I was especially worried about telling one specific friend about my looming veganism. Eventually I worked up the courage and started talking to her about the fact that I was vegetarian now, and going to be vegan in the New Year. I was shocked by her response. I prefaced telling her by saying I had an announcement, but that I was not pregnant or engaged. I then made the reveal. She said “You shouldn’t be veggie/vegan if pregnant, but you’re not, so congrats! That’s a big step, and an amazing one! It’s great for the environment and your overall health.” She floored me with this response. I was expecting the “veganism is crazy and extreme and stupid” lecture I could’ve sworn I’d heard parts of from her in the past when I’d mentioned thinking about going veg long before I did. But here she was, being supportive and happy for me. Even starting talking about how she wanted to go back to her semi-veg lifestyle she had in high school but dropped in college because of “limited food options on campus.”
So this was going well, right? It was nothing like I had expected it to be, minus her little remark about pregnancy, I couldn’t be happier with how that had gone. I had been all worried about telling my grandma as well and that went completely fine. So I told her how relaxed I was having finally told her, since I was worried that she’d make a big deal out of it because she thought the idea was stupid.
Her response? That veganism was stupid for most people, but that I’d be okay because I can handle myself. My thoughts are that this remark meant that she thought I was going veg for health reasons, as an attempt to lose weight (she’s in the performing arts industry and unfortunately has issues with body image and is very focused on thinness to the point where I wonder if she exercises past the healthy amount) or for environmental reasons (which are obviously a factor now that I know about them as well). I didn’t quite know what to make of it at the time, so my reply was “oh. I definitely thought that you didn’t think that things were harmful to animals.”
That’s when it all fell apart.
The reaction I was expecting from the beginning started now. When I made it clear to her that I wasn’t doing this to be thin (which probably will never happen given that my roommate has made me amazing vegan banana bread [which I call vegana bread] and countless junkfoods are still an option for me…. Gosh I love food) her actual opinion came out.
Every typical, horrible response other than “mmm bacon” started to flow out of her like bile. I could barely keep up with her. “Cows need to be milked, they feel better afterwards” “Chickens lay eggs anyway so why not use them?” “It’s the natural order of things for humans to eat animals, it’s how we evolved” … I’m sure you know the drill. I did my best to rebuttal each statement she made, but she has a habit of sending up to ten messages in a row so things eventually started to get confusing and muddled and pointless. It was clear that no progress was going to be made, so I eventually politely asked if she would view me asking to stop the conversation at this point was an indicator that I was out of things to say in response to her, assured her I had much to say and disagreed with much (or, all) of what she was saying but felt we should stop for the time being. She agreed of course and we turned to other things. But when my friend posted on my facebook a link to the article that made her go vegan (one that says to be feminist is to be vegan and talks about the dairy industry) and I tagged this friend in a comment so she could read it.
Holy. Fucking. Shit. Things exploded. I wanted nothing to do with the conversation as it was taking place online without me realizing right as I asked for our text conversation to be discontinued. My friend that posted it and some of her friends were engaging in a back-and-forth with her and I was just cringing watching it unfold. She’s been a friend of mine for coming up on 10 years now, but I was so embarrassed by things she was saying and how she wasn’t being logical at all. Eventually she stopped responding, I’m assuming because she ran out of ways to counter the other things being said. But I don’t feel any sort of resolution. I don’t expect I ever will.
It leads me to wonder if this is how I’m going to spend the majority of my life from now on. Feeling disconnected from my longest friends, feeling ashamed and embarrassed by things they say instead of having their backs when they get into messes they can’t handle. This is who I am now, and I do not regret making my way here, I’m so happy that I’m finally making these changes, but I wonder what other effects I will experience. It’s so much more than food.