Monday, October 5, 2009

"Vegan Month of Food"

Last year was the first year that I discovered vegan blogs--I had only been vegan for about six months, and was starting to bake more and more often, and I needed recipes. After a couple months of looking at all the various blogs, I settled on a few favorites (you can see them in the blog list just over to the right), and have been following them ever since. Of course, there are other blogs that I visit occasionally, especially if I'm searching for a new recipe for something, but there are few (if any) that I'd want to add to the blog list. So, last year as I was pedalling around the blogosphere with my training wheels still on, I encountered the phenomenon that is Vegan Month of Food. I learned that Isa Chandra Moskowitz proclaimed October to be the "Vegan Month of Food," or "Vegan MoFo," as it is endearingly called by a myriad of vegan bloggers. The call goes something like this:
The idea is to write as much as you can for the month of October about vegan food. The blog entries can be about anything food related - your love of tongs, your top secret tofu pressing techniques, the first time your mom cooked vegan for you, vegan options in Timbuktu - you get the idea. There is no strict guideline for how much you have to write, but we shoot for about 20 times a month, or every weekday.
At first, this whole enterprise seems rather exciting--who wouldn't want more posts about delicious vegan food from favorite bloggers? More pictures of food, more frequent discussions of techniques, more personal stories from vegans (aside from my husband, I actually don't know any vegans personally)... This year, however, I am thinking about the prescribed month differently.

I ask: what does "Vegan Month of Food" accomplish? The vegan blogging community is rather insular--it exists, but does not affect too many others outside of itself. Sure, it may be getting some little publicity, but it's publicity that doens't accomplish anything. I feel like for the rest of this month, the vegan bloggers who are participating (and apparently, there's an official list) will orbit around each other and then settle down a few recipes richer, but wiser? I am perplexed at the lack of direction and purpose within this phenomenon; I am even more confused about the activity that supposedly makes October special--vegan bloggers eating...vegan food and...wait a minute....blogging about it?! I wish that I could say that "Vegan Mofo" is about outreach and vegan education in excess of that which is already in existence on blogs, but it appears to be more about frenzy (empty frenzy, even, because what other reason is there to stay up and post at midnight as soon as the clock rolled over into October?). And I refuse to participate in it because that very frenzy and fanaticism is what can be alienating to others. Once again, "Vegan Month of Food" doesn't accomplish anything that any other month of being vegan doesn't; I would invite fellow bloggers (and non-bloggers) to consider more carefully the kinds of efforts spent on a daily basis, and to question whether those efforts couldn't be put towards more productive outcomes.

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