On food, veganism and joy

A conversation between myself and a friend on Facebook (beginning with a picture of cakes)…

Me: nice cakes! Do they taste as good as they look?

Friend: not nearly as nice, i’m afraid..the vegetarian in me still cannot grasp the concept of baking with vegan products – they are well beyond me even now. the cupcakes were dry & tasted a little too much like soy..with icing, they were revived a bit, but even so..i think they were just decorative.

Me: shame. I’ve never understood veganism – you’ve got to have some pretty high principles to hate food that much. where do they get the joy in their life?
Well, fantastic decorating job, anyway…

Friend: haha the least i can say is that thank goodness our joy in life does not revolve around food! &… they were joyful over the icing!


I personally think that you can get an awful lot of joy from food. Think of your happiest memories… how many of them involve sitting around a meal table with close friends and/or family? How many of them involved a special meal of some sort?

A good steak, just the right side of medium-rare. Proper Pommes Frites (french fries), not the paler American immitation. Green beans. A good sauce (your choice)…

Real, fresh, Japanese Sushimi…

A glass of rich, smokey red wine and some Green & Blacks dark chocolate…

I’d go on, but I’ll make you all hungry. 😉

Aren’t these things that give you joy? Don’t they make you smile? I was thinking last night, as I drifted off to Bedfordshire, about the meals at l’Abri. There were so many good gatherings with friends around a table, so many joyous momoents. But many of them were made more so by the quality of the food: The first time Anna made Mexican Casserole. The Sunday Breakfasts where Phil made muffins. The time I made soup, and managed to persuade Marta that the salad demanded real olive oil…

In these moments, and in so many of your own significant memories, the people you are with are the most important thing. It is the shared fellowship that we treasure. But I really do believe that the food we eat plays a significant part in our enjoyment of the moment and in what/whether we remember. There really is a lot of joy in food.

I was mainly joking with my comment on veganism. But I do have a problem with it, because it does feel so much like a philosophy that steals the joy from food. It reduces food to something to morally anguish about, rather than celebrate. It becomes a measure of your superiority and a basic form of sustenance, and nothing more.

So, make beautiful cup-cakes. Gather friends around you to enjoy them with you. But make sure they taste nice…


2 thoughts on “On food, veganism and joy

  1. Low-fat cupcakes probably fall into the same league as vegan ones. You simply have to derive joy from the fact that they’re not so bad for you…
    And actually, they don’t usually look half as pretty as those vegan ones do.

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