Roanne van Voorst
We Used to Eat Animals
How to prepare for a vegetarian future
In the last thirty years veganism has exploded among younger generations around the world. Today it’s not just popular and mainstream: #vegan effuses success, sexiness; it’s cool. While most of us grew up eating ‘essential’ animal products, the greater conscious shift away from those same products, be it as a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian, is gaining a momentum that will soon be hard, if not impossible to stop.
According to anthropologist Roanne van Voorst, we are living in one of history’s transitional moments, a fundamental tipping point. More and more scientists and futurists predict that eating meat and dairy will be banned or become taboo. Our vegan grandchildren will ask us how we ever could have lived and eaten as we did. The idea that every week more animals are killed for human consumption than humans who have died in all wars in human history combined is something we can hardly imagine now and may struggle to understand in the future.
It is difficult, however, to abandon such fundamental beliefs, especially without an alternative vision of how you can still eat good food and stay healthy. How to imagine a vegetarian future? Van Voorst uses her personal journey as a springboard
to outline the factors underlying this fundamental cultural shift away from animal products — 750 million vegans in 2015 as compared to just a few million worldwide in the 1990s.
Diving into history, the author interrogates the seemingly iron-wrought (read: marketing-wrought) narratives surrounding our current diet convictions and addresses nutrition concerns (yes, there are other sources of protein). What do recent food hypes like kale and poke bowls have in common with established and trusted friends milk and whole grain cereal? She also investigates modern intensive farming techniques, cognitive dissonance and veganism’s influence on our sense of self, while speaking with farm owners who have made the switch. Van Voorst examines our diet’s part in gender roles and sexuality, as we are introduced to ‘vegansexuals’ and asked to take a hard look at meat’s place in Western masculinity.
Not changing our diets is no longer an option: ‘When you have the freedom to choose what you eat, every meal is a political action, a decision to support certain suppliers, and to boycott others. It is an investment in one food’s development over another.’