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Rebels with Cause

January 31, 2011

It’s shocking and embarrassing to recognize how long it has been since I wrote last. It’s like that email from a friend you’ve been meaning to respond to and the more you put it off the more difficult it is to write, until you just decide one day that either (a) the friendship must end since you clearly cannot face the embarrassment involved in writing an email response after x number of months or (b) you bite the bullet and write, hoping your friend won’t be too hard on you.

This blog entry is (b). Please accept my apologies for not writing at least one post per week lately, since that was my initial promise. So many things have happened since my last post. A lot of vegan/meat conversations and experiences were had. But I can’t really focus on just one to relate to you today, so instead, I will mention the common thread that joins all the conversations together. That is, I want to talk about why being vegan can sometimes lead to awkward situations.

Sometimes when someone mentions food, it’s actually an invitation for you to relate with them on a social level. The truth is, often for vegans, we can’t. Restaurant recommendations or favourite dishes to make are usually not appropriate for vegans and so we often wonder what to say. I’ve referred to this in past blog entries. However, lately I’ve been more comfortable to just smile and nod when I don’t know someone and they have just mentioned their favourite dish which involves meat, cheese, and more meat. The problem is, usually at least one person knows I’m vegan there and must “come to my rescue”, as it were, and remind me that I can’t just smile and nod because I am vegan and thus should not be discussing meat or dairy or egg dishes with the stranger. The somewhat neutral conversation becomes ten times more awkward and I generally blurt something I hope my comrade will appreciate, like “Italian prosciutto!”, and then politely excuse myself. My veganism seems to be getting quite a notorious reputation. It’s like the word that rears its ugly head any time someone so much as mentions food. The lesson for me is that food is an integral part of our culture and being vegan goes against that which is our culture… thus going vegan is much akin to not being able to speak English or observing a religious ritual that no one in North America has ever heard of. Perhaps vegans should just go back to where they came from! Canada is for culturally-conditioned Canadians… with English (and French) and hockey (and lacrosse) and Jesus (and god) and steak (and frites). Of course, I kid. But it’s good sometimes to recognize that veganism isn’t just a diet choice, it’s an affront to tradition and to the culture in which we were raised. It’s nothing short of rebellious. But this time, the rebel got it right.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Erin permalink
    January 31, 2011 11:30 pm

    I just started work in a new place and in still in the process of coming out as vegan. Ordered a coffee with soymilk today…no comments. Everyone’s going out to lunch on Friday though…we’ll see how that goes…

  2. February 5, 2011 12:21 am

    I must admit… I was not really a fan of this post (you’ve reiterated this “awkward” feeling multiple times), however, I burst into laughter at the irony of your final remark! ‘Twas your saving grace… if you will ;)

    • February 5, 2011 9:28 am

      I know! I admit that here: “I’ve referred to this in past blog entries.” But I chose to write about it again because I had more anecdotal information to share. I see that some of us demand fresh new ideas without remorse! :P Unfortunately, the “awkwardness” is something that happens so often for vegans that I believe multiple posts on the topic is apropos. I apologize in advance that this certainly won’t be my last word on the matter. :)

  3. shawn permalink
    February 14, 2011 9:22 pm

    You’re right, it’s amazing how much attention and conversation is dedicated to food. As I think I’ve told you before I get sooooo many comments on my lunches at work. It’s something you would only notice if you’re going against the social norm, as being vegan is, because then other people notice and talk about it endlessly.

    It’s pretty incredible, and almost sad that even though I insist I’m not a vegetarian, some people at work don’t believe me because I don’t typically eat meat in my lunches. Again you’re right in that when you even try to defend it, or explain it, it never comes out right. More often than not you feel silly for even attempting an answer to their inquiries.

    Good luck in these socially awkward moments, at least now you’re the famous vegan in the office :)

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