So remember this announcement? Turns out I’ve gone the full monty, as they say (right? isn’t that what they say?), and have begun walking the vegan path. It feels excellent and I love it for a wide range of reasons. Of course, the obvious ones: animal rights, health, environmental mindedness, and a metaphorical raised fist at certain all-powerful food industries. Mostly, though, I adore that veganism makes me feel as though I’m living my own life more truly, taking a more active role in my own existence as opposed to blithely accepting any food placed before me, fumbling blindly through the edible part of life. This, of course, isn’t specific to the vegan path but instead is true of any proactive eating lifestyle. (What?! Why did I admit to that? Now I can’t adopt an aloof self-righteous attitude and, after all, what is life if not an opportunity to spend time in smug superiority to those around you? Rookie mistake.)
Nah, only kidding. I don’t glorify veganism; I certainly know it’s not for everyone and it’s not The One True Path. I only feel disdain for those who feel disdainful towards me for my choice. Ahh, perpetuating a cycle of anger and uninformed judgment, how refreshing! Congratulations to me.
I’m finding that a choice as personal as individual diet (so personal I’m writing about it on the worldwide web), is a bit of a tender issue, sometimes invoking in conversation passion and division almost as effectively as political or religious differences might (if one allows it to escalate there, of course). I’m fortunate to have people in my life intelligent enough to never let that happen, but I encounter it constantly in books, articles, etc., each party claiming truth and absolute rightness. These assertions obviously crumble under the quickest reminder that each and every body is different and therefore absolute rightness in eating simply doesn’t exist.
Similarly, I used to think vegans and vegetarians were overreacting complainers when they’d grumble about people asking them about protein. Now I’ve been vegan for three seconds and I’m all like, “I WILL VIOLENTLY END THE NEXT PERSON WHO ASKS ME ABOUT PROTEIN.”
It’s strange, isn’t it, that when I’m participating in the typical diet considered ‘normal’, cheerfully eating all the foods the world has to offer (think additive-heavy processed options, meats riddled with antibiotics, and cheeses that are more chemical than dairy), no one stops to ask, “But Hannah, where are you getting your nutrients?”. Yet when news breaks that I’m eating vegan, each head drops back, eyes gazing heavenward, arms raised in a dramatic fashion with hands clawed into the phenomenon Victoria and I tenderly refer to as ‘Shakespeare Hand’, and their voices wail, “WHERE WILL YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN???”.
Firstly, people, have you met me? I do not own the giant muscles toward which to direct these vats of hypothetically-necessary protein. The most weight lifting I’ve done in the past… 24 years is the carrying of a slouchy bag over my shoulder. And the sharp-tongued goddesses of the vegan lifestyle, Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, make this point, “Have you ever, ever, ever, in your entire life, heard of anyone suffering from a protein deficiency? …Know this: People in other cultures consume half the amount of protein that we do, yet they live longer, healthier lives.” Even the Harvard School of Public Health confirms both the ease and benefits of getting protein from vegetable sources, and I hear those people are pretty smart.
Is protein a physical necessity? Of course. In our modern lives, one in which we aren’t foraging for food in the wild, does it deserve the emphasis we place on it? Need it receive more attention than our astounding consumption of preservatives, artificial flavors & colors, etc.? I’m not convinced of that. And that’s not the only strong prejudice that a significant portion of the populace has against veganism; for example, contrary to popular belief, I do not in fact eat what your pet rabbit eats unless your pet rabbit eats lemon pasta with black olives and artichoke hearts, lemon-blueberry scones with vegan clotted cream, and red wine chocolate cake made with applesauce instead of eggs.
Besides, a lot of exceptional people seem to maintain the health and energy on a vegetarian/vegan diet necessary to accomplish some pretty impressive achievements; ie: Rosa Parks, Gandhi, etc. And if you don’t want to be on the same list as Anthony Kiedis and Andre 3000, well, then, I suppose we will just never see eye-to-eye.