My Daily Struggle Of Being The Only Vegan In My Household
Surviving in a Sea of Carnivores
“Craig! Quick! I need your help.”
It was my mother-in-law calling from the kitchen. It was Christmas and she was finishing dinner.
“Can you help me lift this out of the pan?”
She was holding the roasting pan with oven gloves and was struggling with the weight. The issue was that she wanted me to lift the cooked turkey out of the pan. I turned, and walked away.
After a few heated discussions in the previous weeks, my partner and I had come to an agreement about what would be on the menu for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner. But it wasn’t easy getting there. Words like tradition, compassion, and family were thrown around like weapons in the hopes of guilting the other person into yielding to the other’s beliefs, wants and desires. We were both fighting for something and it touched a nerve in both of us.
In my case I didn’t see the big deal in having one of the meals 100% vegan, in her mind, I was trying to impose my values on her and the guests. Her view was that I was trying to control what others would eat and that was not my right. In the end, we were both fighting for something that would not be thought about on our deathbed.
Now back to Christmas dinner, which I agreed to be whatever she and her family wanted. There I was staring into the roasting pan, carcas juices dripping, the smell of burnt skin wafting into my nasal passage and a 25lb bird that had been alive just a few weeks prior. A bird raised with the express intent of being killed for someone’s dinner, tonight’s Christmas dinner to be exact. I quickly turned around and headed back to the dining room. “Meg, your mom wants me to handle the dead, cooked bird, can you go in and help her please?”
"Ideally my household would be influenced by my compassionate behaviour and my choice of non-harm, but that’s a bit righteous to assume."
Now, I understand, just because I’m vegan it doesn’t mean everyone around me, even in my house, has to be vegan. But it’s not easy to see eggs, butter and occasionally ground meat in my fridge. Ideally my household would be influenced by my compassionate behaviour and my choice of non-harm, but that’s a bit righteous to assume. After all, I was mowing down chicken wings and sushi just two years ago. In an ideal world they would come with me on my trip, but I can’t hold onto that too tight, nor can I hold them accountable to a lifestyle I’ve chosen. Yes, it hurts to watch them grab the dairy yogurt instead of the coconut yogurt from the fridge and yes, I question why they would want to eat eggs after everything I’ve shared about the negative health implications of eating eggs and how even free-range chickens live in an often abusive environment, living a fraction of what they could. But I can’t control other people’s choices. Nor can I impose my beliefs on them.
I know there are some vegans out there that simply could not have a partner who is not vegan, or a child who is not vegan, but I have both and I’ve come to grips with this fact, even embraced it because it’s a lot easier to accept other people’s choices, even when they don’t align with mine, than fighting a losing battle. It took me 30 years to move from simply not eating red meat to becoming vegan, why should I expect my seven year old to give up cheese just because I say it’s bad. I can expect that, but it will be a losing battle and I’m already fighting enough battles.