Posted Jul 2, 2011 in Food, GREEN Berets | 0 Comments

My Quest to be Vegan (Without the Box)

A few months ago, I submitted a post to yourKloset about the benefits of veganism.  For health and environmental reasons, I’ve been attempting the switch to a vegan, or better yet, macrobiotic, diet for years – unsuccessfully.  The major hitch – dinner with friends.  It’s one thing if my dietary restrictions flowed from religious beliefs, childhood, or illness.  But another that it’s merely a shift in fluid personal beliefs.   Who am I, a recently converted vegan, to demand vegan cuisine at someone else’s home?  Or refuse food prepared by my host? Or hijack any hopes of ordering “family style” at a restaurant?  This is not my modus operandi.

With every barbecue or trip to some less-than-appetizing national chain restaurant, my tightly watched, pure diet crumbles at my feet.  Endless questions begin about this shift to veganism, followed by starvation at the realization that the only vegan food available is some form of bread (which may not be vegan), coupled with unintentionally passing judgment on everyone’s dietary choices.  The result: a heated debate on veganism, personal starvation that ultimately leads to my dietary downfall, and offending the host.  Mission accomplished.

The term “vegan” – the category – becomes the limiting factor.  How can one be vegan, without always being vegan?  Human nature drives us to categorize ourselves and everything around us.   It’s a primitive survival instinct that rarely works in our complex world.  No one fits in a box, unless it is self-imposed.

For this next attempt at veganism, I’m saying goodbye to the box and hello to the “vegan without the box” diet.   This means being vegan when food is under my own control, and being a good friend when it’s not.

There are many of you out there who disagree with this approach, especially those who have made the coveted switch to true veganism.  Perhaps you’ll say – our environment and our health are suffering from over-consumption of meat.  We must do something, and change cannot happen without inconveniencing others.  Look at all of the great changemakers in our world.  Did they sit idly by?  No.

But, the world is not a black and white place – and diet is not a black and white issue.  There are many factors, cultural and otherwise, that go into dietary choices.  And there is conflicting information about whether veganism is the best diet for everyone, or meat production wholly unsustainable (though it certainly is now).  I am not omniscient and not the one to judge.   All I know is that veganism works for me.

So, for now, it’s veganism without the box:  whole grain oats for breakfast, tempeh for lunch, and, tonight at least, a seafood restaurant with friends for dinner.

I’m still thinking through this issue and would love to hear from you.  What are your thoughts?

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