Of course you think you’re better than everyone else, especially the meat eaters. But why do they hate you with the venom that is usually reserved for child molesters and cop killers? Read on for a few respectful suggestions.
Quit pitching fits in restaurants
A smile and a decent tip go a lot further to sell veganism than huffing “You need to offer more vegan options” at the waiter. Especially if the restaurant does actually have a decent vegan entree. The person who hears this complaint is unlikely to have the power to do anything. You are being pissy with someone who works for tips.
This is how it should look: If they have a decent vegan offering, ask the server to thank the chef for putting it on the menu. If all they have is a green salad and fries, just say, “That was lovely, thank you.” I mean, you’ve given up ever feeling full. It’s not like you can’t suck it up and be gracious until you get home to your soy nuts.
Don’t disrespect non-vegan gifts
If you have invited people to your home for a pot luck, common civility dictates that you thank everyone for what they brought and put everyone’s contribution on the table. If someone missed your memo about how you have no animal products in your home, oh well. Put the mac and cheese on the table and be charming.
This is how it should look: Steer any non-vegans toward the non-vegan dishes. If almost everyone is a vegan, quietly put a place card in front of the dairy dish that says, “contains cheese.”
Quit judging other people’s cooking
“Oh, you put raw tofu (or white rice or fried potatoes or bread crumbs) in the green salad (or the soup or the casserole.)”
Everyone who is new to veganism, or just trying to accommodate you, is going to make something she can tolerate. Newbie vegans are worried about getting enough protein, and they are potentially repulsed by bean curd, quinoa, and bananas. Don’t make conversion harder than it already is by judging their early efforts. They will find their grains in time. Honor the journey.
Also, if you are at a social gathering, it is rude to make it all about the food. It’s supposed to be all about the company. Are you making eye contact and asking about their job search? So what if somebody brought a batch of boiled potatoes! Quit looking at the food and commenting on the food. It doesn’t matter. That shit is just fuel. Focus on your people.
Over the long haul, most vegans will learn to cook, wonderfully. Otherwise, there is no surviving the lifestyle. Don’t bite the beginners.
This is how it should look: Thank you so much for bringing a green salad; I was worried there wouldn’t be enough fresh greens at this event.
Learn to cook
On the other side of the spectrum, quit surviving on chips! You’re being a horrible role model! The main selling point of a vegan diet is that it’s healthier. When people see you, literally, scarfing your lunch out of a bag, you have lost your brand. And the bag should NOT be going straight up to your face. At least put that crap on a plate, and eat them one at a time. I know you weren’t raised in a barn.
This is how it should look:
“What are you eating?”
You (smugly smiling): “Homemade mix of cashews, pecans, and dried blueberries. Would you like some? Mmmm, so good!”
Random vegan foods that make your friends want to barf
A delicious pasta and red sauce will go over with everyone. Ditto brownies made with a vegan mix and a can of pumpkin. Steamed broccoli is maybe not for everyone, but everyone can easily tell what it is.
There are other foods that the general public secretly fears:
Brown rice–I know. It’s really not that bad when mixed with salsa and black beans. But they’re already figuring out how to avoid ever seeing you again.
Alternative: Red, skin on potatoes, boiled. They’re tasty and familiar, and they pack as many nutrients.
Alternative to the alternative: White rice.
Seitan–Long-term vegans will eventually try it and put it on rotation or recoil in horror. Their choice. But when cooking for mixed company, in general you want to avoid foods that sound a lot like “Satan” and feature unmitigated gluten.
Alternative: Grits cooked in oat milk.
Alternative to the alternative: Coconut cheese.
Green smoothies–I know they’re delicious, but don’t serve them in mixed company. Few people really want to drink their kale, which is what it looks like you’re doing.
Alternative: Substitute enough tomatoes to turn it bright red.
Alternative to the alternative: Substitute enough sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins, and oranges to turn it bright orange.