by Athena Iglesias
I have been Vegan for 4 years now and every holiday or get together I encounter the same questions, obstacles, and cold veggie tray. I admit, in the beginning of my life as Vegan, I was super excited and didn’t understand why nobody wanted to hear my pages of nutritional facts I had seared into my brain from hours upon hours of research on why plant-based nutrition was the BEST THING IN THE WORLD! I mean, I could recite this stuff and I wanted to switch everyone over! I found myself getting so incredibly frustrated and felt like nobody understood me or even TRIED to understand me. I was so pumped, so passionate about my new Vegan path but felt like no one was excited with me or for me…yes, poor poor me..
In the world of Google anyone can type in “vegan recipe for….” and pull up a plethora of recipes for any kind of shin-dig and still, I was the proud recipient of comments like, “I’d love to have you over for dinner but…” or “since you’re Vegan, I got chicken to grill for you”.(!?!?!?!?!?!?!?) I guess I just expected everyone to try to accommodate me, do some research of their own maybe. After a couple of years of living in frustration with almost everyone it seemed, family, grocery stores, restaurants, waitresses I had an epiphany!! I realized I had been passing up on perfectly good opportunities to share my knowledge and experience through example instead of shouting it from every roof top and shoving it down everyone’s throat. My fitness level dramatically improved, my muscle tone improved, I had more energy, better skin, I am rarely sick, and stopped preaching about Veganism and started really just living Veganism. Showing instead of telling. “The proof is in the puddin'” Then suddenly, I had people asking me what I was doing with myself, HOW and WHAT I did to change my life. My answers now are usually simple about eating a plant based diet and exercising. Instead of expecting others to make me food…I look at holidays and dinner with friends as a chance for me to cook up some irresistible vegan goodness to knock everyone’s socks off!! Who knows, it may be a dish they adopt into their rotation and viola! someone’s enjoying a cruelty-free din-din on a regular basis!
So, if you are a new Vegan or in transition to becoming Vegan or even if you’re an experienced Veganator don’t get too upset or hurt if others don’t totally understand what you are doing and how important it is to you. Honestly, it’s not their responsibility to understand you. They aren’t trying to hurt you or be mean, or leave you out. Be patient, be kind and let the proof show through your energy. Find opportunities to introduce new ways of cooking or new restaurants to meet at. Be the host of a dinner party and cook Vegan yum-yums. Know that everyone is at a different place on their own journey and respect that and in turn you will get respect and maybe someone here and there will want to hear your nutrition facts and listen to you geek out about being Vegan and they will be just as excited as you are!