Chef doesn’t like vegans
Being vegan for most people comes from a selfless, compassionate place. We are not looking inward. It’s not about clear skin, weight loss or shiny hair. Our choice to live as vegan as we possibly can is directly informed by our desire to reduce suffering. Our actions in the supermarkets/restaurants/kitchens of our planet can help alleviate a fraction of the unfathomable and systemic suffering levelled at non-human animals.
This kind of dedication to the reduction of suffering is surely fit for no purpose other than ridicule and cheap joke making, right?
— Gordon Ramsay (@GordonRamsay) February 22, 2016
As you have probably seen reported elsewhere (and click the link above if you haven’t), chef Gordon Ramsay was asked by a Twitter user if he is allergic to anything.
Ramsay came back with a one word zinger. Vegans.
The ‘joke’ here relies heavily on the tired assumption that vegans are the worst people to have walk into your restaurant. We are bothersome and needling individuals who work to make the life of a professional chef hell with our ridiculous demands. Oh, how we inconvenience the cook with our insistence that no living creature was boiled, decapitated or dehorned for a dish.
If we dig a bit deeper of course we can unpack the real motivation behind Ramsay’s joke (and the countless others just like it that we vegans come to expect).
That reason is the undeniable truth and a nagging sense of culpability.
It is easier to joke about the weird outsider than to confront your participation in an industrialised system that causes excruciating pain to billions of animals. Ramsay is a smart person who would obviously understand that a baby cow wouldn’t really want to be torn away from its parents, nor would any chicken want its throat slit before being dunked still alive into boiling water.
Of course he understands on a deep level that this behaviour is obscene at best.
But he has been socialised to see this as a necessary evil that keeps food on tables and maybe more importantly to this discussion, money in his bulging bank account.
This short piece of writing isn’t designed to call Ramsay out on his vegan bashing ways. I want it to act more as a support letter to other vegans who feel targeted by cheap jokes and the near-constant ridicule of their compassionate choices.
Remember that when Ramsay or anyone talks about your veganism in a derogatory, flippant or dismissive manner it is a sign that they are attempting to protect themselves from the truth. By pushing the ‘vegans are annoying’ agenda, it gives them some breathing space and takes the heat off their own deep-rooted feelings of complicity.
In his calmest and most self-reflective moments, not even Gordon Ramsay would truly believe that vegans are horrible people. It’s just that he needs those jokes and line of thinking to help him hide from the painful and confronting truth.
Personally I think its tongue in cheek and attention seeking and he likes to wind people up. I wrote to Gordon Ramsay over 10 yrs ago when he only had his 3 star Royal Hospital Road restaurant and had not launched his TV career. I asked if he would cater for me. His father in law rang me to confirm he would and he made all the arrangements with my booking . When I made my visit, the restaurant manager shook my hand and welcomed me as the first vegan to step through the door. I was totally spoiled, the food was fabulous, well thought and precise. I had the best table in the restaurant, got to meet Gordon and his kitchen brigade…Yes there was some mick taking originally, but I gave as good as I got, but it was cheeky leg pulling. But he did ask pertinent questions about why I was vegan, did I not think I was missing out on what he thought were excellent ingredients. At no point in the conversation did I feel belittled, in fact he spent a good amount of time with me, gave me a signed copy of his latest recipe book dedicated to “Mrs V” but said there is f….all in it for you..though he is wrong there are a couple of veganisable recipes I’ve made them. I hope many more vegans have visited since then. So I have a totally different view of Gordon Ramsay.