Vegan MoFo Day 1: The Compassionate Choice

I realize this may not be the best way to start my third Vegan MoFo.  I realize I might get a lot of flack for what I’m about to write.  But it many ways, I need to do this.  If only for myself.  Vegan MoFo has always been a special month for me—it’s a month when we as vegan bloggers take over the internet, posting daily, pushing each other to make crazier and more creative dishes, to take the vegan lifestyle to the next level.  It’s always an exhausting month, but it’s also been a month that energizes me.  It’s also a month in which I discover hundreds of new and exciting vegan blogs.  I seriously love Vegan MoFo.

Given the nature of my blog, though, I feel as if I need to explain myself, explain why I’m here, participating in Vegan MoFo this year, why, as an obviously not-vegan blogger I’m interested in doing this.  Since “coming out” about my non-vegan lifestyle, I’ve received a lot of hate from the vegan community.  I’ve tried not to let it bother me—after all, it’s just internet flaming—but it does bother me.  It hurts.  A lot.  The vegan community is one I still consider myself a part of, even though every piece of food that enters my mouth is not necessarily vegan.  When I started blogging in February 2007, I was not a vegan.  I was vegetarian, and I had yet to fully commit.  But the vegan food blog community was the main reason I decided to start a blog: Susan V’s Fat-free Vegan was the first food blog I consciously remember reading.  And I fell in love.  I fell in love with food.  I fell in love with writing about food.  And I fell in love with the community I found myself fully immersed in.

Since starting Cupcake Punk and now Eating Appalachia, I’ve worked hard to be involved in the vegan community.  I read hundreds of blogs everyday, I comment on most.  I feel as if I truly know some of you.  I call you my blogging world friends or acquaintances.  I think about your recipes all the time.  My to-make list is ridiculously long.  You all are the reason I love blogging.  So when the hate email and comments poured in (and they’re still coming), I felt betrayed.  Many of you deleted my blog off of your blogrolls, you deleted me off your RSS feeds, you made it clear that you wanted nothing to do with me.  And that’s fine.  But I’d like to say one thing very clearly: this is still a vegan recipe blog.  I still have over 100 (probably closer to 200) vegan and vegan gluten-free recipes on here.  I still update with vegan recipes weekly (at least).  I still am a vegan recipe blog.  Yes, I post pictures of meals I eat in restaurants.  I do that because I like to be involved in the food community here in southwest Virginia.  I like to remember the meals I’ve eaten, and I like to give folks who visit my blog to find out about food in Roanoke area an idea of what’s here.  But my recipes?  Those are vegan.  They always will be.

The part that bothers me the most about the mean-spirited comments/emails I’ve received is the fact that they come from people who consider themselves to be “compassionate vegans.”  While I maintained a vegan lifestyle for sustainability reasons and not for animal cruelty etc. reasons, the hurtful comments come from people who make it clear that they are living their life as vegans because they care about animals—because they are compassionate towards animals.  But I wonder why this compassion is only directed at non-human nature.  It certainly was not directed at me.  Not by the people who tell me to fuck off or that I’m an evil person or that I’m a disappointment to vegans everywhere.  There’s no compassion in those sentiments.  I’m a person.  I deserve respect.  And just because I’m only known behind the screen of a computer, on a blog featuring food, doesn’t mean that I—or any other blogger, for that matter—shouldn’t be given the kind of courtesy given to someone in “real life.”  Compassion. It’s something we all, including myself, need to practice more.  Compassion to people as well as animals.  Compassion to ourselves.  This Vegan MoFo let’s work on that.

That said, I do need to note that a lot of you have been supportiveincredibly so given that you don’t necessarily agree with my lifestyle—so thank you for that, thank you for being great examples of the loving community we are all a part of!  You’ve made my life a little brighter!

Please, if you don’t agree with me on what I’m eating or how I write about it, please treat me with the same respect you want of yourself. You can disagree—please do!—but disagree with integrity.  If you’d like to say that you don’t think I should be eating meat, just say it the way you’d want to hear it: don’t tell me that I and the blog are “fucking discusting.”  Don’t curse at me.  Don’t get angry.  Just say whatever it is with compassion.  Or don’t say it at all.  I’m not some crazy meat-eater these days.  I’m drinking a glass of chocolate Silk soymilk right now.  I ate vegan mashed potatoes, sautéed kale, and Gardein chicken strips for dinner.  No meat.  No dairy.   It was vegan.  And it was delicious.  I’m not out to destroy the world or make the life of vegans harder.  I’m out to spread the word about delicious vegan cooking (which is why this is still a vegan recipe blog) and to spread the word about sustainable dining options in the Roanoke regional area.

I’m stoked about this MoFo—I have a lot planned.  You won’t find any meat on my blog posted this month; that’d just be against the idea of Vegan MoFo.  You will find some awesome recipes I have planned, some restaurant reviews, and a whole lot of vegan love.  I hope you’ll take me as I am this month, and in the months to come, and I hope that this Vegan MoFo is a rockin’ month for all of us.  Vegans rock and you all rock more than you’ll ever know!

Posts of MoFos Past:

Vegan MoFo 2009: Vegan MoFo 2009!
Vegan MoFo 2008: Cashew Butter Cookies

22 Responses to “Vegan MoFo Day 1: The Compassionate Choice”
  1. janice says:

    Jes, thank you for being a rich source of ideas on sustainable food sources and recipes, especially in the VA area. I found your sight a few years ago and have enjoyed not just the recipes, but how you are willing to share your creative writing development with us. Everyone goes through changes and if we did not acknowledge them we would be deceiving ourselves.

  2. Brandi says:

    It’s a shame that people can be so mean. Well i’m excited to see what you’re going to do for vegan mofo!

  3. shellyfish says:

    Jes – I was off the grid for so long last summer without internet, etc. that I’m only now catching up on blogs. I missed out on your switching back to being an omni & all that. Guess what? I still love you. I thin it would be hypocritical for anyone to give you flack – we’re not the vegan police! So many of my friends/family are not vegan, and that’s ok. I’ve been veg for more than half my life, so I can say that most of the people I’ve been in contact with were not/are not vegan. And I liked most of them.

    People are so supportive of new vegans or people who decide to eat vegan for maybe a month or a year, peeps who are not vegan forever, so I don’t think anyone should give you grief about doing MoFo!

    So glad you’re doing MoFo!

  4. eileen says:

    As an omni who eats vegetarian about 80% of the time and vegan maybe 50% of that, I can definitely relate. I’m excited to see what you make–for Vegan Mofo and beyond! Support!

  5. JennShaggy says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one with SPD. It’s a real disease, I tell you! Haha…

    And whoever doesn’t cry to Tegan and Sara, bless their little souls. They are missing out on a good emo release.

    Love your post, by the way. Glad you’re doing Vegan Mofo anyways. I would go crazy if I tried to do it because my dishes are too involved lol.

  6. jessy says:

    well i for one am glad you’re MoFo’n it again this year, Jes. and while i admit that i don’t post comments on your restaurant eats, i do absolutely love, enjoy, and drool over your recipes. every recipe i’ve made of yours rocks socks and boo to the idiots who leave you nasty comments and sent you mindless e-mails. they don’t sound very compassionate to me either. i’m so sorry. people should practice tolerance and respect – kindness and open-mindedness as well. you show the same towards others and it is only fair that you receive the same in return. i stand by you, Jes – and i am most excited about your MoFo posts and all your other kick ass recipes to come, my friend!

  7. kittee says:

    so glad you are joining us this month!

  8. Monica says:

    Hey Jes, I’ve been meaning to comment since I read about your “coming out”. Just want tos ay I completely support your decision and understand where you’re coming. I’m an American living in England, and here the meat industry is a bit different. Yes, there are still battery hens and factory farms, but there seems to be much more transparency about where food comes from. I’ve since met some wonderful farmers who, in many ways, are more compassionate towards animals than some vegans/vegetarians I’ve met. I happen to live on a farm that keeps cows and sheep for eventual slaughter. But for the whole of their life, they roam free on open farmland, eating grass, with acres and acres of space around them. These are happy animals.

    I’m not ready to give up my vegetarian lifestyle yet, but I do often feel when, say, I go up to scotland, I’m missing out by not taking advantage of the wonderfully fresh, sustainably farmed fish they have. Shouldn’t I be supporting that industry?

    Point is – I understand your decision because I too have thought the same things you have. Happy to hear you’re living it up in Virginia.

  9. gail says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us. I am so excited to follow along with your new site (new to me since I’ve been out of the blogging realm for so long) and to continue to read about your thoughts, ideas, and experiences with food. Your choices are your own, and I respect and support that. I appreciate your honesty, and hang in there – don’t let other people determine your mood or frame of mind. Keep doing what you believe to be right, and please keep writing. I look forward to seeing what you what you have in store for us this month!

  10. tanita says:

    Vegan MoFo is always so inspiring – I’ve never signed on to participate because I just CAN’T do the every day thing and write a novel or two as well — and this year is more of the same, sadly. SOMEDAY! Until then, Jes, I’m TOTALLY living vicariously through you.

    Looking forward to you rockin’ the recipes!

  11. Kiersten says:

    I can’t even imagine giving someone flak for their lifestyle choice. Even if it differs from mine or I disagree with it, it’s their own personal choice. Just because someone eats meat does not make them a bad person and does not mean they deserved to be treated like one. I’m sorry so many of your blog “friends” said hurtful things to you, personally I think it’s uncalled for. There are plenty of non-vegan blogs that I read and I can still respect and appreciate them. I’m not usually attracted to someone’s blog simply because of the food, but because of the person and the stories they tell. I can’t wait to see what you post for Vegan MoFo this year!

  12. Carol says:

    I can’t imagine calling someone names because they aren’t 100% vegan anymore. I live with two omnivores who I love dearly even if I do sometimes wish they would think more about what they are eating.

    These people are either ignorant small-minded people or they live in some vegan enclave somewhere cut off from the rest of society. Otherwise they too surely must have loved ones, friends/family who eat meat and wouldn’t dream of calling them names.

  13. Renae says:

    I admire your honesty about your diet. After 13 years I know I will never abandon veganism, but I think if I did I’d be a big sissy and just disappear from the blog world. Vegan MoFo is a great way to prove you’re still committed to sharing great vegan recipes and great writing and I’m looking forward to reading all your posts. (I also admire your – and everyone else’s – commitment to the project; I knew I’d fail so I didn’t try…)

  14. Lacey says:

    I just don’t see the point in hating someone an ostracizing them. After years of online interaction; you’d think people would stop and realize you are a good person, no matter how you choose to eat. Coming out was a brave thing. I hate how people are so quick to be mean/rude on the internet. I love your blog and I love that you still write and I love that you are sensitive enough to care what others think. There’s another pretty FAMOUS vegan blogger that I keep hoping will tell everyone soon that she hasn’t been vegan for months and that she eats bacon, and beef/veal and chicken and fish. She hasn’t so far and honestly; I understand! She’s afraid of the backlash. Plus; she was a pushy vegan so she probably feels like a hypocrite. The point is; what’s right for me, might not be right for you, and we should all accept one another.

  15. Jessica says:

    To me, mostly vegan is still better than full meathead. I’m glad you’re participating in MoFo and I look forward to more of your own recipes. Sorry to hear you’re getting burned, but you have a good attitude about it.

  16. Wow. I had no idea that people were giving you shit. That is jacked up. Im a sorry, as a hardcore 12+ year vegan that the people cant break free of their Vegan Army ideals and realize that people have their own reason for things. I had many in depth conversations with an Indian friend of mine and she felt that veganism was actually fairly racist and often did not recognize ethnic and cultural differences. I had trouble disagreeing. I still support you and your blog and if I knew how to make a blog roll publish on my blog, you would be on it. :)

  17. I read all the time and should really comment more. Even as a mostly-vegan, your restaurant photos don’t gross me out – I appreciate seeing what life is like Roanoke, since I might just end up there one day! Plus, you are a thoughtful person who has made your choices for actual REASONS, which is more than we can say for a lot of people, and which I respect so very much.

    I’m looking forward to your vegan recipes, and to the rest of your posts after the MoFo has ended. Also, I just realized you are in my RSS reader but not my blog love list. I am fixing that right now!

  18. Live and let live, eat and let eat! Judgemental people annoy me.

    I would never delete Cupcake Punk from my blogroll! I love your punky cupcakeness! :)

    But now I realize that I never added *this* blog to my blogroll. Believe me it wasn’t done intentionally! I subscribe via google reader and never pay attention to my blogroll updates. Forgive? :)

    PS: YAY for Mandee! Her blog is awesome!

  19. Jinx says:

    It’s a shame how we can all judge each other so harshly. We are all just doing what we can and for our own reasons. My boyfriend became a vegan at the same time I did after I’d been a vegetarian for 20 years, and he did it almost 100% for health reasons and that has given me a whole new perspective on vegetarian/veganism. For one thing, in over 20 years I don’t think I ever “converted” a single omnivore to my way of eating (except my bf, and then maybe T. Colin Campbell should get the credit) but he has influenced many people to either become vegan or eat less meat and/or dairy and learn more about their health and the choices they make. So his impact is just so much greater than mine, just like your positive impact on the vegan world is likely greater than that of most of your detractors.

  20. Thank you so much for sharing this, Jess! I’m really sorry to hear folks have been hurtful. You’re right: veganism is all about compassion.

  21. Ms Alex says:

    Just catching up on VeganMoFo blogs. Anyone who shares their thoughtful, considered opinions on what they eat and cook is worth a hundred militants stomping about demanding others do as they do. If the trade off is that you occasionally eat something I wouldn’t? So freaking what. What comes out of your mouth is just as important as what goes in sometimes.

    ::waving pompoms::

  22. Amanda says:

    Hi Jess, I’ve been a long-time blog fan/lurker and fellow Roanoke vegetarian (I’ve been following since I saw ads for your Thanksgiving cooking classes at the library last year). I’ve been a vegetarian for twelve years now, but have gone back and forth with eating fish (similar to your situation, I don’t cook it, but have sometimes eaten it in restaurants, usually when I’m near the ocean and it’s really fresh). I’ve somehow never had any vegetarian friends (my brother doesn’t really count!) and I really enjoy reading your posts about life in Roanoke, restaurant reviews, etc. I also worked at Hollins for two years, so I’m surprised our paths never crossed!

    Anyway, I was catching up on old blog posts (it’s been a busy fall) and when I read this, I had to finally comment. I hope people stop hating on your decision to occasionally eat meat and recognize that you’re still eating with care and consciousness. I also just heard this week about Big Pine Provisions and then read your post about it tonight and have to come by and check it out!! Oh, and your Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash Tomato Soup has me drooling on my keyboard… if I had a can of tomato paste, I would go make it right now, whether or not it’s 11 p.m. on a Sunday night.

    Hope you’re staying warm in this crazy cold and wet weather!


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