Vegan 101: How to Be Vegan in Social Situations
It's no secret that we live in a non-vegan world. Meat, dairy and animal by-products are built into the very fabric of our culture right now. Right now is the key word, though. I think that the tides are shifting. Every day, more and more people are transitioning to veganism. If they're not transitioning, they're learning about it or interacting with people who are vegan. What this means is that it's easier to be vegan today than it was ten years ago. Heck, it's easier today than it was a year ago.
It's easier, but it's not yet easy. I find it most difficult to be vegan in social situations. Veganism can still draw a fair amount of teasing, questioning and downright judgement in social situations, so it's best to be a bit prepared for how you'll handle social situations as a vegan.
I have collected a few tips I'd like to share to make being vegan in social situations much more manageable for you.
- Try your best to plan ahead. If you're invited to an event, a work lunch, a barbecue, whatever, contact the host the moment you receive the invite and ask if it's possible to either have a vegan meal made for you or to bring your own vegan food. The key is to do it right away. If you don't do it right away, you'll forget until right before the event or the night before when you're looking at the calendar for the next day. By that time, it's too late to politely request a vegan accommodation and you'll be in a bit of a pickle. If that happens, just do the best you can. Eat before you go if possible, ask if anything can be done to accommodate you at the last minute or drop down to vegetarian for the meal if that feels right to you.
- Carry snacks with you at all times. Be like a vegan boy scout, prepared at all times! You never know when you're going to find yourself in a situation where you're hungry, there's no vegan food around and you're surrounded by people eating non-vegan food. If you always know that you have delicious food to eat if you need it, you'll be much more likely to stick to your veganism.
- When eating out, try to cruise the menu beforehand so you know which items are vegan or could probably easily be made vegan. Try to find a private moment with your server to share that you don't eat meat or dairy. Ask for an accommodation, make a suggestion. Try your very best to be as polite as humanly possible to avoid giving vegans a bad name. If people want to share plates, just say that you'd prefer to fly solo and order exactly what you want. I find that handling my own order is better than trying to squeeze in a couple of vegan entrees into the shared plate situation. Inevitably, everyone seems to love the vegan option and you just end up with a sliver. You end up paying as much as everyone else and then end up hungry.
You will likely find your veganism as the topic of conversation in social situations. This happens more if you loudly announce your veganism to the room, server or host. It's up to you how bold you want to be with your veganism. If you don't want to call attention to your veganism, you don't have to. It's remarkably easy to find a private moment to see if your veganism can be accommodated or to quietly enjoy your vegan entree without calling attention to it. It's up to you. Of course, the movement gains steam the more we talk about it, but it's not always appropriate or necessary to talk about it all the time. You don't always have to be the vegan poster child. Be confident in drawing your own boundaries and sticking to them.
If the conversation settles around your veganism at a time you're not interested in a conversation, just say something along the lines of 'I'm experimenting with veganism, but I'm not ready to talk about it yet' or something along those lines. Again, you don't owe anyone more than what you are willing to share.
Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't state my deeply held opinion that it's important to be flexible. If you're in a social situation and it's just too hard for you to be vegan, for whatever reason, I think it's totally okay to make a different decision in that moment. The world isn't going to end if you eat meat or dairy. Strive for progress and not perfection. Perfection is a glass house.
Does anyone have any additional tips to share? I'm all about finding new ways to make veganism easy.
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