I became vegan around the time Trump became president. I felt I needed to do something more–for the environment, my health, and other reasons I have–some that were even spiritual and are private between God and I. It wasn’t as hard a process as I thought; there were slips back into beef (doctor: “You have low iron.”), tuna (doctor: “You also have low B12.”) and cheese (see prior, I guess). Once I started taking supplements, and became more aware of what I was eating, these cravings disappeared. It wasn’t a perfect process, but I’m doing better overall and it helped me listen to the cues my body gave me. It was also fun to learn how your body stores nutrients (see iron) and what it’s used for (blood, for example).
Most difficulties I’ve had with veganism isn’t the actual diet–it’s peoples’ reactions. Humans, I’ve found take food extremely personally, sometimes to such an extent that it’s almost comical. When I went to lunch on outings for work, I would often hear or sense snide remarks. “Oh, we can’t eat there. She’s a vegan.” “Oh, I love that place! We should…oh, but what would she eat? Darn…I love clogging my arteries, too.” If I had a diamond for every time I’ve told people variations of “Please don’t worry about me” and “Go wherever you’d like”, I’d be Marilyn Monroe’s best friend. With laryngitis.
Other times, people will slam shut their turtle shell and look at me suspiciously, as if I’m expecting them to be a mimic of what I do. No. However, I do wish people would take time to think about how we treat animals, where our food comes from and how it affects our bodies and minds. Once you delve into nutrition, and start paying attention to how your body reacts to food (and understand what it actually needs vs what is marketed and what the latest fad falsehood is), it’s truly fascinating stuff.
If you become vegan/vegetarian/any kind of focused dietary plan, for whatever reason, here are some things I’ve come across that you may experience.
-People will think you’re doing this for a fad following, as in “Oh, he’ll be back to meat, cookouts and barbeques in six months, guaranteed.” If you’re sincere about it (as I was) people won’t understand (purposely) or they’ll belittle you. Don’t worry about it–this vegan/other diet thing can be done. Their attitude is not your problem. Just make sure you’re doing your yearly check-up with your doctor to ensure your blood tests all come back healthy. We’re here to be healthy, not to be martyrs. And if you do decide to change things (e.g., go from vegan to vegetarian while pregnant, as Natalie Portman did), more power to you.
-Most people don’t know what being a vegan is, and will confuse it with being vegetarian. (I know I didn’t know what it meant either, but honestly Google is a thing. And it’s free.) Just reply ‘plant based.’ They still won’t get it but you’ll have answered honestly. This is one of those areas where you’ll want to keep your answers short and simple (unless the person is genuinely interested and nice, then by all means, continue with humility).
-Bring your own lunch as a backup in group outings. Order a drink at said restaurant and maybe a side to claim your seat space/support the business you’re patronizing. Protein bars are also wonderful things and are compact/easy to carry. Some are nearly indestructible. Bonus tip: bring your own vegan dish to share at group dinners as well. It just makes things easier and is also a nice option to share with relatives who may have food allergies, like eggs or dairy.
-Some people will take your food choices as a very personal attack. I’ve actually had someone tell me “But that’s just what humans do–they ruin the environment.” Others will look at you with doe eyes and Maybelline commercial eyelashes and say “Oh, that’s so nice what you’re doing. I wish I could do that…” Depending on the person, this can be a bit of a backhanded comment. Chances are, they could quite possibly alter their diet somehow, they just don’t want to. A little honesty is such a magical thing.
-I’ve had so many women tell me “I want to go vegan/vegetarian, but my boyfriend/fiancée/husband/partner wouldn’t support me.” Two things: (1) Marriage is a partnership, not a competition and (2) meat does not affect/equate to masculinity. Some of the top male athletes in the world are vegans; same for females.
-The last one I’ll include here: honest to OshKosh, people will be bound and determined to bring up PETA. I’ll let you in on a secret–they’re trying to categorize you in their mind. What other extremist groups are out there concerning that funny notion they can’t comprehend called animal rights? Searching…searching… “You must be one of those PETA fanatics! You’re the reason dairy farmers are going out of business. I bet you hated Lady GaGa’s meat dress, didn’t ya?”
And that’s when I killed him, your honor. I reached across the Thanksgiving dining room table and arm locked him facedown into the gravy urn. Don’t worry–he’ll recover in a month or two. Once the wishbone passes.
Just an important side note I wanted to ensure I included: all Native American tribes (and other native cultures around the world) who eat meat, dairy, etc.–rock on. I’ll forever be in quiet, reverent awe of the Native American tribes who lived (live) out west and used the entire buffalo, bladder and all. This was in stark contrast to those pale, white outsiders who slaughtered thousands of buffalo and used just the fur hides (or whatever else turned a profit at the time) and left the carcasses to rot in the prairies. And yes, this did happen in U.S. history.
If we do need/want to eat animals/animal products, I feel this is the way to go—hunting and gathering only what we need, having a genuine respect for nature and not wasting a single thing. Unless you’re murdering the annoying guy at the Thanksgiving table. Then, by all means.
White vinegar will help get the bloodstains out of the tablecloth.
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