There are plenty of wrong-headed, lazy, and misinformative guides to veganism on the web. And for most, the best thing to do is ignore them. But when a major media player produces one, it’s worth calling them out on it. Hundreds (thousands?) of people are showering positive attention on this week’s “The Men’s Journal Guide to Going Vegan.” But y’know what? It’s pretty terrible.
The primary offense is that it treats veganism as a purely dietary concern. There’s absolutely no mention of giving up animal products in clothing and household goods. It’s not like this is a minor thing. Giving up leather is harder than giving up meat for most people. And there’s zero discussion of ethics. Without a firm ethical basis, why the hell would anyone go vegan?
But then it’s flat-out wrong about many of the dietary issues. Here’s some, just for fun:
“Eggs and milk are also common ingredients in pastas and bread. Nearly all commercial baked goods have an ingredient that’s not vegan, so it’s usually best to steer clear.” Uh, what? Of course you have to read ingredients, but it’s not at all hard to find vegan baked goods and pasta.
“Hemp or rice milk: better than soymilk, which is heavily processed.” Huh? I mean, you’d have to go brand-by-brand, but plenty of hemp milk is more processed than some soy milk. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with “processing.” What does this have to do with going vegan, anyway?
“Almond butter: This is your peanut butter substitute.” WTF?! Peanuts are vegan, folks. Trust me on this one.
“Chia seeds: This new vegan fad food is the offspring of those claymate Chia Pet sproutings.” Well, you heard it there first, I guess. The rest of us are still talking about Daiya.
The tagline brags “all you need to know at the grocery store and in the kitchen,” but they seem to forget all about eating restaurant food, which is the really challenging thing.
They describe vegetables and fruit as “your new meat, not in terms of protein, but in terms of the real centerpiece of your daily meals and snacks. So go to town.” It seems like vegan to them may mean someone who eats a lot of fresh produce? Another choice sentence: “Your entire body will feel lighter, as the meat built up in your gut is literally forced out by the deluge of fiber from all the vegetables.” Now, I love fresh vegetables, and maybe you do too, but I know of more than a few french-fry-and-cupcake vegans out there, not to mention plenty of rice-and-beans vegans.
The target reader seems to be someone who lives strictly on bacon and never lets a vegetable pass their lips. Looking at the rest of Men’s Journal‘s Food & Drink features, maybe that’s not so far off. Indeed, the magazine is not doing anything to back up anyone’s conversion to veganism–”you go right ahead and try that vegan food heathnut thing for three weeks,” they seem to be saying, “we’ll have a fresh batch of pork and steak recipes waiting for you when you’re done.” Jerks.