Re: Interesting quote on the omni/veg relationship
I totally relate...for the new year we went to visit friends we hadn't seen in 14 years. When we started talking about what to have for dinner, my husband looked at me, and said, "what do you want?" and then he looked at our friends and said "she's vegetarian." They freaked out!! They were going to have steak...which is OK as long as they don't expect me to eat it, but I was not going to launch into some rant on the health and ethical reasons not to eat animal products. They were like, Oh MY GOD!!! what are we going to do?? So, they went to the grocery store to pick up some things, and when they came back they had a whole bag of "veggie stuff" ( they had NO idea what to buy...but it was a sweet gesture). Then I got the whole fire-squad of questions. I do not feel morally superior to meat eaters or those who consume dairy...I just feel thankful that I know better and if people are interested, I try to show them how to incorporate more veg recipes into their diet and maybe how to use tofu. My friends were really interested in learning how to use it! I sent them a whole slew of recipes last night! Baby-steps! :D
I agree with Dafodil that I don't feel superior to meaters, but they certainly do seem to feel threatened by our standards, don't they?
Sandhya, I honestly believe their "What, you think you're BETTER than me?" attitude stems from guilt. I think many of them resent that you are more educated & more disciplined than they are.
My mother asked me once if I thought I was better than she is, because I am veg. I said, "No. I'm just more compassionate than you are."
Well, it just so happens that I feel a more compassionate being isbetter than a less compassionate being. Call me judgemental, call me close minded, call me whatever you want, but a more compassionate view is a more evolved world view.
PS -- My veganism is not based on self-denial, but rather a choice of living more compassionately, a willingness to share my world view of rights for all with others unlike myself.
"What you do to one, you do to all." --Robin
In her book "living among meat eaters" Carol Adams says something to the effect of vegetarians being the "silent guest," or something to that effect. We represent, to the meat eater, what they are not eating. Without doing anything except being present, we are forcing them to confront who they are and what they eat. She says this so eloquently...I love her book. It helped me out alot in navigating my relationships with meat eaters.
I have also encountered the "you think you're better than omnivores" assumption. It's annoying, but I have a few lines that I have used to dissapate the tension that may arise from such an assumption:
1. I won't preach to you, if you don't preach to me.
2. I'd rather just eat my food than have to explain it, but if you insist, maybe we can talk about it later.
3. I'm not a spokesperson for all veg*ns.
It's the assumption behind that last one that puts me in a tough spot. If you are the lone veg*n in a group of omnivores, it is assumed that you are the spokesperson for an entire category of people. If they've ever met an annoying veg*n, then they will use that to say that all veg*ns are annoying. The logic is as faulty as saying you once dated a Mary, and she broke your heart, so you will always assume anyone named Mary will be a heartbreaker.
I find that my veg*nism isn't as strict as others'. I also don't call myself a vegan any more (to be fair to those who are really vegan). I'm just a vegetarian who also doesn't eat eggs or dairy. I used to be more strict, but have settled into this particular shade of veg*nism, and I'm fine with that.
I just want to eat my food, not have to explain it. And, really, omnivores shuoldn't fuss so much, because we veggies tend to be rather creative when faced with food choices. I mean, I'm sure I'm not the only queen of the salad sandwich, right? I usually pack a snack bag where ever I go.
Joelle... You read my mind! Your #1-3 are EXACTLY the same as mine. Well said.
When people met me for the first time and found out that I was veg, they used to demand to know for how long have I been veg? Like if it had only been a month or something that it was some short-lived fad that I was experimenting with. (Well every life change has to start somewhere, even marriage, there is a time in every marriage when it has only been a month, a year, etc. it doesn't mean it won't last). I have even been told that I would "grow out of it". Well it has been over 5 years and I am very happy with it.
The firing squad line of questioning has not happened in a while but I expect when I start a new job, hopefully in the next 6 months (after grad school) it will start all over again with the new co-workers.
Last year when I started grad school I was eating lunch with one of the students in my class that is European and she made some comment that Americans have such horrible diets. In general I agree with her but I also told her that not everyone eats a horrible diet and lives solely on the crap they sell in the cafeteria. I told her what I eat as a non-dairy vegetarian. She inquired about it and over the rest of the school year she even said she thought she could be veg*n but that her husband would never become one. She even asked me for some advice on what she could feed her toddler as she did not want him to become so dependent on eating meat... I lent her the Raising Vegetarian Kids in a Non-Vegetarian World book. Now she cooks tofu for her son and I have eaten with her when she has not eaten any meat in the whole meal and it was a buffet. I think my introducing her to the subject without pressure encouraged her to learn more about it and has incorporated some healthy foods into her life because of it.
Some people exhibit surprisingly little manners when they meet us. I think they feel judged and threatened. I try not to behave as if I am judging them. And I usually only bring up the issue if they ask. But I have noticed with some people they feel the need to explain their diets even though I had no intention of discussing food nor telling them they should change their diets. Also I have been informed of the friends of friends that were veg*n but THEY ate fish, so therefore I should. These otherwise relatively polite people feel they can tell us what to eat, or whatever I think because they are threatened that we LIKE not being like them and it makes them uncomfortable. that maybe we are on to something and that maybe things could change if they were to change what they ate. (As an example: Maybe they would feel better...lose weight...not feel guilty about the abuse and inhumane treatment of animals... -- I think whatever issue that secretly bothered them most would be what they would be confronted with and they resist it). People also use the lame excuse that "one person can't make a difference" and so why change? Also my MIL once said she purposely does not think about where her meat foods come from because if she did she would not want to eat it. If is funny sort of because she acknowledges that I am veg, I have been since a year+ before I met her and so it is the only way she has known me but she cannot remember that her son -- my husband -- does not eat certain things and eats mostly veg meals. She conveniently forgets!
nancy - I bought that book cause you recommended it once, and I love it!
I think what she writes about stopping a conversation is great - I use that alot nowadays when i cannot be bothered to be THE vegan (who has to answer for ALL vegans) I like the way she tells you to pick a good reply and just stick to it, and my favourite must be
"I do what i have to do to sleep at night" hehe
When people met me for the first time and found out that I was veg, they used to demand to know for how long have I been veg? Like if it had only been a month or something that it was some short-lived fad that I was experimenting with. . . . I have even been told that I would "grow out of it". Well it has been over 5 years and I am very happy with it.
I had been veg for 10 years, when one day at lunch with my mother, she heaved a big sigh & said, "I guess this vegetarian thing is more than a fad with you, huh?" I said, "Yeaaaaaah. What made you think it wasn't?" She said that she was hoping I would "grow out of it" & then maybe I could finally eat a regular meal with the family. She mentioned it was a hassle to worry about what they were serving or if a restaurant had anything I could eat.
I reminded her that we have always taken responsibility for our own meals, either by bringing our own food or suggesting different restaurants where I know we can eat. I also told her that if it was so darned difficult for her to deal with our veggi-ness, she could simply forego inviting us -- we wouldn't be hurt. She realized that her comment made me angry.