Thanksgiving is a stressful time for most people. You have family visiting, everyone trying to be in the kitchen at the same time, and you try to avoid subjects of conflict such as the recent election. For myself and, I’m going to go out on a limb and say, for most vegans, this time is doubly difficult.
Most vegans are converts, there are a lucky few that were raised vegan, the rest of the community have come to this lifestyle of their own accord, or with the prodding of others. The difficulty isn’t with trying to find good food, I had a delicious meal, but rather it lies with trying to play nice with the non-vegans.
I love my family, I have a great relationship with my parents and I get along very well with my sister and her husband. However, there will always be friction between us when it comes to eating habits.
I had a recent conversation with a friend at school, she asked why I couldn’t just let people do their own thing, comparing it to religion as she’s agnostic, but thinks that people practicing their own religion is a great thing for them, and that we should celebrate our differences.
I don’t like this analogy.
I by no means think that the world should be a homogeneous soup of people exactly like me. People are different and the variety is what makes everything beautiful, and the religion comparison pretty much sums up how I feel about life. But it can’t be applied to veganism because while religion is a personal choice that doesn’t hurt anyone and only can bring hope, killing someone who wants to live and eating their corpse is not due to the simple fact that the choice effects others aside from the one making this decision.
So during thanksgiving, watching people who I love and consider to be good people commit acts that directly cause pain and suffering to others, it quickly sands down my patience. Every time that someone puts hard boiled eggs on the group salad plate, or tells me that the only thing that would make my couscous better would be to have bacon on it, or gets out the whipped cream from a can to put on my vegan pumpkin pie, when I made perfectly good coconut whipped cream, before they even try it, it wears my patience a little thinner each time, until I snap. Then they try to figure out why I’m being so difficult when they are just making a joke, or just making the food how they like it. I want to explain but since I’ve done this several times before and know I will get no response other than “but bacon tho”, or “I’m not a vegan and expecting me to behave like one is rude”, I don’t bother because I know that it’ll end up with everyone more angry and frustrated than before.
I know that no one turns vegan in a day, I didn’t. I know that I need to be patient with these people and be nice and show them the way to a non violent existence in a way that they will find appealing and easy. But when they take every opportunity to throw the fact that they continue to cause pain and suffering to others into my face, after being asked to stop, after being told why it makes me angry and sad, after doing it a thousand times already and still thinking it is the funniest thing in the world, I want to quit. I hate it, I can’t even convince those who love and respect me the most to change, how can I ever get anyone else to either.
Gary Yourofsky said in an interview that I watched once that he won’t eat with his family unless they eat vegan at that meal too, and since they rarely are willing to do this, he rarely sees his family. I love my family, and I don’t think I could ever do this, but at times it seems like it would save me a lot of heartache.
So to anyone who was raised vegan, thank your parents, because you won’t ever have to know what it feels like watching the people you love fund the torture, murder, and dismemberment of innocent individuals. As for me, I will continue to try to change my family, not because I think they are bad people for what they are doing, but because I think they are good people capable of change, who are doing a very bad thing, and will continue to do it until they make the connection.