By admin | November 3, 2011

BY AINE CARLIN

So Natalie Portman is no longer vegan. The much revered and respected actress has let the vegan side down and many people have been left reeling, as if it were a deliberate affront by Natalie to show veganism in a bad light. There’s been oodles written on the internet, lambasting the poor girl, metaphorically ripping her to sheds – ‘How can she do this do us?!’. I say, lay off people and leave the gal alone.

The most important thing I’ve come to realize over the years is that the only behavior you can ever truly have control over is your own. Focus on that one tiny thing and the rest will follow.

Mid way through her pregnancy, Natalie decided she wanted to eat dairy products, apparently “just ’cause”. Immediately, vegans around the world were up in arms, outraged at Natalie’s thoughtless decision to turn her back on veganism; many of them ruefully saying it was people like her that gave veganism a bad name. After all, if a celebrity with access to personal chefs, nutritionists and assistants (to fetch all those vegan cupcakes) galore can’t hack veganism, how is a mere mortal supposed to?

Yes, Natalie is a high profile celebrity. And yes, maybe a few people nodded when she returned to dairy, as if to say ‘they all break sooner or later’. Maybe she felt she wasn’t getting what she needed nutritionally or maybe, just maybe, she, despite being a well-informed vegan, wanted to eat some cakes made with eggs and not flax seed and, quite frankly, that’s her prerogative.

Perhaps those who criticized Natalie didn’t think about how their attacks would be perceived by people teetering on the edge of veganism, daunted by it but wanting to give it a shot. Having read the abuse Natalie had to endure (while she was pregnant no less!) would have done more damage to the cause than Natalie eating a pistachio macaron ever could have. I can imagine some of these vegan dabblers thinking, ‘Would I be in for the same treatment from my vegan peers should I ‘slip up’?’ while looking over their shoulders for the vegan police.

Veganism can be an all or nothing lifestyle, which, for many people is terrifying. I understand that long term committed vegans want the name and meaning to remain intact. Yet, for a community that espouses the virtues of kindness, it can often be a seemingly intimidating group to penetrate and gain acceptance from.

My own vegan journey has taught me that tolerance and acceptance are paramount. This is not a competition. There is no prize for being the ‘best’ vegan. Everybody will do things in their own time and no one should be made to feel like they failed. There’ll be more celebrity slip ups (is Ellen next?) and there’ll always be the few who ridicule veganism. In time, Natalie herself may return to her vegan ways and I sometimes wonder what the reception will be like – frosty or forgiveness? Let’s hope the latter. She owes only herself an explanation and there are few of us perfect enough to pass judgment.

In spite of her no-longer-vegan status, I’m pleased to present this beautiful salad (supposedly one of her favorites). Sure, I tinkered with it a smidge (can’t help myself) but the essence of the dish remains – a bit like Natalie herself and her latent veganism.

Natalie’s Favorite Quinoa Salad Recipe

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup sweet corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
1/4 cucumber
1/2 red onion
5 sundried tomatoes
1 lemon
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch organic unrefined sugar
salt and pepper
handful finely chopped dill
handful of radish sprouts (or alfalfa etc.)

Method:

  1. In a pot add 2 cups of water to the quinoa. Bring to a boil, cover and then gently simmer until all the water has absorbed. Transfer to a plate and set in fridge to cool.
  2. Finely dice the red onion. Skin and de-seed the cucumber and cut into small chunks. If you’re using fresh sweet corn, take it off the cob using a knife and blanche the kernels for a few minutes. If using frozen, place them in a bowl, cover with freshly boiled water, drain and rinse. If using canned simply rinse. Cut the sundried tomatoes into small pieces. Set all ingredients aside.
  3. In a clean empty jam jar (remember, don’t throw these things away they come in very handy!) add the mustard, sugar, salt and pepper, vinegar, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and dill. Screw the lid on tightly and give it a vigorous shake.
  4. Take the quinoa out of the fridge and carefully mix through all the ingredients. Pour over two thirds of the dressing and give it a gentle, coaxing stir. Serve in a bowl, topped off with the sprouts and using the remaining dressing to drizzle over the top.

Do you have our own vegan journey story?

Photos: Aine Carlin

Aine Carlin is a vegan blogger who specializes in vegan recipes. She also has a keen interest in vegan fashion and is currently training to be a stylist where she hopes to promote cruelty free clothing and beauty. You can find more of her vegan recipes and vegan friendly fashion over at www.peasoupeats.com

For more great recipes from Aine, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)

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