Friday, February 7, 2014

On the Dangers of Telling Vegans You’re Eating Vegan

“I’m trying to eat more vegan,” I said. My friend looked at me, then at my sushi, then into my eyes, then to my sushi. The look of pure judgment. Hey, I’m not saying I didn’t deserve it.

Trying,” I took another bite of raw flesh, maybe the most “un-vegan” thing I could do, as I told her about all the new recipes I’d been trying.

“Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh,” was her only response, her phone far more interesting than my stories. Because, after all, what vegan credibility did I have while devouring delicious, delicious meat?

(my niece modeling the look of pure contempt)

And that’s when I realized the danger of telling vegans I was trying to be more vegan.

Vegans are passionate. They are the go-balls-out believers of the conscientious food movement. They are disciplined, they are creative, and they are a tight knit group of devotees. And although all of these traits are great, they also produce a sort of clique that can be difficult to break into unless you show the same level of zealous.

Truth: anytime you tell someone who is fiercely passionate about a cause that you are going to half-ass it, I think there will be backlash. And maybe a little well-earned pomposity.

And for me, well, I’m just not disciplined enough to be a full-blown vegan. In fact, I have a startling confession: I’m a recovering vegetarian.

I spent three years in my late teens/early twenties completely meat-free, but one snowy afternoon a warm Chinese dumpling was ultimately my downfall. (Damn your greasy goodness!) 

I was a terrible vegetarian anyway. I used vegetarianism as an excuse to eat pasta and candy all day (this was before I found I had celiac, obvs). Nutrition was a non-issue, because I was completely uneducated on what my body needed. All I wanted was to save the animals and eat sweet, sweet candy. The fact that I’m not a diabetic is actually quite shocking (thank God for exercise and a young metabolism). But it’s not at all a surprise that I was constantly tired, often sick, and overall unhappy with how food affected my body. I also missed meat so much during  those three years that even my own cat was looking tasty. (Just kidding kitty! Although, with a little barbeque sauce…)

I know better now. I know my own limitations. I would love to be a vegan, but I accept myself for who I am. And who I am is not disciplined enough to be a vegan. I celebrate those who have the devotion and will-power to be completely animal-free, and I’m okay with never being able to join the club.

But that doesn’t mean that my heart isn’t in the right place. That doesn’t mean I’m not trying. I can do my best to reduce my earth footprint, save more of my furry friends, and be healthier by being “more vegan” without going all the way. And when I explain it to my vegan friends that way, they couldn’t be more supportive. They listen to my recipe ramblings, give me advice, and  bonus: now my cat can sleep soundly at night, too.