It’s been two years since my big diet change and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Veganism is mostly about having a positive impact on the world. Less cruelty, healthier lifestyle… However good it sounds, it also takes a lot of sacrifice and by that I don’t mean giving up on cheese.
It’s the relationship to other people. Their beliefs, habits, behaviour towards my decision. And after two years, some still don’t understand it. It’s normal that not everyone will accept and follow my path. It’s okay, because they don’t have to, a little judgement is completely fine. But what it’s not okay, is not respecting me. What I’ve learned by now, is that if the people who haven’t accepted it by now, never will. Some can’t comprehend it and some just refuse to understand. Ignorant jokes, teasing, all that comes along and it can be tolerated for a short time, but there comes a point where it’s enough. It’s not even hurtful or annoying any more, it just becomes plain rude.
Therefore, what was the biggest change for me personally, was not the food, but the social perception of having a meal with other human beings. Personally, I still don’t have a problem having lunch with an omnivore – I touched on that in a post a year back. But some of them have a problem with me. What I have encountered is people not being comfortable sharing a table with my vegan dishes, funnily enough, being the same ones they also consume beside their schnitzel. Somehow I am to blame they have to eat basic cooked potatoes and some cabbage salad with their three different meat options. Weird, right?
For the past two years I remained quiet about this, hoping it will eventually pass. Because it shouldn’t hurt me, because it’s just the ignorance, egotism of one person. But it does affect me, no matter how hard I try to fight it. It makes me angry that I have to listen to it, for the sake of spending time with people that I actually care about. And this year, I have decided it’s not worth it, not any more. See, I don’t have a burning desire to prove anyone anything, nor to be accepted. What I do want, is for people to stop offending me for what I choose to eat.
Being vegan is not something I have to apologize for. Not once and definitely not over and over again to the same ignorant people. I am not a burden. If you want to cook for me, then you have to accept my “limits”.
Yes, slip ups happen, to me as well. Sometimes it means more if you accept the questionable object, than to protest and hurt someone. And you always see who makes an honest mistake, offering you a dairy filled dessert or coffee with whipped cream. You can tell a difference between someone who thinks you just won’t notice and someone who actually forgets about butter being an animal product. (Grandmas are tricky in particular) So every now and then some hidden dairy or egg snuggles in. Which is completely normal.
The main principle of veganism is compassion for other living creatures. And even if you’re not one, please gain some compassion for fellow humans who choose different lifestyles. Especially, if they’re your family.