Vegan unfriendly

By Glauce Fleury

I’ve recently read an interesting article that addressed the specificities of love relationships between vegans and non-vegans. The situations covered by the author, Elena Orde, made me analyze friendships between these two groups.

You might think I’m going too far in writing a blog post to discuss friendships between vegans and non-vegans. Perhaps. But it’s relevant and may give us some good insights.

I had good and bad surprises after I went vegan. But there was an embarrassing situation. A ‘friend’ said, “I don’t want to talk about it because I don’t want to argue with you.” Hmm?

First things first. I won’t tell you what to eat and I’ll just tell you I’m vegan if we’re talking about food (as in this blog) or going for a bite. Not every place has vegan options, so we’ll have to find a spot that works for both of us.

After telling you that I don’t eat animal products or by-products, if you ask me what I eat and why I’m vegan, I can tell you. But don’t criticize my choices or ask me to shut up. That’s not nice.

One friend has argued that vegan food has no taste. Once, he tried (and disliked) it. Well, he reminded me of my childhood: I always said I disliked eggplant, but had never tried different ways of cooking it.

If he was willing to open his mind and go to places like Meet on Main/in Gastown, Zend Conscious Lounge, The Wallflower, The Acorn, Nuba or Naam, I thought, he’d change his mind after the first bite.

Well, he didn’t seem very happy, but I managed to bring him with me to a vegan-friendly restaurant. But do you know what he ordered the whole night? Fries. Seriously?

Sometime ago, another friend invited me for brunch. When I asked her if the place had vegan options, she nodded. The truth is I needed some chat with the server, who needed some chat with her manager who, in turn, apologized and offered me fruits and tea.

That restaurant, as many others in Vancouver, could be better prepared for vegan customers. But, honestly, I was frustrated with my friend,  not the place. She didn’t even bother checking if they were vegan friendly. She wasn’t considerate.

Weeks after, I went for dinner with somebody else. I pointed out two restaurants where we’d find suitable options for both. He suggested a third one because he craved Italian cuisine. The place had only one dish with no eggs. Humph!

Here’s the thing: I’m not open to friends who can’t accommodate or who insist on being pleased as if they were kings. A relationship is all about sharing, not a one-way road.

Those behaviours speak volumes about those folks. But fortunately they’re not the majority. My friends have been curious about my choices, and this has led to deep conversations.

Yesterday, for example, a non-vegan friend told me: “From my perspective, going vegan or vegetarian is a step towards our evolutionary and spiritual development.” Some other friends have said:

  • I’m not sure I can stop eating what I eat. I wish I had your determination.
  • When will you cook vegan dishes for me?
  • I’d love to go to every vegan restaurant in town with you.
  • It’s great to see you so happy with your choices.
  • I’d never cut off meat from my diet, but I agree there are many reasons to do so.

The friends who matter are the ones who are open to talk about anything, including food; eat their steak while I eat my veggies; or go to vegan places to make me company, not to please me (I don’t eat meat, but they eat veggies).

A friendship between vegans and non-vegans is like any other: if you respect your friends’ choices and are there for them when they need you, everything else falls into place.

I guess that’s the same thing about love relationships between both groups, so I’d agree with Elena Orde. Would you?

Photo credit: © Leo Hidalgo under Creative Commons via Flickr

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