“Are you crazy?”
“Are you starving?”
This is the reaction I often get when I tell friends, family or strangers that I’m now vegan.
I did not tell them that I’m dying or living in Antarctica, as the reactions may suggest.
In case you’re unfamiliar, vegan basically means that you avoid food that comes from animals. So, I don’t eat meat, butter, eggs, milk or fish.
I became vegan when my roommate made the switch for health reasons. She has a condition where eating anything from animals makes her sick. If she keeps eating that food, she could eventually develop cancer.
For five months, she avoided the diet change because, like most people, she thought maybe should would rather die than eat cardboard the rest of her life.
So we did it together. Five months in, we’re still alive! And to be honest, my body feels better.
I think even more interesting than the actual diet change itself has been witnessing people’s reactions. Sometimes I think about throwing some meat back into my diet, but then I think about all the fun comments I wouldn’t get anymore. And I think about all the interesting conversations I’d miss out on.
I’ve been amazed at how people freak out when I turn down meat in front of them. They proceed to justify their own meat consumption. And I proceed to tell them that I don’t think they’re bad people and that they should relax and eat their meat.
Truly, I don’t judge non-vegans. I can’t even say my way of eating is best for everyone. It just makes my body feel better so I keep doing it.
I also get questions like, “Can you eat sugar?” (yes) or comments like, “Oh wait, you can’t have gluten” (actually I can; gluten isn’t an animal by-product).
People also will break down and tell me about their struggles with eating well, or ask me how they can be eating better.
It’s kind of funny to me because veganism does not necessarily equal healthy! Oreos and sour patch kids are vegan (and I take advantage of that fact).
I’m finding that this choice that felt so insignificant to other people has actually impacted others more than it has me. I mean, yes, my life changed a lot in certain ways, but it wouldn’t feel like a big deal if it wasn’t for these other conversations.
Some people I know have been inspired to eat healthier, or to cut out certain things that their bodies don’t like. Again, I can’t say that veganism is right for other people, but I’m still glad that other people are trying to do what is best for them.
How about you? Have you ever made a lifestyle change that has impacted others more than you expected?