"Ew, what is that?,'" is a phrase that if I ever used, was certainly left behind in some distant childhood or from the time I volunteered to pick up trash from a highway. I'm an adult. I clean my shower drain and ride the subway. Life is gross sometimes. The last thing I have to worry about is steamed black beans on someone else's plate. So if you've ever said "ew" to a vegan before, I have a few pointers for you on etiquette.
1. Vegan Food Is Not Gross
Think about all of the foods you've ever eaten or prepared. Fresh produce does not require the same clean up after preparation as does meat and it's threat of E. coli to our countertops. Fresh produce can go bad in our refrigerator, but that's after weeks and it doesn't smell at all like the forgotten chicken pot-pie. If you are at a BBQ on the hottest day in July, please do not touch the cheese tray after 2 hours, but please do grab a handful of berries around 5 pm. My point is that the grossest thing to happen to food is putrefaction, and fruits and veggies are better off here than meat and dairy. Vegan food is fresh, not gross.
2. Vegans are Not a Pain
Do you remember the time you became really obsessed with the gym, you looked and felt great, and loved your workouts? Did you give up something to spend that time on yourself? Probably. Did it inconvenience others? Maybe, but who cares. Everyone is different and coordinating dinner plans and meeting locations is an iCal nightmare for everyone. So who really cares if Gwen is late because of her workout or that Liv is ordering a salad or that Will is off soy? Our friends are a joy because they are not us. So, please give your vegan friends the space to be who they are. Trust me, they know what they need, and it's easy peasy to eat with them.
3. Vegans Don't Want to Change You
All vegans have a reason for their diet and it's meaningful to them. There is a journey that leads to veganism. It is a very possible lifestyle, but not always a simple one. If your friend is vegan, they invested at lot. However, their choice says nothing about you. Everyone is on a different path. A vegan is not eating a salad to secretly say that what you eat is crap. Going vegan is a WAY too difficult way to insult you. People who want to insult you, will just go for it, typically without much thought.
4. Vegans are Responsible about Protein
The RDA or Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. So take your body weight in pounds multiplied by 0.36. If you are a 130 pound woman you need 46.8 grams of protein a day. There is 39 grams of protein in a cup of chickpeas, which is easily part of just one meal for me. Basically anyone who eats 1800-2000 calories of anything per day will get enough protein for the day. Americans typically get way more than they need and high protein diets contribute to diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer, kidney issues and heart disease. Vegans get adequate protein from plant-based foods, and if you are still worried, file it away with that "smoking will kill you" speech that you won't have the gaul to say in front of a smoker.
A general rule of thumb when dealing with vegans or anyone is to give the same respect to others that you'd want to receive. Even if the vegan in your life likes to accuse meat-eaters of killing the rainforest by 6,000 square miles per year, which although sad and true deserves a major eye roll, strive to be a better person. Because one day you too will do something different, and you don't want to hear about it. You want a hug and a "way-to-go!," and you deserve that.
The good news is that most people practice superior vegan etiquette without even knowing and most vegans are amazing right back. In my life, my family, friends, and coworkers have been the biggest supporters of both my diet and the start of this blog.
So practice kindness and acceptance first and you'll never miss out on being friends with a remarkable vegan or any number of other beautiful humans.
Tell us your thoughts on #VeganEtiquette in the comment area below, or on social media @ForkfulofLove.