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.
Please note comments are now closed – May 20/15
I missed that post about how you’re raising the baby, but you know what? IT DOESN’T MATTER. How you raise YOUR kid is entirely up to you! And you’re right, you have impacted thousands (tens of thousands!) of people’s lives, and that is an incredible achievement. You’re an inspiration to SO many people. So please, just continue to do your thing, and tell the haters to go take a hike (or better, just ignore/forget them). You go, girl!! And so will your gorgeous daughter. :)
I have been vegan for about 20 years, and more the once been told I was doing it wrong…including by other vegans. But for many of the reasons you cite, I always swore I wouldn’t raise kids vegan either. Never thought of it is a big deal, but I could see where people would. You are doing just fine. :) Sam
I actually should have said “mostly by other vegans.” I even get flake because my dogs and cats are never vegan.
I think you’re great and I love your blog. I am NOT a vegan, but I have a great love of veggies and eat them often. I like to think of myself as a vegaphile or perhaps a more mindful omnivore. I have used many of your recipes and look forward to the new ones you post. You are wise to reject extreme points of view, and sadly there are many extremists in the vegan community. But kudos to you for making the choice you feel is right for you and your family. Keep up the good work!
I can’t speculate as to why you would receive such harsh words as another human trying to do the right thing for yourself and your family but I can tell you that what you do and the way you do it matters. There is no such thing as vegan enough and in my opinion those who choose not to assign labels to themselves, their lives, and their decisions are incredibly strong and demonstrate the amount of care and intention behind their choices. I can say that personally, when I became a vegan almost 3 years ago I had never met a vegan in my life and lived in one of the most conservative states in the US and received a lot of negative comments. Your accessible, fun, and welcoming blog and recipes helped me make the transition and feel comfortable eating the way I wanted to, even if it was different from those around me. Your blog was an incredible resource and continues to be. Thank you!
I follow the baby and recipe section of your blog regularly and have not commented before.
I very much enjoy your writing style and food perspective.
There is no need to change the labelling of your recipes – they ARE vegan.
What you choose to label yourself and if you choose to do so, is your choice alone.
I do hope you do not feel the need to change anything about what you do, based on critics. Thank you for the gift of delicious, accessibly healthy food!
I hate labels. They make things so complicated. My daughter is half African American and I get much the same response from people in regards to race. Am I going to raise her black or white? My answer is neither. I’m going to raise her as an individual. My hope is that she will grow up to be the best version of herself. Whether she decides to identify with being black, white, or both is irrelevant.
As a human, we are fortunate to be able to live as omnivores. It doesn’have to be a political statement to eat the best source of nutrition. When I don’t say anything and just serve and eat tasty food, there is no fight and no one talks about not having eaten meat in 6 months. Not all choices have to be a fight. Yes I will put a small piece of chicken on my plate when my mother-in-law serves it. Why start a fight? I enjoy the broccoli and the company much better.
I understand the desire to promote the political issues. But it isn’t worth ruining everyone’s appetite. Have the conversations away from the table and the realize the results. After 13 years she made vegeteble soup without ham. It was tasty and my daughter saw her make the effort.
I missed this post earlier so you probably won’t see this comment. But I still want to say…your phrase at the top of the blog rings true in the spirit of your writing. “Glow from the inside out”. You do! Not just with healthy eating but with a kind spirit.
I agree with an earlier poster–this whole thing is so dramatic. Writing an entire post to say you’re no longer calling yourself vegan? Uh… cool? Thanks for letting us know? If you no longer label your recipes vegan they won’t come up for those of us who still follow a vegan diet and search online for recipes, and that will be a shame as your recipes are wonderful.
This whole thing has left a bad taste in my mouth. Don’t think I’ll be looking to this site for recipes anymore, nor do I think I’ll buy the next book–not like you post more than once a month these days, anyway.
Angela, I’ve been thinking a lot about your post since I first read it. I am so sad to hear the hurt in your words. I am disappointed when people in the vegan community, which in my view should be motivated by love and compassion, become attacking and angry. Please know that there are many who believe that you can define yourself in any way you want and will still be seen for who you are underneath labels, which is a loving, compassionate and passionate person. I love your work.
You handle what I’m sure was an extremely painful and uncomfortable situation with such grace and poise. You continue to be an inspiration to us all – you show what it means to be healthy, compassionate, classy, and REAL in both our dietary choices and our lives. Long-time follower, fan, and supporter and will continue to be as long as you’re posting.
What a great blog post. I have a 9 month old daughter (being weaned) and 9 year old meat eating son and a vegan wholefoods husband. I’m somewhere in the middle but I veer towards the healthier wholefood options. It’s hard to juggle different tastes and likes in a family and blogs like yours help to give really tasty attractive options to the whole family.
It’s such a shame that in any minority group a few will tar and prohibit the movement with extremism. Like feminists being known as man-haters, and vegans as human hating hippies. I’m a feminist and I love men! My husband and I watched a documentary recently on vegan lifestyle. In the opening scene, the vegan lady drank her own urine…… I mean really????? of all the vegans, I know, love and married – not one drinks their own urine! (that I know of :))
People like you, do the movement far more benefit then harm. You do change peoples lives for the better. You give vegans a good name! So keep up the good work and do what’s right for you and your family.
I grew up in a low income household. We ate what was available, which pretty much amounted to what came in a box or was microwaveable. To keep it short, I didn’t grow up on fruits and vegetables. As a result, I hated most vegetables up until two years ago.
Two years ago, I decided that I would force myself into fruits and vegetables. I forced myself into a purely “plant-based” or “vegan” diet (not really sure who is making up the rules about all of these terms). I did that in order to force myself to understand how wonderful vegetables can be. I would never have made it through three full months of a vegan lifestyle (yes, vegan lifestyle, per the “haters’ definition”) without your recipes and your inspiring story.
I will admit that I did not commit to your blog recipes because they were animal friendly. I did it because I needed to learn to live without meat and dairy. But, I still love animals. I have spent my life volunteering in shelters. But, none of that changes the fact that I had to make a conscious effort to introduce this new diet into my life pretty late in the game (in my thirties).
So, I don’t really care what the minority of vegans say to you (and I did read the comments, and they were ignorant and short-sighted for the vegan movement). I want you to know that, thanks to you, I learned how to have a meal without any meat. I learned how to forego dairy, and I learned that it could be delicious. My family is astounded at the vegetables I eat now that I didn’t eat six months ago. I have around 80 co-workers that still can’t believe that your version of nacho cheeze is completely dairy free.
As my diet continues to evolve, I may never fit the definition of perfect, but I guess all that matters is that you made a HUGE difference in introducing me to plant-based foods, and that has vastly improved my life and my health.
And that is all that should really matter.
I love that you are claiming your own diet. That’s the only one that counts. I’ve known about your blog for some time and others have even recommended it to me. It would be a shame for a few loose cannons to bring you down. Don’t let those sorts of attitudes beat you. You are awesome.
Hi Angela – This is indeed food for thought… I often refer to myself as a vegan as a simply way to explain my dietary preferences, but I recognize that I do not fully embrace every aspect of a vegan lifestyle. For this reason, I’ve started using the term plant-based more frequently. My family members eat meat and I feel food choice is a personal decision. I too have found a “welcoming and non-judgmental approach” works best in helping people make small healthy changes one step at a time. Kudos to you for speaking up and shining light on this issue – keep the great recipes and articles coming! :)
Some people have hate for anyone who isn’t doing exactly what they do, the way they do it.
I have a friend who was called a race traitor because he didn’t vote for Obama. He said “Wait, I don’t like his politics, it has nothing to do with race. I’m black but I can think for myself and vote for whom I choose, right?” Wrong. He got hated on.
You will never be “vegan enough” for some zealots. Haters come wrapped up in pretty packages sometimes. You just have to ignore them like you would any other fanatic.
We love your cookbook and your Blog so much that I finally had to comment. This post especially seemed fitting. We aren’t labeled a Vegan family but my children deal with many allergies- like dairy and wheat being the big ones. Your cookbook has helped us make easy meals for them (that they LOVE) all the while adding more whole foods into our diet. We literally make one of your meals everyday. Thank you so much for inspiring me to cook a different way. This is for sure going to change how my girls look at food as they grow up eating REAL food. :)
You really did change our lives.
OhSheGlows is the best inspiration on the Internet and one of the reasons for us to choose this way of living. After trying some of your recipes, we found out that vegan means eating healthy, real and delicious food.
All I can do is to thank you.
All I can say about all of this is that I think it is too much to ask of ethical vegans to give ‘permission’ for other ppl to eat dead animals (and then call that a life style).
It is not up to vegans to tell other ppl they can eat someone. If ppl really want to choose to eat dead animals, there is nothing I can do, but asking ethical vegans to ‘approve’ the death of someone else is too much (and the question is geared to the wrong person, if you want to have permission one should ask the animal). I don’t understand what is wrong with the fact that ethical vegans are not going to say ” ok good for you” to ppl who eat animals. It’s not really strange that ofcourse they are not going to say that?
I have never been criticized other meat-dairy-poultry eaters saying “how can you eat that way?!” I like to say I’m 98% vegan, mainly because at times I am in a situation where I don’t have a choice or I, for a brief moment, fall off the wagon, so to speak. Yes, last week I did get a small hot fudge malt at our local ice cream place that just opened for the summer. But it was cloyingly sweet and don’t think I’ll be having another one ever again.
I changed my diet to make my health improve and because I realize that cows and pigs and chickens are sentient beings just as my two little lovey dogs lying on the bed with me right now and I would never eat them. I abhor factory farming. That being said, I’m human and ate anything and everything for 50 years of my life. The change to vegetarian wasn’t hard at all. Total plant based eating requires a lot more thought and planning. Thank you for helping us with that! Your vegan Caesar salad is amazing. I’d love to add a little parm to it but I don’t of course. :) FWIW, cheese was THE hardest thing to give up.
I don’t judge others who walk this walk as I don’t know what challenges they face in their life. Ignore the radicals, I say.
Keep up the good work!!
I have read through most of the comments and can see both sides. I’ve said I’m a vegan because it’s easier than saying “I eat plant based; I don’t use wool, leather or other skins; I don’t go to the zoo or circus or other animal-based entertainments; no I don’t use honey” but I see the point in not using vegan for a while. I really think the point that ethical vegans have is that plant-based eaters, or mainly plant-based eaters are using the word vegan when they’re clearly not. Others see these people going to zoos, wearing leather etc and think this is what vegan is – just a diet. It’s not at all the same as Jewish people not being able to wear yarmulkes – that is disingenuous; vegan is a label for people who choose to do no harm to animals. I have no hatred towards abolitionists – I admire them – but I also think it’s a great idea when people like Jamie Oliver publicly state that they’re eating vegetarian three days a week. It’s not the solutions, but it DOES help. The problem seems to be that people get defensive when their flaws are pointed out to them; we all do it. I just accept that I try my hardest to be the best I can, but accept that words have a meaning, and that vegan means something specific, not just trying to avoid meat. I love the cookbook and the blog, use the recipes all the time and buy the book as presents for people. If you are honest and react honestly, perhaps there won’t be such a problem. But be as honest as Angela.
I never comment on blogs. This was so inspiring and please don’t let those naysayers get you down. The choices of a mother are the right and appropriate choices. They thrive in our knowledge. Sending love. Xxx
You’ve already gotten a whole lot of love here, but I wanted to add a bit more. Since I just made your breakfast porridge recipe last night, and while I was at it and had everything in the fridge I made your cauliflower lentil stew as well, I thought I would pop by your blog for the latest. I am a committed omnivore who loves experimenting with different food styles, and your book fits me so well. Thank you for serving up wonderful vegan fare without the side dish of sanctimoniousness!