Happy Herbivore Blog

I'm not 'vegan' anymore

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: AdvicePopular

I'm not vegan anymore. I'm a happy herbivore.

This is a post and a statement I've been thinking about writing for a while, and after the events of yesterday (both those on this blog and on the Facebook wall), I feel compelled to finally say it: you win, I'm out.

For the past five years that I've been "vegan" I've been told, repeatedly, I'm not vegan enough. 

No matter how hard I tried, no matter how perfectly I thought I was living, something I did was always wrong. The vegan police were always ready to jump in and take away my vegan card. Now, mind you, it wasn't like I went an ate a burger or something... it was more acute than that.

For example, I once tweeted I'd eaten cotton candy at a baseball game. Big mistake. I received a wave of angry texts and tweets about how I wasn't vegan if I ate cotton candy, and how unresponsible it was of me not to source the sugar in the cotton candy first. I think my reaction was R-rated but in the retelling of this story, let's just say I shouted "good grief!" 

What I don't understand, and what I've written about before, is why are these vegans taking the time to run around and tell people trying to be vegan they're not vegan enough, instead of using that time and energy helping someone who isn't vegan at all?

Is veganism some cool club that I'm not worthy to get into?Do we really want to make it about exclusivity rather than inclusivity? 

Someone said to me once, and I think this is painfully true, for cruelty-free dieters, vegans sure are cannibalistic! 

I'm sure the 'vegan police' will jump up hooting and hollering with great pride that I've decided to renounce my vegan title (after all, thats what they asked me to do yesterday) -- like they've accomplished some great thing -- a "poser" is no-longer infringing on their turf, but the rest of us will see how sad this really is. 

As plant-based eaters, we are a minority. We need to stick together and support each other. We need to spend our time helping others eat more plants and less animals, not deciding or judging who is or who is not vegan enough for their standards.

I'm eating plants, not animals, don't worry about me. 

To the vegan police: Know that if you continue down this road, you are only hurting your cause, not helping it. I'm pretty set in my ways, but had I been newly vegan, or more unsure, the events of yesterday would have made me run for the hills screaming "vegans are crazy extremists!" and then you've accomplished the exact opposite of your goal: you'd have made me eat more animal products, not less...

Over a dozen people left comments like this one yesterday, and I think it speaks volumes to how harmful - not helpful - drawing lines in the sand within our community can be:

"The comments here have made me re-think the way I describe myself. Even though I am a "vegan" by the strictest definition this is not a group I want to be a part of. I no longer consider myself a vegan."

I have always tried to make Happy Herbivore a safe space where anyone can feel welcome and not judged. I've learned that if you want people to make a change you must show them kindness and compassion.You must build them up rather than tear them down. 

I always make a point to applaud the steps someone has taken rather than belittle them where they fall short. 

and perhaps thats why I'm the happy herbivore and not the happy vegan. 

I don't know how much luck these others have had 'converting' people with their methods and attitudes but from where I'm standing they've just lost me, so that's a -1. Maybe I was never "vegan" anyway, and now I don't ever want to be.

I'm simply, a happy herbivore. 

To anyone who reads about this drama and thinks "ack! vegans are crazy extremists! get me out of here!" know that it's not reflective of the entire community. There are many wonderful vegans out there and I'm lucky to call a lot of them my friend... but as with any group, you'll find people who are fanatical and mean. 

If you're looking for a place where people embrace each other, love each other, respect each other and come together over a big bowl of vegetables, join Happy Herbivore on Facebook.

Vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians, omnivores and people who don't know what they are, ALL are welcome. We all come together with the same purpose: to eat more plants, to eat more "vegan" meals, to be healthier and of course, to call each other friends. 

This is my promise, my commitment, to you. I will never judge you, you are all perfect. Keep up the good work!

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Update: 2:30 p.m. Between the blog and Facebook, this post today has received over 600 "likes", over 300 comments, over 100 tweets, and I've personally received over 2 dozen emails. Words cannot express how touched I am (I'm crying!). Thank you, THANK YOU for your support and THANK YOU for being you. 

Update: (next day): Over 1,000 total likes...over 500 comments... wow. Thank you for the overwhelming support. I this means my message has rang loudly...  hopefully now, real change can be made... with compassion, kindness and no judgment.

Final Update: I'm closing comments on this post -- over 350 have poured in on the blog alone. I have loved reading your stories and I'm so touched by all the kind, supportive comments! Sadly, I'm no-longer able to keep up, so Let me just say "thanks!" 

We stand together!

In Defense of My Recipes

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

(I'm stealing this blog post title from the fabulous Dreena Burton...who had a similar issue.)

Ever since writing my cookbook, I've tried to deal better with criticism. I've accepted that not everyone is going to like all of my recipes and some people may hate my book altogether. When those people come along, I try not to let this make me want to quit. 

Anyway, today I noticed I had a new 1-star review on Amazon... and

I couldn't help myself, I had to look:

"After reading the reviews I had a look at happyherbivore.com, I was curious if she used oil in the recipes. Well after reading the mashed potato recipe it is obvious there is no skill here. Garlic powder, onion flakes...come on give me a break, who cooks like that? I just could not buy this book after reading the mashed potato ingredients."

I wanted to scream -- bang my fists into the floor and pull my hair out. 

Well, dear reviewer, *I* cook like that. 

I'm also not quite sure why my *book* is getting a bad review for a recipe that's on my *blog* but that's not here nor there. People can think what they want.... but of all the 150 recipes that are free on this website I'm not sure why he or she picked that one to look at, or why that recipe alone convinced him or her I'm not talented... or what they were expecting from a recipe for mashed potatoes. I mean, it's mashed potatoes...

But, yes, I'm going to throw a temper tantrum because I don't think it's fair. or deserved. 

and because Dreena is far more eloquent then me, let me borrow some of her language to explain my feelings:

"I know the positive reviews outweigh the bad. And I know that's what is important. But I feel I need to stick up for myseld and my own work here, and since this is my blog, that's what I'm going to do." 

Mashed potatoes, by the way, are AWESOME with garlic powder and onion powder (or onion flakes). It really gives them something extra -- a lot of flavor without the fat (butter, cream). 

As you all know, I love my dried spices! They're cheap, convenient, and fast! Plus I don't have to waste time chopping and sauteing. I'm a lazy cook, a home cook... a girl who wants easy, healthy and tasty all at once... and I'm not going to apologize for that. 

What is Honey? The Vegan Debate (& My Beliefs)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQPopular

Earlier today I received an email from someone asking my opinion on honey and I thought I'd share my answer in a blog post. Honey, it seems, is a hot topic among vegans; one that's constantly debated, often with a good bit of fervor! 

That said, I don't know that there is a single answer or an answer that's suitable for everyone. My own feelings are complicated and conflicting, and I admit I'm a little nervous to share them.

[photo credit]

To get right down to it: I do consume small amounts of honey from time to time. I find it's difficult to avoid when you're trying to buy whole-wheat products. I'm not going to eat white bread and while sure, I suppose I could just not buy the bread, that's not really practical for me or my family. We have to eat at home every single meal and not having bread to work with on occasion would bring a whole new level of stress and challenges!

Now, when I lived in New York City, I would go around to all the different stores looking for whole-wheat bread that was vegan (no dairy or eggs) and also honey-free but here in St. Maarten (a tiny Caribbean island) I only have one store to shop at and the selection is really, really small. I'm doing the best I can. If we keep 100% vegan except for a dab of honey in our bread, I can live with that.

But then there is another consideration I grapple with. What about honey for purely medicinal purposes? 

My sister Courtney is vegan and going vegan actually helped eliminate her food allergies (read her story here) but it didn't completely erase her environmental allergies. To treat her grass allergy, Courtney can eat local, organic honey regularly or she can get allergy shots and take medication. She's opted for the more holistic approach, which I think is probably the healthier and more compassionate option anyway. I don't have a moral objection to what my sister is doing and I just can't see myself saying "no! take the pills instead! honey is not vegan!" Actually, if I did say that, I'm pretty sure Courtney would give me the finger...

Of course, I understand the vegan (animal rights) arguments against eating honey, namely, bees are insects, and therefore animals, and we shouldn't limit our compassion to one species. I also know that some bees die during honey extraction, and by eating honey, even small bits, I'm supporting this, but I can't turn a blind eye to the fact that lots of insects incidentally die in the cultivation of plant foods I eat everyday. I'm not saying this makes it okay, or its is a justification for my actions; it's just something I like to remember when talking about the honey issue. 

Then, as you may remember, my veganism is a 3-legged stool -- I'm motivated by compassion, the environment and my health, and it's that last one that bubbles up with the honey issue. 

On the one hand, honey is said to have many health benefits. On the other, we're reminded honey a simple sugar that can cause spikes in our blood sugar... I still haven't decided if I'm "for" or "against" consuming honey from a health perspective, but if I ever settled on "yay" I know that I'd make a point to get it locally, from an organic farm, and from a beekeeper that's passionate about being a beekeeper. 

For example, Scott's close friend Greg is a beekeeper (his motivations are entirely environmental: he wanted to create a safe habitat for bees as a way to help the ecosystem) and I know first hand the care he takes, and how much the bees mean to him. I'm not so sure I'd say 'no' if Greg offered up a sample of his honey. I wouldn't go hog wild with it because, well, it's a sweetener, and I think all sweeteners, including healthful ones, should accent to my diet, not be a big player... but just a taste? A little here and there? Maybe. Maybe not. 

So in a nutshell... that's where I am coming from; these are my feelings on honey. 

What are yours? Is honey vegan? healthy?