© e Editor(s) (if applicable) and e Author(s) 2016
J. Castricano, R.R. Simonsen (eds.), Critical Perspectives on Veganism,
e Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series,
From Seitan Bourguignon toTofu
Blanquette: Popularizing Veganism
inFrance withFood Blogs
Once disparaged, ridiculed, or just plain ignored by the general public,
vegans are a fast-growing group in French society. Until quite recently,
meatless products could be found only at organic shops and were viewed
by the general public as something for macrobiotic hippies who adore
avorless tofu. But today, these products represent a market that is
expanding at an impressive pace. Although most restaurant owners are
still dragging their feet when it comes to adding vegan or even vegetar-
ian options to their menus and school cafeterias are still required by law
to include animal protein in every dish they serve, it cannot be denied
that veganism has arrived in France. e most-watched evening news
shows regularly feature segments on the so-called “veggie trend,” vegan
restaurants seem to be popping up like mushrooms all over Paris, food
manufacturers are experimenting with vegetarian meat alternatives, and
no fewer than 15 French-language cookbooks with the word “vegan” in
O . V é r o n ( )
University College London , London , UK
their title appeared in the year following the rst one in April 2014. In
a country whose national cuisine has been listed as a UNESCO world
heritage, and where a traditional dish is de ned rst and foremost by the
type of meat used, this shift has been far from easy.
In this chapter, I will be analyzing the rise of veganism in a society
that is still marked by the prevalence of what Melanie Joy has termed
1 in its culture, public institutions, and daily practices. I will
focus in particular on the role vegan food blogs play in these changes
in societal perception and behavior. e rst French blogs of this kind
appeared in 2006–2007, and today there are more than 50. With their
recipes and articles, these bloggers work to educate their readers, pro-
mote vegan cuisine, and facilitate a transition to an animal-free diet for
as many people as possible. I will argue that by revisiting traditional
dishes, highlighting the culinary delights o ered by vegan cuisine, and
presenting it as a healthy and delicious alternative to meat-based food,
these blogs have increased awareness of veganism among people outside
their usual readership, and have thus helped expand acceptance of veg-
anism in French society. Although some fear that this popularity could
weaken the radical impetus of veganism as a politics, I will highlight
the e ects it has had on the growing awareness of issues related to the
welfare and rights of animals.
I will rst examine how blogs, and particularly food blogs, are involved
in community-building and the formation of subcultures. Next, I will
look at the growth of vegan food blogs in France. I will then demonstrate
that although these blogs’ initial main audience was the existing vegan
community, they later expanded beyond this small circle, reaching new
audiences, and thus helping popularize veganism in French society and,
arguably, beyond. Finally, I will measure the role of these blogs against
the increase in general awareness of animal ethics issues. While evaluating
the possible risks of awareness-raising e orts centered more on culinary
enjoyment than issues of justice and animal rights, I will conclude by pre-
senting the relatively positive impact these blogs have had on the general
public’s growing interest in the animal cause.
is paper is based on research related to vegan food blogging, in
which I participated rst as a blogger and activist, and later as a researcher,
combining my two identities as I became increasingly involved in the
288 O. Véron
movement. Drawing upon cyber-ethnography methods, interviews with
vegan food bloggers, and a survey of their readers, whom I approached
via social networks and my own blog, I provide examples of how ani-
mal-free diets and lifestyles are becoming normalized in French society.
Finally, I suggest that vegan blogs can provide insight into new ways of
viewing and practicing veganism in the twenty- rst century.
Food Blogging Communities andSubcultures
Although a certain number of researchers have examined issues of food and
5 (Belasco, 2008; Parasecoli 2008; Brun and Jacobs, 2006; Pence
2002; Meigs, 1998) and the role of blogs in society,
6 few sociological studies
have focused on food blogs, much less vegan food blogs. Recipe-sharing is,
however, a long-standing practice. Sharing recipes and food-related infor-
mation is a way of expressing one’s “experiences, preferences, observations,
7 On a blog, this sharing is public and reaches a wider audience,
as is the case with books and magazines, and thus becomes a way of re ect-
ing a culture and de ning a community, thus “inscribing the self with a
sense of place, belonging and achievement.”
8 (Gallegos 2005) Because blogs
allow for interaction going beyond the individual or family level, they often
lead to the creation of a community founded on a sense of shared identity.
(Ferguson 2012) O ering a more dynamic relationship than cookbooks,
blogs allow people to come into contact regardless of the physical distance
that may separate them.
10 (Lofgren 2013) ese opportunities for sharing
and discussion, which break with traditional notions of passive media spec-
11 (Jenkins 2008:3) make these blogs a vector for participatory
culture. Many bloggers o er advice to their readers who, in return, com-
ment, ask questions, and share their personal experiences, thus allowing
for the emergence of a type of dynamic and collective expertise.
A virtual community created in this way can be considered a sub-
culture. According to Nancy Baym (2010), these groups are composed
of “like- minded individuals” and can be compared to “semi-organized
grassroots social movements.” Blogs may thus share many features with
non-virtual groups, in which individuals “develop identities through
performances that build distinctive styles.”
12 Je Bishop and Paul Hoggett
note that subcultures are a key vector through which “dominant values
From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette 289
are transmitted, resisted, or negotiated and new sets of values, which may
take as their point of origin a di erent mode of production and social
13 Food blogs can therefore be a way for bloggers
and their readers to question and challenge certain food-related norms,
habits, or dominant representations. e very nature of the social net-
works on which they depend sometimes lends them an in uence extend-
ing beyond just the food blogosphere.
In the next section, I will explore the aspects of French vegan food blogs
that relate to subculture, identity, and community, and will examine their
potential impact on French society and its dominant representations—in
particular, as they are related to speciesist and carnist ideologies.
Building aVegan Subculture Community
French vegan food blogs appeared around the same time than the gen-
eral French food blogosphere emerged. Many in the general public
associated animal-rights activists with the lightning-raid tactics of the
Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and thought of people following a vegan
diet as ascetics who belong to cults and live almost exclusively on soy
burgers and sprouts.
15 e only vegan recipes available were found on
black-and-white brochures distributed at stands run by a handful of
animal- protection associations, and many people followed a vegan diet
on their own without ever meeting any other vegans or activists. Vegan
food blogs thus played a special role in bringing people together and
strengthening the community. Drawing on content analysis, participant
observation, interviews with 16 bloggers, and a survey of 276 vegan food
blog readers, I show how this vegan blogosphere has helped build and
develop the identity of the French vegan community.
According to Nancy Baym (2010), a community, virtual or not, is
based on a certain number of characteristics including a sense of belong-
ing and space; shared/social identities, resources and practice; sociability
and interpersonal relationships; information and support.
16 e notions
of belonging and shared identity can be seen in most of the names chosen
for French vegan blogs—a large number of them include a direct reference
290 O. Véron
to their vegan identity: VG-Zone, Végébon, Vegans eld, Enfant Végé, 100 %
Végétal, Ma Cuisine Végétalienne , etc. e idea of providing support and
information is also clear in the mission statements of many of these blogs.
One of the rst French vegan blogs to appear was VG-Zone , which is
“ rst and foremost designed to make daily life easier for Parisian vegans,
but [is] also for anyone passing through our lovely capital city.”
17 is is
not a blog that aims to “explain to newbies what strict vegan and ovo-
lacto-vegetarian diets are” but rather “an urban survival guide for grocery
shopping,” suggesting places to dine out “without the risk of nding a
bone in your food” and “making a quick meal in your tiny kitchen at
home.” e blog’s goal of o ering its readers assistance is clearly stated:
“Don’t panic! We’re here to help!”
18 e bloggers behind VG-Zone , Laura
and Sébastien, pointed out that at the time they created their blog, this
type of information “didn’t exist” and that “the few [vegan blogs] that
were around didn’t do a great job of promoting veganism.”
19 e idea of
a community founded on a common practice, shared resources, and a
network of mutual support is clearly echoed in the comments left by their
very rst readers. One of them wrote, “Your site is really great! Both for
the recipes and the wealth of information about eating well as a vegan …
It’s so nice to nally nd a good source like this one in the chaos of the
blogosphere. Many thanks to both of you for everything you’re doing for
the veg community!”
20 e blog has thus become a space for sociability
and interpersonal relationships, since readers share their own practices
and ask for advice. e authors often reply to these comments, but like
on a forum, other readers also add their thoughts.
e results of my survey of readers of vegan blogs reveal similar moti-
vations. Several respondents stated that they began reading this kind of
blog after going vegetarian or vegan, with a view to “ nding recipes and
tips to make things easier,” “diversifying [their] diet and getting guid-
ance,” “having support for the transition” or seeing “that this lifestyle
was really possible.” In places where veganism is less common, blogs are
often the only—or at least the rst—direct contact people have with
others who share their values. One survey respondent said that for her,
these blogs allowed her to “see that [she] wasn’t the only one who had
these beliefs.” Another wrote that she was “at a loss as far as what to eat”
and contacted some bloggers who “very kindly mentored [her] through
From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette 291
the rst steps.” A desire to escape from a form of social isolation by
meeting other vegans can be seen in the experience of another reader, for
whom the blogs were like “a breath of fresh air” and provided “support
and education in terms of cooking and nutrition when everyone else you
know swears by a meat-based diet and knows nothing about other ways
of eating.” Some respondents stated that the blogs made them feel “reas-
sured about [their] choices” and “less alone.” Vegan food blogs therefore
seem to have played a major role in terms of identity- and commu-
nity-building at a time when veganism was not well known or widely
accepted in French society.
ese blogs are also a core part of a subculture that de es dominant
ideological norms. By presenting alternative lifestyles and consumer
models that raise questions about the traditional French culinary land-
scape, bloggers regularly challenge the speciesism and carnism that are
prevalent in French society. In this sense, their actions can be compared
to what Michel de Certeau (
1984 ) called “cultural poaching.”
digital tools, bloggers are like “poachers” who, slipping through breaches
in the dominant culinary landscape, redesign their daily eating habits
and inspire their readers to make changes of their own. Revisiting tra-
ditional recipes to create egg-free crêpes, seitan bourguignon, and tofu
blanquette recall the détournement tactics of the Situationists, o ering
individuals the opportunity to question a dominant system’s rules and
to reappropriate its existing codes. is can be an enjoyable challenge,
o ering the satisfaction of creating something new as well as a treat for
the taste buds, and furthermore shows that anyone can reappropriate and
revisit the great classics of French cuisine. One of the bloggers interviewed
described vegan cuisine as “fun and creative” and said that it provides a
chance to “question the merits of traditional meat-based cuisine.”
name of one of these blogs, Pigut ,
23 an acronym standing for Petites Idées
pour Grandes Utopies (Small Ideas for Big Utopias), testi es to this tacti-
cal aspect, since its author, who goes by the name Melle Pigut, shows
that with relatively few resources—an “old computer,” a “trusty cam-
era” and “a couple of reliable cooking utensils”—it is possible to create
“big utopias … day after day, together with you and our small ideas.”
e recipes posted by these bloggers represent transgressions against the
traditional paradigm, ways of rejecting the inevitability of consuming
292 O. Véron
animal products, creating di erent cultural references and devising a new
system built on alternatives to the dominant practices. Vegan food blogs
help strengthen and develop the vegan subculture and have also popular-
ized it outside its community of origin.
Vegan Blogs: Inspiring Behavioral andSocietal
Some vegan blogs make no secret of their e orts to reach out to those
outside their circle of supporters and to help veganism become better
known in French society. Here, I will examine the two main strategies
blogs use to help popularize the vegan diet: updating the image of vegan-
ism in France and putting this way of eating within everyone’s reach.
To change the way veganism is perceived, it is essential to do away
with certain misconceptions—namely, that vegans are marginal members
of society at best, dangerous extremists at worst; that they are usually
pale and nutritionally de cient; that they follow a bland, restrictive, and
monotonous diet. e idea, in one blogger’s words, is to show that “veg-
ans [are] not daisy-smoking hippies.”
25 To this end, many bloggers focus
on how diverse, re ned, and delicious vegan food can be. e blog 100 %
Végétal makes this clear right away in its mission statement:
Here, raw food, axseed and coconut oil rub shoulders with burgers, nug-
gets and even a vegan version of sh and chips. In the holiday season, there
are recipes such as chestnut-stu ed seitan roast, hazelnut roulades and even
a pâté inspired by foie gras. When summer comes around, there are color-
ful homemade ice creams packed with fruit and cakes that may skip the
eggs but certainly don’t compromise on avor. Basically, you won’t nd any
deprivation in this kind of cuisine. It’s more ethical, eco-friendly and
healthy, more in tune with the seasons, with even more di erent avors
and new combinations that you’ll want to experience ASAP.
As an example of this diversity, the blog Végébon
27 regularly features pho-
tos of meals made at home, ordered at restaurants, or taken to work in a
lunch box, while the blog Au Vert avec Lili
28 o ers no fewer than 26 types
From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette 293
of recipes ranging from salads, crudités, and wraps to quiches, brioches,
and mu ns. According to Gaëlle, the blogger behind Better than Butter ,
the idea is to “show people it’s possible to skip meat and still eat a variety
of delicious and nutritionally balanced dishes.”
To debunk the misconceptions, it is essential to show that vegan cui-
sine can be delicious and elegant. As Laura and Sébastien see it, vegans
“have unfortunately inherited the image of the 1970s macrobiotic move-
ment: ascetic, restrictive and unglamorous.”
31 eir blog o ers elegant
dishes and desserts on par with the creations of top chefs, underscoring
how important culinary excellence and visual appeal are when it comes
to vegan cuisine. For this reason, vegan bloggers tend to take a great deal
of care with food styling and photography. Many of them have galleries
of their culinary creations, and some even work as professional photog-
raphers. Special attention is also paid to blog design, since, as Gaëlle put
it, “attractive food blogs are appealing and show the dishes in their best
light, which can help get omnivores interested.”
Putting veganism within everyone’s reach is the second goal of vegan
food blogs. is strategy is founded upon a pragmatic approach aimed
at making life easier for people by o ering simple, everyday recipes.
Since vegan cuisine is often burdened by a reputation for being com-
plex, requiring exotic ingredients found only at organic food stores,
the idea here is to make veganism accessible to everyone. Sophie, the
author of Enfant Végé , said that she feels one of the best ways to pro-
mote veganism is to “show that being vegan today is EASY!”
blogger of L’Aventure Lavable
34 said that “low-cost recipes are an ini-
tial entry point” that can win people over. She therefore tries to o er
budget-friendly recipes so that readers will see that animal issues do
not have to “take a back seat” if they ever experience “ nancial di -
35 Sandrine of Végébon summarizes the general idea as follows:
“veganism can be for anyone.”
ese strategies have clearly a ected the readers of these blogs.
According to the results of my survey, although 38 % of the readers
were omnivores before discovering these blogs, only 6 % of them still
are now. And while 9 % of them were already vegan, 37.5 % of the
readership now identi es this way. Among the blog followers, 72 %
read only French- language vegan food blogs. is diminishes the
294 O. Véron
in uence other types of blogs, particularly English-language ones,
may have on their changes in eating habits. Several respondents men-
tioned the role French blogs played in their discovery of veganism:
“My children have food allergies. I was looking for new recipes so I
could make a greater variety of dishes. at’s how I stumbled upon a
few vegetarian and vegan blogs, which helped me learn about another
way of living and also inspired me to explore a new path myself and
become vegan.” Others spoke of the blogs making something “click”
inside them. One person said that the blogs opened the way to “dis-
covering another world” and “taking a new look at [his or her] lifestyle,
adopting more critical thinking and realizing that cooking vegetarian
or vegan isn’t as hard as all that.” Another indicated that the blogs
allowed her to “take the plunge” while yet another said, “Happening
upon a vegan food blog by chance is what led to my going vegan. I
was wondering, ‘why are there vegans?’ and I looked it up. And I went
vegan too.” Several respondents named one or more blogs that directly
inspired their decision: “I went vegan because of the blog Au Vert avec
Lili .” Others stressed that if they had not learned about vegan cook-
ing through these blogs, they might never have brought their actions
into line with their beliefs: “If I hadn’t discovered that you can eat
great food without milk, eggs or honey, I would never have taken the
leap,” and “At the beginning, veganism seemed extreme. Vegan blogs
… introduced me to vegan cuisine, and soon enough my transition to
veganism had been made, almost without my thinking about it!”
is last aspect is particularly important, since it suggests that infor-
mation alone (about the conditions of farm animals or the impact of
animal agriculture on the environment) is not enough to trigger changes
in beliefs. Here, it seems that preferences (habits, emotions, desires,
etc.) can play a central role in accepting and processing information.
is is con rmed by one blog reader’s comment: “When I wasn’t yet
ready to consider veganism, I avoided information on animal ethics …
Once I realized that vegan food was great, I became more receptive to
the ethical part and began learning as much as possible so that I could
make my choices with full knowledge of the facts!” is phenomenon
demonstrates the need to take the emotional rationalities of individuals
into account and to “prepare” them for the information by working on
From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette 295
preferences with a view to breaking down the psychological barriers and
the cognitive dissonance (Festinger
1957 ; Gibert 2015 ) that lead to atti-
tudes of resistance to information and change. It seems here that vegan
bloggers pay particular attention to these cognitive biases not only by
o ering content centered on information, but by taking into account
the emotions, beliefs, desires, or habits that may lead individuals to
develop resistance mechanisms.
In just a few years, it seems that the French food culture landscape has
changed quite a bit and that vegan cooking blogs have played a major
role in this evolution. Many are the bloggers who, after their blogs proved
successful, have been asked by publishers to write vegan cookbooks (as
was the case for Marie Laforêt of the blog 100 % Végétal , who in April
2014 published France’s rst openly vegan cookbook)
37 or have gone
on to professionalize their involvement in the culinary world by o er-
ing cooking classes or online coaching. Laura and Sébastien said that
between the time when their blog was just getting started and today, the
image of veganism in French society has improved so much that “it’s
like night and day.”
38 For Sophie, the change “in the media [is] obvi-
ous,” while Gaëlle considers that veganism “is becoming more and more
accessible … and ‘scaring’ people less.”
40 Almost all of them agree that
this change in the French cultural landscape is a positive one. Around
42 % of respondents felt that blogs have an “enormous” impact in terms
of popularizing veganism, and 38.5 % said that they play a “large” role.
One reader said that “the many vegan blogs that exist today have made
veganism synonymous with modernity, youth, energy and gourmet cui-
sine, in my opinion. ey have crushed the old stereotypes of a meatless,
animal-product-free meal being ‘not a real meal,’ ‘ avorless,’ ‘not lling,’
‘boring’ or ‘outdated.’” While the concept of veganism seems foreign to
the majority of the French population, the term is, according to a reader,
“beginning to enter the vocabulary of the average person, along with
e impact vegan food blogs have had on the French culinary land-
scape is major. Yet the growing popularity of veganism gives rise to
certain questions: by focusing more on taste than on animal ethics, do
we not run the risk of detracting attention from the movement’s politi-
cal side? It is this question that I will address and attempt to answer in
the following section.
296 O. Véron
French Vegan Blogs andthe“Veganist”
Several voices have recently been raised in the French anti-speciesist and
equalitarian community against what they call the “vegetarianist” or “veg-
anist” strategy of the animal-rights movements. According to Pierre Sigler
(2014), this type of strategy is based on the following ideas: observing a
vegan diet is the biggest thing we can do to help the animals; the best way
to weaken the meat industry is to increase the number of vegetarians and
vegans; trying to convince others to become vegetarians or vegans is the
most e ective way to increase the number of vegetarians or vegans.
the view of Anushavan Sarukhanyan (2013), this conversion strategy is
ine ective because it makes the animal issue a question of personal choice
and not of justice—two aspects he seems to consider as mutually exclusive
and which make him demand, in a provocative manner, “the abolition of
42 Furthermore, as he sees it, the use of arguments other than
ethical, focusing either on health or on the environment, is immoral and
tends to convey an implicitly speciesist message. For Bonnardel,
43 we must
strive to change society, not individuals—the promotion of vegetarianism
and veganism “is so important that it overshadows political demands.”
Perhaps more than any other form of activism, vegan food blogs
embody this veganist strategy. While animal ethics is a major factor in
their food choices, a certain number of bloggers never address this topic
on their blogs. One of them admitted that she prefers to “inspire people to
eat plant-based food … rather than openly engaging in activism.”
and Sébastien said that they aim “to never engage in any proselytism” and
are “careful not to talk about the various reasons for which someone may
want to adopt a strictly plant-based diet.”
45 Marie Laforêt acknowledged
that “promoting a vegan diet for health or environmental reasons while
sweeping the ethics argument under the rug seems … problematic from
a strategic point of view.”
46 According to another blogger, “in a perfect
world, we would center everything on ethics.” She compared it to the
abolition of slavery: “it would be ridiculous to say, ‘Stop buying black
slaves—it’s bad for the environment’ or ‘Buying too many black slaves is
bad for your budget!’”
47 Melle Pigut felt that the use of arguments other
From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette 297
than ethics can be “dangerous” if presented on their own.
48 For Sophie,
however, these other arguments must be used, “because they are also pos-
itive for the animals, and if people are already eating less meat for other
reasons, they’ll be more likely to listen to the ethical arguments without
taking o ense. But ethics must be kept at the forefront!”
Yet although 78 % of the blog readers surveyed felt that vegan blogs
have played a “fairly important,” “important,” or “major” role in their
food choices, this gure fell to 59 % when it came to the role blogs have
played in their awareness of animal ethics, and the percentage of those
who said this role was not very signi cant rose from 16 % to 28.5 %.
Similarly, while 42 % of them considered that the blogs made an “enor-
mous” contribution to popularizing veganism in society, and 38.5 %
thought they had a “large” impact, these gures declined to 16 % and
31 %, respectively, when it came to the role they play in the general pub-
lic’s awareness of animal ethics. e percentage of those saying that the
blogs help “a little” rose from 14 % to 38 %, while the “not at all” answers
increased from 3.5 % to 11.5 %. One reader lamented that “the blogs …
too often shy away from justice issues,” adding: “I nd it a shame that
many of them focus on nutrition and the environment, which conveys
the erroneous message that we’re vegan for our health or the climate. I’m
not against the idea of addressing these issues—they’re important—but I
would like to see it said more often that we are vegan rst and foremost
for reasons of justice.” Another respondent worried about a trend that
re ects the perception of veganism in society: “Most people that I meet
ask me rst if I’m vegan for my health, and not if it’s for the animals. Few
people truly realize that there is a dead animal on their plate when they
eat meat, which for me is problem number one.”
However, more respondents seem to condemn the “green & healthy”
trend, which is to say a certain tendency throughout the blogosphere
to focus on health and nutrition and to make a lot of fuss over green
smoothies and “detoxing” salads. Gaëlle is not happy about “this
‘healthy eating’ fad in which veganism is thought of as a ‘weight-loss
diet’ and no mention is even made of the ethical aspects.”
50 Melle Pigut
said that this can “introduce more people to veganism” but that “it’s a
double- edged sword because the goals are not the same and the mes-
sage gets obscured.”
51 Marie Laforêt commented that “it isn’t possible to
298 O. Véron
e ectively ght animal exploitation by using arguments or campaigns
that reproduce forms of oppression or discrimination,” such as fat-
52 Many bloggers and blog readers alike condemn the idea of
veganism as a passing trend focused on health and nutrition. One reader
spoke of “confusion” and “discredit” that risks making veganism look
like “something for fashionable grannies.” Another pointed out that
“this association with a trend could lead to people going vegan only for
a short time (what will happen when this green & healthy trend, like all
trends, goes out of style?) and never making any connection with animal
ethics.” A third commented that “this trend may popularize eating less
meat and feeling better about yourself, but does not directly promote
veganism, which is a political struggle.”
ese testimonies pose the question of a solely veganist approach, such
as apparently exempli ed by blogs that o er “only” vegan recipes. Does
this strategy weaken the radical impetus of veganism as a politics?
A Pragmatic Complementary Approach
While it is useful to assess the pitfalls of such an approach, it seems,
however, that vegan food blogs, on the one hand, are part of a context of
complementarity and, on the other hand, opt for a pragmatic approach
that does not conceal the ethical aspect of veganism but takes the psycho-
logical reality of their audience into account. Finally, we must take note
of the diversity of the content o ered by some vegan bloggers—rather
than posting only recipes, they also o er articles featuring information or
thoughts about animal welfare and rights. In this sense, their blogs sup-
port the political demands of the animal-rights movement.
Vegan food blogs are not the only form of animal-rights activism
in France. A number of organizations, groups, and networks of activ-
ists have formed over the past few years working, like bloggers, to end
speciesism and carnism. e French abolitionist organization L214 has
made animal ethics its key focus, circulating “disturbing” content such
as videos lmed undercover at animal production facilities and events
aimed at making people aware of animal su ering. It orients sympathiz-
ers to vegan food blogs to help them put their philosophy into practice.
From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette 299
Indeed, some blog readers mentioned that although their awareness of
animal ethics is due to content presented by these organizations, they
regularly visit vegan food blogs to get recipe ideas and inspiration. In
this sense, blogs play a fundamentally pragmatic role, providing their
readers with concrete support and helping them put anti-speciesism into
practice in their daily lives.
Furthermore, because “disturbing” content and events can encounter
resistance in French society, it may seem easier to bring the general pub-
lic closer to ethical issues by normalizing veganism. One blogger said
that “showing shocking images of animals being mistreated often puts
people o —they stop listening to what we have to say!” In her opinion,
it is essential to “identify the type of person you’re dealing with”—a cul-
tural, psychological, and interpretative approach that takes into account
the resistance mechanisms that act as obstacles blocking acceptance of
53 is approach also recognizes the possibility of grad-
ual individual evolution. A certain number of the bloggers interviewed
admitted that they did not become interested in veganism for ethical
reasons, but rather due to environmental or nutritional motivations. At
the same time, they all felt that they had been made aware of animal eth-
ics issues and that these were now core to their e orts. e possibility of
this kind of evolution is echoed in the comments of some survey respon-
dents. One said, “I became vegetarian mainly because of environmental
and health issues. I was aware of the animal cause, but not enough for me
to take action. e vegan blogs I read made me think more about it, in
particular the idea of speciesism.”
Finally, not all vegan food blogs focus only on food, but even the ones
that do often include the blogger’s thoughts about ethical and political
issues alongside the recipes. Sophie said that she addresses the issue of
animal ethics “as often as possible in [her] articles, since that’s the most
important part for [her].”
54 Melle Pigut published a two-part article on
“the myth of happy meat” in which she deconstructs the di erent strate-
gies aimed at suppressing the feeling of cognitive dissonance.
55 Lili wrote
an article exposing the force-feeding of ducks and geese to make foie gras.
Finally, Sandrine covered animal ethics in a series of articles with titles such
as “Why go vegetarian?,” “Why eat eggs?,” and “Why eat honey?”
is diversity was mentioned by several survey respondents, according
300 O. Véron
to whom “vegan food blogs don’t necessarily o er recipes only; they also
provide information and gures … that can help change mindsets.”
It thus seems that vegan food blogs are not founded upon a purely
veganist strategy, which could weaken the political message of the anti-
speciesist movement. More generally, it appears that e orts to get more
recognition for animal rights is inseparable from a pragmatic approach
taking into account the cultural and psychological aspects surrounding
acceptance of social and ethical demands and the implementation of
Vegan food blogs have played a key role in helping veganism grow in
France over the past few years. Far from addressing only activists who
are already dedicated to the cause, bloggers have begun targeting a wider
audience, posting recipes, cooking techniques, tricks, and tips to put veg-
anism within everyone’s reach and, by introducing sophisticated, mod-
ern vegan cuisine, updating the image of veganism in French society. If
their direct role in raising the general public’s awareness of animal ethics
seems limited, it is, nevertheless, important, since blogs have often used
their popularity to circulate messages about justice and animal rights to
a population that had previously been almost completely unaware of
these issues. I will thus conclude this chapter with the positive impact
these blogs have had on promoting veganism as a political struggle, while
underscoring the need to avoid limiting ourselves to one type of strat-
egy, whether it is based on conversion or public debate. Just as a purely
veganist strategy is not enough to generate political and institutional
evolution, anti-speciesism as a social movement cannot do without prac-
tical daily support taking into account the cultural and psychological
considerations of the target audience. For this reason, we should ensure
that veganism should not be “abolished” but help support all demands
for the abolition of animal exploitation. An approach solely centered on
culinary enjoyments or health runs the risk of conveying on erroneous
message on veganism, which would therefore be deprived of its philo-
sophical component and reduced to a mere plant-based lifestyle and diet.
From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette 301
Because veganism is rst and foremost an enacted way of opposing
speciesism and other ideologies of oppression, ethics should always be
kept at the forefront of the vegan movement.
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302 O. Véron
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From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette 305