Boston Veggie

Coming Out
October 7, 2009, 2:00 pm
Filed under: Personal

When I first went Vegan, I thought I had discovered a secret that everyone would want to know. I had always tried to pursue a healthy lifestyle, and to find out how incredibly wrong I was made me think others wanted to be equally inspired.

I finally knew the truth about food. And they were things you knew all along, but you never wanted to admit. I always knew that fruits, vegetables and whole grains were the way, but now I had no choice but to face the facts. Dead, decaying animal carcasses full of hormones, pesticides, and steroids are DISGUSTING. And so are the fat laden, equally poisonous “food products” they produce such as milk and eggs.

I thought everyone would want to know about this new truth I had discovered. WOW I WAS WRONG. People haaaaaaaate hearing about it. I just tried to think about it from my perspective. When my friend told me she was vegan, I was curious, not scornful. Well, not everyone is as curious as I was.

A week after I went vegan, I had to go home for a family function. When I told my parents my news, they actually seemed insulted. And of course they asked “Well how are you going to get your protein blalala” like everyone else. I was prepared for that, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the literal torture that ensued.

My brother ran around the house carrying milk cartons and screaming “AAAH ITS MILK RUN AWAY AAHHH SO SCARY,” as if being vegan meant I was afraid of animal products (He’s 23, I should add). I expected him to act like an idiot, because he has always been an idiot (Oh sibling rivalry, how fun).

But what I didn’t expect was the general reaction from my parents. It’s an odd thing when your parents stop encouraging you to eat vegetables and start telling you to eat junk food. It seems like even now two years later they’ll still say things like “But you don’t eat eggs?” It really isn’t that hard to cook vegan food. IT’S JUST VEGETABLES.

But my mom, who is an amazing cook, acted like a monkey trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle. She had no idea what to make for me. At first, I tried to be understanding. I’d be like “Oh mom that recipe you always make, just use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.” And this woman who has cooked for 30 years would ask me to come look step by step like “Is this okay? Is this okay? Am I doing it right?”It’s not because she was trying to be nice. Believe me I would be ecstatic if she was trying to be understanding and supportive. It’s because she’s pointing out that I’m weird now. She wants me to say “Oh don’t worry about it Mom, I know it’s sooo hard to cook vegetables, throw the crap in there, you’re right. I’m wrong. What on earth was I thinking?” IT’S A RECIPE SHE HAS MADE FOR TWENTY YEARS AND ALL THAT WAS DIFFERENT WAS THE STOCK. THAT’S IT.

But I’d still try to be understanding. Until it got insulting. On Easter, I was at school and I made a “Vegan Easter” for a friend and myself. My mother called to say Happy Easter, and I told her I had cooked dinner for my friends. She said “Oh what did you make?” and I said peas, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, roasted vegetables, and some type of pasta. AND SHE SAID “Oh, that’s too bad…”

THAT’S TOO BAD?! I was ecstatic to eat this delicious meal I had prepared! My omnivorous guest loved everything I made! But to my mom, eating that many vegetables in one meal was just a shame. Too bad there’s no crap in it!

There’s like a zillion instances I can mention about my mom being a crazy anti-veg, but this isn’t a therapy session so I’ll continue.

On Thanksgiving, I tried to research a bunch of recipes to bring to my family gathering. I didn’t try to force them to eat tofurkey, I made peas, mashed potatoes, and a green bean casserole with soy milk. There wasn’t a single fake thing in the meal (except the soy milk), and they all avoided it like the plague. You could have saved yourself 1,000 calories by eating my mashed potatoes, but heaven forbid we try to be healthy during the holidays!

I made chocolate covered strawberries for desert. My family didn’t know I was the one who made them. They started scarfing them down, talking about how good they were, until I smiled and told them they were vegan. My dad spit his out. He spit it out of his mouth. As if before, when he thought there was stuff that would clog his artery, that was totally cool. But to find out that it was pure cocoa from the plant, the kind that happens to be full of antioxidants and doesn’t happen to be bad for you, it was disgusting.

Getting it from my crazy obese Italian family made sense, I knew that my 50 something year old parents and my ADHD brother wouldn’t understand. And you should be prepared in the same way. I know vegans who thought “my family will be different,” but they never are. They are just so misinformed and so conditioned to the American lifestyle that any stray from the norm is scary. It was the reaction from my peers that really sucked.

“That’s sooo bad for you.” “I love eating dead animals.” “Humans have evolved to eat meat.” (If only people knew we’ve evolved not to eat meat!).

These are just a few quotes that stick out in my brain. Even one of my best friends in the world told me that my vegan brain was smaller than hers. (P.S., she’s vegan now).

I couldn’t understand! Why do people hate me so much for not eating meat?! I realize it is really hard to talk about it without sounding incredibly uppity. I can’t help it that when you order your steak and cheese and I order my veggie sub, you are clogging your arteries while I’m nourishing my body. But regardless, it comes across that way.

So my number one tip to give to people about veganism: Just tell them you love animals. Maybe that’s the case. Most vegans are in it for the animals. If I had known to just say “I LOVE ANIMALS” whenever anyone asked, instead of spewing off all the nutritional pitfalls of meat, I would have avoided many an awkward conversation.

People find that an acceptable answer. Not that their meat is laden with crap. I’m not the one saying it either! If cheesey meaty eggs were good for you, I’d eat them everyday! But they’re just not. It’s not my fault. Want to hear it from a source other than me? Click here. And here. And here.

Anyway, there were some people that reacted positively. Two of my best friends went vegan instantly. Another went within a year. It just seems like anyone who puts any research into it at all comes to the same conclusion.

So now that you’re vegan and you’ve told people it’s because of animal abuse instead of all the zillions of other reasons you could choose, now what? As I’ve said, my family apparently doesn’t know how to make fruits or vegetables without drowning them with butter or cheese.

So my best advice? Be prepared. Don’t expect anyone to do you any favors. In my experience, they don’t care about supporting your choice. Going out to a restaurant with the family? Look up the website and make sure there’s something you can eat. I always try to make sure the things I can have aren’t just salad, because that’s what people expect you to eat, as if you eat twigs and grass all day.

Family function? Bring your own meal. I will eat whatever someone serves one night a year, and that is Christmas Eve. I just love the food my family serves, and for that one night I feel like I am an acceptable member of the Spoleti clan. But Thanksgiving, Easter, birthdays, they just aren’t worth putting my body through eating animal products. Because once you go vegan, it isn’t easy to go back. My body literally hurts when I eat cheese. I’m constipated for days. I have cramps. I’m in a bad mood. So only one night a year, when I’m good and drunk, can I manage to slip dead animals down my throat. Every other holiday, I go prepared.

Cook! Experiment with recipes and find ones you think other people will try! I tried that on Thanksgiving, and to my chagrin it did not work. But that doesn’t mean your family isn’t more open minded.

If you have to, trick them. I should never have told anyone about the chocolate covered strawberries. They would have been none the wiser. As long as I don’t put the word “vegan” on something, they’ll eat it. I mean carrots are vegan! Apples are vegan! But if I gave my mom an apple and said “This is vegan,” she probably wouldn’t eat it.

And don’t judge people for what they eat. I certainly don’t. I was once you, Mr. “Extra cheese please.” I know that you are hopelessly addicted to that food, because the food industry wants you to be. Who do you think pays for “Got Milk?” commercials? It isn’t the Department of Health and Human Services, it is the Dairy Council of America. They want you to think these things are good for you so they can profit off of your obesity.

I don’t judge people for eating meat, so I can tell them not to judge me because I don’t. It would be nice if all the world were Veggies, but alas the heart disease and obesity rates speak to the contrary.

Tell them you just love animals, go prepared, trick ‘um if you have to, and don’t judge.


3 Comments so far
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When i told my mom I was vegetarian, nevermind vegan, she said ‘That’s weird.’ with a scowl on her face… so I hear ya sistah! I like the way you summed this up in one sentence too at the end haha. go prepared, trick ’em and don’t judge. great advice.

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