A Meditation

24 Sep

There’s a longstanding joke, “How do you know there’s a vegan in the room?  Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.”  But in my experience, I almost never bring it up and yet it almost always becomes a topic of conversation.  Perhaps I have to decline the cheese tray at a party, or say no to sharing a dessert.  Like moths to a flame, someone will feel compelled to ask, “Why not?”  because even people on diets take a sliver of cheese or a bite of someone’s chocolate cake.  There is just something so weird and uncomfortable about a person not partaking in food that everyone should love and not be able to resist.  So the dreaded “V” word is dropped and boom, there goes the party.

“Wait, really?  Why?”

I don’t think I’ve ever had a truly positive experience explaining to someone why I’m vegan, which is such a shame.  I remember an aunt asking me what I thought was so wrong with dairy.  “Do you really want to know?” I asked respectfully.  “It’s kind of intense.”  “Yes, absolutely!”  She seemed really responsive, so I took the bait.  “Well, veal is a byproduct of the dairy industry, and the abuse sustained by the dairy cows is so heartbreaking that I…”  She huffed.  She didn’t really want to hear it at all.  I backpedaled immediately.  “Also, I’m lactose intolerant.”  That was an acceptable answer.

Showing empathy for animals that most people consider to be food does not go over well.  I learned really quickly that if I didn’t wanna get into it, the best answer was, “Health reasons.  I have trouble digesting animal products,” which is true, but considering how much I love alcohol and cupcakes, it’s not like I’m one to act in the best interest of my body at all times.  Responses along the lines of, “I’m just trying to do my part for the environment,” or “I love animals,” or “It just feels wrong to me,” are rarely ever tolerated because they imply that the person you are talking to does not do their part, does not love animals, and is doing something wrong.  What a wallop.  I’d get defensive, too, if I really loved my eggs in the morning.

I have no agenda.  I am on my own path, and I don’t think I’m better than anyone for being on it.  You wanna know why I’m vegan?  Because I really care about the earth but I’m the laziest person of all time.  It’s the absolute easiest way to be an activist and a good person without having to trade my car for a bike, picket city hall for change, volunteer at homeless shelters, reuse plastic baggies, foster twenty animals, or live off the grid.  I have friends who do so much good work for the community, and I absolutely believe they are better people than me.

If vegans make you uncomfortable, just remember what you’ve done to make the world a better place, and pat yourself on the back big time.  Then tell me all about it – I promise I won’t get defensive.  We might all be on our own unique paths, but we’re on this journey together, and anything we contribute to make our shared home a better place is worth its weight in gold.

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