Vegan Hope

| January 17, 2011 | 0 Comments

Part One (Written 11.7.10):

I know, I know.  It’s been a long while since my last posting. I apologize.  And—if you will humor me with some tolerance for excuses—I have some great reasons why I’ve been in absentia.  Part of those excuses has precipitated this posting.

As of late, I have met people who fall into one of three categories:

  1. Those who say they are cool with vegans  2. Those who show through their actions—not just their words—that they are cool with vegans and 3. Those who lie through their teeth, albeit unintentionally.

My vegan radar has been finely tuned over the years to appropriately place folks into one of the above categories; however, I think due to other confounding factors and a certain level of jadedness, I’m not so sure my radar is working well.  And my liberal nature, predisposes me toward living in the “grey;” therefore nothing is absolute or so discretely categorized.  In my opinion, monochromatic hues do best in the worlds of interior design and fashion.

Here is where I get confused about folks who aren’t okay with veganism (and mine in particular).  I just don’t get the logic.  Here I am practicing veganism for GOOD reasons.  To help the animals, fellow humans, the environment—my intentions are good, the result of my veganism is to save lives.  I’m acting in a compassionate manner.  It’s not as if I’m some terrorist who has this extremist nature and my behavior results in mass murder and violence!

So I don’t get it.  Even if someone doesn’t agree with veganism on a pragmatic level—it’s inconvenient, not tasty enough, etc.—I can’t fathom why, on a philosophical level, folks take issue with it.

There are folks who say it’s not a big deal, but given enough time spent with my veganism and me, it becomes a big deal.  Go figure.

So there is all that—which can be frustrating.

And then there is the hope.

My co-workers have been incredibly thoughtful around my veganism—bringing me vegan snacks when the group snack isn’t vegan; making dishes vegan so I can enjoy them as well; always remembering when ordering food for an event to have a vegan item; and informing me of new vegan restaurants.  The openness and inclusiveness at work have somewhat renewed my faith that people are truly open to veganism and maybe do fall into category number 2.

These vegan encounters have given me hope that the movement is becoming more widespread, more pronounced, and more accepted.

Part Two (Written 1.17.11):

I love when life works like this.  I just sat down to write a new blog entry, finally feeling inspired to post something again.  I realized that I had an unfinished blog entry on my desktop dated from November and read through it.  It is mostly what you have read in Part One.

The irony is that I was about to write today about the same thing I started to write back in November, with some subtle variations of course.  However, the motif unobtrusively flows from Part One to Part Two.  Ah, one has to love those synchronicities.

So on to today’s post:  I have been spending time with a carnivore.  An open-minded (albeit fiscally conservative Republican) carnivore to be fair, but a carnivore nonetheless.  However, for the past four weekends, he has eaten (mostly) vegan with me. We have cooked together, we have baked together, we have shopped together, we have dined out together, we have thoroughly discussed vegan cuisine and recipes and ingredients and where to buy them and when to get them till the “cows come home” (where they live a glorious bovine life, regularly go out to pasture, and then pass away via a natural death on the organic farm where they have been compassionately raised from birth).

I forgot how fun it can be to cook and bake.  More notably, I forgot how fun they can be with a willing and equally excited (note: I’m EASILY excited so the baseline is clearly subjective) companion.  And mostly, I forgot how wonderful these moments and actions can be when they involve vegan foodstuffs!

And to carry on with the theme of Hope from up above, I have been ridiculously impressed with how seamless the transition to consecutive all-vegan weekends has been for a guy who has spent the past 40 years of his life eating most anything he wanted—lots of fish, lots of meat, and lots of dairy.  He hasn’t harped on the lack of beef in our Tofurky Kielbasa infused stir-fry, despite the fact that he prides himself on his special marinade that turns that “normally ordinary beef stir-fry into an extra-ordinary one”; or lamented the fact that the only sour cream in the fridge is a veganized take on the real stuff (btw: I swear Tofutti vegan sour cream tastes, smells, and resembles their vegan cream cheese a little bit TOO much); he was skeptical about the Tofurkey Roast but ended up losing the bet that he wouldn’t like it, which got me a yummy stir fry dinner and lots of homemade guacamole! In fact, he quite enjoyed the Tofurkey Roast.  My vegan cranberry bread sans the cinnamon is also thoroughly enjoyed.  And Earth Balance surpassed Land O Lakes on several occasions–same is true for my Dad.  And the list goes on. . . OF COURSE IT DOES!

I was nervous, as expressed in Part One.  I was skeptical that an American Man, who wasn’t vegan and grew up in our culture, could understand veganism, let alone respect and appreciate it in me.  And—perhaps most importantly–really enjoy it!  Not “learn” to enjoy it, but take pure delight in some (albeit not all) of its delicacies, tastes, flavors, and creativity.

This man—if asked–may say I’ve given him a gift—expanded his ideas of food; of what eating means; of how new types of food can be tasty and healthy and satisfying; and how all of the above can be true in a vegan paradigm.

But if someone were to ask me, I’d say that the reverse is true: that this man has given ME a great gift.

He has re-inspired me to love food again; to delight in the gustatory pleasures; to revel in a dab of Earth Balance on some hot fresh bread; to fall into fits of ecstasy (yes, you read that right!) over some amazingly delicious homemade guacamole; to notice the importance and artistry of plating, of aesthetics, of visual displays and cues and meaning.

He’s inspired me to finally post again on this blog and, at the very least, that’s worth a nod of acknowledgement.  Who knows what the future holds–whether we’ll be cooking and baking together for years to come or only a few months. Nonetheless, he’s reminded me how much I love veganism—not just the food, but the whole philosophy; how much I love practicing veganism.  He’s allowed me to be me.  He’s given me a freedom I know I possess but that I don’t often feel is acknowledged by others.  Likewise, I can let him be him and eat his cheese and his fish and his Indian chicken tikki masala and that in the sharing and in the communion of the relationship we can also find common food ground that is delicious and fun and wonderful. It’s also the philosophy behind veganism: compassion, empathy, tolerance, love.  Via the creation of the food, we create ourselves anew and the relationship.  And that is quite a gift.

Either way, I’ve always said that I never enjoy cooking and baking alone.  But thanks to a man who–on the surface–is not the frontrunner in the race toward veganism and who–most likely–will never be fully vegan himself, I am palpably reminded of why I don’t enjoy doing it alone.  I’d say that’s a beautiful gift.

Now, I only need to start taking pictures of all that glorious food!

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