I get tired of apologizing for being vegan. It's not that anyone expects it; it is just that living vegan is (at the moment) counter cultural and as such, every business meeting I attend or social outing I go to is usually a navigation of compromises.
I'm often asked why I choose to live like this. The reason is pretty straightforward. I read a book which left me with an ethical decision to make.
Last week, I went to see a movie where the first five minutes were spent in an unflinching look at the terror of a cow in an abattoir. Cows in a field are beautiful and serene. Seeing one trapped in fear and fighting to avoid his fate was painful. And now that image is seared in my brain. Part of me is disappointed in myself that I couldn't bear witness to his suffering and left the movie before the scene was over. The other part cried all night thinking about how broken it is that animal and human suffering are woven into the fabric of how the world works.
Showing compassion for animals by avoiding using them as food or products is something I believe in strongly, yet it puts me in conflict with the world around me. I am often teased, offered steak, and other awkward exchanges because people feel uncomfortable and many just don't understand why someone would make the choice to be vegan.
Even my home is a compromise, because while John is supportive of my choices, he is not on this path.
What if I just need more vegan friends? Eating is so much part of our social culture and sharing food is part of friendship.
I am incredibly grateful to the Loving Hut and the Spiral Diner for creating places where vegans can order ANYTHING on the menu, and not just look for the one, edited option.
I'm also grateful for all of the plant-powered athletes, vegan food bloggers and green smoothie gurus who are creating platforms for sharing information. It isn't easy living counter-culturally--even when it is for a cause that really, really matters to you.