I came up to North Dakota to my parents’ farm for the weekend. I wasn’t going to, but my grandmother thought I was, and went to all the trouble of making me a bunch of vegan food – her homemade buns veganized, apple pie, and a very tasty pasta/chickpea/tomato soup. (I’m guessing it has a better name than that, but I forgot to ask). I was so touched by her effort that I decided I HAD to make the 7+ hour trip from Minneapolis. The food was great, and I am so proud of my grandmother for making such an effort for me. That was the good part of the weekend – not everyone has been quite so awesome and supportive.
Last night I was at the local bar meeting up with some friends from high school. One of those friends had heard through the grapevine that I had gone vegan (word travels fast), and he decided to ask me a million questions about it. I’m fine with having open, honest discussions/debates about my choices because I have nothing to hide. HOWEVER, it can be incredibly frustrating when the people asking the questions don’t actually want to hear me out. I felt like he was asking me questions, assuming what I would say before I responded, and then retorting without actually having listened to what I was trying to explain. Talk about an exercise in futility.
One of the things he said was that it’s okay to eat meat because people have always eaten meat – that’s just how the world works. I argued that our perceptions of food are molded by our culture. In some cultures, for example, eating dog meat is acceptable, but in the U.S. I doubt you’d find a whole lot of people who would say they’d order a dog steak if given the opportunity. Most of us find that idea repelling. I tried to explain that similarly, there are cultures and/or religious groups who forbid the eating of pork (Muslims, for example), and some other groups, like the Essenes, who refuse to eat any animal products at all. It is only because we (up here in The Land of Meat & Potatoes) were taught that eating pigs, chickens, cows, turkeys and other animals is acceptable that we do it. That doesn’t make it right or any more “normal” than eating dogs or cats or horses. Well, my friend didn’t even listen to what I was trying to say. He just told me it was ridiculous to think of eating dogs – disgusting, even – but eating pigs and cows wasn’t. I, of course disagreed. When I asked for his reasoning, all he could come up with was “because, that’s just how it is.” To me, that’s not an explanation.
I know I’m not going to change his mind, and honestly, that wasn’t even my goal, but I also feel like you should listen to someone’s answer when you ask a question. That’s all I wanted – JUST LISTEN TO ME and at least open your mind up a little bit, or just don’t ask me! I guess I knew I wasn’t going to change his mind, and having not made this whole “vegan decision” lightly, it’s not like he was going to change mine either, and that’s fine, but sometimes I just hate talking about it when I feel I’m not being heard. Mostly it just amazes me how much people care about what I eat — people who don’t even have much involvement in my life. I suppose I just need to get over it, and not get so worked up by it.
Sorry for the rant there. In an effort to end this post on a positive note, here are some pictures from this weekend!