I just got off the phone with my sister. We were having an interesting conversation about ignorant people thinking Juneteenth is a joke of a holiday. If you want to see me go from calm to militant in a split second, say some stupid shit about anyone’s celebration of freedom. I think acceptance and understanding are the words of the day here. And not just of other cultures, social standings and nationalities…
Talking to my sister made me realize how great I’ve had it. My road to veganism was paved by the family members and friends who stood by and supported my every need. I’ve heard so many horrendous stories about people slipping non vegan products into food or being denied a vegan alternative at family gatherings… All of it makes me super appreciative of what I have.
Sophomore year of high school I had some friends that were obsessed with the ska movement. They went vegetarian and got on my last nerve always telling me “Meat is murder!” as I ate my ham sammich. In fact the more they got into my face, the less I cared about it all. One Fourth of July (and months after my friends had converted back to omnivorism) I sat at my kitchen table holding a chicken leg. That little vein thing was staring me in my eye, and I almost puked. I told my dad I was going vegetarian. My younger sister joined me for the ride.
At the time, my mother was stationed in Saudi. She was worried for us because my father wasn’t really capable of vegetarian cuisine. My sister and I took it slow. We cut out beef and pork immediately. For a few months, we thrived off of tuna helper and ground poultry products. After a while, the smell of chicken and turkey blood haunted me. So we gave up poultry. Seafood was the last thing to go, and it’s still one of my only meat cravings. It took about 6 months for my sister and me to become true vegetarians.
When my mother came back, she made it a habit to always serve a vegetarian option with each meal. My entire family supported us and always made sure we were accommodated for. My family was always about freedom. We could eat what we wanted. We had vocal freedom as long as it remained respectful. Generally speaking, my parents were pretty easygoing and wanted us to form our own identities. And my friends were proud of me. They were always interested in my school lunches. I spent the first year or so eating a ridiculous amount of salads, so I guess I was kinda boring.
The way I went vegan was not my proudest moment. After four years, I broke my vegetarianism. I ate all the seafood I could handle for about a week. I justified every death that filled my belly. Then I got majorly depressed and felt a huge need to repent, so to speak. I told my family I was going vegan the very next day. My sister didn’t join me on this one, and eventually turned omni. I know!
But nothing changed. To this day, my family loves to try all my vegan cooking. My mother always makes sure I have an option when I come to visit. My friends always let me pick the restaurant and make sure to have vegan things on any party menu. In my world, I’m not “the crazy vegan.” The people surrounding me treat me with respect and acceptance of my beliefs. Most of them even swell with pride. Okay. Maybe not..swell. But I do know this: I’ve always had the right to choose and I’m thankful everyday for that.