The best way to save the lives of animals and protect them from cruelty and make our planet a better place for everyone to live may be letting go of the idea of eating a completely vegan diet … and embracing “veganish” eating instead.
“Veganism may be appealing to people, but many find that it is too restrictive,” said Alissa Rumsey, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, in an interview with Yahoo Health. Even the word “vegan” has taken on an air of radicalism. When people hear “vegan,” they think of all the things that word forbids: meat, dairy, eggs, and so on, seemingly right down to “taste” and “fun.”
Making Space for “Somewhat Vegans”
Mielle Chenier-Cowan Rose, a vegan chef and natural living advocate, wants to change that perception. Chenier-Cowan Rose recently published Veganish: The Omnivore’s Guide to Plant-Based Cooking, an endlessly helpful guide to for those looking to eat less meat and dairy and incorporate more vegetables into their cooking. She chose to include the word “veganish” in the book’s title because it’s “light-hearted…[it] gives a lot of room for the general American population to explore and consider how plant-based foods could actually work for anyone.”
She acknowledges that there was a time when she would have balked at the idea that a person could be “somewhat vegan,” but says she now sees the value of offering a wider space for people to “step into, food-wise.” She also hopes that her book will lead people to consider how the wellbeing of farm animals, and to make compassionate food choices that “contribute to well-being for all.”
Defining Plant-Based Eating
A new wave of plant-based eaters sees eating choices as an evolving practice, not a rigid philosophy. Peter Singer, noted ethicist and author of Animal Liberation, told a writer for Grist that rather than adopting “a religious attitude toward what you eat…where any little lapse is as big as a much larger lapse,” it’s more helpful to approach eating through the lens of “reducing your impact on climate change, reducing your support for industries based on cruelty to animals.”
This way of thinking about dietary choices is gaining traction, too. In recent years, animal-rights groups have taken note of stigma surrounding vegan and vegetarian diets, and shifted their messaging. Instead of focusing on completely eliminating animal-derived products, they’re now working to reduce consumption and encourage consumers to choose better-raised animal products. As the idea of reductionism over takes the idea of elimination, new words are cropping up to describe this way of eating, like “reducetarian”…”climetarian”… “vegavore”… and “veganish.”
The essence of these words can be captured in one simple term: plant-based. Plant-based eating is not just for vegans or vegetarians, and it’s not just a passing trend. It’s officially gone mainstream and more and more people are embracing it as a guiding principle. It’s totally doable, and the benefits are profound.