I really like Anthony Bourdain. Anthony Bourdain loathes vegetarians. And don't even bring up vegans. Here's a famous, but by no means isolated, example of his philosophy, taken from Kitchen Confidential:

Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food.

A new blog, Hezbollah Tofu, apparently takes serious issue with Mr. Bourdain's claims, so much so that they are dissecting the recipes from his restaurant Les Halles and offering "vastly improved, veganized versions of your masturbatory, blood-oozing recipes." This is the Achille's Heel of vegan rhetoric. No. Stop. Drop the "vastly improved" tripe (see what I did there?) and I'll agree with your premise. Defend your decision to be vegan for all the valid reasons. There are many. But do not expect me to believe that mignon de porc made out of seitan, tofu and unicorn farts will taste better than one made out of pork. That, as the French say, is goddamn retarded.

I firmly subscribe to the "to each his own" philosophy of diet; if you don't want to eat pork, don't eat pork. If you want to be vegan, be vegan. Your pointless little exercise in self-denial does not, however, give you the power to change the facts. If you want to argue about how the agribusiness industry is morally corrupt and abusive to animals, fine. You are correct. You win the moral high ground. I yield the point. But don't expect me to pretend that your vegan "substitutions" in non-vegan cooking are improvements. It demeans us both.

Non-vegans will recognize the following scenario all too well. Vegan Friend tells us how f'n amazing he or she is at vegan baking. We express doubt. VF insists on making a vegan cornucopia to shatter our skepticism. VF hands us a piece of vegan "cake" which purports to destroy any suggestion that vegan baking is not orgasmically delicious. We take one bite, chew for 3 minutes on something that tastes like a fucking carpet sample, and silently pray for death.

You've only deluded yourself. Don't make the mistake of thinking we operate under a similar delusion.

Don't get me wrong, I can enjoy vegan food. My favorite selections are things that simply are vegan. No "adjustments" required. Lots of Indian recipes, for example, contain no animal products. Ditto many Cantonese, Mediterranean, and African dishes. But, like Icarus, your pride is your flaw. You start "fixing" our non-vegan fare. Note the website's "creme brulee" recipe. Whatever this is, whatever it tastes like, IT IS NOT CREME BRULEE. Do not call it that. Do not pretend like it is the same thing with different ingredients. It. Is. Not. Creme. Brulee. It is a blob of tofu with ersatz caramel sauce and a 6-hour aftertaste, and it sounds approximately as appetizing as fellating an incontinent bear. But if I'm wrong and it's delicious IT'S STILL NOT CREME BRULEE.

The world is not biased against your food. WE are not the ones with an agenda that excludes food based on principle. That's you. Most people have no politics in their diet. If vegan substitutes for non-vegan menu items tasted better, people would eat them. Alas, that is not the case. We don't dislike it because we're small-minded, as you like to assert smugly.

We dislike it because it tastes like a sack of buttholes.

So here's 2 cents' advice to Hezbollah Tofu and the vegans: try to win me over on the politics and you might succeed. Try to win me over on the many cuisines around the world that omit animal products.

That might work too. Don't try to win me over with fermented soy pinch-hitting for pork. Don't talk about how you've "fixed" cuisines heavily rooted in the use of blood, meat, and dairy. That just makes you look stupid. It makes you easy to tune out, and your message ends up confined to small communities of already-converted, true-believer vegans. And that is why websites like Hezbollah Tofu crack me up. Apparently you believe that if you constantly tell one another how delicious all of this unfortunate shit is, you might actually begin to believe it one day as you shovel another lump of Tofurkey at your joyless, long-suffering tastebuds.
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PS: We all know that you eat cheese and yogurt when you're certain that your Fellow Travelers won't find out. The loose lips of our vegan friends have sunk that ship.

19 thoughts on “NPF: AN OPEN LETTER TO VEGANS”

  • Beautiful, simply beautiful. This blog post seems timely, as I'm going to a vegetarian/vegan potluck on Sunday and I can't wait to taste whatever concoctions that are stirred up. On second thought, it's probably going to be as enjoyable as eating insulation.

  • "I can't believe they expect us to swallow this tripe!"

    "And now, courtesy of the meat council, here's some tripe!"

    I think I've decided that when I don't have anything constructive to add (and really, when have I added anything constructive?) I'm just going to whip out a Simpsons quote that I was reminded of by your post.

  • Well said Ed… I would only add the following:
    "Humans have incisors for a reason…"

    If it weren't for the fact some biochem flunkie came up with a way to flavor styrofoam and add protein to it these non-meat eaters would all be dead, or at least unable to reproduce and pass their meat-hating genes on to the next generation.

  • THANK YOU. I'm continually baffled by the vegetarians'/vegans' attempt at the forehead-slappingly dumb P.R. move of claiming "Look! You can give up meat and still have all the foods you love!" No. No, we can't. Isn't the whole point of being vegan that you *sacrifice* 'trivial' pleasures in order to make the *moral* choice? They're like Christians saying, "Look! You don't have to masturbate to internet porn–fasting/prayer is the same thing and even better!" No. No, it isn't. The use of false equivalence is the attempt to eat one's cake and still have it–you can be just as self-indulgent *and* be moral. Sorry, but no. No, you can't. You make a choice, you accept the costs, and to deny those costs makes the 'choice' seem trivial. Terribly self-compromising of them, really.


    I have one vegan student. She's sort of adorable and long-suffering in her attempts to PETA-ize her friends by doing things like drawing a chick saying "I am not a nugget!" on my board while I'm out of the room, only to have her friends write "YES YOU ARE" right next to it five seconds later and start calling her "nugget." High school is AMAZING.

    Also amazing:

    Me: I have a vegan student. She's really into PETA.
    MBL: Did you ask her how she can support in good faith an organization that demeans and objectifies women while claiming that we should treat chickens better?
    Me: …no.

    But then I told her the story of the nuggets, and she was satisfied.

    If I may, for a moment, I will reveal the real point of this comment, which was to try to pimp out my boyfriend's woodworking skillz by asking if his amazing new cutting board series might not be a suitable topic for another NPF?

    And also, totally unconnected with that (no, seriously), I'd just like to say how incredibly happy it makes me that G&T is now updated regularly. It's in a throw-down with I Can Has Cheezburger? for #1 spot in my daily web rotation, and, if you know anything at all about how much I love stupid pictures with stupid captions, you know that that's saying something. :)

  • See also Peta's use of softcore pornography to sell the idea that it's wrong to use animals for the satisfaction of our baser desires.

  • Ah, veganhatred, bringing people together since veganism was invented. I actually really liked this post; it's true, the stuff that's tastiest is the stuff that was born vegan, not the creepy bastardized dishes that involve reworking poor innocent soybeans into some sort of pork drag. And not all vegans are misguided bastards, just the self-righteous dickwad ones. Though, I will say that once you're vegan for a while, your palette actually reacclimates and you start thinking all of that tempehed shit tastes pretty good. And dishes involving meat start tasting… no, wait, those still taste good. Damn.

  • I have a such a huge crush on Anthony Bourdain that were I not already a reformed vegetarian (enjoying flesh again since 2001, thank you very much), his denouncement of the practice would be enough to bring me right the hell on back over to the dark, red, juicy side. Mmmm. Meat.

  • I'm excited that I indirectly contributed to this post by showing Tofu Hezbollah to Liz. Yes!
    PS. I also hate it when non-vegans think that vegans have some sort of higher moral ground, and try to eat vegan crap as much as possible. Case in point: I knew someone who tried to subject me to lasagna made with a) matzo and b) vegan cheese. Both this person and I are lactose tolerant people. I nearly vomited everywhere when this vegan matzo lasagna was suggested. Vegan cheese has got to be an abomination of some sort.

  • When I was a vegetatian I was constantly accosted by meat eaters who wanted to pick a fight with me, as if I were going to try to convert them. I always answered the very loaded question, "So why are you a vegetarian?" with, "Because I don't like the taste of meat," which was a lie but usually ended the argument.

    And speaking of red meat

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