This post was originally written 8/8/11. I waited a few days before posting to be sure it was how I still felt. It is. It’s a little rough as I typed it up quickly as the ideas were fresh in my mind. Many will not agree with some of these statements, vegans included. Whether you agree or disagree I still appreciate you taking the time to read.
I can’t count the number of times someone has taken issue with me being vegan. It happens quite regularly. Most often it occurs when I tell someone I’m vegan only when offered something to eat. I’ll politely decline and then I’m asked “Why? Do you not like (fill in animal product)?” I’ll reply “No, I’m vegan.” Most people know what what vegan means when I tell them. After all, Oprah, bless her money-filled little heart, taught the soccer moms everything they needed to know in order to be a perfect vegan right down to what processed plastic food to buy so little Jimmy would like dinner**. Still, I sometimes get the blank gaze of confusion like I just proclaimed to be from the planet Garzepon. “Duh, what is vegan?” After explaining that I don’t drink milk, eat cheese, eat eggs or any animal product including meat the obligatory “But you eat chicken, right?” or “Fish is OK, right?” You see, people can’t grasp the idea of going without the cholesterol laden foods they’ve come to love and in turn they can’t imagine anyone else doing without. So, naturally they believe, though you state emphatically you consume nothing from the animal world, that you’ll indeed eat chicken or fish because, let’s face it, those aren’t really animals, are they? Well, at least they clearly aren’t considered such by these brainiacs.
Today I was working at a local business while an employee had lunch nearby. She went on about how she enjoyed the McDonald’s she was pushing into her face like a person stuffing an already overstuffed suitcase. She asked me if I had tried something that was apparently a new item at the Poison Arches. When I told her no she jumped to insist I go right away and try this dreamy concoction. Then upon telling her that I’m a vegan I was quickly met with, “That’s not healthy! You need the vitamins in meat!” I need the vitamins in meat? Not wanting to quickly lose a client based on my diet and arguing about it while making the money they pay I decided to just let her talk. Listening attentively, the non-intelligence that ensued from the woman’s mouth ranged from the original, “Those sharp teeth are for meat.” to, “I bet you have no energy.” At that point I politely invited her on a 100+ mile bike ride with me and asked if she’s tried P90X. I told her I have more energy now than at anytime in the 28 years I consumed animal meat. No excuses from her or explanations of my high energy. I asked her to explain, she couldn’t. You see I get these arguments all the time. None of her statements were new and neither was the last thing out of her mouth: “The bible says…” I don’t know what she was going to state from her bible as at that moment I finished my work and interrupted her to say have a nice day and then leave. I wasn’t about to give her my thoughts on what she was surely about to spout as religion and work never mix well. I clearly offended her by choosing to abstain from the consumption of animal products. It is not the first time I’ve had this experience with someone and it is sure to not be the last.
If you’re a vegan chances are you’ve been in this situation before. You may have handled it differently. I get it so often I try not to carry out the argument. I’ll inform them, if they seem open to the discussion, that since being vegan I don’t get sick nearly as often. I have more energy that I ever did. I pay more attention to what I eat and how I prepare what I eat now than before being vegan and in turn I eat healthier. Do I get enough protein? 90-120 grams a day, thank you. Yes, I keep up! Do you? No? Then why the hell are you asking me if I get enough and how would you know that I don’t or, even better, that YOU get enough?
Here’s how it is with me: I don’t preach the vegan mantra 24/7. I’m not the guy walking up to you with VEGAN tattooed on his forehead asking you to please put down the cheeseburger because the cows love you. If you want to eat that slab of beef then fine, that’s your choice. But DO NOT tell me my choice to be vegan is wrong. DO NOT tell me my decision to not fill my body with poisons will be a decision that will kill me. DO NOT sit gorging yourself on your pus-burger and tell me that I’m not getting the proper nutrients. You sound like the fat idiot drone the cattelman’s association has grown your lazy ass to be. They would be proud of you. Send them a picture.
I’m sure some vegans aren’t happy with me. I don’t go gung ho, all out vegan like I’m a PETA die-hard. I’m sure there are some meat-eaters that may be reading this ready to jump and tell me where I’m wrong similar to what Ms. Big-Mac-Is-Clogging-My-Bowel wanted to try to point out. Go on and try but remember, you’re doing it because you feel guilty. Yes, it’s true. Deny. Deny all you want but in the end you will be the one in a nursing home hooked to an oxygen machine with a colostomy bag at 60 years old. I’ll be the one biking down A1A in the sunshine. But I’ll think about you lying there. Yeah, you should have put the Whopper down.
In the end I just care what my family puts in our bodies. No processed foods. No junk. No poisons. No pesticides. No cruelty. I also care about animals. Oh, I guess I’m not manly enough because I care for the little animals. I care for them because I have the human quality of compassion. It covers all living creatures. Practice it and it might make you feel a little better about yourself.
**Mentioning Oprah is typically done with massive amounts of disdain and sarcasm. Here it is no different.