I’m Still Cranky!!

I’m still feeling ranty. Still a word.

I broke this up from the first rant because this has an actual question to go along with the rant. I’ll try to keep my thoughts concise but I make no promises because for some reason I’m gut rumblin’ angry today. Not about this specifically but I’d just like to punch something. Not a kitten or anything. Probably not a child. Most likely just a pillow. Or Miley Cyrus.

Last Thanksgiving was my first almost all vegan holiday dinner. I remember eating a tiny bite of turkey the year before that and thinking: “This is dry and flavorless, why the fuck would I bother eating an animal if it’s not even amazingly delicious?”. So last year we made vegan mashed potatoes, pecan pie and a Tofurkey turkey to bring with us to the family dinner.

(Side note: I seriously dislike Tofurkey turkeys. Maybe I haven’t had one made properly. The boyfriend douses it in soy sauce and then cooks it. Is that normal? Plus the shape is disturbing. It looks like a giant goat turd pellet. I’m open to try it again but I’m happy with just side dishes as well.)

The boyfriend had told me stories of the amazing vegan Thanksgivings that he and his friends had here in Portland. At this point we were living in southern California near his family and therefore we we certainly in the minority at the dinner table. One story he told me though, always bothered me.

Apparently, the majority of his friends here were vegan and everyone was super down for an all animal free Thanksgiving. But one couple, close friends with everyone, was not vegan. They asked if they could bring turkey to dinner. Not cook it there, but bring it prepared and have it for themselves. The boyfriend was absolutely adamant that this was NOT okay.

His thinking was that everyone can enjoy ALL vegan dishes, even meat eaters. I get that.

I don’t think his relationship with food is as emotional as mine is. Holiday food especially has a lot of emotion tied into it for many people. It’s a time of year to be nostalgic, to enjoy flavors from your childhood. It’s like eating memories. Memories of family, togetherness, tradition. There are foods that I’ll eat just because I miss my mom and eating a dish that she used to makes me feel closer to home. People are very attached to food and the traditions they grew up with.

Is killing a turkey every year a good tradition? No. It’s fucked up and they don’t even taste good.

But….

The thing that bothered me was that it sounded like his friends were trying to be respectful. They didn’t want to bring in a raw ham, cook it in the kitchen and then slice it up in front of a bunch of vegans. They wanted to bring what they wanted to eat, a small portion for themselves, prepared. Instead of being respectful of what their choices were, even if they’re not the same or even wrong choices, it was made difficult for them to come to dinner.

What I’m getting at is that human connection and friendship is incredibly important. If these people are good enough to be your friends, if you love them enough to hang out with them, stay in touch with them when you’re away, go to their wedding and all that, then why make them feel so shitty for turkey?

I know that the boyfriend would STRONGLY disagree with me on this one. And that’s fine.

The situation randomly came up with some other people who had been at dinner that year (vegan people) who were a little confused by the decision. So I know I’m not the only one who feels like things like that, especially around holidays when we are all pretty much orphans, shouldn’t matter so much.

If your veganism is more important than your friendships, perhaps only have vegan friends?

I went to a BBQ a few years ago where the hosts were vegan. Everyone was encouraged to bring food that they wanted to eat. The hosts made little flags for each dish that said “VEGAN” or “NOT VEGAN”.  There were two grills, one for meat one for veggies and Boca burgers. Everyone was having a great time and I never heard any food discussions while there. Why can’t it be like that?

You can’t force your friends to make a lifestyle change.

I’m curious as to what others think. I can see both sides of the argument. But I’m sure I’ll get my ass reamed anyway.

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5 comments

  1. luminousvegans

    I think this particular situation sounds pretty unobtrusive and I would have let it slide. Unless of course your boyfriend and his friends had specifically declared it to be A VEGAN thanksgiving party and the omni friends knew this prior to asking. Like a group of our friends (vegans and omnis) have a monthly vegan potluck. But it was declared a VEGAN potluck so all dishes are supposed to vegan. If it was just a regular ol’ potluck, I wouldn’t have a problem with omnis bringing what they wanted to eat as long as they cooked it at their place. Yeah, it would gross me out and I would be sad that there was less stuff for me to eat, but I always, always have to remember that I used to be not vegan too.

    Your last statement “can’t force your friends to make a lifestyle change” is so true and applies to family too. Plus, if they are my really good friends, chances are we have many things in common and think similarly on many things…so who’s to say they won’t become vegan at some point? People are capable of changing and that certainly isn’t going to happen if I wave my militant vegan flag around. I certainly don’t want to lose friends…friends that are capable of changing just like I did.

    Sorry for the long comment. It was just a good thought provoking post. I like your blog.

  2. Lorelei

    This is a hard issue and one I’ve spent a great deal of time going back and forth on. Having been one of the hosts at the Thanksgiving in question, I’d like to point out that we didn’t say things to make the friends feel shitty (at least, I hope not – nothing was ever said to them about it other than a “let me think about it” and then a “sure, go for it” – discussions of should we/shouldn’t we happened without them), and they did bring their tupperware of turkey. Your reasons mentioned here were the reasons we said it was okay – because we wanted our friends to all feel welcome, we didn’t want to force our own personal views on them, and we appreciated how respectful they were being.

    But the issues I had with it (and still do when I think about it) was that the thanksgiving was put out there as a “Vegan Thanksgiving” and it was a potluck. I like to get drunk on the holidays, but if I was invited to a Sober Christmas Mocktail-Making Party and I wanted to go, I wouldn’t ask to bring booze for myself. Also, when I can afford to, I try to use Thanksgiving to donate to animal sanctuaries, and sponsoring a live turkey just feels wrong when there’s a dead one coming through the door. We have a lot of friends that feel Thanksgiving isn’t the same without the meat, butter, and cream, so these days they tend to do their own dinner thing and join us for dessert. I understand the nostalgia associated with the foods and hold no hard feelings to those that want to participate in other dinners to get these goods, but I just feel no obligation to host it when I think the vegan options are fantastic (ps, Field Roast or homemade roast blows Tofurkey out of the water).

    When I moved in with my vegan boyfriend, we decided to have a vegan household – as in no animal-based foods will cross the threshold. This may seem crazy strict, but frankly there’s no reason for us to deal with meat on our kitchen counters, breads that might have whey, and bits of cheese hiding in everything. Our house is a safe space for us. Split BBQs are great, but there are so many happening each weekend that serve meat, why can’t ours be void of it? Veganism is not more important than my friends, and I will still go out to the meaty BBQs to be with them, the vegan-unfriendly Tasty & Sons to celebrate their birthdays, and put up with the 101 jokes about how my food choices are flavorless/unhealthy/too healthy/not filling/hippie/etc., but I respect myself enough not to bend my morals/personal choices in my own space.

    • Sweet Bird

      You see, Lo, you are eloquent and well thought out about these things, whereas the BF is quick to anger and is less prone to explaining the emotions behind it.
      When you write it all out it makes sense and is totally valid. But it’s all about that calm, collected way of explaining things. That’s something I don’t run into that often. From both sides of the fence people are very quick to snarkiness. It’s been interesting for me because I’ve had a pretty militant teacher. He’s not sympathetic or empathetic to other’s people’s feelings about the subject because he’s spent years and years taking shit from assholes about being vegan. As someone so recently coming into the fold and being very much in touch with what it was like to not be vegan, it’s hard to understand where he’s coming from sometimes. I don’t have (and hopefully won’t have) the anger that he does. I think it’s good to be angry at the right things. But there seems to be a lot of misplaced anger floating around.

  3. seth

    As “the boyfriend” I feel I have been grievously miss represented and wish to clarify a few things.

    I do not simply douse my Tofurkey in soy sauce and bake it. I do follow the recipe on the box that comes with the Tofurkey for it marinade. 🙂

    The one time in question in fact was stated to be a VEGAN Thanksgiving. Not everyone going to the Thanksgiving celebration was vegan by any means, however only the one couple felt it was an important thing to bring a dead animal to a holiday celebration that was intentionally free of such things.

    I do believe that my relationship with food is as emotional as yours, if not more so in fact. My emotional relationship with my food goes back to before it was just that slab of meat on my plate. My mind is not able to separate that cheese burger on your plate from thinking about the terrible things that occurred to get it there, dead and well done in between those two little buns. I feel this is an even more emotional relationship to my food than fond memories of meaningless traditions that are attached to certain holidays. My emotional attachment goes beyond a craving for a simple chemical reaction that occurs on the tongue at the expense of a poor animals life.

    Of course the friendship aspect is important, human relationship is important. If i didn’t feel that it was important, I would never have dated a girl who regularly ate meat in front of me, or all together abandoned my vegan ways for as long as I did. I am still friends with the people this is referring too, (and we are both attending their wedding next month as you pointed out.) The part that I feel is missing from your view is, if the friendship or human relationship is so important, couldn’t they just eat their food before coming over, or sucked it up and not eaten it at all? Did they have to force the people who are vegan (very few of us do it for health reasons) to be reminded of all the carnage that animals are forced to endure on that day? Why does it have to be the vegans who have to compromise their morals? It is not as though the people who brought the meat have any moral objection to not eating meat, they have no religious views that stipulate they must eat meat at all meals or they will be punished.

    Just because some people choose not to understand where their food comes from, the same people that are outraged when they see what the animals they “need” to eat on holidays go through to get to their tables. Or turn away in disgust and refuse to watch the video of the defenseless being beaten, tortured and killed only to eat the product of that torture moments later. Does not mean that I have to put up with them bringing those tortured bodies into my house and make me watch them consume.

    I realize this sounds preachy, but it is not meant to be. Being vegan is not a diet, it is a life style. when you tell people that you are vegan, you are telling people that you have chosen to live a cruelty free life. I am not vegan because I care about how healthy I am. I am not vegan because I like to tell people at parties about it. I am not vegan because I enjoy the ignorant comments I get on a regular basis. I AM vegan because I DO believe that aside from survival, it is 100% wrong to inflict pain, suffering and death upon other living things. Making exceptions in your beliefs, only makes your beliefs weak.

  4. Sweet Bird

    Oh boyfriend. You never read my blog! Wtf?? You never read all the glowing posts about you on my other blog….
    I’m only going to address a few things here. For one, I rarely ate meat in front of you. A fair amount of sushi, yes, but you make it sound like I was chowing down on veal while we were on dates. In the beginning when I felt we were a casual thing I probably cared less about eating it in front of you but I was never a huge meat eater to begin with. I just loved me some sushi. One time I ate a turkey sandwich and the look of disgust and horror on your face was enough to make me never do it again.
    Secondly, I had nothing to do with you “abandoning” your vegan ways. In fact, the way it happened was I came home from work one day and you announced that you were tired of being vegan and that you didn’t care anymore. I’ll admit that I was having a very difficult time with it at that time and I apologize if you felt you needed to change yourself because of that. I questioned you about your decision for a while that night but you were firm.You made no mention of feeling like I or your friends were making you feel like you needed to eat dairy again. And then we ate pizza.
    Was I sad when you gave it up for a while? No. But that was your choice. Yes, it did make dining out easier. It made family dinner easier. But easier doesn’t mean better. I was the one who said no, let’s be vegan after watching Forks over knives. It opened my eyes and made me want to do it for me, not you. And FUCK it’s been hard. I get cranky and mean and whiney. I admit that. I’m a creature of habit and ease and adjusting to a vegan lifestyle is not easy. At least for me. That’s what this blog is about, the triumphs, the fuck ups and the journey in general.
    All that said, your opinion about this post is welcome. The way you told me the story was less detailed and more angry. Like Lo, an eloquent well thought out response clarifies a lot about the situation.
    Oh and I love you. You’re fucking hot. xoxoxoxo

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