Last week, I had to read a piece to my Interdisciplinary Studies class introducing who I am and why I believe what I do.

I chose to frame the essay through my eating seeing it as a moment to proudly share an issue that has quickly become central to my life and as a moment to share a perspective on eating some might not have yet been exposed to.

I am proud to be vegan. Proud to say that my ideal guy would be vegan to. Proud that if I ever do decide to have children, I will without a doubt raise them on kale and hummus and love for animals. Proud that every time I sit down to eat, I know that I am choosing to save lives over and over again.

(But seriously, when people ask me the vegan kids question, I panic a bit inside. I’m TWENTY for goodness sake.)

Despite this pride, I was nervous. Being vegan, I’ve dealt with my fair share of food-shaming even though I would never dream of criticizing someone over their cheeseburger or Cinnabon no matter how much I have learned about the environmental, animal welfare, and health impacts eating animal products has. I prefer to lead by example and let people creep this blog at their leisure.

(And judging by the site stats, I know a lot more people curious about veganism than will admit it to me in person.)

In any case, as I read, my hands were shaking, my throat was tight, and I could feel my eyes tearing up as I mentioned my food history. I was at once excited to share something that has given me only good and terrified of the judging questions that would follow.

But when I finished and looked up, already hands were being raised eager to begin the question-answer portion of the assignment.

And I was shocked to find that most people were genuinely interested in my lifestyle. I explained where I get my protein (everywhere), how I feel about animal testing (no good), and did my best to deal with questions concerning why I feel eating animals is wrong but eating plants isn’t (it makes sense).

When it was over, I felt not judgement from my peers, but, as the student sitting next to me said quietly with a nod, “Respect.”

I was blown away.

And I wondered what had made the reading so successful.

Looking back, I realize that it was just that, respect.

I came into the class not to tell everyone their diets were evil, disgusting, and wrong. But to share the goodness I have found in my own.

And I realized, that kindness and understanding are a lot easier to take in than anger and judgement.

Had I began my essay with, “Every thing that you love to eat is causing unimaginable suffering, global warming, and cellulite,” I might have received very different responses.

Knowing this, I am glad I went the route I did and shared my personal journey and let those listening think and challenge themselves.

I know that I am part of a (growing) minority. A group of people that deeply believes so much good can be achieved for us all if we make the collective choice to chose compassion.

And, at times, it is frustrating.

But now I will remember my class and the wonderful Margaret Mead and her words, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

And there is hope.


2 Responses to “Hope”

  1. Glad you had such a great experience and that everyone was so interested!

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