The Flaming Vegan

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Thugs and Goths - Challenging Vegan Clichés
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Thugs and Goths - Challenging Vegan Clichés

It's fair to say that veganism, vegetarianism and healthy eating in general has a particular image in the public eye. Say 'vegan' or 'wholefood' and, for far too many people, the immediate image is a cliché of sandals and terrible earnestness. This can be off putting. People make life choices as much on emotion or cultural connection as anything else. To grow, veganism needs to find a broader appeal.

I'm as guilty of living the clichés as the next person. My cupboards are packed with quinoa and bulgar wheat. I'm a Green Party member with a pile of Permaculture magazines by my bed. I wear charity shop fashions and one of my favourite sitcoms is The Good Life. Fortunately, there are other people to challenge the stereotype.

My favourite example, but not suitable for young children or the easily offended, is Thug Kitchen. With a stated mission of opening minds to healthy eating and challenging stereotypes, Thug Kitchen combines foul language and street idioms with tasty vegan recipes and beautifully photographed food. It's funny and refreshing, but not for those who can't stand the 'f' word.

Also entertaining is Vegan Black Metal Chef, a video series that does what it says on the tin. Again, it uses the unexpected juxtaposition of vegan cooking and a guy in Kiss make-up to comedic effect and to challenge expectations. How much you get out of it depends on how long you can stand to listen to heavy metal. Fortunately I like screeching guitars and rumbling drums, and my tofu preparation skills have vastly improved since watching his pad thai video.

Give these guys a go. Step out of your own comfort zone and see what tasty recipes you find. And maybe, by supporting them, you'll help draw more people into a better way of eating.

And if you know of any other good examples, please pop them in the comments - I'd love to see more of this sort of thing.

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  1. Veganara
    Veganara
    Voted. Nice blog. I think I'll give the Thug Kitchen a miss though, as I really don't like bad language, and I don't think there is anything clever or funny about it! It is certainly a good idea to challenge stereotypes though. You might be interested in my latest blog here, The Biggest Challenge of A Vegan Life, where I have a bit of a rant about the way we vegans are often treated by omnivores!
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    1. Andrew Knighton
      Andrew Knighton
      Thanks. I think there's an interesting debate to be had about the use of swearing in modern culture, but that's for some kind of anthropology blog, not a vegan one! But one of the nice things about blogging here is how articles of related topics, like the perception of vegans, pop up around the same time - the cross-over of ideas is sometimes as interesting as the ideas themselves.
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  2. Mercury
    Mercury
    Yes! Voted! I feel we need to break the long-standing stereotype of vegans as only the crunchy, hippie type. I have seen both the thug kitchen and black metal chef before and thoroughly enjoy them. Here's hoping the general public will realize vegans come from all walks of life.
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    1. Andrew Knighton
      Andrew Knighton
      Glad you liked it, and if you find any other good examples let me know!
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  3. beachgurl
    How about a 56 Mom of 3? I raised them all vegetarian, but when people who just meet me find out, they're usually shocked. It's been 44 years now! Honestly, since my kids are all vegetarian, and many friends, I often forget the rest of the world isn't. Also, there are some AMAZING vegan bodybuilders! You would look at these guys and assume that they are carnivores all the way! PS I like Thug Kitchen.
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    1. Andrew Knighton
      Andrew Knighton
      I'd say that you're breaking the cliches pretty well as well! And well done on raising your children vegetarian - I'd have struggled to go vegetarian myself if my mum hadn't converted at the same time. Funnily enough, I've just started reading up on some of the vegan health guys. I'd not even heard of them when I wrote this article, but they're such a contrast from some popular images of vegans, it's amazing.
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  4. dixiedragon
    really enjoying these vegan posts and recipes -- I think just looking at the current list of "celebrity" vegans is challenging the old cliches -- Denzel - the man's man and Bruce - the legend - whoda thunk Springstein would be vegan? Carrie Underwood - being raised on a cattle farm and her choice is spiritual first; health second and her HUSBAND? a REAL Man's man in a man's sport hockey ... the list is really QUITE eye-opening - from the slightly unexpected - Alec (I don't particularly like him but he's a big AR activist and vegan) Baldwin to the expected Alanis Morissette, Alicia Silverstone, Alyssa Milano to the strange occupation Andy Lally NASCAR driver to the expected Andy Dick comedian - from the wish we didn't have to claim her Anna Nicole Smith to the downright proud to have 'em B.B. King from polar opposites Betty (everybody's favorite vegan) White to Bif (not many know this punk rocker) Naked - from the Brads (Pitt) drummer of Angelina Jolie LOL and (Wilk) - drummer of Rage Against the Machine to the Clints (Eastwood & Walker) -- every sport, every occupation, most if not all nationalities are represented - the list reads like a whos who of entertainment, sports, philosophers and scientists living and dead from Charles Darwin to Aristotle to Honest Abe - Plato, Plutarch, Pink and Richard Gere --- Tommy Lee to Yoko Ono -- the list is enormous and growing -- I don't think we are as frowned upon as you think anymore -- now the militant vegans - yeah -- but they even disturb me - most decent and some indecent restaurants offer vegetarian or vegan fare - and few if any frown on vegan requests - any one with any manners or upbringing now offers vegan dishes at special events from weddings to awards ceremonies - I think us just living the lifestyle quietly and letting our friends and neighbors know that our spiritual values and the priceless gift of life motivates us as much or more than the health benefits can and will continue to raise awareness that this is as much a life choice as any other - I no longer cringe when I hear "how can you live without steak" - and simply reply "the same way you live WITH it" - I have an excellent "out" as I have worked in canine rescue -- for -- as long as I can remember -- and it would be hypocritical of me to believe any other way ... if I value the lives of dogs equal to that of children ... I must also value the lives of all God's creatures equally .... I find that people respect that more than frown on it -- which 10 years ago was NOT the case. I will never forget the day I quit fishing with my brother - we were on the boat - my brother, my dad and I - and I eased a bream back into the water - wrapped up my rod and just laid back and enjoyed the sun -- they both literally thought I was sick and started packing up to come off the water because up until that instant I had been an AVID fisherman -- I said no no no - go ahead enjoy yourselves -- I'll just watch and enjoy the day -- on the drive home I explained and my dad said "I was wondering when this would come -- ever since you started your rescue you've changed" and I had - it was true. and he was mean old cuss who HATED tree huggers, gays and anyone not a WASP but even he understood -- so it's changing and WE are bearers of that torch into future generations - we will eventually be judged for the feed lots and fois gras torture, for chickens whose talons have grown into the cage floors from lack of mobility, for the premarin horses, for the ivory from elephants and walruses, for the "aphrodisiacs" in big cats for the decimation of our own wild horses and the slaughter and destruction of our wolf populations - and if world leaders don't believe this it is up to us by our very lifestyles and choices to convince them - as the starfish story goes - it makes a difference one starfish at a time
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    1. Andrew Knighton
      Andrew Knighton
      Thanks for your thoughts, and particularly for sharing the fishing story - it's a wonderfully vivid example of just calmly and without fuss choosing to do the right thing - well done.
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