Veganism: the ultimate sacrifice

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(Before I go any further, yes, that title is dripping with sarcasm.)

Today I attended a work-sponsored lunch at a nearby resort/conference center.  While there was plenty of non-vegan stuff served as part of the buffet, there was enough food there for me to easily fill a plate and feel satisfied.  Sure, it was mainly from the “salad” food group, but it was fine.

During lunch, the topic of liverwurst somehow came up at my table.  One co-worker asked me, “Would you ever eat it?”  I responded, “Now?  Hell no.”  Another co-worker asked me, “Why?” and I attempted a slight bit of humor in my reply, “Because I don’t eat meat, and that’s a pretty big barrier to trying out liverwurst.”  What followed felt like it came from the Totally Not Vegan sketchbook:

Co-worker: Do you eat fish?

Me: Nope.  No meat.

Co-worker: (slight look of surprise)

Me: No dairy or eggs, either.

Co-worker: (utterly shocked, shaking head)  I couldn’t live like that.

At that point, I stood up and said, “Yes, yes… it is true.  I have chosen to deprive myself of all that we as Americans hold dear!  I’ve taken it upon myself to sacrifice all my wants and desires for animal flesh and secretions for the betterment of the world!  Oh!  Woe is me, for I am wasting away in a state of constant hunger and deprivation!  How will I ever survive?”  And I followed that with a dramatic bow.

Of course that last paragraph was a total lie, but really, isn’t that what we all feel like saying when you get a line like that?  You say “I couldn’t live like that!” to someone who’s living in squalor with cat feces piled on top of decade-old newspapers.  You don’t say it to someone who simply chooses not to consume animal products (including cat feces piled on top of decade-old newspapers).

Veganism isn’t about deprivation.  It’s not about sacrifice.  It’s about doing what you know to be right and living your life in a way that is ethically consistent with your beliefs.  Period.  I can honestly say I’ve never felt deprived.  Why?  Because I’m not trying to lose weight here, I’m just trying to do what’s right.

17 Responses to “Veganism: the ultimate sacrifice”

  1. Rebecca

    Right on! Love your blog by the way, it’s great to see so many FAB veggie blogs in the world these days. Well done! Check out my Vegan Blog

  2. Becci

    I’ve had conversations similar to that with my coworkers as well, and I work at a natural foods store! Even before I went vegan I was never really shocked and horrified by the concept of giving up meat and “secretions”, as you put it, but even if I had been I’d never have been so stupid as to say things like, “I could never live like that.”

    That’s because I’ve always had food allergies, and thus have always had a weird diet. I can’t possibly count the number of times I told people I couldn’t eat nuts/wheat/etc and they responded, “Wow, really? I could never live like that!” Obviously it’s a little different because with food allergies I’m not exactly choosing what I will and won’t eat, but it still seems similarly rude.

  3. sabby

    Apparently, it’s the same thinking all over the world (I’m from Singapore) and it’s unbelievable to have everyone think that you’re doing it to lose weight or saying ‘I couldn’t do that…I could never give up meat!’. One friend, thinking it would ‘lessen my guilt’, told me that eating animals was part of the food chain. It’s ‘the way nature planned it and who are you to argue with nature?’.

    -_-

  4. Marcy

    my life, i swear, is Totally Not Vegan to a tee. i understand. and i too work in a completely non-veg let alone non-vegan work environment. i just always bring my own food, or don’t go out with co-workers – honestly, i’m not going to suffer through a “salad, maybe” that’s overpriced and limp, while everyone says comments like what you mentioned above and then goes on and on about their heart attack on a plate. as for being “deprived”, so far i’ve been deprived of bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, and many other givens for the American diet. my nutrition and chemistry test results by the docs have always been excellent. so i do not feel deprived. the ones who are deprived are the poor animals i’m trying to give a break to, and wish more people were. what’s funny is, unlike me in the meat eggs & cream heavy joints they favor, they could totally eat the food at a veg-friendly spot, yet they assume that they can;t or wouldn’t eat anything i would eat. it’s so much brainwashing. and for the nth time, FISH ISN’T VEG, and if i say i don’t eat any animal products, why the hell would I eat seafood??? I just always respond “i wanna see the plant that a fish is supposed to come from”.

  5. Marcy

    p.s. plus, i don’t feel deprived, seeing as i’m not one of the many stuck keeping track of whatever points or system is the latest meat and dairy-involved diet they’re on, or gym fad they’re into to try and combat typical American eats. same thing with the meds a lot are on about their diet-based ill-health.

  6. SaraJane

    Oh my goodness, I cannot agree with you more. There is nothing that annoys me more than meeting new people and having them find out I am vegan with a look of horror on their faces. I bake a lot and bring things into work to share and I always get a shocked look when I tell people that the cupcakes or muffins or scones or whatever are vegan. People get this weird reaction like they expected vegan food to taste like sticks and dirt or something. Even people that know I am vegan act shocked when I bring in baked goods and tell them there is no dairy or eggs in the cupcakes or whatever. As if I am only vegan unless I’m baking. It’s so stupid. I’m constantly amazed at the idiocy of the general populace.

  7. bazu

    So true. In my admittedly limited experience, most vegans’ diets are much more varied than those of omnivores. Don’t they get tired of bland melted cheese and chicken breast chunks EVERY day??

  8. Kris

    I also deal with this regularly, I imagine we all do. But even in Portland, where I expect more of the general population, it still happens often. I love the “What do you do about milk? What do you do about butter? What do you do about eggs?” After answering all of the above questions you get the inevitable head shake and the “How do you do all of that.”

    I think part of of is there is this assumption that if you don’t buy eggs and dairy milk than your fridge is barren and when you need to cook something you have to seek out these “weird” ingredients. Just like buying a carton of eggs in normal for them (and once was for me, I try to remind myself to be more patient) buying a tub of Whole Soy yogurt is normal for me. I’m sure the contents of my fridge and pantry would seem very alien to an omnivore, especially in this age where not only are people disconnected from their food sources, they are disconnected from their food preparation. People have no idea what’s in their food because they don’t even cook it themselves. It’s sad on so many levels.

  9. sarah

    yeah, i feel the same way. although i currently work in an environment where 90% of us are vegan, i know that someday i’ll have to step back into the “real world” and deal with crap like this. i don’t miss it, and i’m not anxious to get back into it.

    i try to surround myself with other vegans as much as possible, to avoid such conversations. however, i still have a lot of omnivorous friends and every once in awhile i have to deal with these questions. the hardest is dealing with family, and i find most vegans have the same issue with their family members too. what is it about our family members that makes it so difficult to talk about even the simplest thing?

    what a twisted world we live in, where not eating meat seems to make you an outsider. we should be revered for our free-thinking abilities, yes?!

  10. Marcy

    It’s funny what google and the like turn up in the way of headers and suggested ads. today it told me to check this out: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/i_want_someone_to_eat_cheese_with/ which is a pretty non-vegan title as things go. in any case, i certainly would never be looking for someone to eat cheese with. plus, gift ordering sites like amazon (which i don’t use anymore, due to their hardline stance keeping up their support of i.e profit from illegal animal fighting materials, but i digress) saying “if you wish listed “Vegan Deli”, you’ll just love “Meat, Meat and Yet More Meat!”. no sense at all.

  11. Lol… and this is why i love this blog… « All Things Jamie*

    […] September 6th, 2007 at 2:08 pm (Vegetarian, Vegan, Blogging) Veganism: the ultimate sacrifice by The Veg Blog […]

  12. Gary

    I was reading the fantasy reply and thinking “Whoa, Ryan said that?”

    Then I got to thinking about another fantasy reply: “Give up eating eels, chicken feet, and locusts? I could never live like that.” (Just to put the shoe on the other foot.) But those are just a few of the hundreds or thousands of foods that omnivores in the West “give up.” They also give up pig’s milk and fish eyes and all kinds of animal products that seem gross even to my most hard-core omnivore friends – because they’re not used to those foods. More reasonable – most omnivores give up millet, quinoa, amaranth, tempeh, kale, watercress, lychees, curry leaves, mustard seeds, rice flour, and hundreds or thousands of other foods that are in supermarkets they go to every week. And they practically give up lots more foods – a dozen types of vegetables and even fewer types of fruits make up the bulk of Americans’ produce in their grocery carts.

    Preaching to the choir: How many of us were in a cooking/eating rut before becoming vegan, and greatly expanded the diversity and enjoyment of food we ate after becoming vegan? I bet nearly all of us. And like many, I’m sure, I tell fearful omnis that my diet has never been so full of variety and flavor. I rarely have the same thing twice! But if I did want to reproduce my impoverished pre-vegan diet, I could do that pretty easily these days with some seitan, soy products, and off-the-shelf conveniences like veggie chicken patties and vegan salami. Of course, the PB&J wouldn’t change.

    Anyway (and again preaching to the choir), I could never live like omnivores live or how I used to live: Inflicting needless harm, and often torture, on sentient beings for the sake of some fleeting indulgence – which usually can be reproduced or bettered using compassionate vegan methods.

  13. Melissa

    This was so well said! I had an identical situation in my workplace at a company lunch. “You don’t eat meat?” “WHY!?” “You’re depriving yourself!” I’m getting to be fond of the usual response of “well, I’m sitting here, aren’t I? I’m obviously not wasting away to death, eh?” People’s reactions to my veganism will continue to amuse me greatly :)

  14. Frankie

    Yeah, that’s the thing that keeps me from actually saying out loud my fantasy responses: I was an ignorant insensitive meat-eating SOB not too very long ago. It was only through some rather chance occurrences that led me to my present enlightened state. And I am oh! so glad those lucky chances came along, cause living vegan is really very very cool and feels really good. That’s is what I wish I could get across to my omni friends and family — lots of different aspects of my life have changed for the better and it wasn’t nearly so hard to “switch” to a vegan lifestyle. Ahem. Sorry, I am getting all carried away again. But, hey, lemme say it just once: being vegan Rawks!!!!

  15. Charlie

    I really love this post and the comments! Maybe someone here can help me out! There has been drama at my workplace (a CPA firm) about food. I call it “Vegangate.”

    See, during the tax seasons (spring and fall), the firm orders catered lunches twice a week. Well, I made a comment to a superior that I was annoyed that for the past few weeks, there had been nothing but maybe some white rice and soy sauce for me to eat. She was nice enough to talk about it with her superiors and the admin who orders food. The result is that they won’t change the foods that they order, but they might give me a $5 stipend to buy a TV dinner to bring on the days we have lunch (pending partner approval). Hello!! The whole point is that I don’t want to have to bring my own lunch, and it’s not about the money. I just want to be able to enjoy the convenience of catered food and the shared eating experience with my co-workers. All I ask is that when they order wraps, to order some with tofu and no cheese. Or when they order Chinese, to get one tray of a tofu dish instead of all 3 chicken and beef. On pizza day (today), get one without cheese. There are about 20 employees total, so I don’t think it would be a big deal.

    Has anyone been in a similar situation or does anyone have advice?

  16. todd

    yeah working and being vegan is rough… I tend to just bring my own food… don’t really go out to eat at lunch… or at least I am pretty selective (would have to be some asian/indian place)… I don’t eat gluten either so… makes it even more limited lol… oh wellll I will go out and have a few drinks with some people from time to time… I don’t even like drinking though, but its about the only way I can feel normal.

  17. Lisa

    I’m lucky enough to work somewhere where the employees have a full sized fridge in the breakroom. I’ve purchased some vegan products and keep them in there for food. For morning shifts I’ve got vegan sausages and bacon, for lunch I’ve got vegan burgers, hot dogs, sliced vegan deli meats, vegan cheeses, and vegan chocolate pudding. It’s great because (1) I never go hungry, and (2) My co-workers have all learned that being vegan doesn’t mean existing on salad; That almost everything that they eat as carnivores is available in vegan form, so there’s no deprivation at all! In fact, I’ve had coworkers “accidently” eat some of my food and not even know it was vegan. It’s pretty great :)

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