There’s something about veganism which really seems to polarize people.
Not everywhere; I’m sure if you live in Oregon or Amsterdam, it’s accepted as readily as flips flops and purple hair. But where I live, in the great Midwest, unless you’re in a drum circle or certain underground cafes, if your veganism is discovered, watch your step. People are going to get hostile. Not burning-a-cross-on-your-front yard hostile, but eyes will roll, hackles will rise, and guests might start edging towards the door.
It’s ironic that a commitment to non-violence creates such anger. It’s not like I’m a Communist, or a pedophile, or a Jehova’s Witness standing on your stoop. I just don’t eat animals.
I suppose people assume that because I’ve taken such a “radical” stand that I am judging them and their meat eating ways. Then, BOOP, their defenses pop up and our whole interaction is compromised.
“What about those leather boots you’re wearing?” they’ll inevitably say.
“And where do you get your protein?”
“And what do you even eat anyway?
“What about bacon? Admit you want it.”
“You can’t save the world, you know.”
“Here, just try this one bite of steak.”
Sigh. The leather boots, ya got me there. I’m no Alicia Silverstone. I am riddled with inconsistencies. And sometimes I do want bacon; I’m vegan, not brain dead! Sometimes I want to rob a bank too, but I manage to stop myself before I even get the ski mask over my head. And I know I can’t save the world, but that isn’t exactly what I’m trying to do. I’m just trying to find a way I can live peacefully, and consciously. Which is why it’s so irksome that my search for peace instigates such discord.
Can we just say, for the record, that protein consumption is the least of a vegan’s problems? In fact, there is a burgeoning movement of vegan bodybuilders and world class athletes who clearly are not suffering from a lack of this essential building block in their diet. Nuts, seeds, tempeh, tofu, and seitan are just a few of the myriad sources of protein available to vegans. They are all easy to prepare, delicious, and much less expensive than animal proteins like beef, fish and even dairy.
Also, because they are lower on the food chain, plant based foods are cleaner, meaning they are free from the antibiotic treatments, horrific living conditions (which affects the quality of the meat you eat on so many levels, not the least of which is karmically, but I digress), and the GMOs which are routinely fed to farm raised animals (so, even if you’re somehow managing to avoid GMOs in your corn or soybeans or whatever else, you’ll still be eating them).
Furthermore, because these drugs, feeding practices and living conditions take place over such a long period of time, they are worked into the meat of an animal on a more complex molecular level, meaning they have a longer term affect of your body if you eat them. So, unless you’re eating grass fed beef from a cow who actually had a life rather than just an existence, or a chicken you raised yourself, or a fish you caught in pristine waters (good luck with that), you are eating from the end of a long chain of poisonous, grotesque, corporate practices created by a bunch of people who don’t give a shit about you, or animals, or the world, or anything else that matters.
But I’m off topic. And don’t assume from my ranting here that I get up on my soap box at summer picnics and ruin everybody’s brats and burgers while they laugh at my Tofurkey. (And yes, I know that Tofurkey is processed and has chemicals and was made by a corporation… like I said, I’m just stumbling along as best I can here.)
The point is, despite my strong opinions, I don’t expect you to agree. And I certainly don’t judge you.
I know that we all come to the various places we are in our lives through complex and unique circumstances. I’m really interested in hearing about how you got to your place and where you might be headed now. If you’re interested in my path, I’m happy to share that with you too. Maybe we can stroll along in our flip flops and our leather boots and chat about food and other stuff too, like how to live a life you feel proud of, a thoughtful life; one that prioritizes kindness rather than confrontation.
And after that, I’ll make you a yummy grilled eggplant steak with a cornmeal crust and broiled tomatoes on top, and a side of roasted fingerling potatoes drenched in silky chick pea gravy. Come on! Just take one bite! You know you want to.
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Ed: Sara Crolick