An herbivore in a meat-eating world knows that the daily struggle is all too real. It was not until 2 years ago, when I began to give up animal products one by one, that I realized just how pervasive they were in my life – and how tempting. Suddenly my brain turned on high alert for animal products. The sights and smells and touches of animal products are everywhere. From the scent of my co-worker’s double cheeseburger, to the steak-plastered billboard above the interstate, to the seductive sheen of my gal pal’s new leather booties, I was beginning to believe that a veganism-induced panic attack was soon to strike…
Don’t doubt me when I say that I am content (happy even) with my choice to live a plant-based lifestyle and that, despite its challenges, I still believe it to be the best path for me personally. However, by making this somewhat radical change to remove all animal products (slowly but surely) from my life when neither friends nor family are on the same journey is at times lonely, discouraging, and incredibly frustrating. Suddenly, I have much more to think about and keep track of than before. And suddenly I have all sorts of new worries and fears that have come to play in my mind.
Here are some common ones that dance about in my mind when considering friend/family time or traveling:
- Where and what will I be able to eat? Steamed broccoli… again???
- What if I just eat before I get there? But then they’ll think I’m starving myself or something…
- If I bring food with me, will that be crazy awkward?
- Will I be hounded because I’m not eating what everyone else is eating? I hope they don’t make rude comments!
- Will I still get invitations even though I don’t eat with them? #letsnotinvitethatweirdveganchick
It’s literally exhausting to try to answers these questions (or to feel comfortable with the unknown because you CAN’T answer them) every time you try to eat with non-vegans…
And then I start feeling sorry for myself (of course) because…
- I’m always the “weird eater” in the group…
- (Nobody) makes food that I can eat…
- I always have to bring my own food everywhere…
- I “have” to make food that I don’t support because that is what they want…
I’m certainly not proud of my attitude, but is does happen… Eating with others is one of life’s greatest treasures, but when it becomes a challenge it begins to wear on you emotionally – believe me.
But last week, as I was helping a friend prepare for several dinner parties, something came to mind: It’s. Not. All. About. Me. It came to me like a whisper from my heart. Crazy, mind-blowing realization, right? HA. I prepped deviled eggs, bacon baked beans, and pork loin – some of many foods that I love but have chosen to give up – and the words just kept popping into my mind: It’s not all about me. And as the guests arrived and I tried to think of discrete ways to eat “brought food” at a dinner party where I literally could eat not one single thing I was still thinking: It’s not all about me. And by the end of the party, as I passed around lemon pie brimming with cream, the words were still swirling inside: It’s not all about me.
Giving up all animal products is exhausting, people. You now have to read every single kind of label on every single kind of thing. You can no longer grab just any type of food that you want because you’re in a hurry. If you want that stupid chocolate cupcake you now have to consider whether or not the baker used eggs (they did). This list could go on for days but I think you get the picture.
Your life CHANGES. And people are (most likely) not going to change with you.
That’s life. That’s growth.
I think the part of my attitude shift last weekend that I appreciate the most is that, as a vegan reminding herself that it’s not all about her, it goes BOTH ways. This applies when I am with non-vegan friends/family AND when I am tired, frustrated, and tempted to revert from veganism.
I made the choice to become vegan after much thought, research, and consideration. It was not made lightly. So when those awkward dinner party moments happen, when I have to bring my own food again, or when I want a stupid cupcake, I remember that it’s not all about me. It’s about the relationship that I choose to have with every animal – no matter what species they are. Or when I’m in a position where I am making non-vegan food because that is what I am asked to do or when I’m at a party where there is literally nothing that I feel comfortable eating, I remember that it’s not all about me. It’s about the relationship that I choose to have with every human being – no matter what relationship they have with animals.
IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ME.
I have endless food options at my fingertips. Maybe it takes a little more effort to find ones that are animal free, but it’s not all about me. And my convenience. And my cravings. And my comfort.
It’s not all about me.
I have hundreds of amazing people in my life. Maybe we won’t always agree on how to live our lives (we won’t), but it’s not all about me. And my journey. And my choices. And my beliefs.
It’s not all about me.
Peace, love, and veggies,