Monday, September 23, 2019


I remember while transitioning to becoming vegan when my former spouse and I traveled to my hometown to visit my family and of how he called me from my sister's (where he had been giving my oldest nephew a guitar lesson) to say that she had asked him to stay for lunch. When she dropped him off later at my mother's, she said to me that it was a lot easier to just have him over for a meal instead of both of us because he wasn't "as picky as [I was]".

I remember a vegetarian friend arguing with me furiously when I'd mentioned that the spouse and I were talking about having or adopting a child and that we planned to raise said child as a vegan. He insisted that I would be "forcing" my beliefs on this hypothetical child and that I should let them make up their own minds about whether or not to go vegan.

I remember just weeks after the end of my 10+ year common-law marriage (most of which I'd spent as a vegetarian), how over drinks one evening the ex told me that his mother had expressed relief at no longer having to take my diet into consideration for food at family gatherings anymore.

I remember the last Xmas dinner I attended at my sister's, watching my brother-in-law from across a crowded room glance around and then spoon chicken bouillon powder into pots of string beans and baby carrots I had been told would be suitable for me to eat, then shield the container of chicken bouillon from me with his body after we made eye contact and I approached him to verbally confirm he had done what he had done. I remember being told to please not make a big deal out of it. I didn't and I never ate there again.

I remember an old friend telling me that she might consider becoming a vegetarian, except that her naturopath had told her that she needed to eat meat because of her blood type. She told me that her naturopath had told her that I needed to find out my own blood type, since I was very likely killing myself. (We had the conversation about how the "Eat Right 4 Your Type" diet had long-since been debunked, but since I didn't have a piece of paper saying that I could officially peddle woo...)

I remember planning a small plant-based dinner party for a half-dozen friends, asking each one about dietary restrictions and food preferences or aversions and how one close friend asked me if they could bring a macaroni and cheese casserole because they couldn't see themselves having a meal where they couldn't "at least have cheese". I remember that friend declining the invitation when I asked them if they could for this occasion not bring anything containing animal products.

I remember the friends who told me that they hadn't invited me to their own barbecue because they didn't want the rest of their guests to feel guilt-tripped as I ate my veggie burger.

I remember my second manager at my last job holding a celebratory lunchtime pizza party for our staff of around a dozen, telling me that she couldn't order something different for "everyone" and that I was welcome to pack my own lunch and join them. (I passed.)

I remember years ago reconnecting with an old college boyfriend on Facebook and getting caught up with a couple of really long phone-calls, then how suddenly every few days he posted anti-PETA comments and when I explained to him that I (and many other vegans) have no love whatsoever for PETA, he instead posted articles mocking vegans or those news stories about child malnourishment court cases where the parents self-identified as "vegan" (never mind that they were feeding their child a diet consisting of nothing but water and potato chips or of rice milk and frozen berries -- it's always about their being "vegan").

I remember a cycling buddy of mine suddenly develop an interest in debating veganism with me at a local coffee shop (he particularly dug in his heels about plants having feelings and how avoiding animals but not plants was speciesist and made vegans hypocrites), and how he decided one day to say that he had purchased a fishing rod and planned to bring it on our long trail bike rides so that he could "bring back [his] supper", then how I told him that I'd probably bike further or do something else to not have to be around him as he hooked fish. I remember him getting angry and accusing me of "passing judgment" on him for merely stating I had no interest in being a spectator. We never went bike riding again.

I remember going to NYC with a moody non-vegan travel companion and meeting up with vegan friends of mine for dinner at an old Italian restaurant and how he grumbled at me later for having "deprived" him of an opportunity to have "good" pizza since we had decided to split everything we ordered and everything was, thus, plant-based -- including the delicious pizza.

I remember running into an ex of mine after an amicable split a year earlier and his asking me if I was "still vegan" and my jokingly responding with a "no" and how he told me what a relief it was that I'd "finally come to [my] senses" and how frustrating it had been to always have to find restaurants that had a plant-based item on the menu and felt unfair to him that we couldn't go absolutely anywhere he wanted to go because of it. I remember his telling me that he was "happy" that I'd "come back to normal". I didn't bother wasting the breath it would take to tell him that I hadn't been serious.

I remember another ex telling me that although he'd never complained about the dozens and dozens of meals I'd lovingly made for him while we were together -- food he had often praised at the time -- that  he'd never really been crazy about my cooking and that he was "happier without all the tofu and beans".

I remember being told that the hardest part of being vegan would be interacting with friends and family who chose not to be. Knowing doesn't prepare you for it, though, does it?