For the last few months I have been a vegan. I wanted to find out for myself whether the picture painted by certain documentaries – that being a vegan is truly better for me and my environment – is true. So far, my experiment has mainly resulted in all sorts of interesting comments and situations. For instance, my five-year-old nephew now knows that I am a vegan, and he does not exactly mince words when listing all the delicious products I am no longer allowed to eat.
I have noticed that my nephew is not the only person who has a lot to say on the things I’m no longer allowed to eat now that I’m a vegan. Adults, too, have plenty to say on the subject – generally in the form of unsolicited remarks. All those comments are making me feel like being a vegan is some sort of punishment! Apparently, not many people realise that I actually want to be a vegan. For this reason, I think it’s kind of funny that people are concerned about all the things I’m not allowed to eat, which really should not matter to them in the slightest.
A little while ago, someone proudly sent me a message stating he was eating a salad. I myself never eat salads, nor have I ever eaten them. Clearly, this person feels that being a vegan equals eating salads. Furthermore, I am often asked where I get my protein. Well, I can easily answer that question: many products I now eat contain more protein than the yoghurt or cheese I used to eat.
Another question I’ll get every once in a while is whether I now have an Instagram account to which I will post pictures of avocados and quinoa. In other words, now that I’m a vegan, I’m expected to be an odd kind of person. The people around me act as if I’m doing something strange, even though not a great deal has changed for me. I just eat slightly different products than I used to. Apparently, this encourages the people around me to pigeonhole vegans.
Most questions I get are about what I am allowed to do, which is quite a bit, I have found. I am allowed to eat healthy. I am allowed to consider what is good for humans and the environment. I am allowed to look beyond my need for meat and cheese. And sometimes my choice will open a door for people who also want to make a better-informed decision on what to eat.
And, alright, every once in a while I just have to suck it up for a bit.
Marnix ‘t Hart studies Philosophy at the EUR
It’s amazing and a bit sad that at such a young age your nephew already had a directional opinion. My nephew at age three is raised pescetarian, and every time he offers me imaginary fish or something of the sorts, I try to explain it to him why I don’t want that fish, because it used to swim free and be happy, and he get’s it. At such a young age he can not reason by himself where cheese comes from and how it is sourced, but when you explain it (even to adults) it’s quite hard to deny that there is truth to it. I hope the people around you se what you are doing and try to just give it a thought. I’m kind of done with answering to people that it’s not that I ‘can’t’ eat something, but I choose not to 😀