The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 5, 2011; 2:47 PM
— You’ve come a long way, vegan.
Once mocked as a fringe diet for sandal-wearing health food store workers, veganism is moving from marginal to mainstream in the United States.
The vegan “Skinny Bitch” diet books are best-sellers, vegan staples like tempeh and tofu can be purchased at just about any supermarket, and some chain restaurants eagerly promote their plant-only menu items. Today’s vegans are urban hipsters, suburban moms, college students, even professional athletes.
“It’s definitely more diverse. It’s not what you would picture 20 years ago, which is kind of hippie, crunchy,” said Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of vegan cookbooks like the new “Appetite for Reduction.” She says it’s easier being a vegan now because there is more local produce available and more interesting ways of cooking.
“It’s not just steamed vegetables anymore and brown rice and lentils,” she said.
Veganism is essentially hard-core vegetarianism. While a vegetarian might butter her bagel or eat a cake made with eggs, vegans shun all animal products: No meat, no cheese, no eggs, no honey, no mayonnaise. Ethical vegans have a moral aversion to harming animals for human consumption, be it for a flank steak or leather shoes, though the term often is used to describe people who follow the diet, not the larger philosophy.
It’s difficult to come up with hard numbers of practicing vegans. There’s a blurry line between people who define themselves as vegan and vegetarian and some eaters dip in and out plant-only diets. For instance, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman has described his “vegan till 6” health plan, in which he becomes more omnivorous in the evening.
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