VICE: Why veganism is racist

August 18, 2020 • 12:30 pm

I found this article, from VICE, mentioned in a public tweet from activist and atheist Ali Rizvi, who was aping the “first they came from the bird names. . ” craziness. This time, though, it’s not bird names, but veganism.

I suppose that anything these days can be found racist, like knitting and young adult fiction, not to mention bird names, but the idea that veganism was inherently white was alien to me. Perhaps that’s because I live in Chicago, which has a fair number of vegan restaurants run by African-Americans (many Black Muslims are either vegan or vegetarians). And a well known vegan retaurant run by blacks,  B’Gabs, is just a few blocks from me. The fact that veganism is seen as “white people’s culture”, then, surprised me. But Anya Zoledziowski, who is of Polish Armenian descent, and identifies as a privileged European, has seen fit to chide all vegans for racially “appropriating food” (click on the screenshot below).

What’s her beef? (Is that an appropriate question to ask about such an article?) It appears to be that veganism is racist because black people see it as a “white person’s habit”. And, says the author, it seems that black vegans have been ignored, though I’m not sure how. Finally, vegans are guilty of “appropriating” cuisine from other cultures, though why that’s a sin still eludes me. (Throughout the article, Zoledziowski confuses veganism with vegetarianism: for example, much of southern Indian cuisine is vegetarian but not vegan.) But somehow, says the author, since the murder of George Floyd, veganism is going through a “racial reckoning”. A few quotes:

When Afia Amoako became a vegan five years ago, she said she didn’t see herself reflected in the community, which was dominated by wealthy white women.

They often touted recipes—”African peanut stew” or “Asian stir fry”—that rely on racial stereotypes, said Amoako.

“One, they don’t look like you, and, two, they are appropriating your food. Those are ways to turn racialized people away.”

First of all, African peanut stew and Asian stir fry (which I often make) do not rely on racial stereotypes. They are foreign dishes, and that’s all. They are not “appropriated” but appreciated.  And if you’re turned off of veganism because some white people cook vegan or vegetarian food, you’re not a victim of racism but perhaps an exponent of racism.  Why do vegans have to “look like you”? And what are “racialized” people, anyway? That term is new to me.

Not only that, but black vegans are wary of white ones:

 “These white women, they are the gatekeepers of the vegan movement,” Amoako said. “We Black creators have been here this whole time.”

White women are starting to acknowledge Black and racialized vegans now, following a string of racial reckonings happening in several sectors and communities, Amoako said, but “I’m not gonna lie to you, some of us are still skeptical.”

Skeptical of what? That the “acknowledgment of Black and racialized vegans” (what’s the difference between “Black” and “racialized”?) is real?

The connection between racism and veganism grows ever more tenuous as the article goes on, as Zoledziowski must drag in vegetarianism to make her case. And “privilege” of course, makes its inevitable appearance:

In this post-Floyd world of racial reckonings, many vegans are starting to look inwards at their own privilege. White vegan influencers are urging people to follow BIPOC accounts as part of the #AmplifyMelanatedVoices campaign, while racialized vegans who have amassed large followings continue to post about Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Stories are surfacing in the vegan corners of the internet, highlighting vegan Black Instagram accounts and vegan Black-owned businesses.

The article then goes on to note that many “racialized” communities are “plant based”, but of course “plant based” is not vegan but vegetarian, at least in these examples:

In fact, several communities globally, most of which are racialized, are either plant-based or largely so. According to the latest counts, Brazil and India have the largest vegetarian populations in the world: about a third of Indians—375 million people—and 14 percent of Brazilians, or 29 million people, are vegetarian. TaiwanJamaicaMexico, and Vietnam also have sizable vegetarian or vegan populations. And while that’s not to discount the growing popularity of plant-based diets in predominantly white countries like Switzerland, New Zealand, Germany, and Australia, mainstream portrayals of vegetarianism and veganism are largely white.

. . . Almost one-third of Delhi, India residents identify as vegetarian today. A rich variety of lentil dishes—yellow lentil, brown lentil, and split chickpea dals, and mung beans cooked in different curries marked Siddharth Seth’s upbringing in New Delhi. Seth was raised vegetarian because his family identifies as Hindu and follows an interpretation of the religion that preaches nonviolence— Ahimsa—including towards animals. For Seth, who is now 40, vegetarianism was never a fad; it was just part of daily life.

Remember, the article isn’t about vegetarianism (which incorporates dairy food), but veganism (which spurns dairy). They have to drag Indian vegetarians into the mix to buttress their case. And most Indian vegetarians, as far as I’ve observed, are not vegans: they eat paneer (Indian cheese), yogurt, and milk-based sweets.  As for American vegans, why is their diet not “part of daily life” as well?

I really can’t go on with this article. . . it’s just silly, but I’m highlighting to show how virtually everything on the planet can be seen as a racist act if white people participate in it. The most bizarre quote in the piece, and I’ll end with it, is this, which was uttered by Emani Corcran, who runs a black vegan Instagram site:

“Showing that many dishes from around the world are already plant-based is a huge step for people of colour who are maybe intimidated by veganism,” Corcran said. “That’s what influencers are supposed to do: show what you like to eat. I’m a woman of colour, so I like to eat what women of colour like to eat, and that’s what I’m going to show.”

Putting aside the silliness of people getting intimidated by veganism because it’s seen as white, I find the notion that one should eat what those with similar skin pigmentation eat as crazy.  The fact is that most women of colour are not vegans, so why is she eating a vegan diet?

While the murder of George Floyd brought important focus on the persistence of racism in American society, it’s had the unfortunate side effect of allowing people to get away with racializing nearly everything. And that dilutes the message of movements like Black Lives Matter. My response to this article is to satirize its title: “Dear White Savior Zoledziowski: Get a grip.”


134 thoughts on “VICE: Why veganism is racist

  1. I can’t remember which WEIT reader recently drew my attention to Poe Syndrome, which relates to where reality and parody can’t be told apart, but “the #AmplifyMelanatedVoices campaign” could serve as an excellent example. (I would check the earlier WEIT post to give the appropriate credit, but am genuinely cooking a vegan curry – too inauthentic to count as appropriation I suspect, but then isn’t that worse in a way?)

  2. Hell’s bells, I thought the worst anyone could say of vegans was what that dedicated carnivore Chef Tony Bourdain called them: the “Hezbollah-like splinter-faction” of vegetarianism. 🙂

  3. I’m highlighting to show how virtually everything on the planet can be seen as a racist act if white people participate in it.

    I really doubt it’s a coincidence that the people who came from northern Europe and Scandinavia have to ‘appropriate’ foreign food staples to be healthily vegan, while folks from tropical and subtropical regions were able to be vegetarian and in some cases vegan using only local varieties of plants. I expect the reason Swedes didn’t come up with a fully vegan menu is because their climate was much better suited to a mixed diet of fish, meat, and what few domesticated plants could grow in their winter.

    In any event, I fully agree with you PCC. Aside from possibly some poorly named dishes in old cookbooks, cooking food that originated elsewhere is not racism or appropriation, it’s appreciation.

  4. This writer seems to have a very narrow view of the world for all of her claims to be inclusive. Her research appears to consist of looking at the world of “influencers” on Instagram and doing some Google searches. I didn’t know anecdotes were considered actual journalism now.

    Veganism was around long before influencers discovered it and made it a fad. It will be around long after those influencers have moved on to the next thing. Those who are vegan for ethical reasons will remain. As will the appreciation for the food from cultures that abstain from animal products.

    The writer seems to think that the term “vegan” is popular primarily in North America. But the term was actually coined in 1944 in England, where it is still used today. It’s likely unnecessary to use such a term in cultures that have predominantly plant-based cuisines–it’s just food in those cultures. However, in Western cultures where meat dominates, such a term is very helpful.

    1. I’m old enough to remember when the Vegan Society in the UK was seriously divided because Arthur Ling, who cofounded the early vegan food company Plamil and had long been a leading member and funder of the society, was a beekeeper and viewed by a new radical section of the membership as beyond the pale.

      Around the same time, the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) – which sought to disrupt fox hunting on horseback – got mired in controversy over a “humorous” article in its membership magazine suggesting that the movement should expand its ambitions and start disrupting fishing trips. (The piece argued that members should throw stones into a river from the riverbank opposite a fisherman, having first checked that there was no footbridge within running distance.)

      1. The complaint against Ling seems reasonable to me. I’m not a vegan, but “no animal products” seems like a pretty clear concept and bees are animals.

        1. Another of the suggested tactics was to offer an angler a sandwich with a fishhook hidden inside, and then to run off shouting “See how you like it!” No wonder the article was controversial.

        2. I don’t get the animal welfare part of it (with some exceptions for very bad conditions in some farms, sure, those should be closed).

          How many Aurochs would there be now, if people didn’t eat them? How extensively would their genes be spread?

          Same for sheep, goats, swine, red jungle fowl, etc.

          And how do wild animals die (after a lifetime of being stressed about predators)?:
          – Starvation
          – Being killed and eaten by a predator
          – Being killed by a parasite
          – Dying of disease

          How are these better than a protected life and a quick death?

          (I can see the environmental argument, to some degree.)

            1. Someday we’ll be able to put a fulfillment or happiness meter on animals, humans included, and then we can answer that question. Should be interesting.

              Douglas Adams played that card, marvellously, with the Ameglian Major Cow being served at the Restaurant At the End of The Universe. As Zaphod put it, “Let’s meet the meat, Plate-Captain!”
              Personally, I think the biggest single promoter of near-vegetarian diets would be the banning of commercial butchery. You want to eat beef? Pick one out at the auction yard and buy it; the slaughterman will kill it where it will fall into your car (or trailer, more likely) and you can take it home and butcher it yourself. Remember to dispose of the blood, gut contents and potentially BSE-infected CNS tissue in accordance with local regulations. The number of people who fancy a steak with all the bloody reality will probably decline to compare with those who enjoy rabbit stew with free rabbit-fur glove-and-hat linings.
              Whose parents here can remember both the joy and the hassle of killing and dressing the pig at the bottom of the garden during Rationing? That’s where mine got their likings for rabbit stew. Use everything but the “oink”.

  5. I’ll post the Hitchens quote again.

    “Those who are determined to be ‘offended’ will discover a provocation somewhere. We cannot possibly adjust enough to please the fanatics, and it is degrading to make the attempt.”
    ― Christopher Hitchens

    I’d recommend ignoring Ali A. Rizvi – but that would probably be unacceptable too.

  6. Many years ago, at July 4 southern family picnics, we always had watermelon. Was this cultural appropriation or veiled neo-confederate mockery? Oh, it makes my head hurt, and I haven’t even got to the okra part.

    I know this comment is unwise, but I can’t resist.

    1. First time I had stewed okra was at a soul-food restaurant I used to frequent in what was then known (including to its inhabitants) as “Blacktown” but is now known as “Bahama Village.”

      It was the only part of town you could find good soul food. Also, no-limit poker and after-hours music-and-liquor joints.

      Some parts of one’s history cannot be rewritten, politically awkward though they may have become.

      1. Both watermelon and okra originated in the old world. So if you’re American (even in the both-continent sense), and you’re growing/eating either, you’re a damn dirty appropriator regardless of race.

        Now, let’s have a conversation about those Italians and OUR tomatoes… 🙂

    2. Earlier this year when the supermarket freezers got emptied of frozen foods, I observed that the only thing left in most stores was frozen okra and frozen onions.

  7. Well, that does it: the fact that I, a white woman, have cooked a pot of African peanut and sweet potato stew is incontrovertible proof that I am, in fact, racist. As if I didn’t already know. /sarcasm

    This obsession with ideological purity, “cultural appropriation,” etc. is beyond idiotic and ought to be met with the ridicule it deserves. Thank you for calling it out, Prof. Ceiling Cat.

    And the African peanut stew was delicious.

    PS I am originally from Poland, and if anyone reading this wishes to partake of some pierogi or paczki (Polish donuts), I hereby absolve you of feeling guilty about appropriating my culture. Smacznego!

        1. Hello Drosophilist. I was once introduced to flaczki, Polish tripe stew. For some reason, since then I have never felt any urge toward further cultural appropriation in that particular culinary direction.

          As for the article on veganism’s implicit
          micro-racism, I nominate that article for
          this year’s Titania McGrath medal.

        2. I have personally violently ripped a tomato from a tomato plant and immediately ate it. The tomato presumably had not yet died, so I ate a living thing. It was quite delicious.

  8. As a vegan I can confirm that while not all vegans are racist we are all speciesist as we consistently discriminate against all sentient species by selfishly refusing to torture, kill and eat them just to satisfy our elitist gastronomic preferences.

    1. Well said.
      Oh, and by the way, veganism is the MOST egalitarian diet, free of exploitation, cheap, healthy, and readily available.

    2. While I respect your choice not to kill or use animal bits in your diet, I’d hardly call omnivores eating an omnivorous diet “elitist.”

    3. No one gets off the hook. Think of the countless beautiful and innocent insects that lose their lives due to crop harvesting.

      1. @GBJames

        This is the definition of veganism from the Vegan Society (which is the oldest vegan society in the world and founded by the man who invented the term ‘vegan’)

        Veganism is an ethical philosophy which seeks to eliminate, insofar as it is possible or practicable, all forms of animal exploitation …

        This is the definition adopted by most public vegans and it explicitly concedes that you cannot be perfect and eliminate all forms of animal exploitation. Veganism is about eliminating wherever possible or practicable.

        You say

        No one gets off the hook. Think of the countless beautiful and innocent insects that lose their lives due to crop harvesting.

        What do the animals that you consume eat? Those same crops in much greater numbers (due to the fact that animal agriculture is incredibly inefficient). Which makes omnivores responsible for the suffering and deaths of a much larger number of insects plus that of every animal they consume.

        With plant agriculture, animal deaths are an accident. It is theoretically possible (though highly unlikely in practice) that we could come up with a method of plant farming that does not result in a single animal death. You could never say that about animal agriculture – because killing animals is the point of it.

        The last time I checked, killing someone by accident and doing it deliberately were viewed very differently in the eyes of the law (in practically every legal system on earth). I don’t see why animal deaths shouldn’t be viewed in the same way.

        1. You make unwarranted assumptions about what I eat. The animals I eat are fish that mostly eat other fish. Or they are filter feeding mollusks that eat plankton, both animal and vegetal.

          Vegans should pay closer attention to the “nobody is perfect” ethic you claim to follow. We’re all products of an evolutionary history chock-a-block full of mixed dietary motivations. Expecting Inuit people to follow a vegan diet would be beyond obtuse.

          1. Gotta hand it to vegans, though, they never take themselves too seriously. Always with the nice, light touch of self-deprecation.

          2. @GBJames

            You make unwarranted assumptions about what I eat. The animals I eat are fish that mostly eat other fish. Or they are filter feeding mollusks that eat plankton, both animal and vegetal.

            If you are relying on commercially caught fish, you are responsible for all the bycatch that never makes its way to your plate. Often the amount of bycatch that is never used for any purpose is several times greater amount of useful fish caught. Shrimp farming is the worst – it generates up to 6 pounds of bycatch that is just thrown overboard for every pound of shrimp.

            Vegans should pay closer attention to the “nobody is perfect” ethic you claim to follow. We’re all products of an evolutionary history chock-a-block full of mixed dietary motivations. Expecting Inuit people to follow a vegan diet would be beyond obtuse.

            Frankly, I have no issue with hunter-gatherers living on their traditional diets. The issue I have is with people living in modern urban and suburban environments, shopping at grocery stores that stock the products of industrial farms and commercial fishing and then making appeals to our evolutionary history in order to justify the consumption of animal products. If this does not describe you, then I have no argument with you. If you acknowledge the need to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products but are still consuming animal products then I have no argument with you either. I was in that same position for many years myself. I used to consume dairy and eggs even while acknowledging that what I was doing was unethical. I finally made the move to being vegan a little under a year ago.

            Finally, cruelty to animals is not the only reason to go vegan. The animal agriculture industry is one of the major drivers of climate change. A factory farm somewhere in the world could be the breeding ground for a pandemic that makes COVID-19 feel like a walk in the park (frankly, what I have read about avian influenza H5N1 and H7N9 is terrifying). A pandemic with a mortality rate of between 0.5 and 1 percent has brought the world to a standstill. Imagine if the mortality rate were 50 times higher.

            1. “ I finally made the move to being vegan a little under a year ago.”

              I would note that whatever that sentence means, it does not mean that there is a net change in animal product consumption, nor that it came with any consequences.

              A person is not an ingredient list.

          3. Well, Raghu, you do seem to be a piece of self-absorbed work. Do you honestly imagine that I haven’t considered things like by-catch? Again… stop imagining you know more about the ethics of diet than other people.

            For what it is worth, I get fish that is line-caught. The mussels I eat improve water quality.

            You should stop. You are reinforcing the bad reputation that vegans have managed to build for themselves.

            1. @GBJames

              Well, Raghu, you do seem to be a piece of self-absorbed work.

              Name calling? I thought everyone was supposed to be polite around here.

              Please note that I said “If you are relying on commercially caught fish” and also that “If this does not describe you, then I have no argument with you.”

              I made no assumptions about you whatsoever.

              1. Sorry, I used unfortunate language. I should have said “sanctimonious” not “self-absorbed”.

                It is a feature of too many vegans, to instruct non-vegans in ethics as if only they themselves have thought through the issues.

              2. @GBJames

                Truly last post. Just one question. Please let me know how I should express an opinion about dietary ethics without causing offense?
                My posts had plenty of disclaimers in them – “I have no issues with …”, “If this does not apply to you …”. I made it pretty clear that my arguments were aimed at people who had not thought seriously about these issues and were purchasing food from supermarkets without thinking. I did not repeat any arguments nor did I call anyone a bad person for doing what they did. Why is it so hard for you to disagree with me and say why without calling me a “self absorbed piece of work” or “sanctimonious”? There are plenty of ethical opinions expressed by people on this forum. If I were to go calling everyone who expressed an ethical opinion “sanctimonious”, I’d get banned pretty quick.

              3. Don’t make the assumption that people who are not vegan need to be educated by you as to the ethics of diet. Don’t imagine that the rest of us are ignorant as to the condition of the environment and humanity’s role in how we got here. Consider that the people you encounter actually have thought deeply and are very well informed but have simply come to a different conclusion than you have.

                None of the arguments you made, and none of the information you provided, are new to me or, I am sure, to the majority of people who read WEIT.

                And when you make the vegan diet a matter of ethics and morality you are by definition passing judgement on everyone who doesn’t follow your program.

              4. “And when you make the vegan diet a matter of ethics and morality you are by definition passing judgement on everyone who doesn’t follow your program.”

                A hallmark of religion.

              5. @GBJames

                Don’t make the assumption that people who are not vegan need to be educated by you as to the ethics of diet.

                No assumptions were made. I explicitly said “if this does not describe you, then I have no argument with you”

                And when you make the vegan diet a matter of ethics and morality you are by definition passing judgement on everyone who doesn’t follow your program.

                A majority of people who become vegan do so as a matter of ethics – and I am one. So essentially what you are saying is that ethical opinions that are in the minority have no place here.

              6. Conversations with zealots rarely end well. I’ll just do what I do when Johos stop and knock. They, too, seem to think they have something new to contribute. I close the door.


              7. The most noble animals are scavengers which eat animals that are already dead. We should emulate them and eat only animals that die of natural causes.🙃

        2. You could prevent countless innocent insect deaths by subsisting solely on hydroponic plants. Do you strive to do so?

        3. “Veganism is an ethical philosophy which seeks to eliminate, insofar as it is possible or practicable, all forms of animal exploitation …”

          Without quantitative results – evidence- that this philosophy does anything meaningful, how does the philosophy differ from religion?

          And if it weren’t explicitly claimed to be an “the definition of veganism from the Vegan Society”, how is anyone to know it wasn’t the mission statement of People for the Ethical Treatment Of Animals?

          1. Last post on this subject. I have no desire to hog this thread. After this, I will go back to lurking

            Without quantitative results – evidence- that this philosophy does anything meaningful, how does the philosophy differ from religion?

            50-70 billion land animals killed every year – mostly in industrial farming operations which are horribly cruel to animals. Up to 3 trillion marine animals killed each year (a majority of which are just thrown overboard as they are of no use). Between 15 and 50 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (depending on which estimate you accept). Even the smaller of the two numbers is greater than the greenhouse gas emissions produced by all transportation combined. Up to 80 percent of the world’s agricultural land going to animals or animal feed while producing under 20 percent of calories, up to half of all fresh water consumption going to animals or crops used for animal feed. Enough quantitative results for you?

            1. “Enough quantitative results for you?”

              While data is common, the logic isn’t.

              It has not been shown that “an ethical philosophy” has “eliminate[d], insofar as it is possible or practicable, all forms of animal exploitation ”. It has also not been shown how “veganism” is distinguishable from religion.

              I’m still waiting to hear a point be made, which cannot happen without conversation.

          2. I might take the opportunity to gently remind the readers here that cruelty-free organic turnips are grown on land that used to be the habitat of a great many creatures.

            We are having beef tonight, which for us means that it is a day ending in “Y”. The cow from which the steak came lived it’s life in a beautiful high (10500 ft) mountain valley in SW Colorado. That valley teems with elk, antelope, and thousands of other species. The land has never been cleared or sprayed with insecticide, and requires no irrigation.

            I am pretty comfortable with the ethics associated with tonight’s meal.

            1. And presuming the other days are meat-free, or even animal product-free, this would be consistent with the nebulous – apparently official definition of veganism. So a 6 days out of seven vegan diet would, I don’t see why not, count as adapting the philosophy.

              1. Saturday

                But it is not really true that we eat beef on all those days. The only thing we eat literally every day is rice.
                We each eat about 100 pounds of beef per year. That comes from three cows set aside for family use each fall.
                We also take a couple of big elk and a bunch of trout.
                We also grow lots of apples, grapes, and berries. Other family members grow various grains and veg, so the vast majority of what we eat is food produced by our own family, rice being the big exception.

                The fact that some animals die to sustain us does not bother me. If anything, modern urban squeamishness over such things seems sort of unnatural to me.
                I know for a fact that the peppers I cooked with the steaks tonight were not sprayed with odd chemicals or picked by child slaves in a third world country. I also know that the beef is not full of antibiotics or hormones that will give my kids early-onset puberty or gigantism. That is what is important to me, rather than trying to pretend that my lifestyle somehow sets me outside of the “circle of life”.

                I have no problem with others who choose to live and eat differently. But those choices do not convey moral purity.

              2. To say nothing about packing, shipping, refrigeration, or indeed what is available to someone. Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel shows the enormous consequences of how production efficiency is dependent on geography. How can a philosophy account for geography? It can’t, and at that point is more of an ideology.

    4. Plants, being the only types of creatures that can create food de novo, are the only innocent forms of life on the planet. So vegans are the cruelest of all people. [I’m speaking tongue in cheek]

  9. I haven’t the patience to try to dissect this nonsense in detail, but if she has a genuine beef, it might be that a lot of writing in popular media about veganism/vegetarianism is by white people. Well, really, so what?

    Excuse me while I go to finish off my roast veggie chilli. Assuming the anti-appropriation food police allow me to do so, that is.

    1. I think what they really hate is people, especially POC, assuming veganism is a white thing. And, of course, they are blaming white people for dominating the discourse yet again.

      As usual, there’s probably some truth to this. Publishing companies, for example, are probably dominated by white people and publish books and stories aimed at white people. Just like history is often told from a white perspective for a white audience, similarly for vegan cookbooks. The problem is what they want to do about it. Trying to make white people feel guilty is just not going to get them what they want.

    2. It is not at all surprising that all the people writing about veganism are white, if all the black people are writing about how veganism is racist instead of writing about veganism.

  10. Diets can be vegan.

    A person can adapt any diet they wish, usually blending them.

    I don’t understand what happens after that. Thus, how a list of product ingredients can be racist makes no sense, any more than a shopping list, a laundry list, etc.

    1. I think there’s two components to the appropriation blame game:

      “Credit stealing,” i.e. any use of recipe or ingredients not original to your “race” is presumed by the woke to be an attempt to take credit for an invention not yours.

      “Zero sum logic,” i.e. the woke presume that if group A cooks this recipe, that means some other group B who is more deserving of it now can’t enjoy it.

      Obviously neither is true in general or for common things, though either could be true in certain specific circumstances.

      1. Was it Bierce who defined “Puritanism” as the sneaking suspicion that somewhere, someone is enjoying themselves?

  11. Any article that includes phrases like “white Canadian vegan influencer” should be avoided. They contain so many bad ideas it is hard to know even where to begin. It’s worse than QAnon.

  12. I had to check my calendar to make sure it wasn’t April 1st after reading this! I was curious and went to the Vice site. After pursuing the article, I scrolled down the page and found this piece: “20 Recipes for the Pasta, Rice, and Beans You’ve Hopefully Stockpiled by Now.” There are a quite a few “culturally appropriated” recipes in that article. Along with “Easy Tomato Soup Recipe” and “Banana Chocolate Cream Pie” there is “Aloo Parathas,” “Cacio e Pepe,” “Roasted Potatoes and Chickpeas with Za’atar,” “Easy Saimin Recipe,” “Sweet Potato Chip Tortilla Recipe,” “Stir-Fried Instant Ramen Noodles with Pork and Cabbage Recipe.” Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

    1. If you read recipes, go to supermarkets and restaurants, it is obvious that the Woke’s attempt to get people to stop appropriating other culture’s food is a complete and utter failure. It has zero chance of gaining any traction. They can’t even get Trader Joe’s to change their brand names!

  13. I live across the Atlantic and don’t understand this cultural appropriation stuff.

    Recently, I fancied making an Indian curry. Because I was lazy, and it was to hand, I used my Chinese wok.

    Was that double cultural appropriation?


  14. Of course all “Veganism” is cultural appropriation and racism against people from the star system Vega. We are indirectly and thoughtlessly abused in every single comedy sketch or public outpouring of frustration against these human “vegans”.

  15. Claims of the use and consumption of products produced with 100% independence from animals are dubious at best.

    Is every product 100% independent of low-wage workers?

    is every product 100% independent of the killing of animals?

    And what about investments – are they all 100% independent of animal products?

    Is the consumption of fungus therefore acceptable? Is consumed oxygen after all.

    Thus, *identifying* with such a notion makes no sense. Where, then, can racism be in this nebula of rules?

  16. If the ideal world would be one in which differences are celebrated (or ignored)…why wouldn’t something as essentially human as music or food or dance or clothing be open to all of us? I fell in love with African patterns on a visit to West Africa. Should I not be permitted to wear them because I’m white? That’s NONSENSE!

    I fell in love with Indian food on a visit there and happily eat it whenever possible. Is this just RACIST of me? Appropriating their recipes?

    I’ve been in many nations where people are vegetarian or vegan. It’s not limited to ”race” or ”culture” or even religion (with the exception of the Jains or Buddhists)…and I don’t understand the reluctance of some folks to sneer down their noses at the way I eat.

    Can we NOT toss out the proverbial baby with the proverbial bathwater?

    1. It’s the **essence** of culture that it is so easily transmitted to others. Study the history of any cultural arena – music, art, food, clothing, language, etc. – and you will find mixings with other cultures.

      You might as well go down to the ocean and tell the tide to stop if you want cultures to stop borrowing from each other.

      1. Not just the “essence”. It is the very definition of culture, information transmitted between people. If it isn’t shared, it isn’t culture.

  17. One can only hope that the lunacy of appropriation dies a quck death once they realise that all cultures are syncretic. Hopefully Woke dies with it.

  18. Do vegans think the world would be a better place if there were no domestic animals? Should we have a planet with no cattle for instance? Asking for a friend.

    1. Do vegans think the world would be a better place if there were no domestic animals? Should we have a planet with no cattle for instance?

      At the risk of being called a zealot again, let me answer :).

      Frankly, I couldn’t care less if all our livestock breeds went extinct. Many (though not all) of these animals are completely incapable of surviving in the wild and exist only because of our desire to exploit them.

      There are plenty of wild species of cattle, pigs, sheep and chickens. They are adapted to surviving in the wild and will be around for the foreseeable future. If human activity threatens them in any way, we should take up measures to conserve them.

      I see no reason to take any special effort to preserve the Frankenstein’s monsters that we have created. Some will hang around in animal sanctuaries and the few that can re-adapt will probably go feral. So I don’t expect all of them to necessarily go away even in the (extremely unlikely) event of the world going vegan.

      1. I’d love for you to show me a photo of one of the wild cattle that you say exist in large numbers. Until you informed us of this we had all thought the aurochs went extinct in 1627 before the invention of the camera!

        1. When I say wild cattle, I am not talking specifically about Bos primigenius. There are other members of the genus like the Indian Gaur and the Wild Yak that exist plus various species of wild buffalo. There are also some populations of feral cattle that have re-adapted to the wild. As far as I am concerned, they will continue to exist. Bos primigenius is going to exist in large numbers only in captivity and should animal exploitation end, will probably die out. Given the number of species that humans have driven to extinction, one more does not make much difference.


      2. “I couldn’t care less if all our livestock breeds went extinct.”

        I don’t understand what it means to care or not care about which life goes extinct, if artificially bred animals can be thought of as extant or extinct.

        1. I hasten to add:

          I can understand how a vulnerable species like koala, are directly affected by human activity, and therefore special accommodation must be in place for koalas – we *should* “care” about the human impact on koalas. It as also sad that the dodo is extinct. Is it sad that dinosaurs are extinct ( or are just birds now)? I don’t know. It is sad that an asteroid did it. It wasn’t their fault or ours. It is how Nature unfolded.

          But I am still confused about what to think about extant domesticated or farmed animals – if they are no longer bred, or continue to breed, I don’t see the connection to some sort of ethics..

          But that’s for another thread – this is about a super dumb VICE article!

    2. I’m not sure if you are serious, and I’m not quite a vegan myself, though I try to be as much as I can — anyway I think the answer is probably yes. The vast majority of domestic animals are factory-farmed chickens, pigs, cows etc, and their living conditions are so horrendous that it is hard to believe that their existence is a net gain of pleasure over suffering. It would be better if they never existed, in other words. The opposite is true of pets (there are still ethical issues there, but most pets seem to live lives that are worth living). But, compared to factory-farmed animals, the number of pets is negligible.

      1. A world without domestic animals would also produce about 15% less green house gas (estimates vary a little). This fact alone makes it a better world in my book.

      2. “… the number of pets is negligible“

        Over what time frame?

        How much food do pets like dogs or cats require over that time frame, and where is it sourced?

        The claim that pets are “negligible” is weak. Just because animal farming uses orders of magnitude greater resources than pets doesn’t mean the pet resource consumption isn’t important. It just means it isn’t factory farming.

        1. I wasn’t talking about resource consumption. I was talking about suffering, which has no inherent correlation with consumption. A chicken might consume 0.1% of what a cow does, but it doesn’t follow that its suffering is 0.1% of that of the cow.

          The number of cats and dogs (combined) in the world is a little over 1 billion. Assume each has a life span of 5 years. Compare that with the ~60 billion chickens slaughtered every year, so 300 billion in 5 five years. (Not all cats/dogs are pets and not all chickens are factory-farmed; still, most of them are. We’re looking at orders of magnitude, so exact numbers aren’t important.) Is the happiness of one pampered cat enough to compensate for hundreds of chickens? Or is it negligible, as I say? You be the judge.

          In terms of resource consumption, you are right that the pet industry is not negligible. It accounts for a sizable chunk (maybe as much as 1/3) of emissions from agriculture industry. This only strengthens the case that a world without domestic animals, including pets, will be a better world.

          1. “I was talking about suffering, which has no inherent correlation with consumption.”

            My argument is from efficiency of resource use and caloric efficiency, to name two. When cast in these terms, animal food products stand out as a serious problem, and clear cut solutions present themselves. No need to ask if the animals are suffering – which means we’d have to ask about everything suffering, and measure it, and indeed, the animal product industry will simply counter with marketing campaigns like “grass fed” or other such meaningless shell games. They can’t hide from numbers though, especially dollars.

            “ a world without domestic animals, including pets, will be a better world.”

            That is your assertion, which fails to account for cases where human well being is increased directly from animals – pets or otherwise. Some humans will have to eat and use animal products or live with animals.

            How do we know that convolution of “suffering” – a common tactic of victims of religion – and engineering of “a better world” into the problem solving process will produce the expected outcome of “a better world”? On what basis? What is the measurement? And who is to be the great decider of what the better world will be?

            1. I think you summarize my personal view of this problem. We have a very serious environmental problem to confront. Consuming less meat, particularly cattle, is part of the solution. But it is wrong to imagine that because some people choose to be vegans that the problem will be solved by everyone doing so. Much more progress will be had by developing better and even more convincing meat replacements, including lab-grown meats.

              1. Thanks.

                I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault that we have a serious food problem, let alone other problems, and I don’t think problem solving works when we have to feel ashamed about the problem, or insinuate that it’s some one person’s fault because they like hamburgers. .. and how can that be racist?

              2. But it is wrong to imagine that because some people choose to be vegans that the problem will be solved by everyone doing so. Much more progress will be had by developing better and even more convincing meat replacements, including lab-grown meats.

                I cannot speak for every vegan here but as far as I am concerned, if all meat in the world were lab grown then I would regard everyone as vegan (from a dietary point of view).

            2. I don’t know why the moral argument seems such anathema to you.

              Here’s something else I believe. Slavery, which still exists today, is wrong because it causes people to suffer unnecessarily. The world without slavery will be a better place.

              What are you gonna say? “No need to ask if slaves are suffering – which means we’d have to ask about everyone’s suffering and ultimately question every form of exploitation”? Are you going to tell me that a world without slavery isn’t necessarily better because I failed to account for the well-being of the slave-owners and the consumers feasting upon cheap slave labor? How are we going to measure suffering anyway? “What is the measurement? And who is to be the great decider of what the better world will be?”

              1. I’m done here, but this :

                “I don’t know why the moral argument seems such anathema to you.”

                I have no idea where you are getting this. I never suggested anything if the sort. If that’s how you distilled everything I wrote that’s your own problem.

        1. Only if your original question was about a hypothetical idyllic world where the overwhelming majority of domestic animals aren’t factory farmed.

          In the actual world, if we could magically disappear all domestic animals we would eliminate factory farming and thereby a massive amount of suffering.

            1. I thought my reply was clear.

              World 1: the actual world. The majority of domestic animals are factory farmed; a small minority (at least one order of magnitude smaller) aren’t.

              World 2: no domestic animals — so no factory farming, no pets, no circus.

              A huge bloc of suffering, far outstripping pleasures enjoyed by pets, exists in 1 but not in 2, so 2 is better than 1.

              1. Your “World 2” is a fictional place. Like heaven.

                The interesting question for vegans to address is whether they will eat lab-grown meat.

              2. “Do vegans think the world would be a better place if there were no domestic animals?” was your question. You asked for a comparison between the actual world and a fictional one. What’s the complaint? Do you want me to compare the actual world to the actual world?

                Not speaking for all vegans, I’d eat lab-grown meat if it doesn’t cost too much (environmentally) to produce.

  19. Yeesh, that cringe-worthy article!

    I suggest these are the situations for which the phrase “Oh just F*ck Off” was invented.

    Btw, the first time I encountered Peanut Stew was when I lived with a family from Mali Africa for several years, and they’d often invite me to join them for dinner. It remains one of my all time favorite dishes…from memory…as I’ve never had it since.

    (One reason we’ve never tried to make it at home is due to having a peanut-allergic kid in the house).

  20. Looking at recipes for “African Peanut Stew” was sort of fun.
    Half of the ingredients originated in the Americas, and most of the remainder are of Asian origin.

    Which makes it an absolutely normal modern dish. People who carp on about appropriation generally seem to lack any in-depth understanding of human migration and transfer of culture and technology.

    The last few days I have been hearing many of the same arguments used to classify places as “historically Black neighborhoods”, in places that have had multiple ethnic identities over the years.

    1. People who carp on about appropriation generally seem to lack any in-depth understanding of human migration and transfer of culture and technology.

      Yes. A particular pet peeve of mine is the generally atrocious ignorance about what fruits and vegetables come from the new world – and therefore, could not possibly have been “original” to any European, African, or Asian cuisine.

      But, maybe the ignorance is a good thing, in that it shows foods in general really have gone so completely global that modern cuisine from just about any nation includes both…despite what the wokes might prefer.

      1. Long after my university years, I remain fascinated with technological exchange, which certainly includes agricultural and cooking tech.
        It is absolutely amazing to me how thorough that exchange has been.
        I disagree about “food ignorance” being a good thing, because people are being driven out of business by those displaying that ignorance. I guess it is of lesser importance these days, as many places will be gone soon for other reasons.

        If I go to my favorite restaurant and order my usual, which is the enchilada plate (flour tortillas, two beef, one cheese, one chicken, extra sour cream, Christmas sauce) and used my time machine to bring a Roman from the classical period and a Meso-American from the same era to share my meal, it is likely that the Roman would find the sauce unusual, but otherwise would be familiar with the dish. The American would probably find it very strange, having never encountered cheese or sour cream, bread from wheat flour, lettuce, cilantro, rice, or anything fried in cooking oil. Beef and chicken would be new as well, but similar meats might be familiar to him.
        Endless variations on that experiment could be carried out

  21. Since I tried and failed to write something without curse words in all caps the first time I tried to comment about this let me just say that I shall eat what I like and if someone else has a problem with that then my backside is ready for their pucker.

    There. I did it. (Breathe…)

  22. One good, reasonable criterion to select certain foods over others is clear cut : efficiency – in resource input and in caloric value. By this simple rule, many common animal products fail. This also rules out almonds, palm trees, and maybe more, I don’t know. Bananas and avocados I personally think aren’t very efficient either but puzzlingly they are plentiful.

    Good sound reasons are sufficient to make the same choices that come in an ideology, but the ideology cannot account for inefficient production of plant products, to say nothing about the manufacturing processes of synthetic fibers, or shipping, and so on.

    And then racism is supposed to be here? Keep digging, termites.

  23. Yes. Industrialized farming of animals is horrendous, as is industrialized growing of vegetables, grains and fruits. These animals raised in feed lots or huge buildings with insufficient space are mostly fed corn (for cattle which should be eating grass) and given antibiotics. I’m assuming pigs and chickens are similarly fed and medicated. The animals have been bred to be bigger to provide us with more flesh which often causes them problems. The processes for killing the animals and turning them into grocery store ready products is cruel. I doubt that very many not us would enjoy seeing a live animal become a dead one. The people who work in these factories may be essential workers but I think they are not paid enough and work in terrible conditions as well. They are mostly legal or illegal immigrants. Farming with modern machines causes loss of soil and nutrients. Use of chemical fertilizers on vegetables, grains and fruits also causes problems. As with the processing of animals, field workers are mostly legal or illegal immigrants, most of whom are not well paid and most often live in substandard housing.

    Small farms or family farms would produce much better tasting and safer foods. So, if you can’t raise your own, like Max does, try for grass fed animals, vegetables, grains and fruits raised without damaging the land by using chemical fertilizers and dangerous pesticides.

    Citizens of less wealthy countries have traditionally not eaten much meat for the reason that they can’t afford it and it is less available to them. As mentioned, other reasons are due to religious and ethical beliefs. Another factor is high population.
    Reducing excessive childbirths might benefit populations that don’t eat meat, but want to do so. This would benefit the world in many other ways also. In countries as they become wealthier, it seems as though more meat is eaten. China is an example.

    I don’t know if it’s true, but years ago I read that plants can communicate feelings, fear, pain, etc. to other plants of their kind. If this were true and we care about not causing pain to sentient beings, animal or plant, humans could not eat anything.

    By the way: Are non-milk drinkers permitted to drink mother’s milk in the early years of their lives?

    1. These are difficult moral questions, to which there are no ideal answers. My own solution is to decide to eat only plants, and animals which, to my best knowledge, are the least sentient. That led me to become a pescatarian. (I use brain mass relative to body mass as my best indicator of sentience,) I could not bring myself to eat bugs. Even so, I had to abandon eating octopus once I learned of its intelligence.

      Plants do indeed sense their environment, respond to it, and communicate with other plants. But I figure their sentience coefficient must be below that of seafood. So I do enjoy asparagus with my salmon without guilt.

      Hopefully, we will someday manufacture food without the need of animals. I tried plant-based beef and found it an acceptable facsimile. But since I prefer fish, I rarely eat it.

      1. I had a koi die a few days ago, and buried it in the same plot that we bury dogs and other pets that have passed away.
        I did not engrave a granite headstone or anything.
        I think our treatment of other living beings is not always defined strictly by logic, and is often full of contradictions.

    2. > Small farms or family farms would produce much better tasting and safer foods.

      They would be unable to produce and sell enough. Locally grown food does not scale.

      I am sympathetic towards vegetarianism but fear the consequences for my health. Thus I still eat yogurt and mackerels.

  24. The term “racialized” was coined by SJWs because people kept pointing out that Muslim wasn’t a race so stop calling anti-Muslim people racists.

  25. Now THAT article in Vice is some real top notch crazy.
    … I don’t remember Vice to be so insane – were it HuffPost I’d expect that kind of rubbish… but there does seem to be a spreading of this ridiculous dynamic.

    D.A., J.D., NYC
    (traditional liberal, Hillary volunteer, Enlightenment leftist, guy who is sick of this fanaticism.)

  26. This thread reminds me that, second only to the subject of freely available abortion, issues of vegetarian/vegan/omnivorous diets are the most contentious I know.

    1. Ha!
      Go online and dip your toe into the “Was Shakespeare really Shakespeare?” ‘debate. Some of that stuff makes the average religious schism look like toddlers squabbling in a nursery…

      1. Well–5 years of working at Planned Parenthood have exposed me to vitriol and verbal slime which really exceed suppositions about Shakespeare. 🙂

  27. Actually, the article did mention one thing that might be a real issue. It talked about how fads for certain food stuffs in developed countries can cause real problems for people who rely on them as their staples. Quinoa was given as an example: if people in Western Europe suddenly decide it is the latest wonder food, people who eat it every day may no longer be able to afford it. I don’t know how much it is a real problem but it sounds like it could be.

    Not that it has anything to do with veganism and a black person who lives in the USA suddenly buying loads of quinoa is just as guilty as a white person.

  28. These people really are like religious fundamentalists. They have an all-encompassing worldview that prevents them from experiencing anything for its own sake…everything they see or hear is entangled with racism.

  29. She needs to check her first world problems privilege. Whitey making a vegan chimchonga is not a problem, and is mocking actual real-world food problems called hunger and malnutrition.

    1. @John Reynolds “Whitey making a vegan chimchonga is not a problem, and is mocking actual real-world food problems called hunger and malnutrition.” WHAT? So, my vegan palak paneer is ”mocking actual real-world food problems, etc?” I’m going to hope that you’re being satirical. Otherwise, you’re not making any sense at all.

  30. Authoritarianism appeals, simply, to people who cannot tolerate complexity. … It is anti-pluralist. It is suspicious of people with different ideas. It is allergic to fierce debates. Whether those who have it ultimately derive their politics from Marxism or nationalism is irrelevant. It is a frame of mind, not a set of ideas.

    (Anne Applebaum, Twilight of Democracy , p. 16)

  31. I’m still confused by the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange. Ideas travel very easily, and goods too. At what point are we meant to say what’s allowed and what’s not? Seems an exercise in futility that only serves to limit our experiences.

    Also, I’m quite confused how an openness to the fruits of other cultures is now considered a bad thing. It used to be a mark of tolerance and respect to be willing to engage in cross-cultural exchange.

    1. There is, of course, no difference between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange. Except in the minds of the ignorant where one is good and the other is bad.

      1. I, of course, agree with your sentiment but I think the Woke would say “cultural appropriation” is taking without permission and no “exchange” was involved. I wonder where I go to get permission to eat my enchiladas tonight. Can I assume that the makers sought and received the necessary permits? 😉

Leave a Reply