Saturday, December 31, 2011

You're too nice



Happy Holidays  to everyone!

We had a wonderful time over the season with friends, family and lots and lots of food!

Just today, my husband blurted out something that caught me off guard. He said,  “you’re too nice, too nice of a vegan.”  I asked him what he meant.
 He went on to explain how recently, when we were with friends sharing our holiday stories and events we attended, some made a point to direct their consumption of “the best steak”, pot roast, or whatever at me directly.  They seemed to derive great pleasure in telling me this as it was all done in fun.

I admit that I tend to take comments like this in stride even though my wonderful husband believes that I am more sensitive to many of the omnivores than they are towards me in this respect.      
I thought back on the evening in question. At the time, I did feel a bit annoyed, but I played along, not wanting to put a damper on the evening.  Now I have to admit, I do feel some sadness at the seemingly callous attitude many of my fellow believing(Christian) friends have towards animals. (well, farm animals anyway)

My husband thought that maybe I should have responded with the health and cruelty stats of a meat-centered diet.  But like I said, I didn’t want to put a damper on the evening.  He got me thinking though.   Am I too nice a vegan? 

I’ve written a bit about my journey to veganism in a previous post. How I was vegetarian for over 16 years and felt that was enough, not wanting to appear “extreme” or “militant” like those “crazy” vegans.  Now I am one.  And happily so.
But, I’ve also shared my distaste for conflict, even though I know that I have the ability to silence a room on this issue.  I did it once before, almost 20 years ago.

It was Christmas time and we were visiting family. Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins were there. But one granddad was not. He had recently suffered a heart attack.  I withstood teasing and joking about my vegetarianism for a couple of days. Some continued at the dinner table Christmas evening.  I’d had enough. I then lashed out with the stats on cancer, heart disease, etc and their link to the standard American, meat heavy diet.  Then, I went in for the kill and linked it back to how maybe our other grandpa could have been there with us that day if not for different lifestyle choices in terms of food.   Well, everyone shut up pretty quick, looks of guilt on their faces and no one teased me again for the rest of our visit.

Am I proud of how I responded? Yes and no. I have no regrets for standing up for myself and what I believed was important. I’m not proud of the fact that it took a couple of days of teasing before I finally spoke up. 
Should I have spoken up at our recent gathering of friends? Maybe.   But I am responding now.

Honestly, to hear anyone, my loved ones included wax on about the joys of consuming animals is not fun for me.  Ok, I hate it. Especially when it’s done with such “glee and delight” to somehow taunt me.   My reasons for abstaining from meat and now all animal products are for more than the health reasons I had for many years. But also for basic compassion and care for God’s creatures. Yes, the Bible seems to allow for meat eating. It also allows for the consumption of beetles and locusts.
No one I know is giddy about eating those.  

I wonder if I were a kosher observant Jew or Hindu vegetarian, or pork eschewing Muslim, would the omnivores in my life jokingly throw their meat eating adventures my way for sport?  I doubt it.   It often seems that those of us that are vegans or vegetarians by choice without a necessarily religious background attached to it, are fair game to poke fun at.

Have a blessed and happy New Year and here’s to speaking up sooner and more often for what you believe and for those who have no voice!


One final thought.  If you’re vegan or vegetarian, and you receive negative feedback or “good natured” ribbing from your loved ones, how do you respond?  Maybe you’re quicker on your feet with a witty comeback than I am. (like my dear husband is. Lol)  Or do you stew about it for a while then whip it out in a blog post? :-)