One topic that often gets overlooked while drifting toward a plant-strong diet or vegan lifestyle is the social impact. In the U.S., plant-strong diets are not commonplace, especially in rural north central Indiana (my roots). Very few, if any, entertainment venues offer a farmer’s market or a plant-strong menu. Plant-strong diets have gained interest internationally and domestically, however, much of the U.S. population still consumes and desires meats, dairy, and eggs. So where does this leave a vegan in an animal-product-loving nation? Honestly, hopeful.
I join my friends for a night out on occasion. And, of course, everyone gets turkey wraps, burgers, or a dozen hot wings and a drink. Everything used to smell appetizing even after I decided to drop animal products. I am not annoyingly oblivious. Yes, I used to buy, cook, and eat animal products, too. However, now, the hot wings, the ranch dipping sauce, the chicken salad, and the medium-rare burgers are just as unappealing as the thought of eating dirt (which you may assume is the pinnacle of vegan cuisine).
As we get deeper into the evening, I simply drink water with lemon. I can eat when I get home. I cherish my time with friends. We chat the night away. As we tease each other, my conviction and discipline are steadfast. It’s not willpower, it’s a decisive decision. I attempt to minimize environmental damage and suffering as much as possible while promotion health for myself and others. I would invite you to challenge yourself, as well. Try something new from the menu or go somewhere new. If you don’t like a plant-strong meal, you have dined at the wrong restaurant. There are so many chefs out there who can work magic with plants! It should be a wonderful and unique experience bursting with flavor and color. At the end of the day, I am avoiding animal products, not friendships and jovial chats.
You may be surprised how much respect you will gain from this type of discipline. Yes, people joke about my lifestyle. Who cares! Enjoy it. That’s part of the fun. That means they are recognizing your impact. I still think about the days I ate animal products. I certainly wasn’t perfect, nor am I now. The evidence for veganism was too overwhelming, moving, and achievable to ignore. Some people don’t care, some people won’t acknowledge the evidence, and some people just enjoy eating animal products. Most people will defend their “right” to eat animals because animals are less intelligent. Dogs and dolphins are less intelligent, too. I invite you to reflect upon stewardship and accountability. We are the most intelligent beings on the planet. Shouldn’t we hold ourselves to a higher standard of stewardship (i.e. support life both human and non-human)? Consider treating all animals the way you treat your family dog.