I have now been a vegan for 28 days. Applause is welcome and appreciated. Though I went into this process well studied and vitamin supplemented, I did not fully prepare myself for the social aspect of veganism that would inevitably accompany my nutrition changes.
In the course of 28 days I have encountered three separate types of waitresses:
1. The fellow vegetarian or vegan(extremist-view): She usually has a really beautiful fairy tattoo on her right shoulder, or a checklist tattoo on her left forearm--it is there she writes in pen (on the permanent line) to update her Peta-supported blog entitled 'Meat is for the Uneducated.' She speaks in a softer tone and smirks often when asked about the soy-content in the soup base. She enjoys long walks in nature and has either a golden retriever or a cat rescued from the streets of Sacramento. When you walk into her restaurant she can tell in a flash who follows the ways of veganism, and who is ignorant; she then bases her sarcasm content around such knowledge. However, she likes 'Boy Meets World' just like the rest of humanity, and from time to time has accidentally killed a spider.
2. The Carnivore: She wears her hair up in a ponytail and loves strawberry smuckers lipgloss. She played soccer in high school, and she has had a steady job for over a year. She's a smart lady who enjoys laughing and intellectual debate from time to time.She has perfected the art of 'the nod.' She usually raises her eyebrow when the phrase 'vegan' is uttered from someone's lips. She then asks the question, 'so, like....no meat, no dairy?' Now, here is where things get confusing. To some female carnivores, veganism is like mutiny of all things good. They usually decide they no longer want to give you the time of day, and sometimes try to give you things you can't eat. ("You said NO milk? I thought you said POUR on the milk. You should just eat it, you'll be fine"...true story.) Or there is the carnivore that is merely confused about such a nutrition endeavor, and decides to get over it. The one who hates vegans is not the nicest human.
Now, I realize this carnivore-vegan dispute is most likely related to the carnivore's natural disposition to animal rights groups that attempt to protest naked in front of KFC. The Vegan thinks the carnivore is a murderer, the carnivore thinks the vegan is mentally unstable. (Both are true in separate cases...I'm sure Charles Manson ate meat, and I'm sure some of the Peta people have some mental issues.) The carnivore's and vegan's are like the modern-day Indians and cowboys (we just don't get along.)
3. The Herbivore: She is accepting of all people, she desires to have a lengthy chat about your personal decision to avoid animals and animal bi-products. She usually wears at least one shade of yellow or green,and enjoys hiking and kashi cereal. Her favorite TV show is probably Gilmore Girls (let's be honest.)
(Clearly, I've stereotyped and generalized. Don't shoot the blogger, please.)
Now, for the other social consequences of being a vegan:
There have been people along this path that fully understand and support this crazy and nonsensical endeavor to try something exciting and new (check earlier blog posts for reasoning behind the madness. Hint: there's not a whole lot of reason.) They have come over for meals and been the Guinea Pig to my vegan cooking experiments. They have laughed with me about my 'hemp protein powder' and searched diligently for a chocolate substitute that doesn't taste like spinach. (I'm a woman. I have chocolate needs.)
There have also been other types of people: people that feel it's necessary to talk me out of it because meat, dairy, eggs, and honey are clearly the way to live. To scoff at every new experience, and even some who find themselves legitimately concerned about my emotional health. Though these people have been real sources of 'Grace-growing' in my life, I will be honest and say there have been a few times where I've either been irritated enough to visualize shoving a vegan cupcake in their eye, or hurt enough to feel discouraged and maybe even embarrassed.
Hilariousness and sensitivity aside, being a vegan has turned out to be one of the best spontaneous and nonsensical ideas I've ever had. Through this process, I'm learning the art of being on a continual fast from the foods I crave, and in turn I learn to have multiple conversations with God throughout the day about how much I would really love a friggin piece of pizza. It is there I am actually ministered to. It is there I learn to lean on God for the little things I crave. My food deprivation makes me desire something beyond myself. It's a beautiful thing.
Socially, I learn to take everything with a grain of salt: I learn patience, I learn to laugh, I learn to cry, I learn to eat vegan cake and find beauty in the lack of eggs and butter. Trivial, and perhaps somewhat mad, but it's been an enormous struggle for me. I care deeply about people's opinion of me; I'll be honest... I would really love it if everything thought I was the most awesome thing since sushi. I'm being broken about this gradually. I don't want to desire the approval of men, I want to desire the approval of Jesus alone. I have a feeling He's the guy who's helping me find a chocolate alternative and laughing when I purchase hemp protein powder. He's the guy who's cheering me on, and telling me it's okay to cry over the lack of spilled milk.
I know I've said it before, but I'll reiterate it for the sake of clarity. Being a vegan was on my bucket list.... just because =). But it is so indicative of my God to take a 'Rachel just because' and turn it into a spiritual growing opportunity.
I love this journey. Who knows, maybe I'll even get a to-do list tattoo, but probably not; I've always really wanted a hummingbird.
Happy Endeavors, everyone. Try to make this, or something. (Beautiful.)