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!
I became vegan 10 years ago after my freshman year of college. With no intention of becoming a lifelong vegan, I set out on a little experiment to try to make myself start feeling better. I’d spent the year eating burgers at three in the morning and celebrating 40 oz. Fridays every Friday…
For the first time in my life I felt lethargic and slow. My stomach was always churning…not to mention steadily growing. The top of my jeans were rarely buttoned…
So there I was looking for a way to detox and feel better. A healthy classmate suggested going vegan and I thought why not? I like a challenge! I was vegetarian for three weeks in 5th grade! How hard could it be to be vegan for the summer?
So I decided to do it.
I didn’t have a lot of money or fancy kitchen equipment but I did have the internet. And books! I went to the Strand in NYC and bought Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis & Melissa Versanto…and completely devoured it.
My first week of veganism went a little something like this:
Vegan Deli Slices? OK. Wow, that’s gross.
I guess I should try whatever this tempeh stuff is? Do I eat it just out of the package? Gross.
Fresh Organic Carrot Juice that cost me $12 at Whole Foods? Yum! But help me…I’m poor.
Zucchini brownies! HOLY HEAVEN THESE ARE DELICIOUS!
Pita sandwiches stuffed with flavored tofu and veggies and sweet mustard. WOW!
Okay this really isn’t so bad…I think I can do it and maybe button the top button of my jeans on a regular basis by the end of the summer!
Annnd flash forward to today 10 years later. Full on committed vegan with a penchant for tempeh, tofu, nutritional yeast, flax meal, chia seeds, berry smoothies, raw kale salads, soba noodles, almond milk, miso dressing, and yes: VEGANAISE! I can eat that stuff right out of the jar with a spoon. But. I don’t. Haven’t I mean. I have never done that. Except when I make crispy breadcrumb-topped mac n’cashew cheese. Then I eat big spoonfuls of it with each bite. But now I can button my jeans! So there.
During a bridal shower game a few years ago, my heart melted into a puddle on the floor when my fiance (now husband) said that “Vegan French Toast” was his favorite thing that I’ve ever cooked for him. He generally hates french toast but loves it when I make it (using cinnamon raisin bread and coconut oil!)
I never gave up eating vegan because I never stopped finding exciting and delicious new foods to try. I’ve found so much joy in reading about food, trying new recipes, eating all of it and sharing it with friends. I love to cook for people who unsure of vegan food. They don’t realize that they eat vegan food every day…just usually alongside other foods that aren’t vegan.