had a purpose.

[you can have my jello too; suddenly I'm not hungry. -ed.]

My wife remained vegetarian throughout her pregnancy, and our kid appears to have turned out just fine (if not a little insane).

I think the best thing you can do for a vegetarian pregnancy or raising vegetarian kids is to educate yourself, because kids aren't just little adults.

And don't just educate yourself from one source.. you might pick the wrong one :)

And if you are paranoid or worried about it, just go ahead and eat meat (and hope it isn't tainted!)...

I am not a Vegan fan as I find too many flaws in the logic. But not enough to truely condemn it. It is just simply a choice, one that I would not make.

That being said, nothing annoys me more than those that try and play a shame game with parents. I saw a website recently that said, "I homeschool because my kids are worth it." as if any parent that doesn't homeschool is somehow mistreating their kids. Same thing here, with the whole, "Vegans are the only ones that don't want their kids to get cancer" claptrap.

I think what commenters are responding to here is the fact that these folks seem holier-than-thou or defensive. I think they're overlooking two very salient points:

1) this is a pro-vegan documentary, what do you expect them to say?
2) vegans get a lot of crap from the media, nutritionists, and random rude strangers in restaurants and overcompensate as a result.

I say this as a now vegetarian, formerly vegan, mother of twins (who were raised on a vegan diet from pregnancy to age 6). I spent two years in court over allegations of nutritional neglect merely because we followed a vegan diet. My kids weren't unhealthy, they weren't failing to thrive, they didn't have kwashiorkor or brittle bones or anything that would indicate to anyone that they were unwell. What they had was an estranged parent with an axe to grind and the veganism became the tool with which to grind the axe. The judge, incidentally, decided in our favour, finding no evidence that my kids were being neglected. Fortunately, I had the support and unpaid testimony of our pediatrician, a state health nurse, and a state nutritionist who had put in many hours evaluating our diet and lifestyle and finding it to be beyond reproach.

So, these days? Yeah, I'm a little defensive. I can probably be just as annoying as the happy, shiny parents in this video. But then, so can lots of other people, including those who dismiss vegans as "crazy" or "annoying" out of hand in order to serve some snicker-worthy stereotype.

[see, vegans are just like everyone else after all! next week it'll be clueless organic parents. Meanwhile, I'm sorry to hear your woes. -ed.]

Thanks, Raven.

A couple successfuly used this very video in court in the Mid-west.

After Melissa and I found out that there were many parents who were risking having their children taken away by the state, who weren't allowed to adopt, and who spent years in court, like Raven, fighting to disprove antiquated and ridiculous myths about veganism, we felt it might help to have some vegan parents and an MD testify to the fact that vegan kids can be just as healthy and happy as anyone elses.

There is an axe to grind. There are huge misconceptions about veganism and there is a lot of prejudice and misguided hatred towards vegans. The reason we've become 'annoying' and defensive is because the second someone finds out that you're vegan, they assume you are judging them and ask a billion question or verbally attack you.

As someone who worked on this video, I can attest to the fact that it isn't a recruit video or an attack on people who eat animals. This is a testimonial meant to show some healthy, happy, vegan kids.

[Tim, If you do your research, you'll find that most vegans eat more than soy-products. These are meant to be fun-foods, not the basis of nutrition. (By the way Tim, there ARE homosexual animals in nature, see the Bonobo Monkey, among others - and Humans are the only animals that regularly drink milk after infancy and drink milk of other species).]

Someone wrote in about how plants feel pain. If you are concerned about the suffering of plants, know that by eating animals, you are killing more plants. According to the Canadian Cattleman's Association website, cattle have to eat six pounds of grain to gain one pound of flesh. Again: you have to kill six pounds of grain, which is made up of many individual plants, to produce a pound of beef. The truth is, we cannot survive on rocks and air. We do have to eat something, and we know that animals have central nervous systems, and they can feel pain. Plants do not have central nervous systems, and we don't know if they feel pain. It actually makes no sense for them to feel pain because they don't have the ability to respond to pain. We evolved to be able to feel pain so that we can locomote (move) in response to a threat. Plants cannot locomote, so why would they have evolved to feel pain if they can do nothing about it?

Speaking of evolution, some of you said that we've been eating meat since the beginning of time and that it's part of the natural ecosystem. Biologically speaking, it has been evolutionarily advantageous for us to have the ability to eat as many different things as possible so that we can thrive in different climates. But that doesn't mean that what people have evolved to be able to eat is the healthiest for them. The Inuit eat whale blubber, but they are hardly the picture of health. Now that we have such a huge selection of healthy plant foods available to us year-round, we don't have to eat animal products. The American Dietetic Association's position paper on vegetarian and vegan diets says that well-planned veg and vegan diets are appropriate for all life stages and even offer health advantages. You can read it here:
In terms of our natural ecosystem, it is evolutionarily advantageous for us not to eat animals. So-called "food animals" are the #1 contributor to global warming, the biggest challenge of our time. Don't believe me? Read this 2006 press release by the United Nations Food & Agriculture
The senior
author of the UN FAO report said, “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems." As the population grows exponentially and the demand for meat rises, we cannot possibly support it with our rapidly dwindling resources.

"What about animal overpopulation? If we don't eat them, they would take over the world!" No, they wouldn't any more than Gap t-shirts would overpopulate the world if there weren't a demand for them. The 51 billion farmed animals that are killed every year for food are born because we breed them, usually through artificial insemination. We've created the overpopulation problem. If we didn't create the demand, there wouldn't be the supply.

Socioeconomic issues. Not everyone can afford to shop at Whole Foods every week, but Trader Joe’s is damn cheap. The good news is that you can find all kinds of thrifty veg food at your corner store. You eat all kinds of stuff already that you probably aren't aware is vegan. Many of them are listed here: And here's a link to "Vegan Eatin' on a Budget:"

“Animal cruelty is not a personal growth journey, it’s a social justice issue.”


[...should not be cut and pasted here ad infinitum. If I knew how to set a 10,000 word limit on comments, I would, and you would have exceeded it, Chloe, sorry. As I was wading through your infodump, trying to figure out where to delete and how much of it was just copied over from the URL's you mention, I have to say, I was surprised at how much time vegan evangelists have to type. I'm very jealous. If only I had enough time to read all this stuff, I might actually go vegan after all. -ed.]

Chloé, they invented hyperlinks for a reason.

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