Stories started rolling in after my previous post on “Vegan Holiday Self-Defense.” Warning, this post contains more “choice words” than I’ve ever posted in the past two years. If this will offend you, please don’t read on. I have borrowed a few fun pictures off the internet to make my point! The story I’m about to share is an extreme case of what can happen to someone following a plant-based vegan diet. I hope this story doesn’t deter anyone from going on a plant-based diet. Most people are becoming a lot more informed about the health benefits of a vegan diet thanks to films like, “Forks Over Knives” and people like Bill Clinton and Ellen DeGeneres going vegan! However, we need to be able to address and shed some light on the negativity that can occur from uninformed and downright nasty behavior. Here’s what a friend shared:
Nina, I had a horror story from the other day. Christmas lunch with my partners family. I was told to make a vegan main to bring, ok no worries, but when we got there his mother told us that because we thought we were special we were not allowed to eat the meat eaters veggie sides and she even took food off my daughters plate in front of everyone! Then had a go at me for being inconsiderate and next time to make a separate whole meal. It was hideous. I’ve made a decision that that is the last time and as much as I love my partner, who went mute during the whole thing, I’m never putting my kids and I through it again with them. Every year has been difficult.
My friend, who was beside me while I was reading this, responded to how he would have dealt with this scenario. He’s a lawyer and is used to dealing with difficult people! He immediately responded, “That is the rudest and most inconsiderate thing I’ve ever encountered. We will be taking our leave now!” Then I’d taken the kids and left! I hope your partner supports you in this…even if it is his mother! This is beyond normal, my friend! As I mentioned in my post, I have cut off family members from my life because I refuse to be abused! If people can’t tolerate differences you don’t need to associate with them! If my mother had done this to my partner I would have told her immediately that she was out of line! So sorry!!!
Thankfully, most of my family in Denmark has been the most accommodating, making me vegan and raw vegan food when I’ve come for a visit! That said, I never go to someone’s house making judgments about what they’re eating – or bring up why meat eating is horrible at the table – and if they bring it up, I will say this is not the time for that discussion. If they ask what they can make for me, I ask for something simple, like a baked potato! We all have to remember that we didn’t become veggie lovers overnight & that most of us used to eat these meat products! She wrote this in response:
Nina, your family sounds very progressive! Mines coming around too and now provide a meal which is great, especially after seeing how healthy and strong we are getting. My partners family are just very ‘old school’ and see making choices that are different as being hippy or communist or rebellious. We’ve never been evangelist about our choices and gone on about it at all, but have given good reasons if asked. I rejected meat at 16, 26 years ago, so am very practiced in general. This last experience really topped it though!
Then I had to ask my new friend, “Did this conversation come about without there being any lead up discussion about your opinions about veganism or non-animal products?” I asked her this because you know that there are people out there who want to put their beliefs in your face at the most inopportune times, such as a holiday gathering around food! I didn’t think this was the case, but I had to ask! Here’s her response:
Yep. The kids and I kept it all very ‘normal’ and made little fuss but expressed our choice which from day one which opened us up to ridicule and hidden beef stock and shredded chicken etc. my partner would just eat it and not complain, he’s not strong with his family who as a result still have family functions at steak houses where there’s literally nothing he can eat. If we stayed with his parents, I’d be doing the cooking for us, which quickly ended up with me cooking in general and cleaning up, which I put a stop to this year. We have given broad minded and intelligent reasons for our choices but over roaring laughter and rolling eyes. My partner wants me to just take it and be nice, but after years of it, esp earlier this week, I’ve had enough. Copped it enough from my own family who luckily now provide a meal.
My mother would have responded the exact same way your partner did. In Danish, we have this saying that goes something like this, “Man bør spille gode miner til slet spil!”, which is about pretending to be okay, smiling, and being polite while others are downright rude or disrespectful to your face…or behind your back! It’s about putting up a false facade! The Danish dictionary has this translation, “Put a good face on it.” I’ve personally never understood this logic nor agreed with this saying! I know that many people have a difficult time dealing with family members, especially this time of the year, and how to best handle scenarios like these! Whatever their reasons for this negative behavior: jealousy, needing someone in the family to be “the black sheep”, disrespect, mental illness and/or some emotional disorder (please keep in mind that some of the people around you might be suffering from bipolar disorder without you even knowing it) or just simply need to have someone to gossip about! My friend asked me, “Have you ever noticed how some people seem to get satisfaction out of being difficult?” Absolutely! And, I have finally drawn the line in my own life and said, “Enough!”, so you’re certainly not alone! When my Dad was alive and I shared with him – that I didn’t plan to see these people again, he said to me, “I think you can live without that!” Sure can! Who needs these crazy makers?
What is called for is assertive behavior! This needs to be practiced and if you can afford it, seeking the help of a professional may also help. NO, I’m not talking about hiring a “gun for hire” to take out your possible future mother-in-law out! Here is a suggestion of something you could say to your partner’s mother the next time you talk to her:
“You know, I’m not trying to change you. I’m not trying to make it so that you can’t eat your foods, but you seem unwilling to accept what I believe is appropriate and reasonable choices for my family and you have also chosen to do it in a mean spirited fashion. We won’t be dining with you any more! I’m sorry it has come to this!”
Thank you again for sharing your horror story with all of us! This is truly beyond normal and appropriate behavior! Thankfully, as more people become aware of all the benefits to a whole foods plant-based diet some of these myths and misconceptions will disappear! Another thing to keep in mind is that there are really only two responses to anything on this planet…Love or fear! Your partner’s mother has reacted and is operating from a totally fear based place! Beneath it all, she is afraid…even if she is rolling her eyes and laughing!
One final note for you, dear friend