It was with great interest that I sat back in my recliner with a plate of lettuce and peanuts (and a rice cake for dessert!) to read chef Jamie Hertz’s article on “Vegan vs meat diets” in the December 27 edition of Vurb.
I’m that girl that he mentioned… and an interesting conversation we did have!
While my scrawny weak emaciated hands try to fold up the newspaper I wonder to myself what stereotypical vegan attributes readers of his article might assume of me and my diet?
Perhaps I should introduce myself? Deborah Nasmyth. Lifelong Nelsonite. Twenty years meat eater, eight years vegetarian, five years vegan. I’m currently studying via Cornell University toward a certificate in plant-based nutrition. I’m a competitive bodybuilder and I accept all chin up and arm wrestling challenges at the gym. I’m far from scrawny or unhealthy!
It’s ironic that Mr. Hertz’s article came out the same week Vegan Health and Fitness Magazine featured me as a fitness model, and the international veganbodybuilding.com website gave me a featured athlete profile, as well as placing my… uh… derriere (in shorts!) on their main website banner. I am a good spokesperson for the vegan diet and lifestyle.
Mr. Hertz asked me why I am vegan. I answered the question honestly. It’s unfortunate Mr. Hertz took personal offence. I understood the conversation to be objective. I made some criticisms about the way North Americans think about food – warranted, I think, by our shocking obesity, heart disease, and cancer rates and increasing publicity about animal cruelty in the meat and dairy industries. (Did anyone see CTV’s special on the Manitoba pig farm last month?) Mr. Hertz indicated in his article that this is a very touchy topic for him, he displayed strong emotion in our conversation, and perhaps his emotion caused him to read too far between the lines and assume there was some sort of personal attack and that he was “dumb.”
I am vegan because, in my personal opinion, I don’t think a few minutes of pleasure on my taste buds is worth the mortal suffering of another creature. I feel it’s selfish. No animals need to suffer or die for me to look and feel great! Usually people can easily accept that my opinion differs from theirs without getting emotional or needing to publicize it. For most people my views inspire them to think about what’s in their own heart and question their own food choices.
Mr. Hertz made a vegan diet sound bland in his article. What I actually had for dinner tonight was chipotle lime chicken strips (vegan by Gardien, very authentic, and high in protein), an avocado, mustard, and cheese (dairy free) in a whole wheat wrap and it was absolutely delicious! Judges on the Food Network channel would have commented on the use of textures and seasoning and delighted in how the mustard elevated the avocado. I might follow up with some coconut milk ice cream for dessert. My taste buds don’t actually suffer at all.
Perhaps Mr. Hertz has an outdated idea of what a vegan diet really is? I welcome him, or anyone else interested, to join me for lunch (or an arm wrestle) anytime to continue the discussion.