Small Pursuits of Happiness #7: Get out of Your Food Comfort Zone
Mom and Dad, I have something to tell you. I think I’m Vegan
So I went to a perfectly lovely meeting of the Richmond Vegan Society this week and came away almost a convert. Almost. I loved the food, I loved the company. Everyone was very warm and welcoming. I loved what I was hearing from all the others there who touted the benefits of a totally plant-based diet: stories of the restoration of health and fitness, of major life changes and revelations, of no longer feeling they were contributing to the often terrible stories of the meat industry. And of delicious, healthy food.
However, being vegan in my family would be really, really hard. I am afraid I would be judged harshly. I was raised on a farm. We were mostly an orchard actually, so the only livestock we personally raised were chickens. But my parents butchered them in the yard. Yes, it was totally dreadful, and it gave me nightmares. I could never have participated, and my parents did not request my presence. I was shielded from the most brutal aspects of farm life. But my parents and grandparents, who lived through the Depression, had a very different perspective than I. They did not make the chickens pets like I did. They had lived through real poverty, through survival mode, and raising and butchering livestock was simply part of the rural landscape. All around us were dairy, hog, and chicken farms. To protest meat eating at home, or to ask for special food, would certainly be met with eye rolling and negative commentary. Get over yourself!
So, there’s that to consider: The confession to family (and certain friends) and the possible fallout.
But when I tasted all the foods at the Vegan Society meeting, I was truly, unexpectedly, impressed. It was such a fun night. My Boomer Connections partner Camille had invited me after another friend invited her, so this was all new to us. The Society meets each month. On this Saturday, we were hosted at the Friends Meeting House. This lovely little Quaker place of worship totally blended into the landscape of its City of Richmond neighborhood. So cute! I knew this was going to be a good event.
I was not disappointed. We were greeted warmly, invited in–grab a chair, grab some soup. It was a potluck, so there was a vast array of foods. At these meetings, everyone brings a dish to share, as well as their own plates and silverware and drinks. Afterward, everyone politely helps clean up and put the tables and chairs away, it is a very communal event. I must confess that I packed little bottles of champagne and plastic flutes in the cooler bag, and would have only brought them out if appropriate to do so. We got permission.
I forayed out of my comfort zone and prepared a dish that was quite exotic and attractive, and very, very well received. I was proud of myself!!
Here is the recipe:
I was delighted to put a sampling over the many varied foods on my plate and the melding of flavors was delish. I was becoming inspired. I started to wonder: Should I think about a plant-based diet?
The speaker at the event certainly was inspiring. Gabriel is a young man who was raised in the Midwest, rooted firmly in meat producing country. He went to Nebraska on a football scholarship and was studying agriculture with a focus on the meat industry. He suffered a career ending injury, physically debilitated with a broken back, and quickly put on weight and lost his direction in life. When he decided to turn it around, one of the paths was veganism, obviously a hard sell in his neck of the woods. He married a woman whose father was a large production pig farmer, a hard sell on that side of the family as well. Long story short, he has converted almost everyone in his family to veganism, and all are enjoying far better health and wellness. The pig farmer turned his land into a vegetable farm! Everyone in the room clapped and cheered at that one. Gabriel now has on online presence completely devoted to plant-based living and has delved deep into the study of how to do so, and is sharing that knowledge with the world. You can find him at:
Ok, so maybe I’m not totally yet committed to veganism, but I am going to put my toe in the water. My husband and I have decided to start by cutting out beef and pork from our diet and make the predominance of our menu plant based. We will occasionally have chicken and fish, and see how it goes, and then at least move toward vegetarianism. My daughter has ruled out veganism absolutely as she cannot give up cheese. That is daunting, no cheese. However, my mind and my menu has been expanded, and here I go. This small pursuit of happiness may just rock my world.
Check out the Richmond vegetarian scene and consider attending some of their events.