Going into this vegan-macrobiotic diet, I knew I was getting into something absurd, as written by some idiot actress. I thought it would be sort of fun in that way that doing any stupid thing on a lark is always fun. And I thought that, since some people I’ve known and some people I don’t know (@foodsyoucaneat, obv) have said that going vegan did actually make them feel great, maybe I’d be surprised by some positive physical results.
I was wrong.
The Kind Diet is exactly what it looks like: a horrible nightmare diet full of bland and sad, designed for people who hate both food and themselves.
To be fair to veganism, I already regularly eat a number of meals that happen to be vegan and that also happen to be delicious. (The beauty of not being a vegan, though, is that if something you try doesn’t quite work, you can always blanket your missteps in cheese.) The problem here is more with 1) macrobiotics and 2) Alicia Silverstone’s horrible recipes.
As in all books of this ilk, there is a suspiciously overenthusiastic barrage of reassurances that the food will be awesome, that you don’t lose anything by giving up animal products. Well, you do obviously give something up just there, but if you also give up salt and sugar and fat, and then start dousing everything in umeboshi byproducts? Just admit that enjoying food makes you feel dirty and sinful. Please. I mean, hell, I’ve read pro-ana message boards less quick to label foods “naughty” or “nasty” than The Kind Diet is.
Three days in, I had already sucked down half a pan of peanut butter crispy treat things, because they were the only thing from the book that I found edible. As such, I have consumed about half a jar of brown rice syrup. I don’t think that’s really part of the plan, but you guys, I was so hungry.
She claims you will get plenty of protein, and when giving an overview of how to build a macrobiotic meal, says to start with a grain and then “add a bean or bean product. And eat a wide variety of beans.” But then, if you look through the sample week-long meal plan she provides immediately thereafter, actual beans show up once and tofu shows up twice. Realistically, she’s asking you to live on grains. I already like to eat whole grains, but in normal life I have the option of adding an egg or some cheese, and then I’m not starving again 45 minutes after I eat.
In my current grumpy, sleepy state (I fell asleep on the couch at 4 pm yesterday, which is extremely not normal), I’m also less willing to laugh off the shitty logic that forms the basis for eating like this in the first place. Am I saving myself? Not too likely, given that I’m already pretty healthy and now I just feel stressy and mad. Am I saving the planet? Well, let me think about that for four-and-a-half seconds. Let’s take one of Silverstone’s big arguments that if we switch to a plant-based diet, we’ll be saving the rainforest, because the majority of rainforest destruction is a result of clearing land upon which cattle may graze.
Unfortunately, while meat does contribute its fair share, it’s not only meat production but agriculture in general that leads to deforestation. What’s more, most of that is subsistence farming, not commercial, and that first one has nothing to do with my appetite for beef. To go even further, a huge segment of that commercial agriculture contributing to deforestation is the production of palm oil. Walk through Whole Foods or the “natural foods” section of your grocery store sometime, read some labels, and try to tell me you don’t completely lose count of how many of those products contain palm oil. So when Silverstone or PETA or anyone else says that eating a whole-foods macrobiotic vegan diet is best, but that eating a vegan diet built around soy substitutes and processed convenience foods is somehow “still better” than eating any animal products, how does that follow? If you lend any of her arguments credence, they don’t in any way point to a vegan diet (unless, again, you just feel guilty about eating an animal or anything they produce—which is fine, but not really an argument so much as an opinion). There is probably something there to further the idea of lessening dependence on large-scale agriculture that destroys the land (in which case, I hope you’re looking pretty closely at where you’re getting grains in such quantity), to eating more foods lower on the food chain and more wild foods. But eating always means death, it always means robbing something else of its reproductive raison d’être, and feeding the number of people we have to feed is going to mean interrupting the “natural order” of things, whether those people are eating eggs or not.
Anyway. I initially figured that as long as I had a book by Alicia Silverstone around, I should give the diet a fair shot by remaining faithful to her vision and using her recipes. As it turns out though, I’m not strong enough to keep this up, because it’s gross. Last night, I celebrated my independence with a meal based around vegetables and defiantly lacking in grains, and I instantly felt better. OK, actually, first I celebrated with a truly massive order of cheese fries. But then I went back to being vegan and ate this stuff for dinner:
Bicolor corn, lightly marinated cucumbers, and a raw beet salad, with all the vegetables coming either from the local farmers’ market, the CSA share I inherited for a couple of weeks while my sister-in-law was on vacation, or our backyard. A small black bean burger completed the meal (not actually vegan, because it was left over from a few days ago when I was still eating eggs). No umeboshi anything, no outsized sugar cravings from eating so many carbs, none of the bleakness that comes with eating gruel prescribed by Batgirl.
So for the sake of science, I think I’ll continue with the vegan thing for a couple of weeks or so like I said I would, but you’ll probably all be happy to hear that I’m dumping the macrobiotic bit and you won’t have to read all these super-timely Alicia Silverstone jabs anymore.
Though, I have to say, I will miss her unique brand of namedropping or whatever this is:
But I guess everything has to come to an end sometime. For now, I’ll leave you with the recipe for the beets, because I guess this is mostly a beet recipe blog now.