If I were to win an award, or at least one I wished existed, it would be this one. Probably because I’ve had several people tell me this recently, and I found it very interesting. I’m not exactly surprised, knowing my personality, but it brings about an important idea I think is crucial for the vegan movement to resonate with the general public.
When I first took veganism seriously, my family and I had a slight worry that it might conflict with everyday life. That I wouldn’t be able to enjoy social gatherings or anything involving food if they don’t have specific options for me. It would seem counterproductive to begin an uplifting lifestyle that in turn holds me back from opportunities and enjoying life.
But luckily, I have found the opposite to be true. When I know I’m going somewhere involving food, I plan ahead by either looking up their options or even having a few snacks on hand. Or if it’s a spontaneous trip, I have go-to items that I look for that I know can easily fit my needs.
I’ve never really liked being someone who asks a bunch of questions at a restaurant or anywhere else. I don’t want to burden others and go beyond just ordering my food and calling it good. Heck, it takes me long enough to make decisions from lengthy menus as it is. But as I’ve become more confident with myself and my values, it’s become much easier for me to ask a simple question, and with my experiences thus far, people have been very welcoming and understanding of anything I ask.
These people even go on to tell me that other vegans who have come into their establishments have been less than pleasant. They go into restaurants, especially ones without specifically set aside vegan options, and act out irrationally, criticizing these places for their “negative influence and impact.” Or whatever sort of vegan propaganda they want to spew.
This attitude is present too often, especially with issues involving certain social media figures and PETA. If you for some reason remember my past post about this topic, I discussed how important it is to portray to positive and compassionate mindset that veganism preaches. If we want people to be open to learning more and accepting vegans, we need to make sure to perpetuate just how easy and flexible veganism can be.
Especially in the food service industry, restaurants are appealing to the people through serving popular foods for different tastes. Even if a restaurant is not specifically vegan–which, if you live in the small town Midwest or really anywhere not in a major coastal city, most places aren’t–at least having friendly customers ask about vegan options can translate into future improvements in vegan accommodations. Instead of tearing others down, you are opening the doors to further questions and greater appreciation for what veganism truly means. Which is definitely not complete anger.
When first thinking about becoming a vegan, it’s important to remember that veganism, when done correctly, should not restrict your life. Veganism should not be isolating, nor should it be an excuse to avoid new memories and experiences with others. If veganism leaves you stuck in your home eating very select food and avoiding loved ones who aren’t vegan, you need to reevaluate. To make the lifestyle sustainable, you can’t let it consume you, especially when considering your overall wellness. Sure, veganism has amazing health benefits, but if it’s hindering your emotional and social aspects of your health, it might require some readjusting.
Because it’s fun being spontaneous sometimes, and just having fun without worrying too much about planning the details. Heck, it’s a great life skill in general. Once you become comfortable with the ins and outs with basic vegan knowledge, how you choose to follow the lifestyle is up to you. Other people are going to have different preferences, like eating fully raw or just enjoying every vegan “junk food” available, and that’s completely fine. The confidence you exude from it will shine through.
And besides, didn’t you read my conversation about how easy it is to make nonvegan foods vegan? Because it’s actually that easy. The only thing holding you back is you.
For example, last weekend I visited a friend in Lincoln, Nebraska. We stopped at a 24-7 diner, and I had a great bowl of oatmeal. The next day we had a picnic lunch in the park from some Target goodies, then went out for pizza (mine had no cheese) and ice cream (where they had vegan options). Yes, it’s a larger city, but it still just shows how effortless it was for me. It’s honestly become second nature, and once you’re in for the long haul, you’ll be amazed by how hard it will be to even think about eating a conventional American diet. Of course you’ll always have people who are confused or even offended by veganism, but that’s inevitable. And if you’re comfortable with yourself, who cares?
Wouldn’t it be great to hear less about the uptight vegans and have vegans be known as just normal, flexible, reasonable people. Because that’s what most of us are. It’s just those sour grapes in the bunch (fruit puns) that have to stand out from the majority. That just means we have to focus even more on giving out the positive vibes that come from within and from a foundation of wellness.
So you don’t have to bend over backwards, but if the opportunity arises, go out for pizza. No cheese, please.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie