As the vegan movement gains momentum, a common perception is that veganism is just another fad diet. The thought of food devoid of texture, flavor, and calories is what many people envision. Even with all the huge advances in vegan meats, cheeses, and desserts, many still have outdated perceptions of vegan food that involves things such as carob and brown rice syrup.
Sadly, the vegan lifestyle tends to get associated with fringe food movements that have nothing to do with veganism, such as "organic," "gluten-free," "fat-free," "raw," "oil-free," "non-GMO," etc. In addition, many of the extreme fad-dieters have also begun to distort perceptions, by lumping "vegan" amongst a myriad of irrational and extreme dietary habits that have nothing to do with veganism.
In reality, veganism is a moral and ethical commitment to refraining from violence and exploitation in all areas, not just diet. Vegans eat a plant-based diet, or a diet that is devoid of animal products, which doesn't involve the exploitation of other beings. Beyond animal products, there are no other restrictions. Vegans can also indulge in things such as bread, alcohol, and fried foods just like everyone else.
Veganism isn't just another annoying dietary fad; in fact, it's well documented that a plant-based diet is nutritionally appropriate and can even benefit human health. The same cannot be said for most other diets that have gained popularity in recent times, but for some reason we tend to continue disregarded a plant-based diet as such.
As a vegan, there's truly nothing more frustrating than going to a restaurant or an outing and being expected to be satisfied by a salad with oil and vinegar, or a grainy gluten-free cupcake that happens to also be vegan. Just like anyone else, vegans want to enjoy food that's satisfying. Vegans eat delicious foods like pizza, cheesesteaks, nachos, and doughnuts. There's no reason to assume that vegan food options should be any less satisfying than any other foods.
So, to the restaurateurs and home chefs out there preparing vegan meals, enough already with the salads and steamed veggies lacking in flavor, protein and calories! Would you be satisfied with a plate of fresh fruit, or pasta and tomato sauce? Of course not. So, why do you expect that vegans should be either?
The only "restriction" to vegan cuisine is the elimination of animal-based products that can be easily replaced with delicious alternatives. Please stop lumping vegan food in with the mulch and leaves that many fad-dieters limit themselves to. It's not only disappointing to vegans expecting a good meal or dessert, but it continues to perpetuate the myth that vegan food doesn't taste good!
Follow Ed Coffin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/eatconsciously