The “V” celebrates VeganMoFo with the other 25 letters of the alphabet. Today the letter “C” stands for Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.
For me, the type of vegan I want to be is epitomized in one woman, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. She is the author of many amazing cookbooks including The Joy of Vegan Baking, The Vegan Table, Color Me Vegan and The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. Colleen is the founder of Compassionate Cooks and has the very popular podcast, Food for Thought. What I love most is that Colleen has made people associate Veganism with joy and love.
So many people think of sacrifice, sadness and anger when they hear the term “Vegan” but Colleen, through her books and her podcasts, shows how to be a Joyful Vegan. She fights the fight and defends the animals, all while promoting respect, patience and the type of activism that gets people to listen, rather than turn away.
While I could write volumes about the wisdom I have accumulated from listening to and reading her works which have helped shape the type of vegan I have become, this post will focus on food and language.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and I share the same ideas about the language of food. When I first became vegan, I used the terminology that was taught to me. I called vegan cheese “fake cheese,” Boca burgers were “faux or mock meat,” soymilk was an alternative to “real milk.” When I began writing recipes, I put words like butter, milk, cheese and cream in quotes as if to say they weren’t the REAL items but some fake vegan substitutes.
One day a debate ensued on a Facebook group page for using the word “meat” when describing an Extreme Vegan Makeover for meatloaf. Some people don’t like to see or hear words that remind them of food made from animals. I respect that so I came on the blog and put all the words like that in quotation marks in the titles of all my recipes.
There were suggestions I come up with “alternative” names for my recipes, e.g. sweet loaf, veet loaf or maybe I could do what the big companies do and purposely misspell words like “chickn” or “wyngz,” as if removing a vowel or changing a letter doesn’t make you think of an animal at all??
I ended up struggling over what to call my Veganized recipes. I didn’t feel comfortable with the made-up names or the misspellings and I began to dislike the quotes as well. After all, my food isn’t fake food, it’s real food. And why is vegan milk the substitute for dairy milk and not the other way around? I even wrote a long blog post on my struggle over what to call my Lentil Meatballs.
So I did some reading on the etymology of certain words. According to The Online Etymology Dictionary, the term “meat” comes from the Old English word “mete” which meant food as opposed to drink. It wasn’t used to mean animal flesh until much later around the 14th century. Today we talk about the “meat” of a coconut and seitan being “wheat meat.”
The word “flesh,” according to The Free Dictionary, is used in botany to mean “the pulpy, usually edible part of a fruit or vegetable” and can also mean substance. “Milk” is a term used to describe the liquid expressed from seeds, nuts and grains as well as from non-human animals and human animals.
In the end, after much thought and research, I decided to call them what they were: Lentil Meatballs but I still put the word “meat” in quotes. Today I wouldn’t do that. I would write it just as I have in this post.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau writes how she steers away from words like “mock,” “faux,” “substitute,” “fake,” or “imitation” because Vegan food IS real food and not some inferior, unreal version of animal-based foods. She writes in her Vegan’s Daily Companion, which is one of my favorite books EVER, “By definition, the words “alternative” and “substitute” imply that the thing they are being measured against is the superior choice; that is, you choose the “substitute” when you can’t get the real thing, and so on” (p. 175). I completely agree. I don’t like when people say they eat “fake” cheese. The cheese I eat isn’t fake. It isn’t plastic or pretend cheese. It’s just non-dairy cheese.
Plus, if my recipes are makeovers of old pre-veg favorites, then, of course, they have to have the original name in them somewhere or how will anyone know what it is I am trying to recreate in a compassionate, cruelty-free way? If I call my recipe Chickpea Salad and not Chickpea “Tuna” Salad, then how will anyone know I am attempting to recreate the tuna fish salad and sandwiches that many people, including myself, loved before becoming vegetarian or Vegan? Some people may feel disgusted by the thought of eating anything that reminds them of animal foods but there are many, many people, again including myself, who miss the foods they used to eat and appreciate a way to satisfy those cravings with Vegan foods that are familiar to their senses and their memories.
In fact, someone told me that my Chickpea “Tuna” Salad was just the thing her sister needed to give up eating tuna! THAT is the purpose of my Extreme Vegan Makeovers.
Now I have changed my method and leave the quotes off my ingredients because they don’t need qualification or validation. I don’t write the qualifier “vegan” every time I mention the milk, butter or cheese I use because all the ingredients I use are Vegan. If I use soymilk, almond milk or other non-dairy milk, I will say so. When I add vinegar to my milk, I get buttermilk, not “buttermilk.” The type of yogurt I use, soy or coconut, is stated in the ingredient list but I don’t feel the need to repeatedly specify this in the directions or in the title of a recipe, i.e. Indian Eggplant in Chile-Yogurt Sauce. I will use quotes if I am emulating a food that isn’t in the recipe, i.e. “Chicken” Soup.
Fake food is served at children’s play tea parties with their dolls. The food I eat is real, more real than a lot of the fast-food and processed junk out there. A burger at a chain restaurant may contain only a percentage of beef but you don’t see them putting quotes around the names of their food. Why should I?
As Colleen says, “When we use words that make plant-based foods seem unreal and unappetizing, we foster the public perception that these foods are just that. If we reclaim the language around plant-based foods, we can go a long way in mainstreaming the vegan ethic.”
“C” is for Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. For another “C” word, check out my “Chicken-Fried” Seitan Steak.
The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.