Baa Baa Black Sheep

I’ve never fit in with my classmates and peers. I remember wearing clothes to Jr High that were my moms from the 60s/70s. In particular, a pair of pink floral bell bottoms that I gatta say, were pretty groovy. I was made fun of to no end though. I had bullies in Jr High and in High School, too. So already my friend circle was small.

I didn’t go vegan until I was 30 years old. Being already socially awkward, this was another hurdle to consistently overcome at every family and friend gathering. I don’t like feeling awkward and in the spotlight so ordering at restaurants was sometimes frustrating asking for dairy free options. It got easier with time luckily.

I started to hang around other vegans though at pot lucks, gatherings, meetups, volunteering, etc. and I noticed a shift. I wasn’t the black sheep. They’re all vegan, minimalists, recyclers, earth conscious, and really good at making vegan food! They raise awareness about fighting the system, human rights, politics, racism, animal cruelty, global warming, over fishing, over population, zoos, hunting, all of the things I also question and want to be involved in.

Conversations are often very deep and emotional. A lot of shared ideas and support. The vegan community is welcoming.

One time at a class I attended, my teacher said, “Sometimes you just have to fake it.” She was referring to faking emotions for people, fake your energy, your interest to some extent. Sometimes, you have to just fake it! To get through the moment, the day, the week. Maybe that’s the key. To make situations run smoothly. Sometimes you have to fake it.

I often think of Dexter. He is an introvert that fakes being social to get through his job, his life, his marriage. LOL. It’s an extreme case. Cause he is also hiding his crazy homicidal behavior…but you get the point.

I think sometimes a vegan has to fake it in order to make interactions go more smooth with non vegans. We have to laugh when they make meat jokes. Haha Good one! We have to be accepting of their right to consume meat and hunt and fish and bet on animals. We hear them say things like, “I love animals!” and we smile and say “me too!”

There are the moments of being an angry extreme vegan. However, a conversation I had recently made me think that maybe there is no such thing as being too extreme when it is for something good. When the cause is good, like non violence, how can you support it too much? When you see animals being forced to give rides all day at the festival and you don’t want to support that and people are upset you don’t want to support it and they see you as extreme, but really, how can being against exploitation be extreme? It’s a basic thing. I don’t think we should use the animals to entertain us. We’re already killing the planet with over population and pollution. We’ve killed so many species and wildlife are going extinct. Why do we torture these animals when we don’t need to?

So there is a fine line there somewhere.

Deciding how badly you want to speak up, is it worth it. Deciding which battles to fight and which battles to let go. Do you attend the birthday party at the zoo? Do you avoid family functions with a big dead bird on the table? Do you do your best to fake it?

At which moments do you say how it makes you feel to be invited to these events and when do you suggest other events and what if they don’t want to go? Do you start only going to vegan events? How far do you want to take it?

When there is hope, it’s good to keep trying I think.

My mom makes special vegan dishes for me, usually quite large enough that others try some of it too.  But she also makes meat dishes for the same event. She also does peanut free candy and whatnot for my cousin. Some people think nothing of it. Others might be bothered by having to provide a vegan option. But I feel like I am a decent cook and I don’t mind bringing my own dish. I think experienced vegans know to eat before and after events and not always expect to have something for you when you go places.

The worst is hearing an omnivore say “ew!” to a vegan meal. Like seriously, you are eating a dead corpse, something that died and has blood, guts, tendons, veins, a heart,  he or she had feelings, and a family, etc. I am eating plants. So…..

 

 

 

 

 

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Surviving Veganism

Going through major change and growth is a total rollercoaster ride. I used to like rollercoasters and other rides when I was a kid. Putting my body through intense speeds, heights, and drops all for fun. I outgrew carnival rides. But here I am now, currently on an emotional rollercoaster ride of a lifetime.

So a few years ago I started to cut meat from my diet. Mostly because I had concerns about the antibiotics that are fed to factory farmed animals and the cholesterol in animal products. I did meatless Mondays for a while. Then stopped meat all together.       Everyone of course asked me all the time, “Do you still eat chicken?”

Eventually I went vegan. I started to buy only cruelty free shampoos and makeup. I didn’t buy anything with leather or use products with honey.

Everything changed. I went to certain restaurants less and some I wouldn’t go to at all. My relationships suffered. I was caught between wanting to grow but not wanting to let go of everyone else that wasn’t changing their lifestyle. I want to be around people who inspire me and are moving in the directions that I want to go in. But I also love my family and friends that still eat meat, don’t believe in global warming, don’t care about plastic and pollution and aren’t really trying to lessen their negative impact on the world.

I read a quote that says, “It’s okay to outgrow people who aren’t growing”.

Is it? Or is that kind of mean? Maybe it is inevitable that you grow apart from people when your interests are different. Even if there is a strong emotional bond. But can you remain friends? Lovers? Can you handle being around them and they handle being around you? How about some of the time versus all of the time?

Eating as a vegan really isn’t that hard.

The hard part is holding onto a little bit of who you were before going vegan. Embracing who you are becoming. And navigating everything from reading labels, staying educated, not offending the people you love, meeting new people, balancing work, bills, avoiding places like zoos and having to be the one to think of several cruelty free options we could all do instead.

It’s scary. It’s sometimes embarrassing. It’s amazing. It’s delicious. Being a vegan has it’s ups and its downs, at least for me.