I enjoyed a happy moment yesterday with the discovery of a kindred vegan spirit.
Chance threw us together. We were making friendly small talk. As time passed, we discovered more and more shared likes and experiences.
Finally, as the conversation somehow turned toward food, he quietly started a sentence, “ I’m a vegan, so…”
I stopped him right there. “Wait. You’re vegan?”
“Yes,” he replied with a tentative nod. He was probably bracing for the inevitable well-how-do-you-get-your-protein question.
Instead, what he heard was a very delighted, “So am I!”
With a look of happy surprise, up came the hands for a high five.
Gotta admit, despite the fact the vegan population is definitely on the rise, coming across vegans in the wild is a pretty rare experience for me. Wandering as a vegan through the heart of meat and potatoes country can be a rather lonely and sometimes alienating experience.
The alienation has its roots in the defensive posturing that some people feel compelled to launch once they discover you’re vegan. Sadly, it’s also the case that sometimes you fly quietly under the radar just to avoid to the predictable, tiring challenges that you are occasionally forced to gently work through with insecure, heels-dug-in meat-and-dairy eaters.
So when you chance upon a kindred soul, it’s a pretty cool thing.
Then, you can happily chat about fave dishes and books and apps and oh, just all the other doors this shared choice opens up. Because the choice to be vegan is not fundamentally about food. It is a very deliberate, practical choice toward exercising compassion. It is an ethical stance about animals, people, and planet.
All the healthy side effects of such a choice are icing on the cake, so to speak.
Online, I see that there are more and more folks on the vegan bandwagon all the time. In the stores, it is clear that corporations are working to tap into this growing market as more vegan processed options keep popping up. Restaurants, too, seem to have a budding awareness with more of them including a vegan, or at least vegetarian, option on their menus.
Estimates in the United States indicate that the vegan population might be roughly three percent. Who knows, though? I think some other countries are definitely ahead of us in this lifestyle.
The numbers are still scant. Working through those uncomfortable conversations is worth the effort when you have the energy for it, since you might touch another soul in a way that winds up mattering some day.
But when you actually discover a fellow traveler out there, there’s just a little moment of heart sparkle. You find both recognition and connection, and, even better, inspiration.