Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Field Guide To Vegans of North America

In North America, there are a small but distinct variety of vegans that have been identified frequently as the most prominent types, though some seem to cluster in certain geographic areas, and some are virtually unknown in other parts. If a vegan should be observed in the environment near your home, it is wise to have some sense of his extraction so you know his basic characteristics. Each should be approached and communicated with in a manner that is agreeable to his particular subset. Please note that as the vegans migrate into new environments, novel varieties are born. For example, some vegan-watchers claim to have had fleeting encounters with an entirely new genus best described as Conservative Republican vegans, though no photographic evidence exists yet. Another emerging subset is the Breeder vegans, feeding and nurturing their fledgling young as the next generation of vegans.

Thus far, the following vegan subsets have been confirmed as existing genera:

We have the Groovy Latter Day Hippie Vegan (Groovy V's) who spreads good vibes (and some may say body odor) wherever they go.
We have the Angry Young Vegan (Angry Young V's) who wants to smash the state and the stupid bourgeoisie.
We have the Middle-Aged to Elderly Ladies (Cat Lady V's) with the surfeit of feline companion animals and almost certainly unhygienic home.
We have the Raw Foodists (Raw Foodie V's) who judge others by their intestinal flora are noted for their extreme consumption of enzymes.
We have the Politically Correct Vegans (P.C. V's) who are primarily motivated by gaining feminist, progressive and anti-corporate credentials.
We have the Hot Young Vegans (Hot Young V's) who take off their clothes to make some sort of statement or whatever about cruelty to animals.
We have the Lonely, Isolated Vegans (Lonely V's) who live solitary lives and are the only ones many know and thus are always on display.

Groovy V's

Almost all have been born after the original hippie's flourishing period of the 1960s but they often mimic their predecessors with a pitch-perfect accuracy. They are the most colorful of the various varieties of vegans.

Diet: Groovy V's love solar power-cooked burritos, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds and they horde carob for special occasions. They prefer to gather food in bulk.

Natural habitat: The entire Pacific Northwest, Northern California, the Rainbow Gathering, the Phish show, assorted college towns, or at the dustiest co-op in town.

Nest: A VW bus re-jiggered to run on bio-fuel, a treehouse, a best friend's couch, or a cooperative living arrangement.

Migration: Planning to go to Costa Rica where they will start a B & B or begin a biodynamic farm when they get enough cash together.

Males: Long hair, gauzy clothing, tie-dyes, grooming not a priority, dilated pupils.

Females: Identical to males.

Mating rituals: Home-brewed kombucha, patchouli-scented soap and bootlegged recordings of the Dead show in '87 are used as tools of seduction.

Angry Young V's

Angry Young V's are usually only spotted in their teens or twenties. They are known for their likelihood to be clad head-to-toe in black, serious mien and general loathing and distrust of anyone who is not of their genus, therefore anyone who is not an Angry Young V should approach them with caution Interestingly, at some point unique to each (but approximately around the age of 28), they usually age out of Angry Young V identifiers and transform themselves into a different variety or out altogether.

Diet: Whatever is cheapest at the local vegetarian café, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Tings and chips and salsa. Also, whatever vegan food they can gather together from their mother's refrigerator or assorted favored dumpsters.

Natural habitat: Straight edge shows, the used CD store, rehearsing in a garage, the local skate park, typing angrily wherever computer keyboards can be found.

Nest: Generally resides in an apartment in a city or a college town above a Mexican restaurant, their parent's house or mate's nest.

Migration: Planning to get to New York ASAP.

Males: Spiky crest, covered in colorful, artificial markings upon his skin.

Females: Plumage is often an unnatural pigment, and, like males, her flesh is usually distinguished by its colorful markings.

Mating rituals: Seeing a show together, working on a 'zine, going to an anti-fur protest, then drinking coffee together until 3:00 a.m.

Cat Lady V's

Every town has one. She is always thinking about her cats, talking about her cats, worrying about her cats and separating squabbling cats. She carries photos of them in her wallet and has created a special song for each one of her cats. Note: there is a Dog Lady V equivalent of the Cat Lady V but she adapts and camouflages herself better to mainstream society. The Cat Lady V is quite happy with her solitary-but-for-cats existence or in the occasional company of others of her genus.

Diet: She doesn't need to eat, she'll just graze. Feeding Mr. FooFoo, TeeTee, Lulu and Miss MooMoo is the priority. Whatever the Cat Lady V does eat is dusted liberally with cat fur but she doesn't mind.

Natural habitat: She does not like to leave her nest.

Nest: Do not ever show up at her home unannounced. You must give her at least a week's notice and she's not going to be happy about it even then. She usually has her own house that she's lived in for forty years and she's not going anywhere.

Migration: She has no desire to ever migrate so you will only find her at her nest or out buying cat food and kitty litter. The only known migration pattern for the Cat Lady V is from her house to the senior citizen home.

Males: No known males exist of this variety.

Females: With hastily penciled on eyebrows when out of their nest and often scented like kitty litter, the Cat Lady V's are usually unconcerned about grooming.

Mating rituals: None observed.

Raw Foodie V's

Raw Foodie V's can be found throughout the country but are primarily found in warm climates as they love their year-round growing seasons. They have been known to break into the Proud Warrior yoga pose without warning and they are utterly devoted in their pursuit of consuming maximum enzymes. Often confused with or even interchangeable with Groovy V's, the Raw Foodie V views any personal physical imperfection - whether it's a pimple or a cold - as a healing crisis. As much as they love to interact with other varieties of vegans and other species, they are usually shunned.

Diet: Superfoods, cacao, medjool dates, acai, kale, chia seeds, sprouts, young coconuts, coconut milk, walnuts, almonds, mangos, goji berries, carrot juice.

Natural habitat: the produce section of the natural foods store, their gardens, the monthly raw potluck, foraging, prone on a table getting acupuncture or a colonic, yoga class. These are very active birds!

Nest: Apartments filled with wheat grass, dehydrators, blenders, juicers and sprouting trays in Southern California, Florida or Hawaii. If not there, they are on their way there as soon as their lease is up.

Migration: See above.

Males: Slender, bright eyed, eager demeanor.

Females: Same as males.

Mating rituals: After Hot Yoga sessions, Raw Foodie V's attempt to seduce by reducing their talk about enzymes and their intestinal state.

P.C. V's

Just the merest glimpse of a P.C. V in nature has the power to make you question all your decisions, from where you buy your clothes to how your coffee was grown to how well you've been maintaining gender neutrality in your life. P.C. V's have a very serious demeanor, second only to the Angry Young V's, perhaps fed in part by their steady diet of too many soul-crushing documentaries. Despite this, they are matched only by Raw Foodie V's as the biggest vocalizers of the subsets and they can often be seen posturing when in close proximity to other P.C. V's, which is known to bring out aggressive tendencies in the breed.

Diet: Fair-trade, organic, in season and locally grown by family farmers. If their food doesn't have at least one certification sticker on it, they are disinclined to consume it.

Natural habitat: Urban areas, college campuses, libraries, with books spread out around them at the local feminist collective café.

Nest: Their dwellings are primarily characterized by the lack of natural light, which is obstructed by piles of books authored by Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Gore Vidal, among others. They are the subset most at risk of developing a Vitamin D deficiency for this reason and for their general aversion to outdoor activity.

Migration: Wherever they have the best chance of getting tenure, the Bay area or Northampton, MA.

Males: Males come in two general varieties, disheveled and neat. The disheveled are usually seen wearing the same materials as the previous day, and the neat exhibits better grooming habits and is most comfortable in formal attire.

Females: Also come in disheveled and neat varieties.

Mating rituals: When the books on order at the library haven't come in yet and the new batch of documentaries and art films are still due to arrive. the P.C. V will occasionally initiate or consent to mutually gratifying sexual contact.

Hot Young V's

The most recent genus discovered, the Hot Young V's attract a lot of attention from vegan-watchers for their willingness to display their flesh whenever the occasion should arise or if it seems to suit their purposes even remotely. The Hot Young V has been photographed more than any other genus and has had her image displayed in the most variety of media: television, print, etc. Lack of attention is the greatest threat to the Hot Young V population.

Diet: Yes. Always.

Natural habitat: Naked in cages by the circus, naked by the fast food eatery, naked on "Shock Jock" radio programs, naked in their shunning of fur. The Hot Young V's reside mostly in Southern California and New York but there is an active hotspot in Norfolk, VA. If there is a group of gawking spectators, it is likely a naked or partially clothed Hot Young V has been sighted.

Nest: For a genus so rarely seen clothed, their dwellings are surprisingly filled with numerous articles of clothing.

Migration: They seek mild climates in order to best pursue their behavioral habits.

Males: Rarely seen but observed in the field. Far outnumbered by females. He can be distinguished by his male sexual organs on display or coyly obscured.

Females: Usually possess long hair, colorful markings on her lower back and can be distinguished from the males by characteristics that are consistent with the female physique.

Mating rituals: A very flirtatious genus, the Hot Young V's try to entice members of the male persuasion to respond to their display by strutting and preening while molting themselves of clothing.

Lonely V's

Lonely V's are the most isolated of the vegans, usually found in small or rural towns with the closest vegetarian restaurant being two-to-three hours away. Vegans in general tend to cluster together, but the Lonely V's are off on their own, usually due to circumstances they are suffering through until they can leave, and they are rarely in the company of others of his or any other subset. Lonely V's, however, are committed and proud members of their species, even if they are so frequently misunderstood.

Diet: Largely they reproduce recipes off the internet they adapt to the ingredients available for them to gather.

Natural habitat: Lonely V's can be found in small towns throughout the country. They will occasionally eat at the Chinese restaurant in closest proximity to their homes but don't eat out much beyond that, They can also be seen poking forlornly through the produce section of their own grocery store. They cheer up considerably during farmer's market seasons. They also spend much of their day communicating with other vegans on computers.

Nest: They mostly reside in dwellings filled with the most recent vegetarian publications and magazine issues. Many are teenagers still living with their parents, or they are adults, married to non-vegans.

Migration: They will move as soon as they can, they assure everyone who will listen. They have been known to journey as many as four-hours from their nest for the closest vegan meet-up.

Males: Displays characteristics consistent with depressed body language.

Females: Same as males.

Mating rituals: They showers prospective mates with educational materials in the form of brochures, books and DVDs and cook extravagant vegan meals.

This list, of course, is incomplete. As noted earlier, emergent and pre-emergent genera have been observed. Please let us know any other varieties to add to subsequent editions.

Thank you!


  1. This was fun to read! Thanks! Love the stuff about PETA. :)

  2. Fantastic! I think I'm a hybrid of several species (I'm disinclined to get naked in public, but I did let a film crew record me getting my animal-rights tattoo). I do plan to feather my nest and become a Breeder vegan in the next few years. :)

  3. I'm a rather undesirable cross between a PCV and a Lonely V. Hilariously accurate :)

  4. Hmmm.... hipster art school vegan? haha...not to reopen that wound.

    I guess I am closest to the P. C. vegan...of the neat variety. heh.

    I'd say I have some characteristics of all of them though.

    Does it matter that the females are listed second, and generally stated as the same as the males? I think it should be the other way around...oops there I go again. I guess its just the P. C in me.

  5. Thanks, friends!

    VB - We are looking forward to adding you to this nascent subspecies.

    Erica, as a fellow (largely) P.C. V (with Groovy V tendencies, having been an Angry Young V in the past), I can understand your issues but I just copied the format from a bird identification book I have. Of course females are first! I must have some internalized misogynist habits. I should go to a workshop or something! Thanks for pointing that out. :)

  6. Very funny, Marla. I had fun trying to identify myself. Kind of scary though-cat lady, hippie, lonely sort of mix.

  7. Cute!

    I'm heavy into Raw food, but I became vegan first (ethical reasons) and then Raw followed. I will say... I'm not into yoga or too much hippie stuff ;)

  8. Hahaha, I love this! Hilarious and spot on. I think I might be a blend....definitely got some angry young vegan in there, but I turn 28 in a few months so I guess I need to choose a different sub-genre. I hide it pretty well but I'm a groovy flower child at heart so we'll go with that. But I do like my raw foods...hmmm....

  9. More more more! More on the breeder genus. More on what may potentially be another confirmed genus: the "hip" vegans in urban areas. Last: the graceful, well-adapted vegans, like sparrows, I would imagine. Maybe in the 2nd edition of the field guide? :)

  10. I love it! You have made some very astute vegan observations! For many years I lived as a lonely v. But today, I am a hybrid of many vegan traits. We are all growing, changing, evolving.

    Thanks for making me smile today!

  11. Thanks, VV. So well put. We are all evolving, at least I hope so. :)

  12. this is so funny and so true! you really put a smile on my face this morning :) (from a fellow Marla)

  13. New category suggestion:

    "Daywalker Vegan":
    Like vampires they don't seem to age but they can be seen moving around in the sunlight.

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    This means that you literally kill fat by eating Coconut Fats (including coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

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