Thursday, 13 May 2010
Should Vegans be Vocal?
No matter how long you’ve been vegan for, we’ve all been there. That awkward conversation when someone realises that your lunch is missing something. Animal Products. You hold your breath through the three second silence which follows, as the information processes, and questions immediately begin bubbling up in your audience.
What do you eat? Why don’t you eat eggs? What about honey?
And then there are the snide comments. Your diet is bad for you. Your body needs meat. Why are you doing this to yourself?
I’ve been vegan for almost five years, and was vegetarian for six years before this. That’s over ten years without meat, and confirmation enough that my body does not, in fact, need meat. That avoiding dairy does not leave my bones crumbling beneath me, and that eating a diet which is low in cholesterol, rich in fruit and vegetables, grains and pulses- as well as scattered with decadent desserts- does not leave me hungry, withdrawn and craving animal products!
It must be similar to my own thought process when I consider what people with certain allergies eat. My immediate thought is that of sorrow and mourning of fresh, crusty and fluffy filled breads, spaghetti, cakes. I know that the Free From sections of supermarkets are packed with gluten and wheat free products, but I don’t really know how up to scratch they are- and restaurants must be even harder. But you learn what’s good, what’s bad and where to go to get the best Free From products.
So I wonder- when people are staring, and pestering and judging, should we be vocal and explicit in our replies, or should we be reserved in our responses?
Generally my response is to answer a couple of questions politely and simply (no graphic descriptions, gory home truths, pointed fingers and accusations). I try to balance a convincing case, with a non judgemental argument for the animals.
At other times I can get a little carried away. When a friend asked how I would feel if a doctor told me I had to eat meat, for health reasons- my mind raced and I blurted out a disjointed and panicked response, along the lines of it being my worst nightmare, and how disgusting it would be to eat meat. Whilst others tucked into their BLTs.
It’s just how I feel though- but should we be this vocal? Is it helping us, to distance ourselves from meat eaters? Sometimes I think that some are born with this moral stance- I can’t help but believe that I was born to be vegan, and that it would have happened eventually, and that some are meant to eat meat whilst others are not. My parents and grandparents ate meat. My friends all ate meat- I had one friend who was vegetarian, and her sister was vegan. This was the only contact I had with a meat- free menu, at the time that I went vegetarian. Hardly enough to convince most, but what she taught me really stuck. At the time I saw veganism as extreme and fairly unnecessary, but it wasn’t long before I began researching and chatting to other vegans. Again, the information really stuck in my mind, and once learnt was not easily forgotten. Sometimes I think that because I was lucky enough to learn the truth behind my meals, others might need to learn this information too.
So what do you guys think about voicing your veganism? Do you explain in graphic detail the truth behind meaty meals, or keep to a reserved response?