Being a vegan is a full-time hobby after 2 weeks into a 30 day vegan challenge. Many teachers at my school are participating. At a recent school-wide event, another new vegan and myself were discussing recipes and menus, commenting on each others’ “vegan porn” (FB snaps of our meals or ingredients). Another teacher walked up only to comment, “Vegan conversation?!! How boring. Stop!!” He turned to leave. We laughed and left instead to find a table where we continued our enthusiastic recipe swap.
For me being a temporary vegan reminds me of the parallels this decision has in my life. Making the decision not to eat meat, dairy, eggs and honey is being a stealthy margin-dweller. You are not obligated to reveal your choices, but become aware of other vegans secretly by the similar selections made at restaurants. Living in an Asian country where basic staples like maple syrup, pretzels and a can of black beans are “habis” or empty, you’re suddenly part of the secret society that knows the underground suppliers of nutritional yeast, flax seed and bulgar wheat. You strike a balance between meaningful and overbearing when others’ curiosity morph into challenging questions or thoughtless comments or unsolicited advice.
Like other aspects of life that are outside the mainstream, people have an unintentional desire to define you. Yet embracing your plant-based food choices, your religion, your status as an adoptee means being aware of the stereotypes–covertly finding them amusing so you can take them on fearlessly, graciously. You have the opportunity to redefine the margins by simply being yourself. Genuine.
For anyone interested, here is the next recipe on my menu: Our Perfect Veggie Burger, Oh She Glows