Though I honor my cravings in fear of relapsing with food and calorie restriction, my diet for the most part is plant-based. My road to veganism was stranger, and in my honest opinion, more entertaining than the typical conversion story. Most people experience some form of animal-based food poisoning, or stumble down the dark side of YouTube and watch Peta videos of animal cruelty in horror.
After a night out, I came home to my apartment and spent time with my newly vegan roommate. As I glanced over at my laundry basket, I realized I needed to wash my work shirts for my next waitressing shift. Suddenly, a wave of nausea came over me, and I began to visualize every bleeding burger and fatty piece of chicken I have seen in a shift. Nothing out of the ordinary in a meat-eater's world, but in that moment, it was utterly repulsive. From then on, even if I honor a craving, this flesh grosses me out. When I realized the difficult part (meat) was done and over with, I decided to challenge myself and cut out eggs and dairy as well. In just a few weeks, I lost 2-3 healthy pounds (in accordance with my hot yoga schedule), saw exponentially less bloating, and felt a surge of energy in my day-to-day life. In short, veganism rocks!
Between internet culture, ethnic cultures, and of course, the normalization of animal product consumption, I get mixed reactions when I reveal my dietary restrictions/preferences. In conversation, a lot of people respect my will power and applaud me for helping the environment, economy, and of course—the animals. On the internet, people can't believe the food I post is vegan! They want the recipe IMMEDIATELY!! They didn't know Trader Joe's carried that?! It's sweet, typically lighthearted, and nothing to fuss over. How great, right? One would think, but unfortunately, a majority of my positive feedback comes from women. Almost every male I have talked to about veganism has been eager to divulge into how much they love eating meat. I have learned that this tends to be a sensitive subject for them. Cauliflower wings? Forget about it!!!!!!! They'll chomp on the bone just to remind themselves they're eating GOOD OLE MEAT. Some even go as far as telling me to say I'm plant-based because they don't like the word vegan.
Granted, I'm not going to ignore the vegans that throw paint on fur coats and make dining experiences for meat eaters a living hell—I know they exist. It is understandable that in a world that has centered their cultures, economy, and such around eating meat, people think it's normal. I know that small towns in Wisconsin are not like Los Angeles, I am aware of the plethora of vegan resources I have on Postmates alone. However, something should be said about the way that men are so heavily connected to the consumption of flesh. Anytime I mention to a woman about the guy that gave me a detailed description of how much he loves eating murdered baby cows, they all kind of react the same way—"Ya, why do guys get so crazy about meat?". Surprise, yet another aspect of our lives is affected by toxic masculinity. Sacrificing flesh will not deteriorate the robust archetype you have constructed, Andy. We just want you to have good heart health and stop the inhumane, mass murder of animals after months of confinement, antibiotics (you can't tell me honestly you believe those labels), and who knows what else. Change doesn't happen over night, but even one less steak per week will help. And also not telling me "Ugh, that's annoying" when I say I prefer chickpea salad sandwiches over meat that mimics our tendons would be great as well!