It’s my Vegan-versary!
It has been six years. Yes, SIX YEARS! I am so glad I adopted this lifestyle. I have never felt better about myself and my life. Maybe it’s partly because I’m in my 30s now too but I am comfortable with who I am and the decisions I’ve made.
Looking back on the past six years, I have realized how much I’ve changed, and it’s not just food-based.
I used to be super accommodating, always bringing my own food to events or just ordering that salad on the menu and eating something more substantial when I got home. I did this because I felt that I made a choice to make my lifestyle different than those around me.
Now I don’t make as much of an effort with that anymore. I have chosen not to attend events or show up after/leave before the food. I have also made the sure that any gatherings that are about myself, my husband, or Baby Boy (like birthdays or the baby shower) are now 100%, apologetically vegan. I realize that may seem extreme to some, especially the skipping events part. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly. There were patterns of behavior that I just got tired of putting up with.
First, I want to start off with saying that I have been very lucky and my parents have been very supportive of my veganism and for that I am very thankful. They are more than willing to try out vegan recipes and restaurants with us. They even signed up for Veganuary this year! They didn’t do every meal of every day vegan but they started off the month making one dinner a week fully vegan. By the end of the month they were having vegan dinners twice a week. That is so huge! In fact, they want to continue to incorporate vegan meals into their every day life and I am so proud!
That is one side of my ‘veganism coin’.
The other side is less supportive. There are people that have never (not once) tried to be accommodating aside from telling us to bring our own food. There was a family Christmas where our hosts went full Pinterest crazy and made the fanciest of dishes. I brought some muffins to go with the breakfast theme (unasked because I thought it would be polite to bring food). The following year when they hosted again I asked in advance if we could bring anything (twice) and was told no (twice). Being optimistic, I thought maybe they went Pinterest crazy again and there were some vegan stuff they made! When we arrived, there was not ONE vegan piece of food. They looked like deer in headlights when we said we didn’t bring anything or ourselves to eat.
After that and the many other times we received invites that went something like “I made BLTs” or “there’s no reason we can’t meet for ice cream”, we decided to not be in attendance while they were eating their meals (which included leaving a meet and greet early that was in celebration of OUR Baby Boy).
On the same side of that coin with other family, we had plans to have a celebration lunch at someone’s house. This way we could still eat our food and they could have theirs. A few days before the event, the place was changed to a local pizza restaurant. No vegan options. Period. I was not going to argue since it was not my celebration, so instead I sent a reply that said since this place did not have vegan (and organic) options, to go ahead and start without us and we would come after everyone had eaten.
I spent too many years tip-toeing around others feelings and only giving half truths when my feelings are not being taken into account. I’m not being mean or accusatory, I’m just speaking my truth…my full truth now! (Also I made a New Year’s resolution to be more honest). And it sure felt liberating sending that reply with my FULL truth.
Last week, I was listening to an older episode of Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack podcast and they were discussing making choices that were exactly like what I had gone through. They said that sure your choice to not attend might seem extreme but your family made a choice to not accommodate you (you know the drill-show up because it’s important to grandma but we haven’t made anything you can eat).
There was a quote from one of the hosts that really resonated with me.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about food. It’s about feeling safe and accepted by the people we care most about.”
Yes. That is exactly it and I couldn’t put it better myself. My veganism is so deeply rooted in me that it’s part of who I am. By others ignoring it by not putting any effort or even talking to me about it, that makes me feel like they don’t accept me. Ignoring the pink elephant in the corner doesn’t make it go away.
So instead of making a big stink about everything and getting into fights, etc., sometimes it’s just easier to set boundaries and distance myself. And you know what? After six years, I have learned that that’s ok.