Being Vegan – Use Your Food to Build a Bridge
By Paul Graham
Las Vegas Informer
“Veganism: It’s not a diet. It’s an ethical position which rejects using animals for food, clothing, entertainment, or other reasons.” – Anonymous
I love food. Let me qualify that. I love plant-based, cruelty-free food. It is all that I have eaten for the past seven years and I don’t feel like I have missed anything during this time. In fact, I have only gained. Not weight, but the satisfaction of knowing that by my actions, no animal has a been used or harmed. I no longer use animals in any way in my lifestyle and I am vegan because of ethics and actions, not by my diet. Yes, I love my plant-based, vegan-friendly food. I look for it, I write about it and share what I find with others. You can surmise that I am vegan by what I eat or don’t eat, but it is not my diet in general that makes me so. I see this wonderful world of food as a means to be able to build a fabulous bridge to the world and I want to encourage you to do the same.
I have enjoyed a life-long love of food whether it be dining out or creating or following recipes, cooking, and then sitting down to enjoy it. I can easily say that I have enjoyed eating more now as a vegan more than at any other time of my life. When I can combine the ethics by which I live my life by of harming no other living being with eating food that follows this guideline, then I can truly celebrate the food that I now enjoy like never before. I have come to find that vegans do love their food and certainly enjoy their celebration of it. They take pictures of their food non-stop and share wherever and whenever possible. If you are out in a restaurant and see people taking pictures of their food and they aren’t some kind of food critic, there is a good chance that they might be vegan. When I know for sure that they are vegan it always makes me smile. It was the commonality of this food that led me to build a bridge to the world with food by starting my blog, Eating Vegan in Vegas, in 2011. Building a bridge to the community and to the world by showing people the many, many options to find vegan-friendly food while dining out here in Las Vegas. This led to the book, Eating Vegan in Vegas: If It Can Happen Here, It Can Happen Anywhere, that was published this past year. The food might be the hook…it is the bridge…to help people to understand why they need to be vegan for ethical, health, environmental, and spiritual reasons.
It is very easy to become very food-centric when you become vegan because you are so excited about the wonderful food that is now available. We share pictures of new food products, meals we have eaten out in restaurants, and ones that we have created at home. We share recipes and new ideas with others. When you get it all figured out you realize that it is possible to create such amazing plant-based meals at home and that anything you enjoy out in a restaurant is just a bonus. I know many people that eat most of their meals out and it is now easier to do that than ever before. I can tell you that this is not just a trend, but it is a sign of the shift that has already begun. It is where the world is heading and in so many ways we are leading the way. We just have to be sure that we just don’t obsess on our food and forget that it can be such a powerful bridge to reach others. I want to encourage you to be more mindful than ever in helping others see what this lifestyle has to offer. Through the food that we eat, people should no longer focus on what is that we give up and realize all that we have to gain by the vegan lifestyle in terms of saving animals, improving our health, helping the environment, and bringing a new fervor to our spiritual lives.
Let us be proactive whenever possible and invite others whenever possible to share a meal with us that is cruelty-free and delicious, whether it be in our homes or in a restaurant. I love it when we can gather together with others that are already living the vegan lifestyle, but let that just be a launching pad for us to see the fantastic food options out there as a bridge and outreach to others for the vegan lifestyle. It is one of the things that we are doing with Las Vegan Eatz Events…to gather vegans together for fabulous food and social connection but also those that have an interest in transitioning to this amazing lifestyle. There is so much that depends upon it. It is literally life-changing and life-saving. The first step in helping someone else cross this bridge might begin with a meal. What if we all just made it a point to lead one other person to being vegan this coming year? If we all did that we would see the number of vegan double in a single year. What if we did that with five, ten, or twenty people? We can see the shift happen before our very eyes and the impact that it will have on the animal kingdom, our health, and the planet. Let us enjoy the tremendous vegan-friendly food options before us but let it not stop there. Let us use the need that we all have as humans to eat to be a way to see the necessary change the world needs to happen. It will show forth a greater love for ourselves, for one another, all living beings, and the planet. When you know that someone is V-curious and expresses an interest in making a change, take the opportunity before you and say, “Let’s go eat. Let’s go talk.” Make it happen and it will give you even more reason to celebrate the food that you are already enjoying. The food will do its part…we need to do the rest.
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog www.eatingveganinvegas.tumblr.com which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas. He can also be reached at email@example.com or www.facebook.com/EatingVeganinVegas.
Paul‘s revised edition of Eating Vegan Vegas is now available in bound book form and can be ordered through Amazon.com or any independent bookseller. The e-book version can be found at Kobo.com.