Eating a plant based diet was all about health for me for the first two or so years. I lost weight, was able to exercise more and felt fantastic. It wasn't until fairly late in the game that the animal and environmental issues came on my radar. Those are important issues for me now but yet I'm still somewhat awkward with the term vegan mostly because I just never feel like I'll pass the sniff test applied by the ethical vegan meaning I'm not perfect. Not that I ever eat non-vegan food with the exception of honey if my mom bakes with it, it's just that I don't spend my days planning protests, picketing fur stores, pledging to PETA and convincing my friends to stop taking their kids to the zoo. I haven't stood on the pedestal yet and my main goal is, and probably always will be, to live a happy healthy life.
I've been spending more time with vegans lately and most of them have come to this way of life because of ethics. I think that's pretty cool, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned with their diets. At the Veg Fest today my wife and I were struck by the dominance of junk food. Cupcakes, cookies and deep fried treats far outweighed any sort of actual vegetable. Vegan groups seem to celebrate the emergence of the new Ben and Jerry's ice cream far more than a new kale salad recipe. Exercise and fitness isn't even on the radar. And so I feel a bit disingenuous carrying the label vegan and yet I'm not sure the term "Plant Based" is universally understood so it's kind of useless when out in the world ordering at restaurants or socializing around food. Yet the term vegan has such a heavy agenda attached to it I admit to occasionally cringing at the possible reaction from those I sling it at.
Today was fun, we enjoyed our junk food and the huge crowd of several thousand vegans was encouraging on some level. I'm left feeling I can't wait to go run it all off in the morning and I'm seriously considering having a period of raw food frutarianism when I get home to try and balance this vacation food out. But for me it's a treat, a holiday indulgence. I'd be lying if I said that I thought the typical vegan food fest was in any way good for the movement though. I just feel that a healthy vibrant plant based vegan is a great advertisement for this way of living. A chubby angry protester with deep fried tempeh tacos isn't so much the ideal spokesperson. Maybe I just don't get it. It's possible I'm not really an authentic vegan after all and I'm back to feeling like I'd fail the sniff test to join the club.