How many times have you, as a vegetarian or vegan, tried to convince your family at Thanksgiving that your Tofurky tasted better, or at least was comparable, to the slow-roasted turkey your grandmother perfected over the last 40 years? After no one was convinced, at what point did you start ranting about how your Tofurky was environmentally friendly and no one had to call fire marshall because someone damn-near burned down the house frying a turkey like your Uncle Buster, who thought watching a YouTube instructional video would turn him into Emeril Lagasse.
The pro-vegetarian argument falters every time in the face of a meat-eater’s opposition because most of us are always trying to push our Fraken-meats (veggie bacon or un-chick’n), which, unfortunately, makes us look like we really miss the taste of flesh.
“You just foolin’ yourself … you know you want this steak son,” says my father, who loves to play up my veganism at every family holiday. Underneath the jest, my father is really just expressing his anxiety about his lost connection with his son at the dinner table (Every time I visited my hometown, Los Angeles, he would excitedly invite me to dine at a new steakhouse he had found for us). We used to revel in our refined palates in regards to flesh, especially steak.
I have no regrets about choosing veganism; honestly, it’s the best decision I have ever made in my life. I enjoyed all the wonderful soy products — chicken fried tofu from Atlanta’s Midtown Whole Foods is addictive! But at some point, I made a conscious decision to leave the plethora of mock meats alone, surrendering to the even wider range of fruits and vegetables.
In an article on Salon.com, a vegetarian dad wondered if he was actually reinforcing the meat-industry by eating mock meats. Stomped when his son asked him why he was a vegetarian, the dad had to reassess his principled stance against meat consumption and was forced to defend his vegetarianism to his loved one :
Obviously, this isn’t some conspiracy whereby powerful meat companies are deliberately trying to bring vegetarians into the mega-church of flesh eaters. If anything, it’s the opposite: It’s the vegetarian industry selling itself to meat eaters by suggesting that its products aren’t actually all that different from meat. The problem is how that message, like so many others in American culture, reinforces the wrongheaded notion that our diet should be fundamentally based on meat.
I run into vegetarians who gorge soy, tempeh, seitan, and textured vegetable protein (TVP) with every meal, emulating meat-eaters’ abuse of protein.
But why do we do this?
It always comes back to the meat-industry’s quasi-scientific push in the 1950’s to make sure that Westerners ate enough animal protein. The explosion of farming technology during the 1970’s Green Revolution allowed the meat-industry to consolidate its power through heavy lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, which turned the American diet into a “Satan” sandwich, consisting of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
I don’t believe humans are incapable of consuming and digesting meat, and I certainly don’t believe flesh is inherently bad, but I strongly believe that meat is not necessary for optimal health in our current civilization. Furthermore, the meat-industry and our government — the US Department of Agriculture, in particular — are dead-wrong for the former food pyramid and the current MyPlate, selling American’s health to the highest bidder.
I’m stronger everyday in my conviction and advocation for a plant-based diet, a diet in which all people can embrace, whether they are omnivore, frugivore, or vegan. I still enjoy a wheat-less veggie burger from time to time, but I know that my salvation lies in what nature provides without processes — fruit and vegetables.
FrigiVoice: Sound off: Are vegetarians faking-the-funk by eating mock meat?