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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Please Define Vegan

This weekend I attended a dinner party hosted by a raw-vegan family. The party consisted of a western theme complete with barbeque chicken and pork for the attending meat-eaters. I grazed happily on trays of veggies dipped in fake sour cream, bowls of vegan chili, and baskets of ruby-red strawberries. After my seventh strawberry, I proudly passed on the offered birthday cake. It was a lovely day.

At the end of the party, hostess Jacki offered several books from her personal library. We discussed being raw, vegan, and hungry during the winter months. Jacki admitted with some reserve that she cooked some vegetables. I confessed my passion for mung-bean-thread noodles in mizo soup. We agreed raw was harder in the frosty months.

The discourse made me realize that I had not addressed terms defining diets in my blog. Not because I couldn’t but it’s so varying from one periodical to another—dependent on the personal experience and age of the writer—that I did not want to spend a week or so writing definitions. So I pared down the list a bit and present the info for you.

Vegan: Someone who does not eat any animal products. No cheese, eggs, milk, fish, chicken, pork. Vegans I have met do not wear leather or animal based make-up. If it requires watering, has a root, and grows then probably it’s edible to a vegan. Adam and Eve—vegan. Cain—vegan. Abel—probably not.

Vegetarian: Someone who does not eat or believe in eating meat. This usually includes not eating fish, fowl, or any food derived from animals but not always. Some vegetarians eat eggs but not fish. Pollotarians eat poultry, but not red meat. Pescetarians eat fish or other seafood, but not red meat or earth-bound animals. The term Vegetarian is loosely used in today’s society.

Raw Foodies: are a group that eats only uncooked, unprocessed, and mostly organic foods. Raw foodies typically believe that the greater the percentage of raw food in the diet, the greater the health benefits. Raw foodies are into sprouting grains, fresh organic fruits, tons of vegetables. Mostly they are into vegan but it is not a requirement. Rawism can include consumption of eggs, raw fish, meats, non-pasteurized dairy like raw goat cheese or raw Greek yogurt.

Raw Vegans: exclude all food of animal origin, and all food cooked above 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit). A raw vegan’s kitchen includes a dehydrator instead of an oven and a high end blender—like the one at Jamba Juice—as a tool for everything else like a microwave. Subsets include: fruitarian, juicearian, and sproutarian.

Flexitarians: or Semi-vegetarians eat usually vegetarian and mostly raw diet. But at the dinner party when the vegan declines to eat any meat this person will try the chicken to be polite. Jane Goodall, a famous vegan, said that she does not completely stick to the vegan diet while traveling. Getting a balanced diet on the road is challenging but can be closely followed if well planned. I can see Jane nibbling a piece of cheese but not chowing-down a steak.

Standard American Diet (SAD): more politely called the Western pattern diet, or the Affluent diet, is the one chosen by most Americans and many people in developed countries. This is how we were raised. We treat every day as holiday. We eat meat usually three times a day, sugar in drinks and desserts, high-fat foods, like French fries and dairy, and processed grains. What the SAD diet lacks is water, natural fiber from fresh vegetables, and whole fruits. We love our morning coffee, processed juice, and pop tarts. Can I have a slice of bacon with that?

I started my life as SAD and have dabbled from time to time as flextarian. Given my improved health and weight loss, I am well on my way to being a raw foodie and very possibly a raw vegan.