Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Culinary Activism (aka Joyfood)

Joyfood

People generally think of activism as participating in a protest, holding signs and handing out leaflets, but activism comes in many forms, mostly limited only by our imaginations. Dictionary.com says activism is the doctrine or practice of vigorous action or involvement as a means of achieving political or other goals, sometimes by demonstrations, protests, etc. That’s a pretty broad definition.

Much of my activism consists of writing letters to the editor, but I’ve also become a strong believer in culinary activism. I don’t know who coined that term, but I associate it with my friend, Joy, who is amazing with food, and who awes vegans and non-vegans on a regular basis with her creations.

She was in town for a week to test recipes for a cookbook she’s working on. Right now she lives at a mile high, and since all of her recipes were created at that altitude, she needed a place to test her cakes and other baked goods at a “normal” altitude. For a week I had Joyfood taking over my kitchen, an amazing thing!

Last night we had people over to celebrate, have fun, and help dispose of the desserts. Mostly we were all vegan already, but I still consider this activism. With the memory of desserts like this in our heads, we can assure doubters with complete honesty that vegan baking can kick the ass of any non-vegan baking. All you need is the right recipe. And those exist, with more coming out all the time. Joy’s food is a fabulous example of what can be done.

If we end up spoiled for anything else, that isn’t a bad thing. We can have high standards.

The great thing is that anyone can be a culinary activist, not just artists like Joy. I bring in cookies and cupcakes for my coworkers fairly often, and all I do is follow recipes as best I can. People stop by my desk sometimes just to see if I brought anything in that day.

I can’t claim that anyone has gone vegan based on my baking or cooking, but I know several people who make vegan cookies on a regular basis because they tried my cookies and wanted the recipe. My mom routinely makes vegan meals, even when I’m not visiting. I have her half convinced to set the theme for one of her “gourmet club” dinners as vegan. And some non-vegan friends brought a vegan chili to a chili potluck event, just in case there was a vegetarian attending. The skeptics were stunned that night to find that their favorite chili (unmarked, so no one knew which chili was vegan) was the vegan one.

Those are all successes to me, even if on a small scale. Every egg that is not consumed, every bit of dairy that is avoided is a success. I’m still trying to figure out how to get people to take their new knowledge of the tastiness of vegan food and see that there is no reason to eat animal products, and every reason not to. For now, I’ll keep reminding people via scrumptious calories that vegan food is tasty. It’s a first step, anyway. And maybe someday every town will have a Sticky Fingers Bakery.

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