vegan anti-capitalism

[size=150]gone vegan kept going [/size]

It seems like a big step going vegetarian but after a while you can start to feel rather pleased with yourself at just how easy it is. Lots of cheese sprinkled everywhere, lashings of ice cold milk and yoghurt, some more cheese and don’t forget the cheese.

A different matter entirely is going vegan. Plink. The yoghurt spoon drops to the floor. Goodbye heather honey, egg sandwiches and chocolate buttons. Arrivederci quattro fromage.

The vegan lifestyle - which means using no animal products in food or for anything else - requires much more dietry determination and application than vegetarianism; determination because your choice of food is so much smaller and application because no one but you makes any of it. Cooking within such a reduced food range requires research and ongoing inventiveness while eating out - from snacks in the street to restaurants - is also a totally different prospect.

Why put up with that? People go vegan because it gives them much more moral and political authority than vegetarians when it comes to animal rights advocacy - an authority they earn because they absent themselves from the process they condemn.

Speaking out for animal rights, challenging livestock farming practices and rationales, fits well with a wider anti-capitalist understanding of how the world works. But powerful as veganism may be, politicisation of the diet can be taken still further towards anti-capitalism with the addition of other tactics which determine food choice.

Boycotting excessive food miles and localising food sources is one such tactic. A 3000km radius emanating from the centre of the UK reaches as far as the mediterranean and, conveniently cutting out both Africa and Russia, covers an area which includes over 30* northern european countries. This is a food miles (kilometres) exclusion zone, a ‘local’ area in which to source food where anything from outside doesn’t reach the shopping basket. 3000km, a moderate distance, is one choice of zone size. Areas can of course be personally tailored, made larger or smaller depending on circumstance.

Adding a food miles constraint to the already constrained vegan shopping list makes maintaining a balanced diet more of a deliberate day-to-day thing as it’s less likely to happen by accident. Food groups need to be watched but there are plenty of vegan sites covering this information. To support a healthy diet it might be practical to have a short list of some staple foods which are exempt from exclusion: rice, lentils or chick peas for example. It might also prove difficult to exclude chocolate.

Having gone the extra mile with an exclusion zone, it is also possible to factor in boycotts of the worst corporations, of food additives and of GM whilst supporting organic produce so that the diet is as anti-capitalist as possible.

The dinner-time prospect may seem dreary and certainly it’s less easy to get savoury, mouthwatering meals every day - convenience food it’s not. But with practice this diet can be tasty and interesting in a way which requires new cooking styles and an adjustment of expectation. It is a way of eating food which is a way of fighting back - absenting self from process in a bigger way than just through veganism - and it may take a little effort.

[b]* countries within 3000 km of UK

not all the following countries are significant food exporters to the UK although a handful of countries - notably Spain, Italy and Holland - account for a good deal of produce on UK shop shelves. The UK itself produces most of this diet. [/b]

Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Ukraine.

** inexhaustive list of vegan friendly foods available within the UK 3000 km radius

  1. fruit & veg

lemons, apples, plums (prunes), oranges, pears, raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, cherries, grapes, blackberries, peaches, nectarines
potatoes, mushrooms, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions, carrots, parsnips, swedes, olives, broccoli, cabbage, sweetcorn, leeks, celeriac, radish, cress, cauliflower, sprouts, beetroot, fennel, artichoke, lettuce, mustard, spinach, turnip, beans (french, runner, broad, green), shallots, courgettes, marrow, chicory, asparagus, capers
long list includes mint, parsley, basil, chives, chamomile, pennyroyal, rosemary, sage, st john’s wort, thyme, bay, borage, dill, fennel, lemon balm, lovage, oregano…
for north european spices, see Gernot Katzer’s spice pages

2. pulses
kidney beans, peas

3. nuts & seeds
cobnuts (hazelnuts), chestnuts, almonds

4. cereals & grains
wheat - (flour, bread, crackers, bran, pasta)
oats - (oat milk, oat flakes)
barley - (whole grain)

5. oils & fats
corn oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, veg oil spread

6. other
preserves (jam, marmalade)

7. diet busters
rice, chickpeas, lentils, chocolate