Critical Summary Portfolio

In The Challenge of Going Vegan, an article written by Tara Parker-Pope for The New York Times, Parker-Pope discusses the most common reasons aspiring vegans have trouble carrying out their lifestyle. She does not ever address whether or not she personally practices vegan eating habits, however it is very clear that she knows a lot about what it is like to become vegan (or at least try to). She discusses the emotional, social, and economical effects such a significant change in eating habits may have on the average person. For example, most people who want to become vegan don’t realize how many foods they are actually eliminating from their lives. The meat, yes. But eggs, milk and cheese, too? I for one was almost shocked when I read this article. I didn’t realize exactly how many of the everyday foods we have all grown to love and become so attached to, and consume without even thinking about it, come from animals. This is believed to be one of the main reasons why wanna-be vegans have such a hard time adjusting. Parker-Pope also brings up how common it is for the family and friends of someone who is making a conscious effort to become vegan, or whom is already vegan, are not supportive in the slightest. The people close to vegans have a tendency to not even try to understand or accept where they are coming from, and ultimately end up making rude or sarcastic remarks regarding their eating style. The author suggests that this may be very detrimental for someone who is trying to become a vegan, and is one of the leading causes for them giving up and returning to their omnivore, or maybe just vegetarian ways. Parker-Pope also discusses the economical effect of living everyday life as a vegan. While it may be healthier and safer (to some people, that is) to eliminate all animal (food) products from their life, it is also extremely costly. Megan Salisbury, an avid vegan and interviewee for Parker-Pope’s article, says that she enjoys eating the way she does, however, “a box of Gardenburgers is $4 – which doesn’t seem expensive, but when you compare it to the meat counterparts, it’s so much more.” Vegans also say they find a lot of the special foods they pay for in restaurants tend to actually have some animal products in them, but they say they don’t. While reading this article, I found myself questioning whether or not I could ever go vegan. I think it would be a very interesting and different experience, and possibly even healthier than my current eating habits, but I don’t think I could live without some of those foods. I can definitely see why a lot of people want to make the change, but can’t find the willpower to do so. It’s crazy to think how influential food of all things is in our everyday lives!

In a blog post titled “Stop Blaming Veganism for You Not Being Vegan” by Gary Smith, Smith discusses his strong disliking towards “ex-vegans.” He exposes how frequently it is that a plant-based food eater will create a blog, receive a ton of publicity and positive feedback, and within a year or so later they decide they want to start eating animal products again. One of the main reasons Smith is opposed to this is because he believes most of these bloggers, who commonly happen to be women, do it for the fame and money until they are satisfied enough to return to eating meat. I can totally see where a dedicated and genuine vegan, like Gary Smith, would get irritated and maybe even somewhat offended that there are people out there doing these sorts of things. He says the classic line that these bloggers use once they decide to make the switch back is, “[I finally] listened to my body.” He also says that they come to a point where they believe if they don’t start to eat animal-based products again, they will perish. In my opinion, I don’t think it is ethically right for someone to give the perception of themselves as being a die-hard vegan with no actual intention of staying committed to the lifestyle for any length of time. That being said, I can understand where someone may try it out for some time, enjoy bits and pieces of it, but ultimately decide to stay an omnivore because they felt more comfortable and accustomed to that. I do think Smith brings up some excellent points, and he also opened my eyes a little bit in regards to not always believing what you hear about vegans, and not always trusting everything you might read (i.e. a “vegan” blog post or recipe post).


I chose to study the transition of becoming a vegan as well as what it is like to live a vegan lifestyle for my critical summary portfolio. When I first entered WRT 104, Lyndsey introduced us to a lot of different ways to think about foods and food habits. I remember having to read an article in class about vegans and for some reason I found myself very intrigued. This inspired me to learn more about the culture and background of the vegan world, which brought me to the article, blog post, and video I based my portfolio off of. Exposing myself to these sources changed my entire outlook on the vegan lifestyle and I now feel much more educated and informed. Although none of what I read or watched had the intention of persuading anyone into becoming a vegan, the purity and reason behind the lifestyle did make me a bit more interested in possibly pursuing a vegan life (even though I don’t think I ever could).

The video I watched on YouTube was posted by Annie Jaffrey, a vegan vlogger. The video is titled “WHAT I ATE TODAY (Vegan, High Raw, Healthy)” where Annie takes viewers along to see how she prepares what she eats on a typical day. One of the things she made was a banana milk smoothie, which consisted of chopped banana, water, vanilla bean and cinnamon. Sounds kind of gross from the ingredient list, but it looked absolutely delicious and so healthy on screen.


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