I know that sometimes we vegans can feel like we're living in a vacuum. Most of our friends and family members think we're some kind of radical nut-cases, but I know that with every conversation or meal I share with a non-vegan, I have planted a seed that might one day take root.
I'm a case in point. I raised my daughter as a vegetarian for the first three years of her life. When she went on a tofu/nut/bean strike, I had to seriously re-asses our menus. So, I leapt from my vegetarian lifestyle and began eating meat with her almost every day of the week. Sure, it was organic, and in those days no one knew about free-range or grass fed anything. I thought I was following her instincts. And without the wealth of knowledge out there today, I was hard-pressed to stick to my guns.
Fast forward to 2009 when same daughter visits and works on a biodynamic, organic dairy farm and decides then and there to be a vegetarian. She still hadn't made any connections to the dairy-veal industry, so was satisfied with vegetarianism. I, of course, supported that 16 year old and began being a part time vegetarian again, myself. Over the course of four years, she shifted to being a vegan, and because of her, so have I. We both watched endless documentaries and videos to solidify our choices, and now spend hours sharing recipes and having long conversations about being a vegan.
Now, I'm remarried to a very vegan supportive man. I wasn't vegan when we met. I became one after we married, and yet he's done everything (besides watching videos about animal factory farming) to shift his own eating habits. Eating meat is a habit. Carnists don't have to think about it, nor make any connections to the realities on their plates. But he's trying. To date, he's given up milk, ice cream, pork and eats vegan meals with me five out of seven days a week. He will even research recipes with me and we cook together. He supports me at restaurants and tells me how much he respects my choice. This is a man who LOVED meat and dairy. So, it's possible.
In-laws are a totally different breed and this weekend I was reminded about how my actions simply plant seeds. Both my SIL and BIL were defensive about MY diet. While I went out of my way to support their need to be on Weight Watchers by stocking the house with lots of veggies, fruits and lo-cal snacks, they spent the weekend coming up with umpteen examples of why eating meat was better, including checking the fat content of my nuts and seeds. Yet, they were the ones having to count points for having gained over 200 pounds between them on their meat-eating diets. So, I quietly ate my lovely vegan meals and kept my mouth shut. But I know one thing, they've been exposed to it through me. They will come across articles on veganism and will probably gain all their weight back, and then maybe they will think about their vegan SIL who happily maintains an average weight while getting to eat an abundance of healthy, delicious food...without having to count a damn thing.
By being living examples, we have influence over more people than we think we do. In the meantime, bon appétit and rest well, knowing that the way you have chosen to eat and live is making a difference not only for you but for the animals and ultimately, the planet.