I’ve been thinking about/researching reasons not to be vegan. Other than the social and emotional drawbacks to veganism, most arguments against veganism were silly “nutritional” ones like, “You’re never going to get enough protein!”
The most compelling reason for me, I’ve decided, is the fact that food is a very important part of social and cultural identification, particularly for marginalized groups. Meat, especially pork, features prominently in both Puerto Rican and African American.
While I don’t have to put chicharron in my beans, there’s really no vegan way to make pernil. (I’m not as worried about ham hocks and chit’lins because the Puerto Rican side of my family is way more into food than my black side.)
I also don’t know how I could travel and not eat any animal products. I wouldn’t want to. Most of the fun of travelling is sampling local fare. On the plus side, the places I tend to travel probably aren’t serving meat from a factory farm. Also, it seems that non-American food traditions are a lot less wasteful, using all part of the animal. Puerto Ricans eat every possible part from pigs’ feet to chicken hearts, which are surprisingly delicious in soup.
Another irritating thing about veganism–not a reason not to do it, but annoying nontheless–is that it presupposes resources that some people just don’t have. You need time to research and make vegan recipes. You need access to resources through the Internet or books. Ideally, you’ll also have access to a community of other vegans.
You also need money. People keep telling me that it’s so much cheaper, blah blah blah, but these are the same people who own food dehydrators and soy milk makers. I am convinced that to really do veganism right, you or someone that loves you has to make a serious initial investment in some kitchen appliances. Vegan dairy and meat substitutes are a lot more expensive than the original, particularly if you used to shop at Aldi. There’s also a very frivolous use of nutmeats in many vegan recipes.
Photo by: Sally Tomato, Cosmonaut