Gone Vegan

Lindsay Hutton discovers the politics and pragmatics behind a meat and dairy-free diet.

Like you, like seemingly everyone, the capital-H holidays left me a little worse for wear. Though I would love to be one of the merry proponents yuletide cheer, it simply isn't in me. That aside, I do love the opportunity to share big mounds of food with my family, which, up until this year, much of which would adhere to my diet. 

Suffice to say, there isn't even a vegetarian in my brood, never mind a vegan. As such, I was stuck with a few veggies and potatoes for my Christmas sit-down. I likely could have whipped something together or packed a Tofurkey to share, but I was so tired I simply ate what I could. 

A few weeks ago, a good friend of my roommate's, an enthusiastic vegan who on a trip to Toronto this summer tagged along with me to check out several of the Big Smoke's vegan restaurants, came to visit. Let's call her Stephanie. It was my roomate's birthday, and I had made some of my special chocolate vegan cupcakes for Stephanie and I to share. 

But wouldn't you know, she had decided to give up veganism. Just like that. According to her, the alienation she experienced mixed with a busy lifestyle left her with a case of vegan burnout. She bemoaned the fact that at parties and family gatherings, she felt a bit left out, and felt as though she couldn't graciously accept the hospitality she was offered in such situations. Go figure. 

Frankly, I'm feeling her. I was raised with old-fashioned manners, which included accepting what was offered to you. On a few occasions in this past year, I've felt a bit embarrassed to have my hosts scramble to find something I can eat. I've felt glares and seen eyes roll when it's brought up that a particular restaurant where friends or family are attending aren't a great choice for me ("...but Lindsay can't eat anything there!"). Food isn't just something you eat three times a day. It's weighted with a heft of social currency, ritual and etiquette. And like anything else, if you make a conscious choice to break outside of the cadence, you're going to feel a twinge of isolation, at best 

I have, however, sucked it up. I've gone out to breakfast and had only hashbrowns and a fruit cup. I've stood around at cocktail parties with only raw carrots and pita triangles on my plate. Quietly, too. As I've mentioned elsewhere, despite the brashness and lefty politics, my mother and father raised a polite daughter. I keep a protein bar in my purse and leave it at that. 

As for this blog, I've been wondering for the past couple of months where to take it. I tired of posting updates on my own status as a blooming vegan, and recipes and that sort of thing. It's easy for a thirty-year-old, university-educated vegetarian living in a big city to go vegan, really. I wanted to kick it up a notch. 

Enter Wendy. A 57-year-old high school vice-principal. She has type-two diabetes, and was successfully treated for uteral cancer this past summer. She has never tried vegetarianism, though when she was pregnant with a rather verbose, redheaded daughter, she reported a keen distaste for meat. Even then, she says, she figured that wee one inside her would likely turn out to be a vegetarian.  

Wendy's my mom, and she's going vegan. For one month, and we'll see how it goes after that. Stay tuned. In the next post, Mom discusses her reasons for trying veganism.