open your mind

This has been bothering me for awhile. People who refuse to try anything vegan. Really??? I just don’t get it. The longer I am vegan the more I notice other people’s food choices. The more I watch, read, and learn, the more I am convinced that eating a plant-based diet is the healthiest diet for people, animals, and our environment. I do not, however, attack everyone that has a different view (I may be silently judging) but, unless someone asks me a specific question, I never comment on the evils of factory farming or the dairy industry, or why I personally am vegan.

Most people are respectful regarding our vegan lifestyle. Calista doesn’t usually get many comments when she wears her “Vegan” t-shirt. Some people will state the obvious, “so your vegan . . .” or will apologize that they brought non-vegan cupcakes to school and she won’t eat one. I made some vegan fudge crumble bars for one of her teacher’s and he shared them with the class, a couple people said “these are vegan?” and then proceeded to pick up each crumb that had fallen on their napkin and put it in their mouth.
Unfortunately, I have experienced different situations. There was the business lunch in Arizona where we went to this wonderful Indian lunch buffet which was full of vegan, vegetarian, and meat selections, my omnivore co-worker, refused to eat anything. That’s right, nothing, not rice, not Tandoori chicken, nothing, he sat there with a glass of Coke and watched me and another worker (who is a die hard omnivore) enjoy our lunch, and, on the way back to the office, we had to stop at the In-n-Out drive-thru to get his lunch. Seriously.

Mike travels all week for work and usually doesn’t have an issue finding vegan options at restaurants, his favorite is Thai, and most of his colleagues are fine with that. However, he tried this 100% percent vegan restaurant recently which has espresso drinks, loads of pastries, breakfast and lunch items and even cocktails. He went with a co-worker and two other colleagues. He and the co-worker (omnivore), happily ordered their food. However, the other two people refused to order anything, commenting “there’s nothing here I can eat”, really? Did I mention there was espresso and pastries?! This is what irks me, what do you mean there is nothing you can eat?? If you are allergic to soy, there were soy-free options, lots of them. Why do some people act like if they are not vegan they can’t eat anything that is vegan??

Also, when I owned Bliss, everything was clearly marked vegan and/or vegan and gluten-free. I can’t begin to count the people that would say “I’m not vegan, I can’t eat that”, huh?? It’s not a members only club. We gave lots of samples and that in turn would turn people into actually ordering something. Honestly, I can’t recall anyone trying a pastry sample and then not ordering something. I would even give samples of the soups and salads, and 95% of the time, they would order what they sampled, amazed that there was no cream in the soup and that yes, the cornbread was both vegan and gluten-free. There was the lady that came in with her daughter, who desperately wanted a chocolate chip cookie, (recipe on site) and told her daughter that she wouldn’t like it, it wasn’t what she was used to??!!? That is correct, it was made fresh this morning, and is not full of overly processed animal by-products that you are used to consuming (I didn’t say that exactly, but, she left without ordering anything). I spent a lot of time telling people what was and wasn’t in the food, that yes everything was made fresh, no I did not freeze anything, yes, the cookies and breads rise just fine without eggs.

When I was vegetarian, I didn’t get these comments, I suppose that is because when dining out, I would order something with cheese and this was “acceptable”. Way back then, I incorrectly assumed that my broccoli cheese soup was cooked with vegetable broth not chicken. That the refried beans, weren’t cooked with lard, the spanish rice wasn’t boiled in chicken stock, the parmasen sprinkled on my pasta didn’t consume animal rennet. I didn’t ask, which is how I think most people live their lives.

Now, of course, I carefully peruse all ingredients, look at menus online, call the restaurant in advance, nicely ask the waitress if there is fish stock in my curry. Always graciously, I don’t expect someone to go out of their way for me, I am pretty flexible (believe it or not) but, I ask questions now, and though more people are doing this, especially, since more people are aware of paleo and gluten-free diets. However, I still think vegan is the black sheep of eating. Many paleo and gluten-free diets consume animal products. This is so ingrained in our society as a norm, that some people really take issue with the fact that someone doesn’t consume any animal products, and I think the next step in their mind is, well I eat meat so I can’t eat that “vegan” food, like we have added secret “weird” ingredients that can only be consumed by 100% vegans. This isn’t the case, as all vegans know, there is truly awesome vegan food. Vegan food that you can create and amaze your friends and family with and amazing vegan food to be purchased at the store or restaurants. So, share some vegan love with the non-vegan’s in your life. What do you know, maybe someday we won’t hear “I can’t eat that, I’m not vegan”.