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

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