When the subject of veganism comes up with my friends or family, or even complete strangers, something I always hear is how they could NEVER give up beef/pork/butter/whatever because it tastes so good.
I think they understand at some level that they are being selfish and choosing taste over life. And while telling them how selfish they are and criticizing them for their lack of compassion or restraint is one way to make them open their eyes to the issue, I prefer a much different method: feeding them.
When I went vegan, my coworkers made a lot of jokes. They even said I would never be able to bake again because, “you can’t bake without eggs”. I explained that isn’t true; flax seeds, tofu, and applesauce are all great alternatives to using eggs in baking. They turned up their noses and announced that they would never eat vegan baked goods.
A couple of weeks later, I brought in chocolate brownies and left them in the kitchen with a note that said the brownies were for everyone. By the end of the day, the plate of brownies was bare of even crumbs and my coworkers were very curious as to who had brought in the delicious brownies.
“That was me,” I said, “I made them last night. I found a new recipe I wanted to try that involved using tofu instead of eggs. I’m glad you guys liked them so much.”
My coworkers were very surprised and didn’t say much.
The topic of vegan baked goods wasn’t mentioned again until a month later, when one of my coworkers brought in half of a chocolate cake. A vegan chocolate cake she had made herself.
This coworker and I have since talked more about vegan baking and I’ve even sent her some recipes for vegan cookies and bread to try. Will she go vegan? Doubtful, but she has become more willing to try vegan food and no longer uses the argument that vegan food is gross. Would she be making more vegan food if I had sat her down and told her of the horrors of factory farming and how selfish she was being? I honestly can’t say.
Is culinary activism the best form of vegan activism? No. Does it always work? No. But can it be used as a starting point, a way to slowly dispel the myths surrounding veganism? Absolutely. My friends and family know that if they want more information on factory farming they can always ask me; just like they know they can always come to me for a delicious recipe for vegan sloppy joes or a vegan chocolate cake.