Alisa Fleming ~ Vegan authors and proponents are aware that while most people aren’t ready for a strictly vegan diet, they may be open to the idea of adding more vegan foods and meals to their daily eats in the name of health.
The “just try it” approach that we’ve seen from the Meatless Mondays promotion over the years has proliferated within the mainstream, and the latest awareness movie for veganism is gaining kudos from omnivorous reviewers. Famed vegan fireman, Rip Esselstyn, produced Forks Over Knives as a medical documentary and journey into veganism by his firehouse. But the take home message isn’t all or nothing. As reported in the Seattlest:
“Forks Over Knives documents the research of T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn (not a coincidence–he's Rip's father), which has shown that consuming less than 5% of your calories in animal fat can turn off the so-called "cancer gene"; conversely, increasing that level to 20% results in a dramatic increase in risk of cancer. These researchers believe that diet – not medication – may be the cure for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and certain forms of cancer.”
Any type of food restriction can be difficult to stick to, particularly if it isn’t a medical necessity, but offering people who are new to the whole concept of veganism more knowledge and a little leeway seems to be proving fruitful. Rip's report offers visual proof that the public wants to see, but also gives a touch of flexibility making the diet more realistic for many. That margin for error allows vegan newbies (and even veterans) to feel good about the benefits they can acheive even with the occasional omnivorous event. The Forks Over Knives book is due out in late June and it is already a best-seller on Amazon (on pre-order!).
Likewise, cookbooks are taking that ease into it approach, encouraging readers to not stress as much about following a vegan lifestyle to the 'T,' but rather focus more on their personal needs. The new title, Simply Vegan! from Good Housekeeping is billed as a cookbook for those that want to eat healthier, lower their grocery bill, and cut meat and dairy from the dinner table a few nights a week. The ingredients are quite accessible and recipes like Tomato Rice Soup and Jalapeno Cornbread sound more like comfort food to the average consumer.
And though non-vegans penning vegan cookbooks is nothing new, we are now seeing authors actually fess up to their “cheats” in writing, and even make it a part of their promotion in an effort to put potential viewers at ease. Ann Gentry owns vegan restaurants in Los Angeles, and has just released Vegan Family Meals to help empower people to make healthy and flavorful plant-based food at home. Yet, she readily admits that she does eat fish and dairy “on rare occasions.” Beyond 'keeping it real,' Ann also produces recipes that sound quite familiar, with titles like oven-roasted sweet-potato fries and blueberry corn pancakes.
So while the overall message is still “go vegan,” the intimidation factor for millions is lessening as the messengers take a more casual approach. Their method seems to be working, as for the first time ever, I am overhearing vegan discussions among consumers (with obviously omnivorous shopping carts) in the conventional grocery checkout lines. As many say, vegan seems to be the new vegetarian, but it also looks like flexi-vegan could be a new dietary buzz word in the coming decade.
Article by Alisa Fleming, founder of GoDairyFree.org, blogger at Alisa Cooks, and author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a freelance writer for several publications, with an emphasis on creating recipes for various types of special diets.