There are lots of questions that go along with being vegan. It’s pretty much a given that when someone makes a major lifestyle change, the people around them are bound to have questions. It happens when we change majors, careers, homes, religions – all sorts of reasons. Personally, when I quit smoking I found that some of my smoker friends were a little reluctant to embrace my new lifestyle and we eventually stopped hanging out as much. When I started running, those few friends that were still putting up with the healthier new me fell off the map. It can be difficult for people to embrace change, even if that change belongs to someone else.
Going vegan was sort of the last nail in the coffin of a lifestyle I had outgrown. It was a decision that I was comfortable with, that I had given a lot of thought to, and that I felt was right. I spent a lot of time answering friends’ questions, and even those of complete strangers. The more into the lifestyle I got, the more commonality I noticed about the questions I was being asked, and there was one in particular that I heard time and time again.
“So you can’t eat anything at all from animals? Like, no cheese or milk, even?” This usually came after me saying no thank you to an offer of a cheesy snack or dairy laden coffee. It was as if people could understand the whole no meat thing. That’s a weird way to be in Oklahoma, but “meat” is quantifiable. No meat means I don’t eat cows. Chicken was actually offered on occasion as an alternative to beef in the mistaken belief that it was the vegetarian option, but that’s a whole other story. But people could understand the concept of not eating meat.
No eggs? No cream cheese? How does that work? The initial question wondering how I can eat if I don’t eat anything that comes from animals is usually followed up by a list of queries. People want to know what actually counts as coming from animals. After getting through the explanation of what the term vegan really means, I then get to try to impart the reasons I don’t eat things like honey and sugar.
For a long time, I would answer the question with a sort of list of reasons that I am vegan. I would go over the health, moral, environmental reasons and patiently listen to the rebuttals and arguments that inevitably arose. Eventually, though I got my answer to this question down to one simple line: “I eat and live the way I do because I know it’s the right thing to do.”