Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

Click here to learn more

Order this book!

 

 

Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

Click here to learn more

Order this book!

 
     


Holy Days: Feast and Fast

Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, the average American adult will gain about 6 pounds. This means that in a time period of a little over a month, most Americans will eat about 21,000 more calories than they expend. But this holiday binge is just an exaggeration of the year-round consumer mentality that characterizes American culture -- every day a feast, every day a holiday. Within this culture, which has forgotten how to fast, which indeed has forgotten even moderation, the choice of veganism appears as extreme as the mortifications and penances practiced by saints and martyrs in the early centuries of Christianity.

The culture has a vague recollection of the religious and spiritual significance of fasting, but few have themselves practiced the fasts of Lent, Ramadan, or the Jewish holy days, and even those fasts are less rigorous than the restrictions of the vegan diet. It's not surprising that a culture that has little comprehension of religious, inner-directed fasting fails to understand why anyone would choose a diet as restricted as veganism -- not mandated by an authority and without a defined endpoint -- simply in order to make the world a better place.

Though veganism is certainly not a religion, the vegan's perpetual "fast" can be seen as an attempt to spiritually balance out the endless "feasting" (on food, cars, entertainment) of American culture. By eating consciously, vegans perform a sort of group penance, attempting to mitigate the damage done to animals and the environment by the business of food production.

But this is only a metaphor, because our language has no words for a sacrifice that is not a sacrifice, a penance that doesn't hurt. I think most vegans would agree that eating a plant-based diet doesn't make them feel deprived, but joyful and creative. The vegan's self-imposed dietary restrictions require and encourage creativity and an adventurous approach to food.

At this time of year, veganism seems even more out of step with the mainstream than usual -- after all, how could a vegan gain 6 pounds nibbling on carrot sticks at the office Christmas party? In this season of feasting, vegans are a reminder of fasting, of mindfulness, of compassion, values and activities important to all seasons of the year.

Rachel H. B.
Kansas

- n e x t   e s s a y -

 




Copyright © 1998-2014 by Jo Stepaniak   All rights reserved.
Nothing on this web site may be reproduced in any way
without express written permission from the copyright holder.
 
 

Vegan Vittles:
Second Helpings

Vegan Vittles: Second Helpings by Jo Stepaniak

Click here to learn more

Order this book!

 

 

The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

Click here to learn more

Review by Dan Balogh

View Readers' Comments

Order this book!

 

 

The Food Allergy
Survival Guide

The Food Allergy Survival Guide

Click here to learn more

Order this book!