Veganism An Inconvenience
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If you’re vegan chances are that you’ve encountered this notion that if you don’t consume animal products, you’re an inconvenience to others. I’ve been vegan for 2 1/2 years now and I’ve mostly been lucky not having people around me telling me that how I live my life is wrong.. or asking me where I get my protein from? For the most part I find people are curious about my lifestyle and have loads of questions about what, why and how and are only too happy to go to restaurants where they serve vegan options.
A Random Encounter
A couple of weeks ago, however, my husband and I went to an event at his university and since it was in the evening they had a long buffet table with loads of different things to eat. There was some fruit and bread I could have, but I decided to stick to my drink and then we would go for a late night dinner instead, which was perfectly fine with me as I hadn’t expected there to be anything for me to eat anyway.
We mingled around, meeting people and the whole evening was really nice and we had a good time. By the end of the evening we were talking to a group of people where one of the women was an ovo-pescatarian. She was curious about me and the fact that I’m vegan but also asked me if I found it hard when I went out with friends because she did and the reason she ate fish, eggs and dairy was because otherwise it would be impossible for her at social gatherings.
I told her I didn’t find it hard or difficult at all and in fact more and more places had vegan options these days and there were so many new vegan restaurants around now, that it was really easy eating out.
The Constant Questioning
Her husband joined in and when I gave him the same answer, he pushed on saying ‘well, let’s say you go to McDonald’s what would you eat there?’ I laughed and said ‘I wouldn’t go to McDonald’s to begin with so the question doesn’t really apply’.
He didn’t seem satisfied with my answer and kept asking the same question, so in the end I said ‘they have fruit and salad which I can order, but to be honest I stopped going to McDonald’s way before I even stopped eating meat because I don’t like what they serve and I find it very unhealthy’. He was surprised at my answer but left it at that. We said our goodbyes and my husband and I went to have our dinner.
Food For Thought
This conversation wasn’t angry with loud voices and there were no pointing fingers telling me I was self righteous or that vegans thought they were better than others, but somehow I couldn’t put it out of my mind with a feeling that I was missing something.
Later I realized what I was missing. Somewhere in that conversation and without putting it into words was a loud statement that somehow by not being ‘flexible’ at times I’m probably an inconvenience to others and they have to ‘sacrifice’ for my sake.
I think this notion or idea that vegans are pushing their ‘agenda’ for getting attention or wanting to feel special is unfortunately there and most people who think this way don’t understand what veganism is about or why so many people choose this lifestyle. Yes, there is the food aspect but veganism is so much more than what you put in your mouth and body. It’s about the environment, the animals and putting their lives over a meal, human health and everything put together everyone’s survival on our planet.
I wonder if had I had this thought during my conversation with this couple, what would I have said? Would I have been honest and asked them why they thought being vegan was such an inconvenience? Or would I have given the same answers as I did? Chances are I would have told them the same thing as I did that evening that I didn’t find it hard being vegan whether it was at home or outside with other people.
Veganism Equals Compassion
The fact is that if I didn’t eat animal products because of medical or religious reasons they would never have questioned the ease of being vegan and just accepted my lifestyle and life choices without any ifs and buts. It always makes me wonder the disconnect of people that they will accept the fact that you don’t want to consume the flesh or secretions of any or a particular animal if it’s for a higher being they haven’t seen, heard or spoken to and most likely never will in their lives.
But if the same refusal is solely based on empathy and compassion for another living being, then that isn’t understood and respected in the same way. Shouldn’t the later be as or even more important as the first since we can see, sense and on some level communicate with animals and let’s be honest we have a lot more in common with other animals than we do with an almighty.
Veganism Is A Conscious Choice
I believe for most vegans this will make sense. Once you’ve recognized the same life force you carry within yourself and see the simple wish to live in freedom without chains of enslavement in another living being, it becomes impossible to take their life whether you do it by your own hand or pay someone else to do it.
I realize that for most people who eat and drink animal products it’s a simple matter of a meal, a thing on their plate and nothing more, and as difficult as it is at times not to burst out in angry tears I believe it’s vital that as vegans we remain calm in these situations. It’s easy to lash out in anger and there have been times when I wanted to, but I also know that there’s a lot more at stake than an exchange of angry words: millions of voiceless animals depending on us to fight their fight and save this planet we call home from pure destruction.
I read somewhere that true compassion starts in the heart and is extended not only to those we love but to everyone regardless of who they are. I believe compassion and empathy are the foundation of veganism and without these where would we be? So, next time someone asks me ‘Isn’t it difficult being vegan?’ I will smile and tell them ‘No, it’s very easy.’
How about you? What will you say?
About The Author
I’m from Denmark with a background in fashion, these days flirting with minimalism. I started my blog www.thehungrymongoose.com last year where I post healthy, delicious and gluten-free recipes and food-for-thought articles about issues close to my heart. I’m an eternal optimist and live my life like the quote by Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world” My dream is to one day open an animal sanctuary and provide a loving safe haven for our furry friends.