The Ven

In Seat­tle, a mys­te­ri­ous under­ground cul­ture of extreme para-veg­an­ism oper­ates with an unclear agen­da. We met with its ‘home­grown’ acolytes to learn more.
In the cold drifts of the Seat­tle val­ley,
mil­len­ni­als are sprout­ing up like cab­bage in spring­time. And as they pros­per in that north­west­ern hotspot for knowl­edge and pow­er, these young upstart cit­i­zens have mind­ful­ness on the mind. They adorn their heads with flow­ers and use the nec­tar to tame their wild, free, flow­ing locks of hair. How­ev­er, when it comes to feed­ing these spir­it­ed ener­gies, these neo-Seat­tleites are lead­ing the world in being envi­ron­men­tal­ly con­scious.
A group of young twen­ty-some­things in the deep heart of Seat­tle are call­ing them­selves ven,” a fur­ther reduc­tion of veg­an,” as veg­an” was in turn a reduc­tion of veg­e­tar­i­an.” They believe it is the next evo­lu­tion of humanity’s care for the envi­ron­ment while keep­ing them­selves health­ily nour­ished.
So, what is ven? I took to the streets to find out.
I came upon a young woman - lat­er iden­ti­fied as Gnarla Bet­tingston - who claimed to be twen­ty-three years of age. She described her­self as a ven quite read­i­ly, so I asked her a few ques­tions.
ELEUTHERIOS: I heard from the shop­keep down the street that you are a ven.
BETTINGSTON: Yeah, true.
What sets a ven apart from a veg­an, or a veg­e­tar­i­an?
Being ven means you are, like, total­ly in tune with not eat­ing nature. Dude, plants can feel pain just as much as dogs can. It’s crazy. But true.
So you don’t eat plants NOR ani­mals?
Yeah, dude. It’s all about eat­ing food made by humans for humans. We’re real human­ist.
What does not believ­ing in a high­er power’s impor­tance have to do with this?
We don’t eat gods either.
After that, she abrupt­ly slid down the escarp­ment she was perched upon. I still did not have my answers. From Ms. Bet­tingston, I learned the ven do not eat plant nor ani­mals, but still hadn’t answered the burn­ing ques­tion: what do they eat? Sure­ly, they must sub­sist on some­thing, I thought to myself as I crawled deep­er into the trench­es of Seat­tle. Dusk was set­tling. I need­ed to seek shel­ter.
Behind a lim­ou­sine ser­vice (so in-vogue these days,) I moved through a door­way into a back alley, where I hap­pened upon what I was search­ing for. As my eyes adjust­ed to the dim, serene atmos­phere, I found myself in a hap­pen­ing restau­rant of sorts, but it was noth­ing like any oth­er restau­rant I had been in before.
The first thing I noticed was the lack of food odors - con­ven­tion­al food odors, at least. There was a slight chem­i­cal smell in the air like that which you’d catch in a chemist’s lab­o­ra­to­ry or a small-town police sta­tion from your child­hood. There were a good num­ber of mil­len­ni­als occu­py­ing the seats, arranged in a tri­an­gu­lar pat­tern across the establishment’s long and nar­row space. On their plates were piles of some­thing that looked awful­ly like pills.
I was in. It was time for ques­tions.
After sev­er­al hours of dia­log too exten­sive to pub­lish here, my com­pan­ions Trarsh McGug­gle, Monk II, and Fla­vorite Limp­son (which I gath­ered were their moon­light per­sonas”) had giv­en me the low deets” on the ven move­ment.
Tru­ly, they do not eat plants nor ani­mals, for their food source is entire­ly com­posed of arti­fi­cial lab-made edi­ble prod­ucts, like those pills we con­sumed togeth­er with dis­tilled water. Accord­ing to them, these pills have been cre­at­ed in facil­i­ties that guar­an­tee absolute­ly no plant nor ani­mal use in their process. They are cer­ti­fied ven food. When I asked where these fac­to­ries are and what brands exist, they just shook their heads and smiled. Obvi­ous­ly, I had a lot to learn. This was no cor­po­rate ven­ture - this was home­grown–no, home­made. Home-engi­neered by engi­neers of an engi­neer­ing age.
Con­ver­sa­tion did touch on a hot issue amongst veg­ans and veg­e­tar­i­ans: GMOs. Trarsh argued that GMOs - or Genet­i­cal­ly Mod­i­fied Organ­isms - are dan­ger­ous because those look­ing for an easy way into the ven lifestyle may start con­sum­ing GMO veg­eta­bles. How­ev­er, GMO veg­eta­bles are still veg­eta­bles, and they still feel pain. Fla­vorite then chimed in with the sug­ges­tion that per­haps remov­ing the veg­etable part, not the GMO part, is the true answer, in direct oppo­si­tion to hard­line veg­ans, who are cur­rent­ly being dri­ven out of the city by a series of assas­si­na­tions. If we could get the GM with­out the O,” Fla­vorite stat­ed, we would have a new renais­sance of envi­ron­men­tal car­ing and stuff, man.”
Even­tu­al­ly, the num­ber of pills on my plate increased as they were dis­pensed from chutes above our heads. Know­ing I could not bring those pills out of the restau­rant with­out being tailed by Monk II’s old­er broth­er, Monk III, I chewed and nod­ded in silence. I had to eat as many as pos­si­ble. It was their way, and I was not about to back out. Soon, my mouth was full of them, and I had trou­ble keep­ing up. I looked to my new friends - they did not seem to have a bit of trou­ble. Oh, to be a mil­len­ni­al in Seat­tle.
I man­aged to get out in one piece, and upon try­ing to return the next day, the door I entered was miss­ing, with a brick wall in its place. Clear­ly, the ven com­mu­ni­ty prefers to be under­ground, on the cut­ting edge, with­out reporters like this one sniff­ing them out a sec­ond time.
As I stood in the sun­light peek­ing out from the dark­ly con­trast­ing clouds on my periph­er­al, I remem­bered a mantra from the night before, which was scrawled onto my arm in an unknown ink-like sub­stance:
For now, being ven is still quite a niche life deci­sion, but who knows?
Maybe one day, I’ll be ven.
Maybe we’ll all be.