I’m always the weirdo at parties. Here’s how it goes:
“_______, this is my friend Kristen. She’s a runner.”
_______ turns to me and says, “A runner? That’s awesome. I like to run too. What’s the farthest you’ve run?” (It’s a weird question. I guess people want to know if they can outdo each other?)
After debating whether I should be honest or not, I look at _______ and sheepishly say, “100 miles.” S/he then looks at me like I’ve sprouted a second head while processing this information.
“100 miles? Is that even possible? How do you eat/sleep/poop?”
At this point, other folks have heard the exchange and then I spend a while explaining this weird sport. Since we’re at a party, there’s food everywhere. Talk turns to food, and people notice how few things are on my plate OR they saw me bring in a covered dish and want to know what’s in it. After prompting, I reveal that I don’t eat meat, seafood, dairy or eggs. Oh, and that I try to avoid most gluten.
That second head that magically appeared earlier? It’s dwarfed by the third eye I’ve sprouted. I get really, really funny looks after that, and the questions pelt me much like the sleet did on Sunday. (Yes, Sunday. On March 30th. We got nearly an inch of sleet/ice/snow. Bleh.) I turn into the center of conversations, and it’s an uncomfortable place to be. Questions range from innocently ignorant to almost accusatory. It’s weird and bears repeating: people use accusatory tones when they ask me about running long distances and why I don’t eat certain foods.
I don’t get it. I know pianists, knitters, singers, rock climbers, kung fu black belts, bakers, and people with all sorts of other hobbies. It seems like running is the one that sparks the most conversations. I guess it’s because it’s accessible, and everyone (medical conditions aside) can do it. For some reason, people react to my hobby like it’s wrong. I have never heard anyone react to a pianist or knitter the way they react to me. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone responds this way. But enough people have reacted this way that it got me thinking. The same thing happens when I tell people I am vegan. Heck, that seems to bother people much more than the running thing.
People almost seem offended when I tell them that I am vegan. It’s a strange response, and I can’t for the life of me figure it out. I do not go around trying to convert people to a vegan lifestyle. I do not try to veggie-shame people. I don’t insult the food they are eating. I politely turn down foods if offered to me, but don’t make a big deal out of it. (Add to the mix that I am now following a reduced gluten diet and it becomes extra tricky.)
If I’m invited to a dinner or party, I bring along a vegan dish to share. (Oftentimes the dish gets hit so hard I barely come home with any leftovers.) I don’t make a big deal out of it. Ever. I ask in advance what we’re eating, and if it’s not going to work for me, I either bring the dish or eat beforehand and pack a granola bar.
I recently went out to eat with someone at a fabulous restaurant known for decadent creations. None of the main dishes on the menu worked for me, so I ordered a couple of side dishes. This is pretty standard practice for me, so I don’t think about it. The look my friend gave me was one of almost shock. “That’s it? That’s all you’re going to eat? But WHY?” I reassured her that it would be more than enough food for me and that it would still be quite tasty, given the restaurant’s reputation. (Given that she was paying, I thought she’d be pleased that I just saved her a couple of bucks but I was wrong!)
I don’t understand why people care so much about what my feet do and what goes in my belly. I get questions all the time. All. The. Time. Why does it matter? Why do people tell me that they will convert me back to eating meat? Why do they insist that I must be unhealthy? No one seems to care or even want to believe that I have absolutely become healthier since making these lifestyle changes. I don’t care to release my medical records here, but it’s true. I don’t claim that veganism or vegetarianism is the right path for everyone. But at this point in my life, it is for me.
Can anyone answer this for me? Why do people react in such ways to others’ habits? If I am not proselytizing or berating others for their choices, why should I be treated like I am doing something wrong? I know what I look like, and I do not look unhealthy, so it can’t be that people are concerned for me based on my physical appearance. And please don’t tell me people are just curious. I can weed out those people. I mean, I see people trashing vegetarianism and veganism online – just because we choose not to eat a couple of food groups. Why? What does it matter? Honestly, it leaves more meat for them! I just don’t get it.
Oh yeah. . . add in the fact that I have an African child and I become the 2-headed, 3-eyed, 6 fingered weirdo. Put me in the circus.