Bite My Vegan (Wedding) Cake!
By Amanda Crow, Guest Contributor
Every day vegans face a heart-wrenching world full of cruelty and torture. Turn on the television and see never-ending advertisements for dead animals. Ironically, sprinkled between the food ads are commercials for pharmaceuticals (with horrible side effects) that one needs if consuming those products. As a vegan what sucks more is leaving the home and entering the nonvegan world that we can’t escape. While vegan-friendly establishments are on the rise, finding cruelty-free food especially “fast food” can be quite challenging. Maybe the workplace decides to buy lunch for the staff….pizza and wings, right? *vomit* Maybe there is a social gathering; wherever said meet up is, food options are not typically the friendliest for the vegan folk. Those are just the typical situations vegans face with regards to food. Here are a few more: hospitals, fundraisers, family parties, dinner parties, regular parties, school/work/religious functions, and weddings. How could we ever forget we are vegans in a nonvegan world?
Don’t get me wrong….we know that eating animals is losing popularity; sadly, eating their excrements (eggs, dairy, etc) is not. This goes without saying, but EVERYTHING HAS PUS HORMONAL JUICE…I MEAN COW’S MILK….IN IT. What tree do I have to hump to get a damn cruelty-free dish? My point is that when it comes to food, vegans have a right to be frustrated by the constant cruelty around them and overall lack of (prepared) food choices.
Living in a nonvegan world as a compassionate vegan is so infuriating, but we learn to cope and rise above it. So what makes my eye twitch from rage is when omnivores aka carnists have a visceral, spoiled, childish reaction to a quite trivial thing – ONE vegan MEAL. For those unfamiliar with Dr. Melanie Joy, the term “carnist” is a moral-based way to refer to “meat-eaters.”
It is not as if every nonvegan acts this way, but even with a predominately vegan, extended maternal family, I have my own stories as I imagine nearly all vegans do. We often have little to no choices when we venture out. Meanwhile, many carnists lose their shit at the idea of attending a party, family gathering, or wedding where there is 100% cruelty-free cuisine. What irks me the most is that they equate veganism with deprivation and sacrifice. We vegans know that “our” food is everything but…it is abundance in taste, color, variety, and most importantly compassion. It is food that comes from the earth and provides so much life with nourishment…sadly what the Standard American Diet lacks. I always think of a common retort that could apply here, “It’s not going to kill you to eat a vegan meal.” My blood boils a little hotter. No, not only will it NOT kill you, that meal will NOT kill the planet as much or as many animals. Can I say win-win—win?
Lately, the “hot” topic has been vegan weddings, and the negativity surrounding it is quite upsetting. Here is my personal belief bluntly put…our wedding, our morals, and our food. Bite my vegan (wedding) cake! I do want to explore this issue a little because my intention is to cheer on any vegans getting married and let them know that it is completely appropriate to have your vegan wedding and to never let anyone bully you!
What exactly does a wedding represent? It is an expression of two peoples’ love. All the details revolve around their preferences, values, and morals. It extends to everything from the location, décor, music, food, beverages to any religious inclusion and the (non)traditions to follow. Thanks to cultural pressures and personal expectations, the event should also be the PERFECT, best day of their lives. It is supposed to be THEIR day, right? That’s what society tells us at least. Now, this is the part I am confused about. According to peoples’ reactions to vegan weddings, it seems that weddings are also about every single attending guest. Apparently, it is like spitting on your guests not to serve animals. With any event planning, one should always consider the guests if any need alternative arrangements for disabilities or any have specific allergies. Consideration stops when it comes to choices based on values. No one should have to participate in a violent system to make other people happy. If that were the case, there would be no vegans.
When did wedding grub labeled “vegan” become “shoving your lifestyle down your guests’ throats” anyway? I am not sure what they are shoving except delicious plant-powered goodness! Oh my! On the contrary, more often than you might expect, people have pig roasts at their reception…to clarify…a whole dead animal roasting on a spic. What’s that again about “shoving your lifestyle onto your guests”? Those two opposing scenarios are one in the same: an event based on the values of the soon-to-be newlyweds.
How two people decide to celebrate their marriage reflects upon them, and they should plan so accordingly. Sadly, external pressures can influence people into participating in things they object to. I came across a neat little blog written by a “vegan bride.” This bride was beyond ecstatic when her father offered to pay for her “dream wedding,” but the excitement quickly dissipated as he withdrew his offer because she would have vegan cuisine since veganism has been a part of her life in many facets for a long time. Her dad even made a snide remark about it being “insulting to her guests and embarrassing to him.” She stuck by her convictions and put together a vegan wedding without any familial financial assistance. It still came with emotional struggle; she expressed her feelings of rejection by her father. As it typically goes, the food at her event was incredible, and everyone loved it…her dad made no qualms about multiple visits to the appetizer table.
While I normally do not concern myself with the happenings of celebrities, I thought this would be a good opportunity to utilize the public’s obsession with them and everything they do. The vegan community got pretty upset with Natalie Portman during her pregnancy when she went back to a vegetarian diet, but I think she has redeemed herself. Not only is she back to a strict vegan diet, she also had a highly publicized vegan wedding with more than the food being eco-friendly. Another favorite, Ellen and Portia served cruelty-free food at their home, wedding ceremony.
Without a doubt, I have to mention Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. Her “vegan”/”not vegan” ceremony seemed to cause the biggest stink…coming from both ends. I was unable to find out whether her partner is also a vegan. If he consumes animals, then a nonvegan wedding (with vegan options of course) is in line with the couple’s values. But if they both are vegan, it makes me disgusted reading about their menu. The media reacted as if her wedding was mostly vegan. It was not; it had one vegan option. Other meal options included fish and “grass-fed” beef. To me, that is NOT a predominately vegan wedding. I was also horrified at the following discussions online. One site asked if it was “ok to force your dietary preferences on your guests.” There was even a vegan pastry chef that said, and I quote, “How can we invite chefs and then have no meat? They’ll think we are crazy.” I am not sure words can express the true outrage I feel over this…I hope my previous ramblings suffice. Without being too redundant, every event is based on the couple’s personal preferences, and this does not change all of the sudden when not serving animal products. Vegans should not be made to feel that what they are doing – serving cruelty-free food – is somehow different than any other wedding couple serving the food of their choosing. As for that vegan chef, she must not be an ethical vegan. I found it more appalling that chefs would treat “vegan food” as nonfood and would act elitist and closed-minded about trying dishes, which, by the way, are made from real food.
Bottom line…it is a ridiculous notion that vegans are doing something so wrong and different by planning their wedding according to their values. My best advice for dealing with difficult guests…Put the onus on them for not attending your special day for such a ridiculous reason. Who complains about free food anyway?! That is the truth. Any guest that would refuse to attend a wedding because of food is being a tad bit or a lot selfish and self-centered. I don’t recommend telling your guests this, but, for fuck’s sake, if it’s that serious, they can go down the street to any fast-food joint and stuff a dead cow sandwich down their throat before going to the event.
Plan your wedding according to your values and preferences. Never let anyone bully you otherwise. I think the best way to sum it all up is with my new favorite Gandhi quote: Your life is your message.