A Vastly Improved Bourdain

A Vastly Improved Bourdain

Anthony Boudain answers a few questions from a vegan. The answers are a bit surprising given his past comments. Two of the questions:

Vegan: “Some of my friends have a Web site called Hezbollah Tofu, inspired by something you once said about vegans. Their goal is to mimic your recipes without using animal products. Ever heard of it?”

Boudain: “Yes. I’m aware of it, and I wish them well. It’s a funny and clever idea. It’s proof that it’s possible to be vegan and have a sense of humor.”

Vegan: “Any money raised will be donated to animal rights organizations in your name. How do you feel about that?”

Boudain: “I think it’s great. I like animals. I’m against fur. I’m not a guy who would hunt for sport, even though I know people who do it certainly. As far as testing cosmetics on animals, I’m totally against it. But obviously we have some fundamental differences in foie gras and medical testing and things like that. But who’s against saving cute animals — or even not cute animals? Nobody.”

In case you haven’t heard of Hezbollah Tofu yourself, here’s the first part of the story. Boudain insulted vegans:

“Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food.” – Anthony Bourdain, “Kitchen Confidential,” p. 70 [emphasis added]


So vegans rebelled and created a food blog. In it, they said:

“Anthony, you’re kind of tragically wrong about us. But don’t worry, we’re not going to do something silly like picket the Travel Channel or go around bookstores drawing giant penises on your book covers with Sharpies. We have two key advantages over you in this game: we’re easily mobilized, and we can cook.”

They’re right, vegans can cook. Why? Because we have to. Why do we have to? Because self-important chefs like Bourdain often refuse to accommodate us.

Here’s proof we can cook (and reason for why cookbook writers ought not to ignore us):

“Vegans are confident cooks, with 9 out of 10 vegans feeling confident about preparing a meal from scratch. UK vegans are more likely to be very confident about cooking from scratch than the general population. In particular, vegan men and long-term vegans consider themselves very competent in the kitchen.” and

“Households containing a vegan have, on average, 12 cookbooks, compared to the UK household average of 8. UK vegans are also 10 times more likely to source recipes from the internet.” (source)

Yeah, I might be one of the vegans driving that number up. I think I have about 30 cookbooks, at least.

But why do chefs think we can’t cook? Because we don’t complain. We sit back and take it. We don’t say, “Another bella on a bun? Get real! Give me something interesting!” We don’t say, “Steamed vegetables are so passe. If I wanted to eat like that, I’d stay home and watch the boob tube.” We don’t say what a few vocal vegans say, which is:

“we aren’t just going to ‘enjoy’ food, we’re going to enjoy vastly improved, veganized versions”

If you want recipes for vastly improved veganized versions of Bourdain’s recipes, check out Hezbollah Tofu here >>

5 Responses to A Vastly Improved Bourdain

  1. Anyone can use animal flesh and animal by-products to make a gourmet meal, but it takes creativity and compassion to invent a cruelty free gourmet meal. I believe that everyone has a conscience and that vegans have a responsibility to help people to realize this.

  2. Every time I read Bourdain’s original quote I get angry. We’re not against food; we just don’t think animals are food. There’s a HUGE difference.

    And yes, competent chefs do NOT consider vegans irritants. They consider vegans formidable opponents, worthy challenges, a niche market, etc. Any chef who can’t or won’t cook for a vegan is a chef who isn’t worth his salt.

  3. First of all, I loved this post. I can’t wait to check out Hezbollah Tofu.

    Secondly, my dad is a fancy-schmancy chef who just doesn’t get my vegan lifestyle, try as I might. I would’ve thought… if there were at least one chef who would take the challenge to create great vegan food, it’d be my dad since, well, I know him, right? Wrong. He’s probably the last chef willing to even think anything outside the food box regarding plant based ingredients. Disappointing (especially as he swallows umpteen pills for aches, diabetes, heart disease, etc).

    Oh well, I’m sending him the book, Great Chefs Cook Vegan – he does love cookbooks after all. Maybe this will spark a tiny bit of inspiration. Fingers crossed!


    ~ Recent blog post: Agave Nectar – To Use Or Not To Use… ~

  4. I made a comment on Anthony Bourdain’s Facebook page that is worth reading (http://www.facebook.com/pages/No-Reservations-with-Anthony-Bourdain/7774036261?ref=mf). I find it interesting that meat eaters can defend their right to eat, kill, and enjoy themselves at the animals and planets expense. I do understand some of this since I was a meat eater at one point myself. However, having become conscious, I certainly now see the insanity of eating animals and their secretions, and all the negative ramifications it has for our world in which we live. It is not that I don’t understand their meat eating preferences. It is that I don’t understand their unwillingness to see another perspective, become aware of the issues regarding animal consumption, but moreover I don’t understand how they can continue to be unaffected in the slightest of the animal cruelty and pain that species must endure for their entire life so humans can simply enjoy ONE meal??? Are humans as a species this callous by nature?

  5. ‘Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit’? Really? I knew this guy was a few sandwiches short of a picnic, but now I’ve heard it all.

    ~ Recent blog post: FAQ #26: Can you eat chocolate? Doesn’t it have cocoa butter in it? ~


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