You’re not born vegan.

I wasn’t always a vegan. I wasn’t always interested or concerned with food. In the past I just ate what I ate; that is, I ate whatever was most readily available without thinking too much, if at all, where it came from or what it would do to me.

Frances Moore LappĂ© says that we are not born citizens, but rather we learn the art of citizenship.* I think out relationship with food is like that. We are not born knowing how to eat. We have to learn. It’s tricky business, especially in this capitalist, fast-food-driven society we live in. But I’m giving it a try.

It’s been a gradual learning process. I started out by giving up meat. That step didn’t come all at once. I gave up red meat, mostly because I had heard that doing so would help me tone up and get ripped abs (I won’t disclose whether or not that process has been successful). Eventually I gave up chicken and other poultry, but I was still eating fish and dairy. I decided to give up fish and other meat products around the same time. The more I read and heard in documentaries and from other food-conscious people, the more I realized it just didn’t make sense for me to half-ass this endeavor. Maybe I’m just an all or nothing type of person.

So far, I’ve found that the most difficult part about adopting a vegan diet hasn’t been the food, or the lack of nutrients (as many suspect), but the people. People are quick to give you snarky remarks and turn their nose up at you for wanting to eat more consciously. Eating food– enjoying a meal is supposed to be a social experience, it always has been. But when people want to shun you and poke fun at you for your food choices, it can get a bit lonely. Maybe as time goes on people my friends and family will learn to accept and maybe even adopt some of my newfound eating habits.

* From her book Diet for a Small Planet