I don’t know about you…but I get a little anxious when it’s time to “eat” in public…especially during holidays and friend or family gatherings. I really hate to hurt peoples feelings. I try to cover all my bases “WAY” ahead of any gathering…with phone calls, notes, etc. I tell everyone not to give my diet a second thought because I’ll bring raw vegan food to share with everyone. I always bring several dishes that I can eat and that are not too weird for other people…
When I make the pre-gathering contacts I call my grandma first. I do this because she loves me tons and because she can be a pill. She will however, no matter what I say, show up with a fruit salad…and a HUGE spoon. When I was a little kid (which was a really long time ago) I loved her fruit salad. She would fly halfway across the country to make sure I had the fruit salad…canned pineapple, canned mandarin oranges, sour cream, and marshmallows…you know the one. It has been many, many years since I have had a diet that allowed for this fruit salad…I love my grandma and she is one pinky toe away from turning 100 so I fake eat the salad ( She thankfully enjoys Jack Daniels AND is a bit myopic…which is how I get away with faking fruit salad bliss).
This is just one of the MANY dilemmas a vegan faces in public…a raw, gluten free vegan, …whew…right? And how about restaurants! How many lemon dressed iceberg, rubber carrot, pink and soggy tomato wedge salads can a person take! When I was in Tennessee for my cousin’s wedding we did a lot of local coffee shop type eateries…they all had salad bars without any vegetables in them (???)…potato salad, hush puppies, stewed tomatoes, cottage cheese, corn relish…I nearly starved to death…I now, ALWAYS carry produce in my purse… also dried fruit, tea bags, and stevia…My purse have evolved into a big tote…I am a walking farmer’s market…
I used to be a bit of a vegan food fanatic…no exceptions. Living a pretty radical alternative lifestyle has taught me to loosen up a little bit. What is the worst thing that can happen if you eat something cooked?… or actually swallowed a spoonful of your poor old grams fruit salad? Sometimes it is necessary to look at the bigger picture. Hurting people’s feeling is really stressful and it makes us feel crummy…let it go for a bit…if the sweet potatoes are covered in all kinds of unidentifiable “non-meat” crap (I NEVER eat meat…that’s my line) …scrape it off (judiciously) and make Aunt Bluebell happy. I know your dying to ask if I have an Aunt Bluebell…You’ve gotten to know me a bit…What do you think?
It is also important to stay on track…remember why you started practicing veganism in the first place. Try talking to loved ones before gathering and holidays. Explain your views and why you made the choice for veganism. My relatives were receptive to the positive health benefits. You can also take a shot at explaining how much protein is found in raw produce and how much our bodies really need…this one is usually met with some degree of skepticism. I usually stick with the low cholesterol, avoidance of diabetes and obesity explanation. It’s less upsetting…especially if your family is full of farmers and fishermen like mine is. Just explain that you made the choice for reasons of good health. I don’t usually get heavily into the ethics of eating animals. I try to keep the animal ethics as simple and nonjudgmental as possible. Everyone has to make their own choice on how to handle that one. Hurting my 86 year old uncle, who is a farmer, just doesn’t make a lot of sense when I do the cost/ benefit analysis. He worked so hard all of his life to take care of us all…He is a good and decent man who comes from a different time and place. When I was a kid he had a pet squirrel that was missing a hind leg. He rescued it from a trap. He nursed it back to health and it loved him…and he it.
Remember, there is no need to “preach” your values…your choices and how you conduct your life speaks volumes.
Tips for An Easier Raw Vegan Life
* Take raw vegan dishes with you when going to other people’s homes. Try to choose dishes that non-vegans can enjoy with you. A Raw Banana Cake is always a big pleaser. The plate is always licked clean. Bowls of fresh fruit, like grapes or oranges also disappear.
* Keep your eye on why you made the choice to practice raw veganism. Enjoy all of the positive aspects of your choice. Don’t set yourself up for feeling deprived. Think of it as a wonderful adventure…which it is. It is exciting to learn a new way of living. Everyday is a new experience…I love them all!
*Don’t think food as a “reward” or as entertainment. One can enjoy food but should keep in mind that it is intended for the care and health of our bodies. Enjoy feeling and looking your best.
* At gatherings, focus on your friends and family…reunion and relationships are why your are all there together. Celebrate and have fun.
* Keep your attitude and explanations light when around non-vegans. It will allow for them to be more comfortable with you and not so focused on how or what you eat (or don’t eat).
* If people seem to be grilling you about your diet and how you meet your nutritional needs, tell them you’d be happy to talk about it at a better time and then leave it at that. Getting defensive is very non-productive. Just be yourself and allow others to see that your choices are a positive happy thing for you…Be happy for yourself…That’s what it’s all about…