People for the Ethical Treatment of Vegans
Food Issues Book Club - The Ethics of What We Eat, Chapter 13

Hello all!  Welcome to the NOiG Food Issues Book Club, wherein I read books about food stuff, summarize each book by chapter, and then attempt to apply that book chapter's ideas to the New Orleans food environment and my own experiences.  Fun right?!  Check out previous installations here.  I'd love it if you'd read along and join in!  And now, without further ado...

The Ethics of What We Eat, Chapter 13: JoAnn and Joe

Peter!  Jim!  Why hello.  I hope you are enjoying our correspondence as much as I am.  Today I'll be addressing the first chapter of the third and final section of The Ethics of What We Eat, named after the vegan people it discusses: Joann and Joe.

I am entertained that the Farb family lives in Olathe, Kansas, because believe it or not, I've been there.  Halloween 2004, if memory serves.  What are the chances?  I am not surprised that it is "a bastion of conservatism."  It's intriguing that the Farbs want to move somewhere "more crunchy," given that they seem to be fairly religious - a trait that tends to mesh well with more conservative areas.

In the first paragraph of the chapter you state that veganism "satisfies nearly all of their ethical concerns about farming and food."  Really?  Being vegan only begins to address my ethical concerns about food.  I'm intrigued that JoAnn was set on the path to veganism when working for Merck selling pharmaceuticals for farm animals - I'd love to know more about that experience.  She states that she is most compelled toward veganism because of the suffering and death of animals, and that it was John Robbins' Diet for a New America that put her over the edge...  I could barely make it through that sentimental mess of a book.

All of this tells me that these people are not my kind of vegan.  I, for instance, will never use the word "crunchy" to describe a place or people unless I am mocking that place or those people.  I came to veganism in response to sheer outrage at the food industry, rather than a desire to seek out peace and be one with nature.  I wear a lot of black and will always live in "the city."  Not all vegans are not hippies, in other words.

I do wholeheartedly agree with the Farbs that concerns about the environment, social justice, labor, and corporate responsibility are major factors in my decision to become and remain vegan.    I'm entertained that JoAnn and Joe contradict Jim and Mary Ann of chapter six in discussing how easy it is to get their kids to eat healthy vegan foods and snacks, when those conscious omnivores claimed that eating ethically is harder with kids because their food desires are so influenced by marketing.  I suppose that has to do with the kids' temperament, and how much food marketing they're exposed to, and how the parents handle requests for lower quality foods.  But I'm not really a parent, so this is all conjecture.

I'm fascinated by JoAnn's claim that isolated soy proteins are not organic, which is of course sometimes true but depends on whether the protein was isolated from organic or non-orgainic soybeans.  I'm also interested in what her basis is for being nervous about tofu that was made by pouring hot soy milk into food-safe plastic containers.  Is something leached out?  Is this speculation or fact?  She seems to be making a lot of assumptions.  But then, I guess we all do that.

I'm not sure what the utility of this chapter is; I don't know that this family constitutes a "normal" vegan family, if there is such a thing.  I wonder if they always eat salad, brown rice, cabbage, and tofu, or if they were showing off for y'all.  I love simple foods such as those, but they do get boring after a while.

Until next time.


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