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Month one of “the year of the vegan”

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If you’re like me, you’re just waking up to realize it’s 2019. We’re nearly a whole month in to what the world (ie: big business) has dubbed “the year of the vegan,” and the closest I’ve come to celebrating was emptying my mother’s fridge of all the Daiya products I can carry because her landlord went overseas to pretend to be vegan (while still eating fish and eggs). I mean, heaven forbid my mum tuck into something vegan that’s literally in her fridge and is free, but my love of free cheesecake outweighs my love of constantly failing to make my mother understand veganism (re: me). But I digress. While we’re all better off for having less fake vegans amongst us, especially me because of the aforementioned cheese, it looks like news outlets are abuzz with the promise of new vegan products, celebs, or services and how that is somehow a fresh affirmation that our world is one turn closer to being fully free from animal use. It’s okay to be excited about new vegan happenings, as long as we recognize which are truthful, helpful, and not a load of crap.

At the onset of my deep-dive into the Google alerts I’ve ignored since Christmas, it seems as those we’ve flipped into the upside down, or something, because Gordon fucking Ramsay has been experimenting with vegan food and posting it to Twitter. And while I don’t think it’s remotely fair to call making a beet wellington “trying the vegan thing out,” I can’t help but be gleeful when scrolling through the hoards of Ramsay followers hurling his own hilariously brash insults back his way. Bless every single commenter with enough time to wade through the endless online libraries of Ramsay gifs to pick the very best insults to immortalize (my vote is for idiot sandwich). I’ve got serious hope that this rather flippant display of choking down vegetables translates into a vegan Kitchen Nightmares series, wherein Ramsay get’s as mad as I do at businesses who call portobello mushrooms on a bun a burger (the utmost blasphemy). Until then, let’s not forget he’s not a vegan.

Naturally, Ramsay is not stand alone in the celebrity news round up, though the others remain much more predictable. Piers Morgan pretends to vomit up a vegan sausage, because that’s what Piers Morgan does. Ellen used her first stand-up special in decades to confirm what I’ve gotten so much hate mail for, that she isn’t on team vegan and hasn’t been in ages (or arguably, ever, since you don’t turn your fundamental justice meter on and off). Beyonce and Jay-Z brought up the V word again with such convenient timing you think they’d have a book of vegan recipes to profit off of (but then again, why else utilize your platform to pretend to promote the betterment of all if not to boost your profits?). And even though he has not graced a headline yet, I thought I’d take this time to remind everyone that I still don’t like Ricky Gervais this year, as I anticipate he will inevitably tells someone they suck for hunting soon. Or maybe, just maybe, he’ll pull a Ramsay (permission to adopt the term).

Speaking of being up to the same old shit, PETA has made some children cry with the aid of a very realistic dog barbecue in their 2,019th (or so) demonstration of violence in the promotion of non-violence. It seems the organization has not taken the opportunity to rebrand with the new year, which is a shame, because I for one would love to see them promote veganism without sacrificing the rights of human and non-human animals along the way. Would that be the ultimate symbol of change happening for the vegan movement, or would it more likely signal the start of our apocalypse? Time will tell.

And as far as misguided organizations go, none are more confused than SeaWorld and their addition of vegan food on to their whale jail menus. It seems the flurry of Black Fish fanatics weren’t too clear in their “free the whales” message because perhaps, had it been an “all animals deserve freedom from use” message, this wouldn’t have happened. Or perhaps they’ll be pleased to tuck into an avocado corn tostado while they take in a seal show, proud that they had a hand in rallying to make lasting change (end sarcasm). I really only took to this piece of “news” at all because I’m disappointed that exploitation supporters will have one more chance at an Impossible Burger than I do.

I know you’re thinking, “Eva, what the heck?! Don’t you want to start off your 2019 writing career with a little bit of vegan encouragement and positivity?” Is this the first blog of mine you’ve read? For shame. But don’t worry, I haven’t given up hope that this really could be the year of *cough * tons of people profiting off of *cough* veganism. I mean, Papa John’s decided they want to stay relevant and added vegan cheese to their menus (and whatever delightful thing a “marmite scroll” is), Hilton Hotels has made me optimistic that I won’t be stuck in a never ending paradox of unsuccessfully filling and refilling my inconvenient, little travel-sized bottles with vegan shampoo by releasing the world’s first hotel room, and some brilliant foodies (not being sarcastic) allowed their feet to blister waiting up to seven hours for a vegan ‘Slutty Burger’ in Atlanta (an African-American woman run food truck that has completely captured my heart and deserves all the press, tenfold). I am also almost ready to celebrate the release of Sour Patch Kids Cereal since it’ll be vegan like it’s predecessor candy, but that only lasts as long as I’m able to keep the image of sour candy floating in milk out of my head (which evidently, is not very long).

Listen, there are a few vegan things I’d love to see happen in 2019. First, I want to see more people become vegan, duh. But for this to be the year of the vegan (and not just the year of vegan products and menus), we need the people who have already committed to helping animals to, well, actually help animals. That means putting education first and casting aside our urges to scream, fight, or disregard the feelings of others (animals included). It means we must ask ourselves and our friends to stop promoting single-issue campaigns that fail to face the speciesism they pretend to fight and to reflect on how we could be getting the message out more effectively. What I really hope is that in 2019 and every year we’re a blessed to experience following, that we each endeavour to truly become the example of veganism that veganism deserves. Free from the misconceptions and prejudices that have been reflected on us by the loudest, and free from the missteps, pandering, and “compromises” that afford living beings anything less than total freedom. We need to demonstrate to those only getting their toes wet in veganism, and those who have blazed the trail before faux products were good, that veganism is the least we can be doing and that all of our individual efforts can go further than just a marketing campaign, resolution, or trend for forecasters and investors to take notice of. We can celebrate the innovations and offerings that are growing and making our work of proving the ease and enjoyment of veganism that much more easy and enjoyable, but it should not always overshadow the hard work of grassroots activism that 2019 needs.

And if Beyond chicken could be more readily available in the Canadian retail marketplace, all the better.

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