reluctant to enthusiastic vegan: for 30 days

Slice of Life

Slice of Life

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

Our Perfect Veggie Burger

Our Perfect Veggie Burger


About jaclynfre

Tech integration specialist, recipe adventurer, fast walker, sporadic writer, aunt, sister and daughter
This entry was posted in life and culture, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to reluctant to enthusiastic vegan: for 30 days

  1. Brian Kelley says:

    Your conversation is what pulls at me.

    The connection of food through people.

    And I’m wondering–is your choice purely health related or is it just for the tangle of the challenge? (and is it temporary?) Do you think this is a change in behavior that will stick? …and would your relationship/bond with your vegan-challenge comrade shift once your decide you want a spoonful of honey?

    I read Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” this year and what stood out most to me is his observation that America is devoid of a food culture. Ergo…we are apt to constantly modify our eating habits, and often do so because of the pressure we’ve been training to respond to through the habits we’ve formed with family, friends, and good ol’ American advertising. As the only nation building cup holders into automobiles, eating on the go is the American staple…

    So. as a reader, I’m left wondering about you (hopeful, but wondering)…is this vegan shift a temporary Americanism or a part of a long-term food culture shift for you?

    • jaclynfre says:

      Brian, Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I’m finding that the 30 day Vegan Challenge has already shifted my thinking on veganism. I started off with the idea that it would be a temporary 30 day fun challenge–like taking on a marathon or 5K (which, actually I have never done). Since I love to cook and eat, I thought a food-based challenge was for me. In fact, when my friend asked what my motivation was, I answered, “I’m in it for the recipes.” We’ll see if the 30 days is long enough to shift my thinking entirely. I admire people who are compassionate toward animals and feel their suffering–which they undoubtedly do for American food consumption–however, that has never been my passion. I have others, that’s just not one of my foremost. I have also read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen which changed my thinking about American food–I appreciate your point about how Americans look for food trends (all the diets, etc.). Yet, being an international teacher, the vegans I know are from around the world: Australia, England, Canada . . . Well, I guess they’re mostly western countries. In any case, I’m keeping an open mind. The convenience of food that isn’t vegan is overwhelming–especially when invited to friends / family house or out to dinner. So like many others, I may adopt a “vegan at home” policy and more of a “flexitarian” when out and about. I can’t tell from your post if you are pro-vegan or question the validity of vegans’ motivation.

  2. I love your post! I love the voice in it and I also admire your reflection and conviction.

  3. debbussewitz says:

    Earlier this year, I took on a 30 day challenge to eat clean and to do yoga three times a week. This challenge was transformational to me (and actually part of the reason I am doing this March “Slice of Life” challenge. Through the month, I explored how food was in my life and used the phrase “I am a selectarian” as a way for me to be selective in eating clean while not limiting my possibilities. This worked for me. I see you used the phrase “flexitarian” in your response to the above comment. Most important (to me) is choosing to eat in a way that honors my body. I have more energy and focus since I began this journey. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

  4. Jone says:

    Thanks for the link. I would like to try this. Am curious as to why no honey. Because its made by bees? I may have answered my question. Loved the post.

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