By Damien Barling
“You’re a vegan?”
A very common response when I tell someone of my eating habits.
Then comes the sad faces and pitiful looks.
As if I just told them my dog died.
Veganism is something people don’t quite understand yet.
“So you don’t eat any animal products?
“No dairy? No cheese? What about seafood?”
Pretty sure fish, shrimp, and lobster fall under the animal category.
I sit through this part of the conversation, waiting for the inevitable question. Whether it comes at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end… It’s coming. And here it is now.
“So where do you get your protein from?”
I have several choices here; I could tell them how grossly overrated the need for protein is, particularly for athletes and active people. I could tell them the “gram per pound” theory is ridiculous and you don’t need as much protein as that magazine with a 1970’s picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger on it told you you do. Or, I just give them my standard answer.
Everywhere. Protein is in everything from spinach to beans to nuts to rice. Amino acids, the building blocks for protein, are in various oils and fruits.
“Oh. So, you just eat salad and fruit all day?”
Again, I have several choices here.
Vegans get a bad rap for being pushy. We’re like the two guys who knock on your door Sunday morning asking if you’ve heard the Good News. You want to explain to people that there is a very healthy and delicious way to eat that doesn’t involve consuming any animal products but you don’t want to make them defensive. Every single recipe on this site, we’ve cooked, we’ve eaten, and we’ve determined it was far too delicious not to share.
The thing is, when you say you don’t eat animal products people immediately think you’re turning your nose up at them. Not sure why, but I know it has happened on several occasions. The bottom line is this; we’ve made a decision in our lives to eat a certain way. Some do it for ethical reasons. Some do it for health reasons. Some do it for a combination of both. No matter what reason I give, most won’t understand. If I say I’m doing it for health reasons I’m told…
“Chicken is healthy. Tuna is healthy.”
If I say I’m doing it for ethical reasons I immediately become “one of those people” and the end result is an uncomfortable environment in which people think you’re judging them. No one’s judging anyone. And after giving up animal products for health purposes, I became “one of those people”.
But, again, I go with my standard response; I point out my vegan wife, note that she’s a professional athlete, show them my abs and flex my biceps…
“Yeah bro, I eat salad all day.”