I became vegetarian seven months ago and am transitioning to vegan. I don't necessarily share with everyone I meet that I am vegetarian but on the occasions that I do I find that I have to include the addendum that I am not looking to convert anyone else and I take no offense to other people choosing to eat meat in front of me. Most people are very accepting and if I am eating over at their houses they are accommodating to my diet and if they come to my house they are gracious in eating the vegetarian meal I serve. But on occasion, such as this afternoon I get "the look." As it happened, I engaged an older gentleman in conversation at the local grocery store as we waited in line. He commented on my basket's contents and as explanation I came out to him as a vegetarian. That's when I got the look. You know, the 'are you some hippy, reefer smoking freak?' look. Now this man was of my parents age or what I like to call "the bomb shelter diet generation." Basically, these people grew up with majority of their vegetables coming from a can and fruit was only edible if it was soaked in corn syrup and a color that does not occur naturally. My folks had shelves of canned foods in our basement just in case the commies attacked.Not only did I receive the "look" I got an earful of anecdotal evidence that vegetarianism causes Alzheimers. (It was some story about his two friends who were vegetarians and ending up with Alzheimers (sp?). Can anyone suggest how to handle people who view vegetarianism as some militant/socialist/subversive plot to undermine the foundations of civilized society? Also, does anyone know if there have been studies on memory-loss and dementia and how diet over one's life-time may relate to these conditions?
I know exactly what you are saying. I have flirted with being a vegetarian many times because I have never been that drawn to meat. After reading a couple books, including The Kind Diet, it made me want to become vegan and for the first time I felt normal for not getting the pleasure out of eating meat that those around me seemed to get. I was always kind of grossed out by it and never understood people who ate every scrap, fat and all, off their plates. Yuck!
I just became vegan a couple days ago and I am already familiar with the looks and the lectures! But I believe what Sarah said is true, that people are afraid of things they don't understand. It is a big lifestyle change, and very different from the "norm" of our culture, at least where I'm from.
I hope to make those close to me more understanding of my diet and I am going to try to lead by example. I'm hoping that one day someone will say to me, "you look great, what are you doing different?" And I can tell them, "I'm vegan!"
Thank you Sarah and Want2. I'm looking forward to the day when I get the "you look great" comment but I am more excited for all the days ahead when I wake up and get to say to myself "I feel great!" I can't say that I 'flirted' with vegetarianism. It just happened that in the past year I noticed that when I ate meat I just didn't feel right. I was hesitant to go veggie, regrettably because of a misperceived social stigma associated with it, since people tend to use it as the prime factor in judging you as a human being. I recall a conversation with my older brother years ago about how I really like kd lang's music. He went off on how he would never listen to her music because she was vegan and against the cattle industry and wanted to deny people their livelihoods.It seemed so foolish that he would utterly exclude a person or their art from his life based on this one aspect of them. Unfortunately he lives in a black and white world.
I agree with Sarah, it's just easier to be ignorant sometimes. Going against the grain can be difficult, but honestly you can feel better about yourself at the end of the day knowing you're just ahead of the curve.
"What's right is not always popular, what's popular is not always right"
That's a huge slogan in middle school, but still true no matter what age you are. If vegan was the "cool" thing to do those offering their "looks" would surely have nothing to say. If in doubt though, when someone tells you how unhealthy being a vegan is, just ask them how many medications they're on...just kidding of course!! :P
I've been vegetarian for over ten years and I live in the midwest which I often get "the look." On top of that, I am environmentally conscious and have been called a "dirty hippie" because of this. I don't know why this stereotype exists but I just try to ignore it.
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