Last weekend, my wife and I attended the Texas State Veggie Fair. It’s basically a veganpalooza of sorts. All of the food vendors were vegan, and there were a lot of other vegan-friendly companies represented. We didn’t have a ton of time to be able to enjoy it, since my wife needed to catch a flight out-of-town, but we stopped by in hopes to grab a quick bite to eat before heading to the airport.
As we were walking through the park, every vegan stereotype surrounded us. Hipsters. Tattoos. Hippies. Piercings. I often forget how ‘mainstream’ my wife and I are for being a younger vegan couple. We eat at Taco Bell more than anywhere else. We live in the suburbs. Neither of us have any tattoos. No PETA membership cards in either of our wallets. We’re just a “normal” couple that chooses to eat plants.
At my job, I work with a great group of people, and they go out of their way to make sure that I’m accommodated when we go out for business lunches. But it does make me feel somewhat awkward when the dining decision revolves around me because I’m vegan. Part of me was looking forward to this Veggie Fair because it would be one of the few times that I’m not in the minority. That perhaps I could feel “normal” while eating. And since everything was vegan, we wouldn’t have to analyze the ingredients or think about whether or not we could order what we wanted to eat.
After taking a quick look at the food options (and me downing an ice cream sandwich of sorts), we walked into the area where they were holding cooking demonstrations. There were several more vendors in this building, and as soon as we walked through the doors we were immediately inundated with a graphic video of seal hunting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really a proponent of clubbing baby seals to death. But I was really looking forward to enjoying my afternoon without having to think about factory farming, or fur coat manufacturers, or the monkeys used in university science labs, or puppy mills. I thought that since this was a vegan event, with a primarily vegan/vegetarian audience, that there wouldn’t be any need to preach to the choir. Evidently I was wrong.
As my wife and I were leaving the event, we had another conversation about the religious nature of veganism. That’s a completely separate blog post, but let’s just say that at an event where I was surrounded by other vegans and veg-friendly people, I left feeling like more of an outsider than an insider. Outside of my dinner plate, I don’t really fit in with that community.
It’s no wonder people give me funny looks when I say I’m vegan. The connotation attached to that title isn’t always as pleasant as it should be. Perhaps I’ll remove myself from that box and start referring to myself as someone who eats a plant-based diet. Because Coca-Cola comes from plants too, right?