Thursday, May 21, 2009

Skeptics and Haters

Wow, there's nothing that brings the skeptics and haters out of the woodwork like saying the word "Vegan." Why is that?

I think that it's because people's knee-jerk reflex to "Vegetarian" or "Vegan" is the apparition of a militant, proselytizing neo-Hippie who's not happy unless everyone else is perpetually unwashed, wearing hemp and reeking of patchouli. Also, lots of people invariably think that Vegetarians and Vegans are going to start attacking everyone else for their food choices.

So I say to the haters and skeptics, "If you have that urge to Poke a Vegetarian, think first and then shove it."

*deep cleansing breath* Ah, I needed that.

I'm only on day 4 and already I've been hit with some of the predictable responses. Let's take a look:

  1. "Oh, you'll never be able to do it."

    This phrase is flipped out smugly with that knowing smirk.

    You know, when people imply that they know me better than I know myself, that pisses me off and makes me more determined to show them that they're presumptive assholes.

  2. "Next thing you know, you'll turn into one of those dirty hippies who smells like fenugreek and cabbage farts."

    Ok, sure. Trust me I won't eat enough cabbage to smell like cabbage farts, ever. I ate so much cabbage when I was living in Estonia to cure me of that forever. Also, I don't particularly care for fenugreek.

  3. "Great. So that means you're going to criticize every bite I take?"

    Don't flatter yourself.

    This may sound crazy, but I believe in an individual's right to choose, whether it's to eat meat, soy or both; drink water, booze or absinthe; smoke tobacco, sage or reefer. Unlike some more militant Vegetarians, I don't give a damn what other people eat, so really, why the hell should they care what I eat? I am not doing this to preach and be holier than thou while others dine on meat.

  4. "Are you crazy? Vegans all look sickly, pale and too thin!"

    Sure, like in anything, there are Vegans who go too far and are too thin and malnourished. I have seen plenty of fit and healthy vegetarians though. I think that keeping nutrition uppermost in mind will help. We'll see. :)

  5. "I just don't want you to over do it and get sick."

    This is from the same person who has told me repeatedly through my life, "Oh, you'd be so pretty/so much prettier if you only just lost some weight!"
    I swear, it doesn't matter what I do, this person has some way to put a negative spin on it. Talk about mixed signals! So I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't. So screw it. I plan on ignoring it.

  6. "You're going to lose too much weight!"

    Trust me, even with a limb amputation, a breast reduction and a hair cut, I will never be "too thin."

    According to the CDC, 66% of American adults (aged 20-74) are overweight or obese; broken down further, 34% are obese and 32% are overweight. For the first time, those who are obese have overtaken those who are merely overweight. Only 32% of adult Americans are of a healthy weight.

    Granted, a lot of this is from our sedentary lifestyle. A lot of the weight and health problems would go away if folks (me included) got up off their lazy asses and worked out 30 minutes a day.

    I think that people's perceptions of thin and too thin are skewed because the environment has gotten fatter. The norm is not a healthy one, so if I want to lose weight by eating fresh fruits and vegetables while eschewing meat and dairy, it seems to be a healthy way to go at it rather than overtaxing my heart and kidneys with high-fat, high-protein diet plans.

  7. "You're going to become some sort of eco-terrorist freak like those PETA people."

    Yes, the ethics of veganism do appeal to me, but no, I don't see myself tossing buckets of pig's blood or ketchup at people wearing fur or leather. I've always struggled with the thoughts of the once-alive animals as I was tearing into my burgers. I'd always been able to rationalize it for various reasons, like how damned yummy it was.

    I don't think I want to do it anymore, but I'm not going to tell other people what they can or can't eat.

That's not bad for only 3 full days under my belt!

It's weird, there's nothing like food issues to bring out vicious criticism and prejudicial attitude, whether it's looking on in smug satisfaction at the obese woman in line in front of you in the checkout aisle whose cart is full of snack cakes, chips and family packs of meat; in exasperation at the hordes of people at the end of the month using WIC to pay for their multiple carts laden with name-brand food; or revulsion at the neo-Hippies smelling of fenugreek and cabbage farts wheeling their carts stuffed with produce and soy products, right?

Why do people care so much? There seems to be an immediate reaction that other people's food choices reflect on their own. Someone may see the obese woman's cart filled with crap and think, "Well, it's no mystery how she got that way." Then, after seeing the health freak vegetarians cruise past, maybe those same people feel that the tables have been turned and the vegetarians are looking at them as if they are the fat woman in the muu-muu, so they go on the attack with "sickly," "freaky," and "crazy."


This will be a great opportunity for me to grow a thick skin.


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