What’s the deal with the “food continuum”?

December 14, 2010

I think this came from a comment Erin made, but I’m already 12 hours late on this one so sorry for not checking 🙂

There’s a concept I hear a lot, and I’ve fallen into it from time to time, that there’s a “vegan food continuum”: a logical progression from omnivore to vegetarian to vegan… and then to raw, to fruit or juice, then to cosmic rays or whatever.  I’ve met people who believe the first half of that, the second half, or the whole thing, but you know what?  I think it’s crap, and we need to be happy with our own destinations:

What about you? Do you adhere to a vegan food continuum?  Is veganism just a step on a journey for you?  Did you know it was your destination before just now?  Do you think there’s a logical connection between vegetarianism and veganism? (if you comment on this part without watching the video, please say so!)  Let me know in the comments – this is new thinking for me, so I’d love to get some feedback!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen December 14, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Part of the reason I went vegetarian was because of the hormones given to animals destined to be consumed. Two weeks later it dawned on me that those same hormones, antibiotics and other undesirable things were in the milk, cheese, and eggs anyway! Yeah, DUH on my part. But that is how I became vegan. So maybe for me there was a connection between my going vegan and why I went vegetarian in the first place. However, I am totally happy where I am. I incorporate raw recipes, or something of the like, into my diet, mostly as something new to try in the kitchen. But that is as far as it goes. Vegan is it for me.

Mary December 14, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Although I don’t believe this is true for everyone, I did go from vegetarianism to veganism to raw food vegan (high raw, never 100% raw). I can guarantee you I like food too much to go any further than this). And I certainly don’t think this is a required continuum or that raw foodists are somehow more evolved than vegans. Dr. Will Tuttle calls omnivores and vegetarians “pre-vegans” and I like that, so I guess I believe that vegans are more evolved spiritually than omnivores or vegetarians. But everyone has the potential to evolve.

What bothers me in the raw food movement currently (and this is by no means a majority of raw foodists from what I can see, some are now advocating the inclusion of raw (or cooked) meat, fish, milk, and eggs into their diets.

I am SO upset by this, because I know many of these people have huge followings. What they’re saying is that they have now decided we need animal protein in order to thrive, although what they base their opinions on I have no idea. I’ve heard some of them say that they don’t feel well until they add animal proteins back into their diets, or that their naturopaths have told them to do so. Probably they’re missing something else in their diet (like grains or beans) that is not being considered.

So, because I’m first and an ethical vegan, and only second, a raw foodist, I’m moving back to having more involvement with the vegan community.

Jason December 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Jen, I wish more vegetarians who had other motivations (like not killing animals) would be able to make the leap to understanding that they can indeed do more as a vegan! Hmmm, I’m wondering if for some it’s like giving to charity – yes, I can give more, but this is what I’m willing to do… New video notes in the making! 🙂

Mary, I think a lot of raw foodists are going to have to start saying raw veganist (or something similar) as time goes on… It’s going to get tricky when the restaurants start following the dictionary definition of raw instead of the current majority intent!

Jay December 14, 2010 at 12:41 pm

I’m happy as a vegan, though I used vegetarian as a stepping stone to go vegan. But raw food vegan isn’t me at all. I’m happy at vegan.

Erin December 14, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I was a vegetarian like you described for about 6 years. I was not eating animals and felt good about it- oh, well I was eating fish, but I saw nothing wrong with that. I met a vegan here and there and my interest was sparked, but not much more. It was easy for me to be vegetarian and I didn’t see any need to change things. I remember someone talking about asking a cow for permission to milk her and thinking this lady was insane… Ah youth.
What’s funny is that it took about 5 or 6 years of being omnivore to make me realize I wanted to go vegan. I was so disgusted with myself and what I had been doing and denying in my heart, that I no longer had that warm “I’m a vegetarian” feeling to cloud my thinking. Eggs, milk, leather, and wool have gone out with the steaks and fish.

So I guess it was easier for me to make a more dramatic transition than to follow some continuum.

Also, I HATE that people expect vegans to drink smoothies and juice all the time. EVERY vegan I know has an unnatural obsession with their juicer, and I want to give mine away. For me, whole foods are way more satisfying than juice, and I feel like it’s a cop out to avoid really eating fruits and veggies- So you won’t see me on the juice diet ever.

nic December 14, 2010 at 3:56 pm

t i believe that vegetarianism should not be a stepping stone to veganism that it is half measures.
veganism can lead to macrobiotic raw food but at the end of the day it is up to the person where they take their veganism , as long as it does not involve animals and you do not harm yourself then it is cool

Laura P. December 15, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I never was vegetarian. I went straight to veganism as soon as I read about factory farming. I didn’t eat much meat before, but that was just because I didn’t really enjoy it…and it was expensive. I see no need to go beyond veganism. I enjoy reading about and experimenting with more “extreme” food movements, but I don’t see myself completely switching over to anything else. As long as animal products are off my plate I’m happy!

Colleen December 16, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I don’t believe in the food continuum either. I’m a vegan for ethical reasons and I don’t see anything more ethical about being raw or fruitarian. That said, if I lived in Southern California or somewhere like that, where being raw would be more environmentally friendly than it is here in frozen Canada, then I might think harder about it. As it stands, I’m happy to be vegan.

I was vegetarian for a few months before going vegan. It wasn’t long as a vegetarian before I stopped feeling vegetarians – milk and other dairy products didn’t feel vegetarian to me. I didn’t yet know anything about factory farming but I had a sneaking suspicion that dairy cows’ lives probably sucked. And because I was veg for ethical reasons this thought process led me to veganism.

I hope all vegetarians will eventually become vegan because I know now exactly what kinds of lives dairy cows and egg-laying hens live, and that the dairy industry directly fuels the veal industry. But I also think that being veg is better than being omni. We do what we can and it all matters.

Dori Lonero April 6, 2011 at 9:19 am

I did not watch the video, I only read the commentary. But I can feel this continuum you refer to. First we gave up red meat and all things deep fried, next all things white and processed, then started vegan meals a few times a week, which progressed to vegan at home all the time. Still eat a little non vegan very rarely when out. Now I’m trying to get more raw into our diet, as I realize how vital it is to our flora. This has been over a 10 year period. I believe that as I become more knowledgeable I make more changes. People willing to take the first step are often interested in further studying new information that comes out. I recently was talking to some of my Italian family members about the health benefits of a vegan diet (this person had already had bypass surgery). He and his son both agreed that they would rather have the heart bypass than change their diet. They will probably never be on a continuum.

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