Posted by: conradvisionquest | April 30, 2010

“Stop being vegan and just enjoy your food.”

A few weeks ago the huz introduced me to Jaime Oliver, also known as the Naked Chef.  He was watching his new show, Food Revolution, where Jamie attempts to make-over the way our school aged children are fed in the cafeteria.  The show was great, and the changes he is making are long overdue.  Then I read something that irked me.

“Stop being a vegan and start enjoying what you eat.”

This was a Jamie Oliver quote I came across.  When I first read it, I was infuriated.  Then that mellowed into disappointment.  Here’s why…

First, I find it pretentious of him to give a direct order like Stop being a vegan.  Second, this quote assumes that vegans don’t enjoy food.  Believe me, I could not eat vegan if the food was not tasty.  Ask anyone who knows me.  I love food.  I always have.  I love to eat.  It’s almost a spiritual experience for me to have a wonderful meal.  It’s hard to describe, but those of you who enjoy food as well know what I am talking about.

It also bothers me because it perpetuates a stereotype that we battle on a daily basis.  You know the one where we are sitting in a corner with our handful of sprouts just wishing we could have a bite of that cheeseburger you are eating.  The one where eating vegan is all about denial of everything good and delicious in exchange for flavorless cardboard and twigs.  I know these stereotypes, because I used to believe them.  Until I decided I was going to eat vegan my way. Even if these ideas were true, I would find a way around them. 

Well, I soon learned that eating vegan can be, and is for me, a delicious and satisfying way to eat on many levels, and not just for the taste buds. I also learned that if I am determined to do something, I will find a way, no matter what I may have heard.

I would have expected something more thoughtful from a chef, someone whose life revolves around food and is exposed to many ways of eating. I would love to have the opportunity to ask Jamie exactly what he meant by this sentence. I was not able to find the context of this quote, but I think this sentence is pretty straight forward whether or not there were other words said around it.  Perhaps if given a second chance he would have worded it differently.  I wonder if Jaime actually knows any vegans…

It’s like if I said that all meat eaters are fat, heart diseased, murderers that have no regard for life and are closed minded to other ways of thinking.  But I wouldn’t say that.  Not just because it’s not true, but because I used to be a meat eater.  An unconscious meat eater. We all have to start somewhere.

 

In researching for this post, I also discovered that a few years ago Jamie killed a lamb on his other television show by slitting his/her throat. The lamb’s legs were bound, but it was fully conscious. You can read more about it here.  I guess that’s a “case closed” as far as my opinion of The Naked Chef goes… I still think what he is doing in schools is important work, and I respect him for that.

Speaking of well known people, check out this list of famous vegetarians and vegans on Lauren’s blog, The Good Life.

Ok, people, let’s hear your opinions about this one. I know you have them!

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Responses

  1. I completely agree with you Wendy! Being vegan opens up our world to so many more delicious flavourful foods, and really lets us enjoy our food. I have also read the article about lamb slaughter, and it’s interesting how many people complained about seeing the slaughter on TV. They forget that workers who have to slaughter the animals for them to eat, see this kind of thing more than 1000 times a day, and how it will affect worker’s lives and their families.
    I do agree with their statement that if the chef has cooked more then 200 lambs (or something like that) that he has to slaughter at least one of them. And people do forget where their food comes from, that it had eyes, and could feel pain, and was slaughtered without any chance to escape or save itself.

    • thanks for bringing that point up about killing your own animals. i meant to address that in the post. i think most people, if they had to slaughter their own, wouldn’t eat meat, or at least wouldn’t eat as much of it.
      thanks for commenting!
      ~w

  2. Ugh, I agree completely. I don’t see how he is trying to get people healthy while at the same time denying the validity of one of the most healthful diets. But it also foesn’t surprise me, as he’s a chef and not a nutritionist or dietitian. Beyond my appreciation of new flavors and tastes I would never have tried otherwise, I also enjoy my food so much more now that I am vegan and the food I consume is not tainted by the suffering and misery of others. I think all
    vegans would agree. Thanks for addressing this!!

    • thanks for the thoughtful comment, Leah 😉
      ~w

  3. First off, go you for calling Jamie out on this! Second off, I do agree with what he’s doing with kid’s lunches. While he is saying that kid’s should be eating better food, it’s not his place to make such a crude (and broad) statement about veganism in general. He’s the one going around making healthier meals for kids, shouldn’t he know that a vegan meal is the healthiest one around? I also find it a little ridiculous that in 2010 a chef of any merit whatsoever would assume that a vegan meal would be unenjoyable. If my meal is that unenjoyable, you must not be a very good chef.
    I get pretty up in arms when people attack my choice to be a vegan, especially since I don’t go out on a daily basis attacking every meat-eater i cross paths with. Sure, six years ago, I used to be one of them, but it’s one step at a time. Once I realized the true cost of my food and where it was really coming from, I made a slow and conscious decision to stop. And I truly don’t feel like I’ve given up a thing.
    I actually address the over the top meals in fancy restaurants in a recent post on my blog (thanks for visiting earlier, by the way!) http://eatandtalk.wordpress.com about the ridiculousness of serving foie gras, veal, rabbit, etc.
    Sorry that comment was so long…I just can’t believe he said that!

    • i know. you would think he would know better. thanks for stopping by and commenting!
      ~w

  4. Wow, that is quite an assumptuous order… I completely agree with you, and I get frustrated with how most people think that the way I eat is bland, unpleasant and that I force myself to eat like that in *hopes* that It’ll make me feel better – Well it Does make me feel better, but it also is the most delicious and filling food I have ever eaten, and it’s extremely satisfying to know that it’s all cooked by me. I used to be addicted to junk food. My body couldn’t say no to the table salt, white sugar and processed oil that was found in Everything – Which makes it all addictive but not truly satisfying, and it makes everything taste the same…

    I don’t know much about Jamie Oliver but I find it strange that he would say such a thing, considering he’s a chef and he’s experimented with all kinds of foods and flavors. But maybe he’s just too fond of animal products to think that anything can be #1 on top of that.

    I also agree that people would eat less animal products or not any at all if they had to slaughter the animals themselves. Some would just be too grossed out, some would be feel too sympathetic for the animal… It’s so easy not to think about it when it’s all prepared and ready to be zapped in the microwave…

    • yes, agreed.
      ~w

  5. OMG!!!! That is infuriating. I am not a vegan, but honestly my two fave restaurants in the world are both Vegan. Spiral Diner in Ft. Worth, Texas (The only one of it’s kind and thriving by the way) and the other is The Blossoming Lotus in Kapaa, Kauai (I believe that one closed, but I do think they have one in Portland). These two places I have had the best and most ENJOYABLE meals, I have ever had. Jamie Oliver, clearly does not know what he speaks of at all.

    • thanks for the comment! wish we had some vegan restaurants around here…
      ~w

  6. Oh no! I posted a video by Jamie Oliver a while back because I found him inspiring. I wonder if it was just a case of overconfidence. Sometimes people who know quite a bit about nutrition think they understand EVERYTHING about EVERY diet. I wish “experts” would stick to what they know, and leave everything else out of it.

    I do have a hard time writing the guy off completely though. He’s working to make important changes. But he should probably take that cockiness down from a 10 to like…a 3. 🙂

    -Lindsey

    • yeah, turn it down a notch, Jamie! 😉
      ~w


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