Well its finally February which means I have officially been eating a vegan/plant based diet for a whole month. There was a slip up at the beginning of the month but I’ve since learned to navigate the social scene a little better (and I’ve gotten better about standing up for myself and stating my preferences). Today in fact was a pretty big victory for me. We had a work lunch party for my boss and of course there wasn’t a single option available that didn’t have some sort of animal product in it. Mostly meats but of course, even the veggie sandwich was mostly mozzarella cheese. Rather than make a big deal about the salad I had waiting for me in the fridge I just took the cheese off and ate the bread/minimal veggies.
Obviously not the ideal situation but in recent weeks I would’ve just eaten the sandwich and told myself to eat healthier later. And while I did have a salad waiting for me, I didn’t want to disrupt the social situation to make a big deal. I’m pretty excited that I was able to compromise by making a healthier choice while still navigating the social environment. I’m finally starting to see the bigger picture. There’s always an excuse. Always a birthday or a vacation or whatever. But the better thing is that I’m finally starting to stand by my change in eating habits which makes it much easier during awkward moments. And I love the food I do eat so I really don’t feel like I’m missing out.
I had an interesting thought this weekend about lifestyles and social interactions. I went hiking with a friend and a few of his buddies I didn’t know on Sunday. After our hike, we went to Devil’s Backbone for lunch. I was pleasantly surprised to see more than one vegan option on the menu as most local breweries only have food options that are laden with meat and dairy products. Markus mentioned to the group that I am vegan now and someone inevitably asked me where I got my protein from. It made me giggle since that’s the first time someone has actually asked me that and of course, that seems to be the go to vegan question. I didn’t really have time to answer the question as the conversation steered elsewhere but my hesitation made me think about how many people stereotype vegans as being overly aggressive or pushy in their beliefs and how to address the question without coming off like I was trying to convert the masses. I also hesitate to call myself a “vegan” since I identify more with the whole foods plant based diet than I do with the ethics of the vegan movement but I also don’t eat only whole foods 100% of the time (looking at you, Trader Joe’s vegan snacks).
Seeing things from the opposite perspective makes me realize that when you live in a world where your wants/needs/values aren’t the norm it can be stressful. Obviously my food choices are not the end of the world in the grand scheme of “marginalized” or minority groups. However, it is an exercise in compassion for other groups of people that may not have the luxuries I have had. As a white, middle class person I’ve always enjoyed a pretty comfortable existence. I’m beginning to get a small appreciation for other groups of people who face very real and much worse stereotypes. And I’ve only been eating this way for a month!
I’m excited that this new journey has already started to stretch me into new territories both mentally and physically. I will be doing a post soon about the physical changes I’ve experienced in the last 30 days. I can’t wait to see what next month brings!