vegan baker

on “gluten freedom”
February 16, 2008, 10:08 pm
Filed under: rant | Tags: ,

I think it is wrong to combine veganism and other dietary restrictions. It’s an act of convenience and misinformation, and it does everyone a disservice.

When we produce a food that satisfies everyone, we satisfy no one as well as we might. The act of limited-diet combination tells everyone who tries a vegan, gluten-free, kosher, raw food, macrobiotic cookie that vegan food tastes like pre-masticated half-rotten carrots and oats. It also classes vegans with health nuts, orthodox Jews, and those with food allergies. Nothing against “healthy” people, Jews, or those with food allergies (I fit a couple of those categories, more or less) but veganism isn’t the same kind of game. We’re talking morals first and foremost, and it waters down our message to mix in this company.

I know the gluten-free diet has become popular of late as a healthy one. I think it is in the same category as those preservative-packed fat-free Snackwell’s cookies and the Atkins diet. People whose doctors have told them that they could live better without wheat will obviously do better without it, and the rest of us could lean a lot less heavily on the white flour. But gluten is wonderful, magical stuff, one of the last voodoo mysteries of ancient food production that we get to keep alive in our new vegan world of food science, and I will not give it up for a fad.

You may notice that I link to Babycakes Bakery, a vegan bakery that is also essentially gluten-free (I think they provide a couple of different levels of gluten-free-ness, for those with celiac vs. those with allergies.) I like going to Babycakes when I’m in the area because it is cute and sweet inside and the food’s pretty good.

But I never leave without thinking about how great gluten is, and how much better cupcakes are for containing it. I can go home and bake something that knocks those cupcakes out of the ballpark by using delicious wheat flour. And the gluten-free people can go home and bake a big old eggs- and butter-rich flourless chocolate cake, and they can have a party without me. That’s fine with me. We’re not in the same boat.

(My condolences to those people who have to combine a gluten intolerance with veganism. But you shouldn’t have to eat food that is also made to satisfy the raw people and the religious people and the crazy people, too.)


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