A few weeks ago, in Chicago, a friend of mine and I tried out Native Foods in Wicker Park. Native Foods is a chain Vegan restaurant. When ordering our food we were asked if we were Vegetarians or Vegans. My friend responded “Yes, we are.” I interrupted and corrected “No, I am not”. I felt (and I am sure a lot of it was my own consumption consciousness) as if I’d just destroyed all perceptions he had of me, as if I’d seriously let him down or kicked a small puppy in his presence.
So here is the thing, he’d never asked if I eat meat. In general I don’t eat meat—there is no good reason for it. It is unhealthy and frequently, at least in this country, toxic. If when given a vegetarian or meat option, I’ll almost always choose the vegetarian. When given a vegan or vegetarian option, I’ll sometimes choose the vegan. I’m a big fan of dairy (again unhealthy and frequently toxic) and yet I make the informed personal decision to eat things that are good or bad for me. I also occasionally drink alcohol. Ideally I’d always choose a carrot juice over a beer, or a beet smoothie over red wine but sometimes I want some wine or a beer.
I don’t let food get in the way of life. It is easier for me to go through life and not be defined or restricted by the food I eat or don’t eat. That said, I get super defensive and angry when people rip into vegetarians or vegans. To the point where I don’t make logical arguments; I just call them “stupid heads” and walk away in frustration at their stupid heads.
Anyway, almost equally as annoying as the philistinism of some meat eaters is the hubris of some herbivores. Like our server at Native Foods, who after I had said I wasn’t a vegetarian suggested that a “first timer” like me probably shouldn’t have the vegetarian burger because it had seitan and tempeh. WTF? Dude, I am an elitist privileged pseudo-white girl who is having dinner at a vegan restaurant in Wicker Park AND you just heard me explain to my friend that although I grew up with vegan family members and a vegetarian mother, I rebelled. Come on dude, really, you think I can handle some tempeh? Bite me.
That said, as much as I dislike titles, I’m hoping to lead a vegan lifestyle this summer while training for triathlons and while the fresh local produce is abundant.
My unsolicited advice to all of you is, live and eat in ways that cause minimal damage to yourself and others—I promise to try and follow my own advice too.