Since I announced my pregnancy last year, I’ve been asked quite often whether we would raise our baby vegan. If I saw the question on my blog or social media, I would respond by saying that we decided not to label her diet or lifestyle and I explained why if I had the time. Since I was asked this question so frequently I recently decided to write a blog post on the topic to be transparent about our decision (see: Will you raise your daughter a vegan?). I’ve always been an open book on the blog and figured I could share our thoughts and also ask you to share your own experiences. I enjoy hearing other perspectives because I’ve never been someone who thinks that there is one correct way to do anything. What works for one family might not work for others.
As I expected, there was a wide range of opinions on the topic. Many of you left thought-provoking and respectful comments (whether you agreed or not), and I greatly enjoyed reading them. They led to some wonderful discussions with friends and family this week. However, there were some hateful and threatening comments attacking me, my family, and our decision. According to some, I’m no longer welcome to call myself vegan. This wasn’t entirely surprising; over the past 6 years I’ve often been accused of not being “vegan enough”, being “too mainstream”, or not “doing enough for the vegan movement”, yet here I was receiving hundreds of comments and emails each month from readers telling me my recipes changed their lives, that they were happy to be helping animals, reducing their carbon footprint, and getting healthy even if they weren’t “perfect”. Apparently, my welcoming and non-judgmental approach was indeed the catalyst for major change.
I realize that the scrutiny I’ve faced over the years is from a small percentage of vegans. Tearing each other down is never conducive to furthering the movement though. The majority of vegans I know are incredibly kind and compassionate both to animals and humans alike. However, the personal attacks have made me reflect greatly about whether this label continues to be right for me. Do I want to live my life striving for an elusive perfection that I know I’m too flawed to ever achieve? Or can I do it my way? While some of you will say "don’t let it bother you" and “don’t let them win” I’ll be honest in telling you that experiencing hate on a public forum from your own community wears you down over time. It’s a distraction from my overall purpose and you know what, it sure as hell takes the fun out of the journey.
In the end, I will keep on doing my thing, but without a personal label on my diet or lifestyle. Going forward you can expect to see the same types of crowd-pleasing plant-based recipes on this blog and in my next cookbook; this is how I love to eat and what makes me happy. My goal has always been to encourage others to reduce their animal consumption and embrace more plants in their diet. This is my passion in life not only because of how it has greatly improved my own and those close to me, but for countless other reasons. I still believe that the greatest change happens when we elevate one another, celebrate progress, and of course, share delicious food that challenges the norms of the standard diet. So that’s exactly what I intend to keep doing. There are many ways in which compassionate individuals can spread their message and this is what speaks to my heart. I have no doubt there is something out there for everyone.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the years, and also, for reminding me why it’s important to remain authentic even in spite of criticism.