A few days ago I was in a place of rage regarding my veganism, but I’m much more serene about being a vegan who wants to live in the world as a normal person. I’ve realized what was making me so wrathful was the place I’ve put myself in over the years around non-vegans worrying that if I was honest around them they would stop liking me. Maybe that’s the case but I don’t really care anymore. I realize now that for my own peace of mind I need to work on asserting myself more regarding my ethical stance when it comes to my boundaries, and so I’m going to try to do that. And if that loses me some friends so be it because this is who I am.
For example, I have two meat-eating friends that I hang out with pretty regularly at either my house or my friend Raechel’s house. Raechel is also vegan and while she allows non-vegan food in her house she requests that her cookware remain vegan, which is obviously completely reasonable because it is hers. One of these two friends, having some dietary restrictions of his own, is sympathetic to her rule of vegan cookware and my rule of no non-vegan stuff in my house. The other is pretty disrespectful of our choices, lifestyle, ethics, and rules. I say “pretty” and not “entirely” because while he will abide by the rules, he makes a fucking scene about it every time. I tolerate this because he is a very lovable person otherwise, but when I invited him to my house a few weeks ago I asked a friend to remind him of the vegan rule beause I was too afraid to do it myself.
That place of meekness, I realize, will cause me to inherit nothing but anger, and I need to fight my own battles. I think my irritation with being an “Olive Branch Vegan” was not with being diplomatic, because I really actually enjoy talking to people about veganism in certain contexts and being the vegan people feel comfortable coming to with questions, and all that. My frustration was borne of subverting my passion regarding animal rights and my own lifestyle in order to avoid any awkwardness that comes of me taking this moral stance. The awkwardness is unavoidable, I now realize. And I need to be OK with that.
I’ve had some really rotten experiences over the years as a vegan, as I think most vegans have: some from my family, who have thankfully mellowed in their aversion to my chocies; some from colleagues, who have been complete buttholes to me; some from friends who have hurt my feelings inadvertently (thankfully this last group is very small). I am actually incredibly lucky to have such a sturdy support structure and good friends. My rage wasn’t about them, it was about me, and my own decisions that have led me to what I perceive as a path of moral invisibility. I’ve worked out a lot of that rage and feel a lot better about it now.