Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Friendship

I am 22, female, vegan, and in a serious relationship with a meatie (my slang for a meat-eater). I have two dads, two moms, a wonderful grandmother, an awesome brother, and a sister -- all meaties. I have a good friend at my job who is a meatie. All my co-workers are meaties. Well, one of them thinks that chicken and fish are vegetables, but, that doesn't count.

Not one person in my life supports my veganism. They love making fun of it, criticizing it, poking holes in it, but not supporting it. The only two vegans I've ever met were rude, empirical, and fanatical, and not the least interested in helping me out or making friends. The irony is that, even though their lifestyles sicken and outrage me, I would never criticize or make fun of my meatie friends and family. Yet they feel that it is their divine right to put me down, since they are "normal" and I am not. If I sound like I am feeling sorry for myself, you are hearing me loud and clear.

Being vegan really stinks sometimes, doesn't it? I mean, it's great because you feel a sense of accomplishment, healthier, and kinder, but sometimes, don't we all feel like we are missing out? Like we are segregating ourselves from the rest of society needlessly? Whenever I go anywhere or do anything with others I feel like I am a burden to them. Not to mention the fact they treat me like a freak of nature. Or that waiters learn your first name so that they can send it to all restaurants within a fifty-mile radius so that they ALL can give you that "what planet are you from" look when you dare ask them what is in their veggie burger, in an effort to intimidate you to just go with the flow and not think about what you put into your body, like everyone else.

I sometime feel as if I have all of these people in my life, but not a single person to talk to. I watch the people I love, who are otherwise kind and caring individuals, commit acts of thoughtless cruelty every day, knowingly ingest deadly pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and poisons, yet I can't utter a word. To do so would be "a personal attack on their way of life." The hypocrisy in that statement just makes you want to cringe, doesn't it? Yet you can't say anything because it is an unspoken rule that everything you do and say is no longer valid or sensible due to your conversion to veganism.

I can't even be honest with my parents about it. They think I'm just a vegetarian. The reason I can't tell them is because I still live with them, and my father is an abusive man who will not tolerate anything that is contradictory to his lifestyle or opinions. He was furious enough with me for becoming a vegetarian, so, when he says to eat cheese, I simply reply "how much?" I know eventually I will have to tell them because it is getting harder and harder for me to eat animal products without wanting to vomit. My grandmother's goal in life is to keep him happy, and though she is my best friend in the world she just echoes his words and refuses to listen to my "animal rights nonsense."

Okay, I know. Enough with the self-pity. Veganism is the greatest thing I have ever done, truly. It has given me a sense of peace and fulfillment I never knew possible. But it's also the hardest thing I've ever done, because I am by nature a creature of dependency who needs people to love me, and this enormously unpopular view of the world has put a rift between me and all I know and love. But I will never, ever, EVER go back, that I can promise. I'm much too involved now, too intelligent and informed to return to that life of willful blindness. But I wish I could find someone who shares my point of view to ease the loneliness that overshadows my world. I know that many, many vegans must feel this way, as there are so few of us. So I guess the solution would be to open more people's eyes to the truth. So I guess I'll just have to make me a vegan friend.

Claire L.
California

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