Call Any Vegetable

What is with you vegans?
No, not you vegans -- the ones who have made a conscientious choice whether it be for ethical or health-based reasons to structure your diet in a certain way that your protein, mineral, and sugar intake comes from non-animal sources. The people who choose and maintain a specific style of living that requires a zen-like focus but provides in return many benefits (both physical and mental) that make that challenge worth it.
I'm talking about you vegans.
The ones who want vegan hot dogs. Vegan ice cream. Vegan beer.
Ain't no animals in beer, people. No fuzzy cute creatures had to die in order for my double vodka to be poured. But that doesn't mean that there aren't people out there who want to be sure about it. Or more specifically, people who like to ask the question out loud when they order their drink so you suddenly know what they're all about.

By the way -- My absolut (see what I did there?) favorite entry on the Barnivore website is the page that gives J├Ągermeister it's seal of approval for being a product that is made without the use of animals or animal by-products.

Um.. hello? -- J├Ągermeister literally translates to "Hunt Master" in German. It was a term first introduced in a set of hunting laws that the Nazi's introduced in the 30's. Sure there's no animals in it -- but the guy who invented it was an avid hunter who dedicated his herbal liquor to "hunters and their honorable tradition" and intended for it to be drunk both before and after each new hunt took place.
       Hell, for years people thought the stuff was made out of Elk Blood (it's not).
              But it's cool, vegans. Drink up.
Maybe it's just me, but I've always found this whole idea of faux foods to be a bit of a stumbling block when it comes to understanding the lifestyle. I can see the logic behind being against the idea of killing animals for food, but then there's this whole vegan hot dog thing.

So sure, you're anti-animal killing -- which would be fine and dandy, except for the fact that you're clearly pro hot dog.
To me those things sorta cancel each other out.
The thing is, I kinda get the idea of vegetarianism. I understand and accept that there's an ethical argument to be made over the intolerable ways many livestock are raised, farmed, and processed (especially in this country). I understand that as omnivores, human beings do not specifically require nutrients or enzymes found in animal-based foods, and that when you get right down to it -- having animal-based foods in your diet is not truly necessary. It can even be argued that a vegetarian-based diet is actually better for overall health and body wellness and if managed correctly can not only avoid some of the pitfalls that even free-range animal-foods can present, but possibly extend the health and vitality of the body that adheres to this lifestyle.
But that's not what I'm talking about here.
The choice to adopt a vegetarian-based, vegan, or raw diet is exactly that. A choice. Something I believe people should have an absolute right to have. Just because it's not my personal preference doesn't mean it's wrong, or that I don't believe there are actual benefits or positive points to be found in that choice.

Hell, I could probably benefit in a lot of ways by adopting more of that discipline into my diet, if not my life as a whole.
Alas, I like meat.
I like the way it tastes. I like the way it cooks. I like the flavors and textures of eggs, milk, and fish. Call me a digital man, but I don't farm animals, butcher, or process them. Never have. Yes, I've seen the footage. My dad grew up a farm boy who would raise and care for animals that he would then help send to the slaughterhouse. Some of the things he's described when it came to harvesting animals for food are nothing short of harrowing when viewed on their own. I understand it can be a brutal thing, especially when it gets to a corporate level.
This isn't the argument I'm trying to get into here.
What I'm cheesed off about this.
It's called the "Handwich" -- a little taste treat dreamt up by the folks over at Foodswings, a vegan restaurant in Brooklyn, New York specifically as the vegan answer to KFC's Double Down sandwich.

The Double Down, if you've not heard of it yet -- is KFC's newest promotion -- a sandwich (if you can even really call it that) that features two boneless chicken fillets as the buns filled with two pieces of bacon, two slices of cheese, and some sort of sauce in-between. It's a 540 calorie, 1340 milligrams of sodium per serving death ride that I'm pretty sure even Luther Vandross would bristle at the thought of.
Put it this way -- I love junk food, but I ain't going anywhere near that thing.
So why do the vegans need to have one of these for themselves?
Even if the Handwich is supposed to be some sort of joke at the expense of the mindless masses who are being hammered with commercials and marketing campaigns for KFC's latest version of the failure pile in a sadness bowl, it still begs the question:
Since when does something like this even need a parody?
Let me speak for the other side here a moment: I like Fried Chicken. When done right, it's friggin amazing. But contrary to what you might suspect, the Double Down isn't really the gold medal of chicken dishes. If anything, the Double Down is KFC sticking a middle finger in the face of everyone who enjoys eating fried chicken that says, "Oh, so you like chicken, eh? Well here then -- have more of it! Knock yourself out, fatty. Hell, lets put some bacon in this thing. Isn't that what you like, lardo?"

It's almost as if KFC is a pretty girl you've been talking to for weeks, wooing with every last drop of charm and wit you can muster who finally agrees go to on a date with you -- and then when you show up to pick her up she's at the door in a bathrobe and a pissed off look as she drags you towards the bedroom hissing, "Lets just hurry up and get this over with."

I don't know -- Maybe it's just because I live in the south, where family Fried Chicken recipes are like precious gems. No lie, there are sweet little grandmothers down here who will knife you for even suggesting writing them down.

And why not? Good fried chicken is an art. Much like fresh grilled fish, or a perfectly seared steak.

By that same token, if you think all there is to quality vegan cooking/food preparation is tossing some leaves and sticks in a bowl and then chewing on it like a rabbit then you're truly missing out as well.

So it stands to wonder -- were there vegans out there who recoiled in horror at the thought of a sandwich made from faux chicken patties breaded with cornflakes and special seasoning fried with daiya and tofutti cheese used as buns crammed to overflowing with faux bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion and a sweet mustard dijonaise?
If you're a vegan reading this, are you like "Jesus, what are you trying to do -- kill me?"
Because even though you might not realize it, that's what half of America's
non-vegans did when KFC put that Double Down monstrosity out on the table.
My whole thing with this is simple -- Look, if you're a vegan who's craving faux bacon or faux chicken sandwiches, then maybe you're not a really a fucking vegan.

       And that's ok, Starflower.

Look honey, I'm over here on the dark side -- and I gotta tell you, real bacon is awesome. I couldn't give that up even if I wanted to. Sure it's bad for my arteries and it sorta sucks for the pigs when you get right down to it -- but if your whole point with all of this is to make some sort of ethical point by not eating meat, then don't you sort of go right back and cancel it out by endorsing the idea of faux meat products?
It's as if your entire message is, "Meat is murder. Delicious, delicious murder."
The way I understand it -- vegetarianism is a discipline. Choosing against part of your available nature, especially in a culture like ours where you're continually battling against mass media marketing, the relative cost of eating healthy versus buying processed foods, and even the ever-changing ingredient processing/cost-cutting practices of food manufacturers out there (just because something says it's "green" or "organic" doesn't necessarily make it so) is not an easy thing.

But it's OK if you can't fully take the plunge. There are plenty of hardcore folks out there who are fully willing to hold the line for you. Honestly, for every one of you who can't stand to see animals treated with cruelty but would still really like chow down on a BLT every now and then, there's plenty of Gwenneth Paltrows, Natalie Portmans, Mobys, and Tobey Maguires who will never, ever touch the stuff.

You can still lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle. You can still oppose animal cruelty. If subscribing to this lifestyle truly is a choice, then logic dictates that there are other options available, right? Other ways to be conscientious without betraying your own desires and wants. Simple ways to be true to your personal morals without leaving yourself in a position where you are a walking contradiction.
Or to put it another way -- I'm no fan of animal cruelty, but PETA can suck it.
Simply put, there's taking a stand and then there's just being an asshole about it. And I can say that with confidence because I'm over here on the (sigh) ..KFC double down side -- shaking my head in disbelief at some of the choices out there that are somehow associated with me just because I identify as a meat-eater.

Seriously, I'm over here championing Kobe Beef, Grilled Swordfish and General Tso's Chicken -- and my teammates are standing in line behind me waving their McRib sandwiches in defiance.
       See what I mean? That's not a good look.
But the good news is that I don't have to go everywhere they go. Sure I once fell for the tempting wiles of a hamburger with a Philly cheese steak on top of it -- I'm not perfect. But I don't have to Double Down if I don't want to.

So I guess what I'm really saying here is -- come join our team, faux-bacon eating vegans. I know we maybe we don't seem like the best possible team to be on at first glance. I mean, lets face it -- Ted Nugent is here. Bobby Flay is our placekicker. We're sort of the Detroit Lions of good eating.
We're certainly not the the healthiest or skinniest lifestyle choice that you could make.
..But we do have the bacon.

[Listening to:  Yarbrough & Peoples - "Don't Stop the Music" ]


unMuse said…
So you know I have this whole "cooking thing". I went to a few vegan sites just to get some ideas of what is out there in the form of recipe and I swear if everything didn't have some sort of "vegan butter" or a plethora of other "vegan things". It's like, instead of making yummy vegan food, people have decided being a vegan is the same as being an asshole just pretending to be that nice guy.

"Oh sure, yeah I don't eat meat. Cause you know, it kills. But give me some of that vegan butter!"

I'm with you on this thing. Be vegan. It's a great way to eat and will open up a whole new door of the amazing vegetables, grains and legumes, but leave my damn butter alone. I may only rarely use it when cooking, but dammnit it doesn't need to be screwed with. Let's just call it "soy butter" and be done with it. Oh? That sounds gross? Too bad. You aren't going to win carnivores over by giving them fake bacon and butter.
unMuse said…
Ps. I see your Double Down and raise you a Triple Baconator.

1350 calories, 90 grams of fat and 2780 grams of sodium.

(I just had a heart attack typing that out.)
Heff said…

Next Post, Please...
JerseySjov said…
i have several friends who are vegetarian/vegan but they never give me trouble when i make fried chicken and beef burritos with mayo because i ran out of sour cream.

in fact, one of my fave activities during my junior year was ordering pizza with my vegan roommate because she'd scrape all the cheese from her half to mine.
WhatIGotSoFar said…
I hate vegans, especially the ones that want to make me feel guilty for eating meat. Fuck them. Fuck the horse that rode in on them. You heard me.
If I'm at a restaurant with somebody who is a vegetarian or a vegan, I will try to order the cruelest meat on the menu. Unfortunetely, kobe beef is a bit rare up here.
Van said…
I don’t mind vegetarians or vegans that maintain their diet for health or religious reasons; it’s those damn moral vegetarians ramming their agenda down our throats that annoy. I drive a car, shop retail, use the internet, and do countless other things that are slowly killing mother nature’s bounty so I don’t pretend I’m not going damage (like they do).

I agree with your faux-meat vegan message and have to add that if someone is vegan for health that faux meat crap is still processed food and any food you eat out of a box is NOT GOOD FOR YOU, that’s just the way that it is. Humans can thrive on any diet, high in meat or not, if it’s completely natural as that’s what the body is meant to break down.

As the partial owner of a local community garden and two vegetable gardens growing most people don’t expect me to have these views. I do my part to help the community and I’m a nature loving hippy but hey, I still drive my poison-spewing car to those gardens. I have no right to point fingers at people who like their processed McDonald’s meat. I’d like to see most of those tofu-dog eating bastards (the whiney “you shouldn’t eat meat!” types) out in the farm sweating in the summer heat to bring in a harvest of heirloom tomatoes. It seems like all they have the energy for is picketing fast food chains and blowing hot air.
Bef said…
I giggled a lot reading this...

the double-down scares me
rainbowlens said…
I've been eating vegan for 3 years now. In the beginning, I got extra crunk with all the vegan subs out there, mostly because I didn't learn how to cook until after I went vegan--unless you count the baked chicken I tried to make that started BLEEDING AND OH GOD I DIDN'T KNOW THEY BLED and then went vegan.

Anyhoo, those products can be a good transition to vegans who don't know how to cook or really love the taste of processed foods but not the animal part of them. Another reason besides ethical and health is sometimes it's just plain gross to think about what's in the stuff you eat made from animal products.

Now, I really don't eat much processed vegan stuff. I don't use vegan cheese, don't eat vegan ice cream, don't do veggie dogs. I will have the occasional veggie burger when I'm at a house party where people are barbecuing it up. Or, if I go out to eat and they have veggie burgers as my only option then yeah.

I see both sides of it here. I don't fault people for using vegan substitutes because I understand why they're being used. I do think if people experimented in the kitchen more, there would be less reliance on them (and they're expensive!). Get crunk with the spice rack people, for real.

Oh, but you can pry my vegan "butter" and soymilk from my cold, dead hands. I need that to cook with. But that's pretty moderate in comparison huh?

P.S. You wouldn't be so crotchety if you weren't eating as much meat. Come on over for dinner.

rainbowlens said…
P.P.S. I am not a moral vegan nor vegan nazi. I don't even tell most people unless they ask or if I'm excited about something I cooked. I don't like moral-high horse ANYONE, not just vegans.