Going vegan is an informed choice, but not an easy one

Becoming vegan is a conscious choice. And really by choosing to be a vegan we are effectively inviting a level of inconvenience into our lives. And so choosing a vegan lifestyle isn’t something to be done lightly. It’s something you think about long and hard before committing to.

Typically it’s thought that we take stock of our personal choices – that we want to contribute to a more sustainable future, that we don’t want to avoid the cruel treatment of animals, that we want to improve our health, to eat better.

But to look at it realistically – we’re influenced more by our friends, family, celebrities and society than we are by our own thoughts. It’s human nature to want to fit in, to be a part of a society or family – so it’s understandable that we’re led by the behaviors of others.

At the moment it’s very fashionable to go vegan. And so people are jumping on the bandwagon It allows people to grasp on to the feeling of being part of the whole rather than relegated to the sidelines. Although we want to think we’re above that.

I was in a restaurant the other day – it was chosen by a friend and it specialized in non-vegan fare. And so I checked the menu online to ensure there were option for me there. However, what I didn’t know is that when I sit down to ask for something that’s not strictly on the menu – requesting this be omitted, that added, this served like that – I get very high pitched and screechy. Turns out I’m uncomfortable asking that the menu be rewritten just for me as I’m never sure the reaction I’ll receive. And so when I read the following quote, I realized that as vegans we are inviting inconvenience into our lives.

For Ryan (Psychologist Christopher Ryan and author of Sex at Dawn), meanwhile, the real issue is informed choice. Monogamy, he says, is like being vegan.

“There are lots of very good reasons to be vegan, but it certainly is not a convenient lifestyle or something you do without thinking it through.
“We are omnivores, just as we are omnigamous. And all I’m saying is that if you cut things out of your diet, so to speak, it has consequences.”
But as a choice we’ve made and a choice we’re going to adhere to, I’ve drafted some ways to avoid inconvenience, where possible:

(1) Dining out:
When going to a restaurant that doesn’t advertise as being vegetarian or vegan – call ahead. Announcing the fact that you’re vegan and inquiring as to just how much they’re willing to accommodate you. I’ve called ahead before to get responses like: ‘Yes, just turn up and we’ll make sure there’s something for you to eat.’ Of course I’ve also gotten: ‘No.’ And most likely everything in between. But if you have a reservation you can ask them to add your request to the reservation so your server can be prepared, as can the chef. By calling ahead you can be prepared for how the restaurant will react to your lifestyle. Even if they don’t advertise as being vegan friendly, if they’re willing to tackle the request of any patron, they’re far preferable to those who aren’t.

(2) At a work function:
Be upfront about your request – when accepting an invitation to a lunch meeting, conference, focus group, etc – if it’s important to you, then be upfront about it. There will be instances where you can eat before or after and avoid the potential embarrassment of being singled out as the only one ‘different’ in attendance. This can be especially cringe-worthy when you’re asked to raise your hand when you’re one among many and they need to pick you out of a crowd.

(3) On a first date:
Offer to choose the restaurant or set the tone for a date when you’re making arrangements – it’s best to take control of these thing before there’s the chance for embarrassment. Otherwise, if the rest of you are like me (which is only partially likely) really enjoy surprises, you’d want to keep the information close to your chest. And so you may want to work in the fact that you’re a vegan into daily conversation because your date (like me) is not going to tell you. If you’re not don’t know where you’re going and you haven’t slipped it into conversation – eat a little something before you go to avoid being hungry the rest of the night.

(4) When out and about:
Number one: Prepare.

Number two: Prepare.

Number three, if you’ve neglected to prepare by packing fruit, nuts or other snacks in your bag, be sure you know your way around so you can find a feed when and if hunger strikes. It’s been my motto, adopted from the Boy Scout, that to be prepared means you’ll never have a pang of hunger to deal with in an area populated only by fried chicken and other unsuitable wares. If you don’t know your way around your current area you really should have paid attention to tips number one and number two.

(5) At a sporting event:
Whether you’re vegan or not, if you can ring your own grub to a sporting match I would recommend it. An instance where the stereotypes don’t lie – football, hockey, soccer -whatever your game of choice, you’re going to get a menu of fried, fatty or animal based options for snacks. And although there’s nothing wrong with a plate of chips (french fries) now and again, wouldn’t they be so much nicer when they’re not doubled or tripled in price? Keep your cholesterol level down and keep a few bills in your wallet.

Hopefully for most of us, what we’ve just read will be the exception and not the rule. The vegan lifestyle is being integrated into society more and more. As we are naturally accustomed to our cities, our countries, our travels we will struggle less and less with finding the resources we need for an easy life. It could be that I’ve immigrated to a new country and a new city that is causing me so many challenges.

And what about you? When society presents you with an uncomfortable circumstance – how do you deal with it?

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