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On PF Changs and Vegan Authors

The PF Chang update, in case you haven't seen the response from the restaurant, is thus, once you incorporate the actual experiences of vegans who have gone through something similar with the restaurant: If you don't eat non-vegan sugar, there aren't many options. If you don't consider the sugar a major transgression, you have many choices. Everyone has their line in the sand. Also, ask to speak with the chef (my information, even about most of the tofu not being vegan, came from the chef via the server, by the way).

The slightly-larger question is every other restaurant. I feel bad that I picked on PF Chang's, as the Italian restaurant I frequent most likely uses sugar in its marinara, even if just a bit. And I doubt they use beet sugar, date sugar or agave nectar.

And the much-larger question is the idea of animal ingredients versus non-animal ingredients that were processed using animal ingredients, and that of course expands, ad infinitum, into every area of our lives (e.g., municipal water).

Face it, we'd like to avoid all products with animals in them but we can't even do that realistically, and to expect ourselves to also avoid non-animal products that have been processed with animal products is a bit much. Now, if you happen to know that non-vegan ingredients or processing took place, and you can easily avoid it, great! If not, don't flog yourself over it. Removing the flesh and secretions of sentient nonhumans from your diet, and removing their skin and hair from your clothing, and buying household products that don't have animal ingredients and weren't tested on animals, and refusing to participate in entertainment that involves animals, are the major issues. You are preventing untold exploitation and suffering by tackling them.

As for vegan authors, in response to Deb's query about bloggers, here are a couple of things to think about:

  • Book deals get canceled for all kinds of reasons, and sometimes they have nothing to do with the author or the book. Sometimes the person who championed the book goes elsewhere. Sometimes the publisher decides to switch gears. Sometimes it's about money. Sometimes there's word that some celebrity is about to write a similar book, thereby eclipsing any potential audience you ever had. Sometimes the publisher's attorney says the book is too risky for some reason.
Of course, everyone takes it personally when their Yes turns into a No, and I can say that I have had clients who were so devastated by this that they stopped writing. But that's a borderline silly reaction, as things happen that we have no control over and if you got one Yes you can get another. Publishing is a numbers game.
  • If a publisher is purchasing your words and you are already making the same ones available for free on your blog, why should they buy them? Books based on blogs have to have a significant amount of new information/posts/concepts in them.
  • Many book deals are made after an article or two is published, and in fact agents will tell you that writing for magazines is a great way to build your platform and credibility. However, you can't simply say that the content of your book is all of the articles you've written. Again, a book must have a significant amount of original content to be salable.

If enough people care, I can write about self-publishing, which used to be a dirty word but isn't so much anymore. Let me know.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. "If a publisher is purchasing your words and you are already making the same ones available for free on your blog, why should they buy them?"

    I think that's a misconception.
    a) Book buyers are not necessarily the same people as blog readers.
    b) Many people will read both. Those people appreciate a physical copy that they can put on a bookshelf or pass along to a friend.
    c) A book is more about the story weaved through it than the compilation of its parts. That is, a blog *feels* different than a book based on blog entries.

    I should write a book.

    July 24, 2009
  2. mary #

    "If a publisher is purchasing your words and you are already making the same ones available for free on your blog, why should they buy them?"

    This is what publishers and editors have told me for about 5 years. It's coming from them, not me.

    And you should write a book!

    July 24, 2009
  3. Regarding sugar in restaurants, that's a tough one. We've cut out white and brown sugar at home because it generally contains microscopic flecks of animals from the filtering process — and there's no reason to add animal parts to the production process because alternatives exist.

    That said, a case could be made for not making a big deal out of non-vegan sugar — at least not yet — at restaurants. Encouraging them to carry more (99.999999999999%) vegan items by buying more vegan items will help spread veganism by making it seem more mainstream and more palatable to people curious about veganism. This will cause veganism to spread even further. When critical mass is reached, perhaps then would be the best time to draw a line in the sand about bone-filtered sugar.

    Another thought, if your concern is that bone particles are in the sugar: The amount of non-vegan content because of wear on bone filters in the production process is generally going to be less that what's in, say, bugs that fell in the flour of your vegan bread. But again, it's introducing animals into a production process where they're not needed.

    A friend wonders if milk chocolate and other products with milk and sugar are kosher because the bone specks and the milk would violate Jewish custom.

    For my part, I want Costco to quit using wax on its apples that may or may not be made from insects.

    August 28, 2009

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