So, I was lying in bed one night last week, overwhelmed with thoughts and ideas…and would like to try something new here. A new series, so to speak. A space for me share some things on my mind (aka rambles), answer questions that people email me, or maybe even present some questions to YOU – in hopes that you’ll leave a little comment below with your input! Now, this probably won’t be a weekly occurrence, because, well…you know me and my lack of schedules when it comes to writing + posting (parenting, adulting, homeschooling, and being a SAHM forces me to be very flexible)!
For this first MONDAY MUSINGS, I would like to discuss something that comes up A LOT in conversations with people transitioning into a new “diet.” Actually, one of my oldest and dearest friends (gah! We’ve been the greatest of friends since we were five) emailed me last week about this very topic! She shared with me about her struggles and it really made me sad when I read, “I feel like I have to hide who I am there…”
Something so easily expected, but not as easily given.
When it comes to food, diet, and lifestyle, I have found that people (not everyone) can be quick to become defensive. Why is that?
In my friend’s case, she made the decision to go plant-based a few months ago and her church doesn’t seem too receptive to that diet. She listened to her pastor and others “rip plant based eating to shreds” – she heard them saying that they never eat plants and even heard, “go home and eat a banana.” Now, this wasn’t directed at her because they don’t know she eats that way….and quite frankly, she’s not too excited about the idea of telling them and I really can’t blame her.
If you know me or have been following my blog for a while, you know that I am not one to preach any certain diet…I believe that we all find what works for us eventually and if being an omnivore is what works for you, that’s great! If going vegan is your thing, good for you! More than anything I try to tell people to listen to your body. Your body is constantly giving you signs and leading the way, but we’re pretty good and getting in the way. Does that make sense? Whether it’s denying that there is an issue and refusing to make adjustments, or slapping a band-aid on…we have all been guilty of ignoring signs. And we have all been in vulnerable states. Venturing into new territory makes us vulnerable and sometimes not too confident and when you have judgmental people around you, well, it just makes matters more complicated.
SO, why do you think people are quick to become defensive OR pick on others?
In my opinion, and from personal experience, I truly believe it has to do with them not being confident with themselves. Maybe he/she has been raised on fried chicken, processed cheese, and whole milk – that’s all they’ve known – it’s what they associate with their family and growing up and taking any of that away would be taking away their comfort. Questioning their lifestyle might be interpreted as threatening. No one likes to be told that their way of eating or living is “wrong.” Trust me, I hear it every now and then and it can be hurtful.
You might be wondering, “where is she going with this?” and it all has to do with respect and acceptance. In the 11 years that I’ve been plant-based, I have learned that people don’t like ideas or values pushed on them. I was never an “in-your-face” kind of vegan and I don’t think I’ll ever be. I have some stickers on my car and on my Hydro Flask, which often times stirs up some conversations and I like that. People are naturally curious and I enjoy talking about the things I’m passionate about, BUT I would never walk up to someone eating a cheeseburger or a slice of pepperoni pizza and tell them to go vegan.
This afternoon, I was reading and comparing various probiotics bottles while at Natural Grocers. An older lady approached me and asked, “which ones are gluten-free?” She then went on to say that she couldn’t have soy either…which sparked a small conversation about me being in the same boat. We got to talking about how we both avoid preservatives and she was just genuinely curious to hear what I was sharing with her and kept asking questions. It was pretty cute. Well then she asked me if I knew the difference between the two bottles in her hand. I proceeded to tell her that one of them contained gelatin, while the other did not. She asked why I don’t buy or consume things with gelatin and I politely explained that we don’t eat animal products….
Then we were rudely interrupted….
A woman, who obviously overheard some of our conversation, walked up and said, “Excuse me, I need to get my animal products.” Those words I put in italics, were words that she really accentuated…jabbed them at me. I was shocked. Why she got defensive and felt the need to be harsh with her words and her facial expression was beyond me. Why couldn’t she have just said, “excuse me please?” I was honestly a little hurt for a few minutes because I felt like she was judging me…that just because I said we don’t eat animal products meant I was a snobby, elitist, judgmental person. I very kindly ignored her comment and stepped aside so she could grab her supplements.
I just wish I knew what caused her to be that way towards a total stranger.
Both vegan (plant-based) and omnivores have been on the receiving end of unkind words or actions. I know I have. Have you? Meat and dairy eaters get attacked for eating the way they do, just like vegans do. For years I have tried to understand why this happens and all I can come up with is: lack of understanding or the inability to be open minded…which ties into acceptance and respect. I know how it feels to have someone bully you about the way you eat and I know how it feels to just wish people would be a little more understanding. No one should have to hide who they are just because someone doesn’t agree with a life choice. Let’s focus more on how we can be better humans and less consumed with the “wrongdoings” of others.
OK, I am going to wrap up this longer-than-expected ramble because I could go on forever!
Have you experienced or witnessed some form of attack regarding food? Or has there been a time where you got defensive? How do you or how would you respond to unkindness along these lines? I’d love to hear from you!
Oh! And I’ll share what I told my friend…I said she should bring a delicious plant based dish to the next church dinner and not tell anyone! 🙂