When Vegans Go Too Far

I’ve got nothing against vegans.  Sure, their diet is unnatural and contrary to the laws of natural selection that made homo sapiens the most successful omnivores in the history of the world — but I’m a big believer in live and let live.  So long as their curious diet of bulk greenery and other assorted odds and ends doesn’t interfere with my lifestyle, I’m perfectly content to share the planet with the vegans.

But when vegans start messing with the important stuff — like the centuries-old recipe for Guinness as brewed in its home brewery since 1759 — that’s where I draw the line.

Since before the American Revolution, Guinness has been brewed using a substance caused isinglass.  What’s isinglass, you say?  It’s a gelatinous byproduct of fish bladders that provides a particularly effective means of filtering yeast particles.  It sounds disgusting, frankly, but you can’t argue with the results:  Guinness is an excellent, instantly recognizable brew, known and loved the world over.  For all we know, isinglass is the substance that allows Guinness to have that especially foamy head that you can write your name in, or it is isinglass that gives Guinness its indescribably rich texture.  But isinglass has a problem — because it is derived from fish, it’s not in conformity with a strict vegan diet.

So pushy vegans have been pestering Guinness, for years, to eliminate isinglass from the recipe, because it is inconsistent with their effete, prim dietary regimens.  Well, lah de dah!  How many vegans even drink Guinness regularly, anyway?  They seem like more of the white wine crowd, don’t they?  Unfortunately, Guinness has apparently caved to the relentless vegan pressure and has announced that it will use a new filtration plant and change the beer recipe used in its flagship brewery in Ireland.  And while the whiny vegans undoubtedly will celebrate yet another triumph for political correctness, the beer lovers among us will simply shake our heads in dismay.

As for the folks at Guinness who caved, I have only two words for you:  New Coke.


Yesterday, as part of a physical exam, I was given a test to determine whether I had any issues in detecting different hues on the color spectrum — i.e., whether I was colorblind.  It’s odd, but even though I’m 58 years old, am badly nearsighted, and have worn glasses since kindergarten, I don’t think I’ve ever taken a test for colorblindness.

The test involved looking through one of those devices you use at the optometrist’s office, where you peer into a kind of binocular unit, pictures are projected on the other end, and you identify letters or describe pictures.  In this case, the pictures were of four circles filled with dots of different colors.  The color patterns established by the different dots were each supposed to form distinguishable numbers.

IMG_3030I saw the number 11 in the first circle, but the other three just looked like totally random aggregations of differently colored dots to me.  Try as I might, I couldn’t see any patterns or numbers — even to guess at — in the other three circles.  Even when the nurse administering the test helpfully told me that there was a 26 in the second circle, I couldn’t see it.  After the test was over, the nurse advised that my eyes were not correctly processing oranges and greens.

When I told Kish about these results, she nodded knowingly.  She’s often commented on my inability to recognize the true colors of the outfits she’s wearing — and not just in discerning the subtle differences between similar colors like periwinkle and lavender, either.  Sometimes I’ll call a color gray and she’ll say it’s brown, or vice versa.  The test just confirms what she’s always suspected is the case.

It’s weird to have belated evidence that I am partially colorblind.  It’s not going to affect my work — I’ll always be able to see black and white words on a page or computer screen — but it makes me wonder.  When I look at a pumpkin, like the pumpkins in this photo I took last year, I see what I’ve always understood to be orange.  If it’s not orange, what color am I seeing, really, and what does orange actually look like?  And when I look at trees or grass and see what I perceive to be lush greens, am I just seeing pale echoes of the true verdant colors?  I find myself wondering now:  what have I been missing?