Dealing with Criticism for Being Vegan
by Stacey Sommer
Dealing with Criticism for Being Vegan
My husband and I met some new people. My husband is a tattoo artist, and we went to their home so he could do tattoos for our new friends. These are BIG TIME meat-eaters. The man is about 350 pounds, his wife about 250. Their preteen kids are closing in on 200 pounds each. Big people, BIG meat eaters.
Naturally, they wanted to feed us dinner. My very supportive, very sweet husband told these people in advance that I was a vegan. He told them not to worry, just serve a salad with dinner. My husband has seen me have to eat when I get home from many events.
Well, these new friends of ours did not know what vegan meant. They bought TONS of "vegetarian" food for me... not vegan. They went to the trouble of buying and cooking Mac and cheese, chips and creamy dips, cheese balls and crackers. UGH. I felt AWFUL. I ate a couple bites of each. About 2 hours later, I had to RUN to the bathroom. No one noticed I was sick, besides me. My body wasn't used to all that dairy. It was ugly.
Anyway, we went back today. My husband had to finish a tattoo that started on the "mac and cheese day". Well...they had cooked up a POT of Italian Beef! They asked me if I was okay with a beef sandwich. I told them "NO." The man rolled his eyes, and said "Oh, get over yourself!".
I nearly cried. These people are so nice on every other topic. On this topic, I think they are trying to convert me to a meat eater.
This is troubling to me. My husband likes these guys and so do I! I need to come up with a very tactful, none offensive way to tell them to stop trying to feed me! I don't want to be a bitch...but I am not eating a beef sandwich! I have worked out a very "PC" spin on defending my morals, but any advise is welcome!!! This ever happen to any of you???Answer:
Ugh, we feel your pain, Stacey. We've all dealt with criticism for being vegan at some point. That's a horrible situation, but ultimately, it seems like they're more the ones with the problems, and not you.
Food is a very sensitive subject for many people, maybe even most people. I think part of it goes back to the fact that many of our parents/grandparents went through a really tough time with the Great Depression in the 1920s, and with other similar food shortages in other countries throughout the ages. Not having enough food sticks with people, and that mentality is then implanted in their children and their children's children.
Another source of this food angst is that since the 1950s (at least in America, but probably in other countries as well), food production has been at an all-time high and we've switched from eating predominately plant-based whole foods to predominately animal-based processed foods. It's doing a number on our bodies and our health. As you mentioned above, sometimes those avid meat-eaters are also the ones who are overweight. However, this doesn't stop people from being extremely attached to eating meat.
What you need to remember is that you follow your lifestyle for your reasons, and while you can't convert everyone you come into contact with, others will feel that you are trying to do so. They can feel threatened by your convictions and worried that they are doing something wrong. And deep inside, it seems like they know they are hurting their bodies. So, sometimes people will lash out at you.
I suggest that you take those criticisms with a grain of salt and realize it's not about you. It's about them. If you can just keep your cool and laugh a bit, it will ease the tensions. Perhaps the next time you go over to their house, eat before you go and just let them know you're full. They might roll their eyes some, but the subject should fall by the wayside. Maybe you could also offer to bring over a very omnivore-friendly dish to share.
Keep using your PC moral-defending phrase and always remember that the problem isn't with you, but with people who can't accept you for what you believe in. It doesn't sound like you went in there with anything but the best intentions to be friendly and accepting, so the fault is with them. And, really, it's not even their fault. They probably have some food issues to deal with, and they probably never learned about what good, meat-free food can do for your body, soul, and spirit.