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Own your non-vegan desserts

A friend recently sent me a link to this short article about Vegan Divas, a vegan dessert company. While Vegan Divas' wares look delicious, I want to push back on the way they're framed in the article. The title describes the desserts as being able to "fool your non-vegan friends," and the text describes veganism as "pretty much murder on your sweet tooth" -- but luckily Vegan Divas can supply sweets that "don't taste vegan at all" (italics of amazement in the original!)

I don't agree that vegan desserts are especially difficult to make or especially bad-tasting. My baking skills are merely passable, yet I've been able to easily find and execute vegan recipes, from chocolate chip cookies to tres leches cake*, that receive rave reviews from hardcore omnivores. None of them require specialized ingredients out of reach for an ordinary middle-class US person** -- any store that has eggs also has applesauce, and almond milk is in pretty much every full-scale grocery store.

The myth of the difficult vegan dessert is a comforting one. Veganism is threatening to many people -- witness the immediate vocal reaction of ridicule and warnings not to be preachy that so often follow a mere mention of veganism. People are lazy and want to take things for granted. Veganism asks you to think about what you're eating, forcing you to defend (if only in your own conscience) your choice of foods. Believing that vegan food is gross and difficult to make gives you an escape clause. You can say "well, even if vegans are right that it's better not to eat animal products, a vegan diet is a difficult challenge. More power to you if you want to be a saint, but ordinary people can't be expected to bear that cross."

My overarching philosophy lately has been "own your shit." That is, be aware of what you're doing and what its consequences are, and be willing to take responsibility for that. You can't give a friend or partner what they want in your relationship? Fine, just be honest about that and don't make it their problem to solve. You want to watch a TV show that's got lots of stuff in it that's sexist or racist or whatever? Fine, but be honest that that stuff is there. And you want to eat non-vegan food? Fine, but do it because you think raising animals for food is OK, not because vegan food is supposedly too difficult.

*Tres freaking leches. It has milk right in the title, so if you can veganize that then you have no more excuses.

**I don't want to minimize the difficulties faced by genuinely poor people living in food deserts -- but they're probably not going to be able to order from Vegan Divas either. And the limited selection available in food deserts is as much a product of wider cultural assumptions about what are basic foods as it is a product of pure economic considerations.


Blogger Christine S. said...

I was vegan for two and a half years. I am not anymore. I'm not thrilled with raising animals for food, but I realize that I have to eat them if I wish to be healthy and I decided to value myself enough to do so.

But that's neither here nor there. Vegan desserts are not hard, technique-wise. I recommend Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World or Vegan cookies invade your cookie jar. They use cooking oil instead of butter, which I've found cheaper, and flax with water. Honestly, most of my desserts are still vegan because they are simpler.

7:12 PM  

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