Ali Schwabe | Fulcrum Staff
NOVEMBER IS NATIONAL vegan month. Since high school, I’ve wanted to be a vegetarian because of the environmental issues that come with meat production. After reading a book that brought to light some interesting health benefits to avoiding eggs and dairy, I decided to give all-out veganism a go. One month seemed like an easy commitment to make. I would be doing my part for the environment, and it would be interesting to see if I slept better, had more energy, and got into better shape like the book promised. Sure, it would involve some creative meal planning and a lot of cumbersome reading of labels, but I was committed.
As it turns out, reading labels and avoiding animal byproducts were the least of my worries. The problem was people. From roommates to classmates to my own mother, the vast majority of people I told about my vegan aspirations reacted with nothing but negativity.
While my mother and boyfriend were most concerned with my health—which is fair enough, I suppose—the most common reaction I got wasn’t about me at all: People got super defensive about their own diets, so they attacked mine.
“I love meat. I could never give it up.”
“I think that’s bad for you. I have a healthy diet that includes some meat; that’s the best balance.”
“Why are you buying fake chicken if you don’t want to eat chicken anymore?”
“Ugh, all the vegans I know are so annoying.”
Whoa. Calm down, people. I simply told you about my choice of diet for the month of November—I didn’t tell you your diet was wrong. I didn’t berate you with a single fact about animal cruelty (because, as it turns out, my choice has zero to do with the treatment or mistreatment of animals). If you asked me why I was doing this experiment, I gave you a super-abridged description of a book I read and mumbled something vague about wanting to be green—I try not to be didactic.
So why, then, are you so defensive that you feel the need to attack me? Why are you standing over me eating your cheeseburger and slurping your milkshake and asking me if I miss meat and milk? This experiment—while it failed on the veganism front—succeeded much more at making my judgmental peers easy to spot.
Go ahead and eat meat—I don’t really care—but don’t attack me when I tell you I won’t. Don’t stereotype me, regardless of how many annoying vegans you know. Turns out there are some annoying non-vegans out there too. And don’t try to tempt me with your food—how petty can you be?