Sometimes we must ponder life’s big questions. Today I find myself asking, what makes a doughnut a doughnut? Is it the white flour used to make the dough? Is it the refined sugar, melted into a sweet glaze that coats the outside? Perhaps the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in which we fry the doughnut is its very essence. Naively failing to consider such philosophical queries, I made these yesterday, brought them to a party, and called them “doughnuts.”
They look like doughnuts, right? They’re round, they have a hole in the middle and a chocolatey sheen with fun rainbow sprinkles. You just might think I had Googled “doughnut” and followed a Paula Deen recipe. Much to the dismay of my partygoing peers, this was not the case. I had made dough using spelt and almond flours, baked it, and dipped the result in dark chocolate and coconut oil, creating in my own delusional health-nut mind something that could be passed off as a doughnut. Here’s the real kicker, though: it wasn’t any of the above doughnut criteria that made my creation unacceptable, or at least unaccepted in the doughnut category. In fact, I don’t think I revealed any ingredients before my plate of treats was given wrinkle-nosed glances. The only words I uttered were, “These are vegan.”
That’s all it took. Just that one label was enough for my goodies to be blacklisted (!). I totally get that sometimes, people just want to eat junk; I want that, too. But it wasn’t the lack of white flour or refined sugar or trans fat that turned people away- it was the lack of animal products. What a strange requirement of a doughnut, I thought to myself! Of all the things that make a doughnut a doughnut, I would not have guessed that eggs from a chicken and butter made from cow’s milk would be on the list.
To be fair, 5 of the 6 doughnuts did get eaten (one by me… and then the 6th also by me this morning). I think the main contention held by my friends was that I chose to call them doughnuts, when clearly they didn’t size up to the prototype of doughnutship that they expected. But I was surprised at the stigma that came with the term “vegan.” A few people mentioned doubts about texture; fine, maybe eggless baked goods are denser. Does the mere possibility of that make them so much less appealing that you don’t dare even try it? Ultimately, I think it was my doughnuts’ unconventionality that garnered skepticism. I don’t have to convince you that humans tend to reject things, ideas, people just because they’re different. It appears we’re the same way with food.
This stinks, especially with mounting evidence that animal products (along with processed, refined, and packaged crap) play a huge role in the development of the lifestyle diseases that plague our country. I am not vegan, nor do I think everyone should be. But I do think everyone should be taking a good look at what they put into their bodies, and more importantly, keeping an open mind about new ways of eating that could be change for the better.
In the meantime… more “doughnuts” for me!