By Dana Gornall
Becoming vegan was pretty easy for me.
I wouldn’t have thought so. If someone had asked me before I made that choice—a year earlier or perhaps five years earlier—I would have said I couldn’t do it. Growing up as picky eater whose main vegetables were corn or french fries, I was definitely resistant to new things. But as my lifestyle began to change with meditation and yoga, and my perspective on health and life began to spin in another direction, suddenly the idea of becoming vegan became more and more appealing.
And when I did it finally, it was easy. It felt right.
I never liked the idea of eating animals and worked very hard to mentally distance myself from food. Once in awhile the gap would be suddenly and unexpectedly cinched together and I would sit slightly dumbfounded and unable to eat. Early on in my young marriage, I remember watching my husband pick up the cornish hens that we were about to cook for dinner and dance them across the kitchen counter. I giggled, then stopped as it hit me what they were. Stupid, I know. Of course they were once warm, breathing animals with life—whatever life they had, and maybe one I didn’t really want to know more about. Yet, I tried not to think about how my meals were delivered to my table.
So becoming vegan was easy.
I didn’t want to be one of those angry vegan people, though. I didn’t want to post pictures of animal slaughter in my news feeds on social media, because it hurt me to see it and I didn’t like the idea of showing more violence. I didn’t want to be the person lecturing my family at the Thanksgiving table, or the Christmas dinner table and so I kept quiet and still do. And that’s okay (at least that is what I tell myself).
Except there are times, when it’s not.
I can take a joke. I can take a prod or a poke and I pride myself on not getting offended easily. Life is too short. Most people can be well-meaning with a joke and I know that. But it gets old, after awhile. The teasing about eating grass or the comments about wasting away. The questions about my health (I am in great health and get a better balanced diet now than I ever have—yes, including protein) or the eye rolls when I suggest not eating at the steak house. The fact that I sit next to you while you sink your teeth into the juicy hamburger that you just ordered, enjoying every minute of it, I try not to think very hard about the cow that was slaughtered—the life it led up to the point of its slaughter that most of us would shudder to think about (a life that most of us wouldn’t want to see a dog put through).
I distance myself, again. And I take the joke.
And so maybe you roll your eyes. Maybe you shrug it off and think I am being too sensitive. Maybe you laugh. Maybe you say I should be better at taking a joke. I know this. Which brings me to the middle—the vegan between wanting to stand up for my choices and keep my boundaries clear, yet not alienate myself from the person you are because I don’t want that either. It brings me to being the vegan in the middle of wanting to not take life too seriously, yet also not wanting to shut my eyes to certain realities.
Because I want to have dinner with you.
I want to sit down at a restaurant and discuss politics, or the new Wonder Woman movie or whatever else is going on. I want to sit down at your dinner table and not have to apologize for the fact that I can’t eat 95% of what is on the table, or make you feel bad that I brought some hummus in my purse. I don’t want you to feel put out for accommodating me. I want to enjoy Thanksgiving or Christmas and I don’t want to be the one who comments on the dead carcass you are eating. I don’t want to be that person.
So, I guess what I am asking is: Can you not be that person either? And maybe, can we try to meet somewhere in the middle?
Feature photo: source
Vegan cartoon: vegansidekick.com