“Veganism” — Be honest, what comes to mind?

I bet it’s not All Pro Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons

Whenever I hear a word that has an “ism” on the end, I must confess that my first reaction is negative. I immediately think about the cults and subversive groups that comprise the lunatic fringe of society (of which I guess I am now a member).

Tony Gonzalez—ten time All Pro, turned vegan after reading The China Study

And that’s why I don’t like to use the word vegan to describe the way I eat. While researching for our book, I discovered that only 3.2% of the adult population describes themselves as vegetarian and only a tiny sliver of them claim to be vegan. The latest percentage might be all the way up to 5%, but I am certain that it is still very low.

What does that tell us? Simply that 95% of the people in the United States do not wish to be vegan or vegetarian. They want to continue eating their meat, dairy and eggs three meals a day—and quite frankly, they can’t imagine living without them.

But now “vegan” is becoming trendy. In 2010, Bill Clinton announced that he was vegan and, a few months ago, Michelle Pfeiffer did the same. In the current (August 2012) issue of Harper’s Bazaar, there was an article by Alex Kuczynski entitled Vegan Vanity—the latest weight-loss craze? Vegging out. (Sorry no link available; if you want to read the entire article, you’ll have to buy the magazine.) Since I don’t normally read Harper’s, one of my readers sent me the article. It began:

Jane Fonda, not one of her better moments

Being a vegan used to be something big, symbolic, and meaningful, the dietetic equivalent of Jane Fonda’s Black Power salute. Eating lower on the food chain took you to a higher moral plane. Every bite of tofu was a dinner table protest about protecting the planet.

Alex went on to poke more fun at veganism, talking about the “moral high horse that vegan converts ride that irks some.” She goes on to define veganism in terms of what they don’t eat and what they don’t do. But nowhere in the article does she explain the “big picture” about the incredible impact that our food choices have on our health and our world.

In keeping with the “entertainment” intent of her article, Alex ended with one final jab. There are other benefits, more for the mind than the body: My sister, Carolina, who turned to veganism while recovering from breast cancer, said it made her feel more mellow. After nine months, though, “the halo wore off,” she says, “and all I wanted was a cheeseburger.

Alexandra Louise Kuczynski is a reporter for the New York Times, a columnist for the New York Times Magazine and the author of the award-winning 2006 book Beauty Junkies about the cosmetic surgery industry.

Too bad no one told Carolina (20 years ago) that the leading cause of cancer is our toxic western diet, which can be summed up in one word—CHEESEBURGER. Perhaps one day, sister Alex will become enlightened, and at the risk of sounding like an activist (a la Jane Fonda), might actually share some helpful information with her readers. Helpful information that will enable them to take charge of their own health while providing  a place to live for their descendants.

As for “saving the planet,” my feeling is that the planet is going to be just fine—with or without human residents. Therefore, rather than sounding like we’re on a “moral high horse,” why don’t we just say that we’re trying to save our children and our future great-great-great grandchildren. Wouldn’t that be GREAT?

The Bottom Line. Personally, I don’t think it’s fair for those of us who eat the natural diet for our species—to have to have an “ism” to describe our diet style. Why shouldn’t the “ism” be reserved for those who’re eating the unnatural diet for our species? Let’s think of a word that would describe something incredibly harmful, cruel, wasteful, selfish and detrimental to our own health. I am thinking of barbarianism.

For your convenience, a few or my earlier blogs on the “vegan” topic:

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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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5 Responses to “Veganism” — Be honest, what comes to mind?

  1. Nigel Richardson says:

    The ‘-ism” is used in many senses and frequently to denigrate a popular or ideological movement: “Conservatism, Communism, Fascism, Feminism, etc., etc.” I think Veganism is in this category.
    I say I am not strictly a vegan, but I am “veganesque” – in the style of a vegan. I lapse about once every other month, so my intake of animal protein is about 1% of the average SAD enthusiast; clearly Truett Cathy falls into the latter category

  2. Leo S. says:

    Who says you have to eat meat to be an athlete? A long but interesting article.


  3. Christine says:

    I don’t mind describing myself as a vegan. I recently wrote about it here: http://www.itseasybeingvegan.com/2012/07/17/why-i-like-labels/

  4. Leo S. says:

    Some famous vegetarians.

  5. Leo S. says:

    Gladiators were vegan.

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