Learning

I received the worst reaction to the, “oh hey, I’m vegetarian now” from a different friend last week as I ate a veggie burger with my roommate.  His entire attitude shifted once I uttered that phrase, and suddenly he barraged me with comments about never wanting to eat a veggie burger, asking why would I ever choose that over a real burger, and ew, it looks gross.  I don’t enjoy being attacked while I eat (or really, at any time), so I tried to change the subject.  The comments still came though, and I felt his opinion of me change right then.  I smiled and enjoyed my burger.

After watching Forks Over Knives, I spent hours reading online about veganism and the transition to veganism.  I remember one person describing how they lost friends, and I thought that was ridiculous.  Suddenly, I get it.  Why are some people so uncomfortable if their friend eats differently than they do?  Conversely, why do so many people (meateaters, vegetarians and vegans included) feel the need to push their beliefs onto others?  Why does what we eat have such a religious zeal attached to it?  I’m not looking to answer these questions, but rather I am just surprised by these observations.

On a different note, I have grown more confident in my vegetarianism.  It’s been just about 25 days of a meat-free lifestyle.  I’ve been reading more books about food, food policy, veganism, etc.  Perhaps it’s just that I am excited about using my snazzy new Kindle, or perhaps it’s my spiked interest in learning everything I can about food, but I’ve wolfing books down recently.  (I’m currently on The Omnivore’s Dilemma.)

***

My college is known for its vegan and vegetarian options.  While this was a fact I proudly promoted as I gave tours, it’s pretty cool to finally understand what it means.  In the dining hall, I am aware of food options that I would have never considered previously.  The best part is that my suitemate is also exploring these new options.  It’s amazing how my plate has transformed from formally being full of meats and breads, often with few vegetables.  My plate looks a lot healthier now.

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12 Comments

Filed under My Journey, Reactions

12 responses to “Learning

  1. Don’t let someone else’s opinions ever affect the way you feel! I’m actually surprised at your friend’s comments and attempts to make you feel uncomfortable. I’ve been vegetarian for 25 years now (back in a time when a lot of restaurants only featured salads as the only meatless option) and have never encountered anyone making me feel that way. They are mostly curious as to why I don’t eat meat, or as WHAT I eat, that kind of thing. Stay strong – the health benefits far outweigh what someone else thinks! 🙂

  2. I have definitely encountered that sort of reaction before, but I find that many people now respond with something like “yeah, I don’t eat much meat; or I’m trying to limit the amount of (insert beef/dairy/fish, etc) I eat” … it’s interesting, because I think a lot of people are waking up to the very real side-effects of meat and realizing that it’s not the only thing in the world to eat!

    • That’s great that you’ve found people who are interested in making similar changes for their health. I hope to hear that one day – in the meantime, that’s why I’m enjoying the blogosphere and hearing from people with similar beliefs.

  3. Stay strong, surround yourself with supportive people, and connect with other like-minded individuals at school, online, or in your community. Once your friend realizes you are not trying to change his lifestyle I bet he will become supportive of yours… especially once he sees the change in your health, vitality, and energy.

  4. I think people react so strongly, because your decisions make them more conscious of their own decisions. Most people know that if they saw slaughterhouse footage they would probably not want to support factory farming, so they avoid seeing it. It’s a really funny defense mechanism that humans hold on to their own ignorance so strongly, but we’ve all done it at one time or another. I try not to get annoyed when people act this way, because a few years ago, that could have been me.

    • The more I learn, the more I understand why some people are so passionate about going vegetarian or vegan. But I definitely agree with you – I ate meat just a month ago and scoffed at the idea that I could be vegetarian. Ignorance is a very strange defense mechanism, that’s for sure.

  5. I don’t understand why people react like that anyway. I agree with your response above, that perhaps it makes them reflect upon their own eating habits. However, I have yet to shun one person for continuing to eat meat, so I just don’t understand why it can’t be reciprocated. Today, I was eating some tofu thing that I threw together before class started, and the girl next to me asked if I was eating tofu. I reluctantly said yes, because I was scared to get some ignorant response like I have before (“ew! why would you eat that!?” etc..) but she has been a vegetarian for 12 years and we talked briefly about Food Inc. and Forks Over Knives. So, hang in there. You’re definitely not alone!
    Also, can you maybe post the books you’ve been reading? I’d love to get my hands on some more information as well! Thanks!

    • Yay for making friends with people who have actually seen Forks Over Knives! I love that it’s such a common topic in the vegetarian/vegan world (have you seen “Shit Vegans Say”?). Thanks for the support!

      As for books, I’ve been meaning to put up a reading list or something, but until then – I’ve read Veganist by Kathy Freston, which covers a broad range of topics from health, money, and animals, and the Forks Over Knives companion book, which is very much more of the same since you’ve also watched the documentary. Right now I’m reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan – it’s great if you want to learn more about agricultural policy and where our food really comes from. The FoK website, under About –> The FOK Diet, has a list of reading suggestions. The China Study, Skinny Bitch, and Eating Animals (by Jonathan Safran Foer) are on my list, too.

  6. Skinny Bitch is a really great one! (Although she does tend to use a lot of sugar!) I watched FOK with my dad and we both decided to do the 28 day vegan trial. There’s no shortage of good food, much to the general populace’s surprise.

  7. Sorry, just one more cookbook recommendation. I know you’re not a vegan, but Veganomicon has lots of good recipes too!

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