Friday, November 28, 2008

vegan cupcakes are stalking me

The other night I had to go hang out at an uber-trendy craft fair downtown because the kind folks who organized it (Erin from Rebel Rebel clothing store) were running it as "admission by donation to the Madrona Farm campaign" so we the farm fundraising team decided it would be a good idea to be there, to answer questions and get people to give the gift of food security this christmas instead of trendy little gifties that would get worn/used/played with once or twice then freecycled 6 months later. Turns out, people don't go to craft fairs to buy anything OTHER than trendy little gifties, so we didn't have much success with that, but it was heartening to see the pile of entry-donations accumulating. Thanks ever so much, Rebel Rebel!!!

BUT. We got parked next to the vegan cupcake ladies. I've ranted about the cupcakes before on my other blog, but I think it deserves a longer mention here because they are attempting, after all, to be food. They are not food, and in fact I maintain that they are anti-food and a really stupid idea to boot.

Consider this. If you ARE vegan, the LAST thing you need is gobs of sugar and white flour (the primary ingredients in cupcakes) because not only do these take up valuable tummy space without giving you any nutrients whatsoever, there are some good reasons to believe that refined sugar and flour actually TAKE nutrients from your body to digest. Vegan diets are really quite deficient in a lot of nutrients, and if you're really set on being a vegan, you ought to be living on a strict, strict diet of soaked nuts, seeds and grains, fermented organic non-GMO soy products, and very high-quality organic vegetables, preferably NOT washed so you might slip in a slug or bug or something that would give you a bit of a nutritional boost. You do not have room for cupcakes. Sorry, but if you're going to go with a diet that your body isn't adapted for, you're going to have to make trade-offs (like not eating cupcakes) or suffer. More. I think the point to veganism is that you're suffering so the animals don't have to, right? Well, I'm pretty sure the animals wouldn't want you to compound your suffering just to eat frickin' cupcakes. They might also have something to say about your squandering precious resources and energy churning out fake processed margarine-type crap and monocropped soy plantations. But I digress.

If you're NOT vegan, why the hell would you want a vegan cupcake? The company doesn't list ingredients on their site, but at a guess I would say that there is probably soy milk in them, not enough to get uptight about, likely, but still, it's yucky stuff. White flour, for sure, white sugar, for sure, and various flavourings. Where you get really nasty is the icing, which unless it is made with actual yummilicious trans fats, is most likely made with interesterified fats, which are just as bad as trans fats, just harder to spell and thus not as prone to media attention. Interestified fats have a bonus over trans fats in that they raise blood sugar levels more. Because a sugar-laden cupcake is not enough of a buzz already. If you're not vegan, just go get a REAL cupcake. It'll taste better, and it won't do you any favours nutritionally, but it won't hit you quite as hard as the vegan one.

The cupcake company claims the motivation for the vegan cupcakes is that soooo many people are lactose intolerant and thus incapable of eating regular cupcakes. (They say, on their website, that 70% of people worldwide are lactose intolerant. That might even be true, but MOST OF THOSE PEOPLE LIVE IN ASIA AND ARE NOT BUYING YOUR STUPID CUPCAKES.) I fail to see how eating cupcakes is such a huge need for the much smaller percentage of lactose-intolerant people (many of whom tolerate butter quite nicely, I should point out) that they had to go make a whole company out of it. I would bet money that MOST of their customers are poor normal lactose-loving people who are duped into thinking "vegan" = "healthy". It makes me angry.

But, back to the craft fair, I was heartily amused that the vegan cupcakes were stuck right next to the table of... stuff? hard to classify... made from bits of animal fur. Yeah.

6 Comments:

Blogger MediaMer said...

I agree with your assertion that refined sugar and flour are devoid of nutrients. You started off convincingly "anti-junkfood." But then your post took a turn when you declared that "vegan diets are really quite deficient in a lot of nutrients?" Which ones are those?

Vegetarians live 7 years longer than their meat eating counterparts. Vegans 15 years longer.

Vegetarians are FOURTY percent less likely to die from cancer.

The average American male is at a 50% risk of a heart attack eating the "standard american diet." Vegetarian men? 15%. Vegan men? 4%.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which lifestyle would make you into a stronger, healthier, guy. So let's talk about what exactly you object to.

Is it the condition of the men and women working in slaughterhouses? Or the way that animals are killed by the hundreds, thousands, billions.

I object to how it costs more of our planet's resources to make meat. That's where I take a stand. More water is used; more soil is depleted.

What do you condone? Let me understand: you grow food, then truck it to animals. The animals eat the food and are trucked to slaugtherhouses. Then the dead animals are trucked back to people. Then the people die early, diseased deaths from eating the animals that have been trucked around for so damn long.

I will never understand that system. For the love of god, why use an animal - another living, breathing being - as a conduit to feeding people? It's inefficient. It's killing us. Our world has grown too populated, too polluted.

Just grow the food and feed it to the people! That's it. Don't pass go. Don't collect $200. Don't. kill. anything.

And why are you so sarcastic in your post? It seems like you're offended by a vegan diet. So, you're bullying those who follow it by calling them weak, malnourished, hypocrites. Why? Just because they have a genuine interest in the longevity of this planet and the longevity of their own bodies? Oh, no, wait - it's because they also eat dessert from time to time?

What are you blabbering about, woman?

12:35 AM  
Blogger spughy said...

Darnit, the vegans found me already.

Alrighty then. What nutrients are vegan diets deficient in? B12, for starters, and any vegan who claims that it's not a problem has his or her head in the sand. It is possible to supplement, or eat a LOT of fermented foods, but you DO have to try really hard. Ditto for complete protein, and saturated fat. Saturated fat IS important - it's what your brain is made of, after all - and the primary sources for saturated fat in a vegan diet would necessarily be tropical oils, which carry a HUGE carbon-footprint price tag if you live north of 30 or so.

I wanna see reputable sources for your stats on vegetarian lifespans, too - sources that compare a diet that includes meat but precludes industrial foods, which are mostly what I have problems with. I doubt those statistics exist, frankly, because it's not just the veg*ns who try to deny that there's a fundamental difference between TYPES of meat.

And for pity's sake, if you've read ANY of the other posts on this blog you would know that I DO NOT CONDONE THE STANDARD AMERICAN DIET. You know, there are other alternatives... rather than running screaming away from the problems of animal welfare and the ethical issues associated with eating meat, SOME of us actual choose to confront these and WORK on them. Being kept for food, if it's done ethically, humanely, and more or less in the manner to which these animals evolved - with our help - to expect - is far from the worst fate an organism can expect. Not existing would be considerably worse.

Ok, so what do I condone? I condone eating moderate amounts of ethically raised meat from animals fed a healthy diet. I condone eating foods that are grown locally, in a sustainable and ecologically responsible manner. I condone eating foods that humans are well-adapted to eating (ie, NOT white sugar and white flour, and frankly even grains are a bit iffy in my books.) I condone eating foods that you have a connection to - and all of this includes MEAT. Yummy, delicious, happy meat.

LET ME BE CLEAR: THIS MEANS NOT MEAN GROWING FOOD AND TRUCKING IT TO THE ANIMALS. Ok? Real animal husbandry involves pasturing, for most animals - with a small grain supplement for chickens. But if you are raising cows or pigs in an area where there is no food source for them, then that's just a bad idea. Around here we are lucky: there are pigs that are raised in woodlots, with surplus and waste from dairying and orchard operations - exactly what the pigs like. Cows can graze year-round, but there is hay if it gets too cold. Chickens are mostly on harvested vegetable strips, eating corn stalks, squash vines, and lots and lots of tasty bugs.

THESE METHODS DO NOT DEPLETE THE SOIL. THEY ENRICH IT. Healthy, earth-friendly agriculture including animals IS possible and essential - animal manure provides soil nutrients that even good compost lacks, thanks to the gazillions of bacteria at work in their guts.

Obviously however, these methods produce LESS meat than factory farms. That's ok, we don't need meat 3 times a day, and we can do just fine on a diet with loads of veg and eggs to taste good and fill up the tum, and a nice bit of meat to provide protein, saturated fat and a good hit of vitamins and minerals.

In answer to your final question, why am I so sarcastic - it's because I'm SO bloody tired of this narrow, unimaginative, black-and-white view that vegans and vegetarians espouse of MEAT=BAD and VEGAN=GOOD,HEALTHY & VIRTUOUS. Yes, factory farming is a hideous, monstrous evil. But why, why, why would you think it's the ONLY way to produce meat? Do you truly think there is nothing sacred and wonderful about the millenia-old symbiotic relationship between humans and domestic animals? Since history began being recorded we have stewarded, cared for, protected and nurtured these animals. They are our responsibility - cows no longer even HAVE wild ancestor - and if we stop raising them for our food, so many of them will cease to exist. Do they have no worth then, because they were in part created by us???

Look, if the idea of eating cute fluffy little chickens or whatever really icks you out, don't do it. But claiming that meat - blanket statement - is unhealthy because YOU don't want to eat it and YOU don't want to actually deal with the ethical issues surrounding animal husbandry? Not cool.

And lest you think that traditional, ecologically sustainable, soil-enriching agriculture could never feed as many people as your monocropped soy fields, check out Joel Salatin's website (http://www.polyfacefarms.com).

1:56 PM  
Blogger spughy said...

bother... that bit that doesn't make sense should read: THIS MEANS NOT TRUCKING FOOD TO ANIMALS.

Sorry, it's hard to post and verbally locate stuff in the fridge for the husband at the same time.

2:01 PM  
Blogger My Blog said...

I have to say...I am NOT a vegan, it doesn't work for *my* body. However, I do sometimes get "vegan" desserts, because I *know* they will be free of dairy & eggs, both of which I am extremely allergic to. Now, of course, I know they are full of cr@p, but for the rare occasion that I happen to be in a situation & didn't have time to prepare my own, a vegan cupcake will do just fine & I know that I will not stop breathing :)

1:41 PM  
Blogger MediaMer said...

Ok - let's break down your nutritional opposition:

1. B12: Agreed, this is a vitamin you would need to supplement on a vegan diet. But you know what, docs recommend that we all take a daily multi-vitamin. And since that applies to omnivores and vegans alike, it's hard to use it as a case for eating meat.

2. Complete protein: How about Quinoa? Buckwheat? Amaranth? Beans & rice? It's naive to assert that you can only find complete protein in animal products.

3. Saturated fat: Major medical organizations (CDC, AHA, WHO, for starters) have repeatedly shown that consumption of saturated fats can contribute to prostate and breast cancers, dangerous cholesterol levels, and increased risks of cardiovascular disease and stroke. I'm not quoting the Wisalla Times; we're talking Harvard University studies. We should all be reducing our intake of these types of fats. Yes, vegan sources stem from tropical oils. But the carbon footprint of supplying coconut oil in the quantise that folks would healthily be consuming is FAR less than the environmental impact of factory farming.

When you spoke of "running screaming from the problems of animal welfare," were you categorizing my efforts or just expressing your frustration with the vegan community as a whole? I fail to see how discussing the merits of a vegan lifestyle is equated with running for the hills. If I eschew animal products in support of my beliefs of animal rights that makes me ignorant? If I engage in a discussion on your opposing beliefs that's sticking my head in the sand? Surely, you can't be suggesting that the only way to support animal welfare is by eating them!

Furthermore, how to you define welfare? The state of well-being, happiness, contentment? Killing a living being does not make great strides in fostering these qualities of life. You suggest that raising animals humanely is "far from the worst fate an organism can expect." But how is killing humane? If I took good care of my dog for a few weeks, but then killed her because I was hungry (even though I had other food sources available) - that would not be seen as a particularly humane or ethical act. In fact, I think it's a federal offense in America, no?

It's illogical to suggest that my actions would represent great morality - simply because there are worse things I could have done, like locked her up in a cage the entire time she was alive. But that's exactly what you're suggesting. Because we give cows fresh air, it's represents model ethical behavior to then slaughter them? What?

You assertion that "not existing would be considerably worse" is bizarre. I'm not doing a chicken a favour by letting it roam around in a field and then slaughtering it. That doesn't make me a humanitarian. I'm not saving it from the fate of non-existence. I'm killing it. Again, you're not saving an animal by killing it. You're killing an animal by killing it.

And you can wax poetic about the millenia-old tradition of killing as long as you like, but at the end of the day it doesn't make you Mother Theresa - it makes you suited for a career in marketing. Slavery is an ancient institution, too. Let's bring that back! Oh, and miscegenation! And let's not forget women's suffrage. They couldn't vote until 1920 in the States, right? So the wisdom of precedence *must* indicate that our old ways of thinking were clearly superior and morally correct.

Look, I appreciate the fact that you condone eating locally grown meat in moderate amounts. While I disagree, I can see your point of view from an environmental and health standpoint. Yet, it's a system that's lacks the scalability required to feed the current population of our planet. You can't feed 6.6 BILLION people by raising chickens and cows in your backyard. While that model of animal agriculture may have supported the small towns of our past, and may keep a business like Polyface Farms alive, it's killing the planet of our future. The water and land requirements of growing enough grain to feed animals will always outweigh the resources required to just grow grains and vegetables.

It's not the "cute" or "fluff" of chickens that repeals me. The only thing I'm "ick[ed]" out about is your presumption that vegans are all lackadaisical, pompous arses who are too busy playing hacky sack to support and defend their moral and ethical beliefs (even if those beliefs may differ from your own).

9:58 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Wow! What are you so angry about? The word Vegan means to follow a lifestyle that excludes the use of animal products, mostly from an ethical standpoint to help protect animals and the environment. It doesn't say you aren't allowed to have a treat once in a while because it might not be the healthiest thing you put in your body. Just because something is Vegan doesn't mean it tastes bad either, or that it is healthy. People who think Vegan cupcakes are healthy are deluding themselves and that is their choice, no one told them they were healthy, they made the assumption because they were dairy and egg free...interesting. It would be one thing if you were on a rant about how bad sugar is for you,but you aren't. To say that a vegan cupacake tastes like crap because it doesn't have dairy or eggs in it, is a pretty uneducated comment, as you pointed out they are still full of sugar and flour. Maybe you try one first and then decide if you like the way it tastes or not. I find it funny that you think eating meat is okay, but sugar isn't. They are both bad for your body. But then what would life be without a juicy steak once in a while follwed by a sweet cupcake!

7:41 PM  

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