Vegan Man: Social Situations – Part 1

vegan-bar
 
I discuss some of the odd social situations I have encountered as a vegan man and share some advice to those that are new to the lifestyle.

 

Being Social

Social events as a vegan can be tough sometimes. When you are out with your mates it’s most likely that you grab something to eat and suddenly your veganism is brought to light. You get asked a lot of questions, your masculinity challenged and the odd sly remark. Once, a person waved a chicken thigh in my face shouting ‘but it tastes so good!’. 

I decided to go vegan out of a moral belief that animals should not be harmed in any way for human pleasure. How would that situation make you feel? And isn’t that just weird anyway, even the other meat eaters at the table looked uncomfortable.  
 
At the start of your veganism, you have to let things slide. You are new to the lifestyle and you want to ‘fit in’ with your friends or colleagues (which the woman who waved chicken in my face was)
 
Since going vegan, the support of my friends and family has been overwhelming. My friends question me very little. They even started to cook vegan meals with me and are happy to eat at vegan restaurants. Some friends have even asked for more information, reduced the amount of meat they eat and are cooking vegan meals at home
 
Living abroad, I don’t see family often but they were very accommodating when I went home for Christmas. My girlfriend and I cooked our own main dish and everything was just as it always was on Christmas day. 
 
My late Grandad, bedridden at the time, did say he wished he could ‘eat some turkey in front of me to see the look on my face’. Which made me uncomfortable but I wasn’t going to start lecturing my poor Grandad on animal welfare. He wouldn’t give a shit even if I did. 
 

Stranger Danger

In fact, most of the awkward social situations I have encountered have been with strangers and new friends.
 
Even this week in a bar, a new friend of ours was shocked to discover that my girlfriend did not eat meat. He stared deep into my eyes, ‘you too Andy?’. It’s as if he was sad for me. I know what he was thinking ‘your girlfriend has turned you vegan’. This is a common thought among other people but more on that later. 
 
These situations are pretty shit for vegans. We just have to laugh along. 
 
As a vegan man, you are going to face some awkward moments. Here’s some advice:
 

Conscience is a Bitch

Understand that when you become vegan you are challenging people’s conscience. People don’t like this. People think you are always judging them. This is why vegans get labelled ‘self-righteous’ and ‘preachy’. Sometimes I can see others look at me thinking I’m judging them when I’m really not. 

There are vegans who believe they are better than non-vegans. Twitter taught me this within 2 days of opening an account. It’s sad to see other vegans talk about how superior they are to non-vegans as it only damages the movement. 
 
Always speak about veganism in a way that doesn’t seek to shame or judge. Explain how it makes you feel. The best way to promote veganism is being a healthy and happy vegan. 
 
Beware though, alcohol consumption can make you lose the ability to stay cool. Pick the times and places to discuss these things or you might find yourself in some heated moments. 
 
man-fist

Keep cool

 

Know Your Stuff

Now and then people will try to tear you apart. Once they put you in that position, although they are wrong to do it, it is your responsibility to know your stuff. Usually, people bring it up because they want to argue their side. For men, it can be brought up to make you look like a ‘weak link’ in a social group. This is a classic alpha male tactic.  

If you don’t know what you’re talking about then you will look like an idiot. You then risk devaluing veganism for those people. Always be truthful, pick what you want to share and be passionate about it. Remember, just because you have chosen to be vegan doesn’t make you a saint.
 
Don’t scream and shout at people. 
 
little-boy-shout

Don’t scream and shout!

 

Under the Thumb

I recently ran a social experiment on Reddit’s vegan board. I asked the men if people had ever assumed their vegan lifestyle was a result of their partner. The majority that replied said they had been accused of going vegan because of their partner. Whether they were vegan before the relationship or transitioned after. 

Some people don’t see men as able to make conscientious decisions when it comes to health or compassion. It must have been his girlfriend’s or his wife’s idea. 
 
People always assume I went vegan because my girlfriend is a vegan. I often get the question ‘So, were you vegan before you met or…?’
 
I’ll admit when I met her I did go vegan for 10 days because I liked her. That then turned back into 6 months of meat eating and a very slow transition to veganism.
 
So, my introduction to veganism wasn’t that altruistic but as time went on I started to see the bigger picture. First, I felt healthier and then I looked into where my food was coming from. What I learnt in those couple of months by reading articles online and watching videos changed my life. I can no longer disconnect the animal from the food. Once you open your mind like this, there is no going back.
 
So, when someone questions your integrity it will make you feel shit. The truth is, some people will always see your decision as forced and you just have to accept that fact. Consider it ‘banter’.
 

Don’t be a Dick. Don’t Make a Scene.

When you go to a restaurant it should be pretty easy to order a vegan dish by removing things from another dish. Restaurants will make mistakes, your mushroom burger will come loaded with cheese sometimes. Don’t kick off. 

Acknowledge that you are asking them to change things to accommodate you. They are not a vegan restaurant and you are not that important. Explain as best as you can what you want to order and what not to include. 
 
Most restaurants and waiters are happy to accommodate vegans. Some will panic and some will look at you in disgust. It’s important that you are flexible. If all they have is a bowl of stir-fried veggies then that’s what you are eating. On many occasions, I’ve eaten a bowl of french fries. If you are out with mates, being with them is more important than what you eat. 
 
If you start to become a fussy vegan, people will think twice before inviting you out again. 
 
stop-complaining

Note to self…

 

Meat in the Face

As I already mentioned, someone did once wave a chicken thigh in my face claiming ‘but it tastes so good!’. Situations like this are far more common than you might think.
 
A reader of my blog recently sent me a message to say that a waiter at his favourite restaurant started to mock him. The waiter would walk past his table with plates of meat saying things like ‘what a shame you can’t have any’.
 
Another reader told me his brother would make a habit of eating meat in his face claiming how amazing it was. His brother would tell him how sorry he felt for him for not being able to eat any of the meat. 
 
This can be a difficult situation because as a vegan you understand the history behind the meat. So, for someone to wave it in your face is very disrespectful and can make you pretty annoyed.
 
It’s important not to get frustrated and instead sit that person down and explain why it’s inappropriate. They might not realise how it affects you so it’s important to call them out. You will be surprised how a few words can go a long way in changing a person’s perspective.
 

How About You?

Please get in touch if you have any other similar experiences, I may even feature them in Part 2.