The armchair psychologist in me is noticing a new trend.
For years, I had to suffer countless conversations (read: aggressive questions) about my vegan lifestyle from ones like “How do you get your protein and vitamin D” to “Are you worried you are hurting your child?” I handled myself pretty well, and if someone really tried to razz me, I learned to politely shut it down.
But, something is happening. More and more, I am being asked a different question. It has to do with the social aspects of being a vegan family, as if the questioner no longer sees us as sideshow weirdos eating a fringe diet but as an example of a way of being they just might want to explore themselves.
The question comes in two parts. First, people ask about my son. He is seven and has been vegan his whole life. He is happily ensconced in his school where everyone knows he is vegan – the administration, the chefs in the cafeteria, the teachers, and the children. Thus far, when it comes to food, there have been no issues which comes as a surprise to a lot of adults. They wonder, “But what about the other children?” which actually means do they give my son a hard time. And the answer is no. It is just a matter of fact, like an allergy.
Then the question is how do we, the adults, handle going out for dinner or eating at parties. What do we do? How do we handle it? The answer is that often there is a vegan option, even if it is accidentally vegan, and if there isn’t, we eat the crudité or bread. If we are going out to dinner, I review the menu ahead of time and even call the restaurant to find out what our options are so there is no drama when it comes to ordering.
Side note, when people come to my house for a party, I go all out and wow them with my food. Then the questions are more about the recipes and how could I possibly have made such a moist cake without eggs?
This genuine curiosity about how we navigate our non-vegan world is exciting! More and more people are becoming interested, whether it is for their health, for the environment, for the animals, or even to be trendy and follow celebrities like Joan Jett, Woody Harrelson, Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Clinton.
Emotions run deep when it comes to food – from entrenched beliefs to family values to cultural norms. But we are at a tipping point and these attitudes are being challenged. I did my part to confront these issues and I have come out the other side as a strong, vibrant, healthy, joyful vegan. And if my life can serve as a positive example and help effect this change, then all of these conversations were worth it.
--Lisa Dawn Angerame, to read Lisa's excellent vegan food blog, click here.