No, I don’t mean this one in the wider sense of the politics of animal testing, factory farming, and other senseless events that make my heart heavy. Things like these are the reasons, among many others, that I proudly call myself a vegan, and have for many years now. I have met and made vegan friends since I made the transition myself, and certainly vegetarians and assorted other members of the conscious eating family. I have not, however, known anyone from my pre-vegan (or pregan, ha!) life who stopped eating animals. Nada. Zilch.
Strangely enough, people who I thought were perfectly logical individuals began to treat me very differently around the time that I changed my own life, and some even became downright nasty toward me. Even my closest friends seemed unable to resist making comments that were completely unprovoked, such as making a point to tell me that they would be eating an extra rare steak on my behalf. You may ask yourself now what sort of friend would make such an unnecessary comment completely out of the blue, and I struggled to find my patience with them then, too.
Since then, things have changed. It’s been many years, as I said, and while I stopped communicating with one or two people, unfortunately, for how very unfairly and cruelly they could act toward me at some times simply for knowing that I was a vegan, I have remained friends with the people I have always loved. I still get the occasional “I just love cheese so much” sort of comment, but nothing truly malicious or meant to be a challenge to my core beliefs.
Even now, though, and I have thought about this a lot since a recent dinner I hosted at my home, there is a strange behavior held by many of my friends about the food that I cook. My friends all respect that I am not the sort of vegan who will purchase and cook a cut of meat, and no one complains about my delicious veggie pizzas or pastas or enormous, mouth-watering salads. They ooh and aah at the colorful array of foods arranged so carefully on my dining room table, and I have to smile at myself and give myself a nice big, mental pat on the back as they sit down and begin pouring themselves drinks. It’s a nice feeling when you can make good, wholesome vegan fare for omnivores, isn’t it?
It seems entirely strange to me, then, that meat alternatives are met with such disgust. Not long ago, I brought some homemade lunch to a mini-picnic with my friend and one of my containers had a stirfry in it. As we’re inclined to share, my friend went on and on about how delicious it smelled, how appetizing it looked, but paused and asked if those were little bits of meat in the stirfry. I told her no, it was actually seasoned tofu, and you would have thought I told her it was toenails. Food for thought, right?