Many vegans have heard this hilarious joke many times: “How can you tell if someone’s vegan at a party? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.” It makes me laugh every time I hear it. People telling that joke or identifying with it, have a legitimate complaint: many vegans talk about being vegan. It’s true! You got me.
Here’s a slightly less funny version of that joke: How can you tell if someone’s passionate about something? They talk about it.
But maybe the sadder reverse of that joke is that people often talk about things they REALLY don’t care about when they’re around people they don’t know. In our culture, that’s encouraged and validated. People talk about the weather. The latest political scandal. All the weddings they have to go to this year. Maybe these things seem relatable, so people feel more comfortable sharing them with people they barely know.
But what if we create a conversation at a party that’s about the bigger stuff?
People also like to talk about their families, their career, their hobbies and I’m not knocking that! In fact, that’s what I’m talking about. Sharing your passions or your pride in your favorite people is a shortcut to really connecting with another person.
But if I want to complain about something or rehash my day, I can do that at home with my husband or my journal. At a party, if someone is interested, of course I’ll talk to them about being vegan. If they don’t care, I get that. Having a passion for something doesn’t mean foisting it on everyone you meet in every situation. You have to have a genuine connection with someone in order for a conversation about your passions to be heard.
Remember the first time you learned about something awful or wrong that was happening in the world or maybe even in your hometown?
You can’t stop thinking about it. Telling people about it. “Have you heard what they’re trying to do to Planned Parenthood?!” or “Oh my god! Did you see Blackfish? SeaWorld is so messed up.” or “Can you believe that the USDA counts ketchup as a vegetable in public school lunches?!” It just comes flying out of your mouth! You want everyone to know.
That’s how I feel about factory farming. And health. And our planet’s resources.
“Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life. “
If I don’t talk about it, who will? And I know that you don’t really care about the weather either. The weather is a circumstance where talking about it doesn’t make any difference at all. The food that we eat is an area where each person on the planet has the power to make a difference.
What you talk about and the way you talk about it matters. Challenge yourself to raise the bar of conversation next time you’re at a party! People can handle it. In fact, most of the time they prefer it.
What do you think? Are you shy talking about the things you care about? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
The truth is, that eating vegan is not synonymous with eating healthy. Many people think that if you’re vegan that means that you claim to eat “better” than other people. I’ve had someone assume that I don’t use the microwave because I’m vegan. Or that I don’t eat gluten. Or that I do juice cleanses and drink smoothies every day. But the truth is, that being vegan is a framework for choosing what to eat, but it has very little to do with how to eat.
Full disclosure: My go-to empty-fridge meal is called hummus pasta. It’s just cooked pasta covered in a heaping spoonful of hummus. I’m not proud of it and it’s definitely not winning any blue ribbons for “Most Nutritious Dinner,” but it’s delicious and in a pinch, gets the job done. Many people have that one vegan friend who just eats french fries and pasta all the time. Fatty fried foods can be vegan. Sour Patch Kids are vegan. Red Bull is vegan.
Eating vegan is simply the avoidance of animal protein in any form. Intrinsically, eating vegan has nothing to do with health.
On the other hand, eating a plant-based diet can have an enormous positive impact on your health. A thoughtful vegan diet consisting of adequate nutrients, vitamins, and minerals is not particularly challenging to adopt. Prior to going vegan, I wasn’t eating very healthfully. I ate junk food late at night and never thought about the quantity (or lack thereof) of the vegetables I was occasionally eating. I’ve always enjoyed fruits and vegetables, but I hadn’t spent much time intentionally consuming them. When I went vegan, I decided to avoid animal protein and improve the quality of my diet simultaneously.
While there are so many fantastic resources on the internet for finding nutritional information, I think it’s easy to get a bit lost in the shuffle when you’re first going vegan. You can read on one website that you have to take a B12 supplement, while another website tells you that your vegan diet is whole and perfect and better than any other diet. But who can you really trust to give you great nutrition advice?
The answer, in my opinion, is your intuition. Or rather, experts whose advice and credentials you trust and your intuition. Not bloggers on the internet.
If you are considering a vegan diet, I suggest you read up on everything you can in published sources regarding nutrition. Shortly after I went vegan, I took a college course in nutrition. My professor, Dr. Lisa Young, is an expert on portion control and adequate nutrition through whole, minimally processed foods. During her class, I gained valuable insight into the body’s relationship with the nutrients that we provide for it. From my experience in that class, I’m confident that the way that I eat is healthy and beneficial. I know that I’m healthy because I eat a well-balanced diet and my blood tests confirm that, despite the occasional dinner of hummus pasta.
My Vegan Resolutions for 2016!
Feel free to reach out to me with any questions about veganism at firstname.lastname@example.org