Finding Common Ground
A Vegetarian Interviews a Vegan – Pt. 1
By Meg Claire
I’m a vegetarian. My friend Tracie is a vegan. The joy and comfort we take in our plant-based diets are undeniable. It just feels good physically and ethically. But still, the mainstream American diet has certainly created a stigma around us. And within us too.
When I first tried veganism I felt ostracized. Ordering the one thing on the menu I could eat; the narrowed selection at the grocery store. The idea of “supplements.” Family and friends who were going out of their way to accommodate me. And most upsetting, a vegan support group who thought I wasn’t “truly vegan” because I didn’t like PETA’s style. I began “explaining” every transaction of my day. And on top of it, even though I knew I was doing the right thing, I was making an obvious sacrifice. I missed eggs and cheese. A cider donut put me over the edge, and I was back to vegetarianism.
Tracie was cool about this. She didn’t go vegan police on me. “Whatever works for you,” she said calmly. Then she proceeded to impress me with clever vegan recipes, like her cupcakes with seltzer. I hadn’t met a vegan who’d accepted me as a vegetarian, an equal; rather than a failure, a truth denier. I decided to ask her a few questions to get closer to her openness, acceptance, and compassion.
Q: You describe yourself as an "adaptable vegan". What does that mean?
A: No matter what situation I’m in, I find something that works for me. I don’t expect people to cater to my dietary restrictions. I take it upon myself to make sure I have something to eat by either eating something before I go, bringing something with me, or just working with whatever foods are available. There has never been a time that I’ve eaten out with friends when I haven’t found something good on the menu that I can eat.
Q: Do you think vegans and vegetarians engage in partnership, or is it a strained "relationship"?
A: I think it depends on the type of vegan you are. There are lots of vegans that feel that vegetarians (and anyone that isn’t vegan) just aren’t good enough and that being vegan is the only way but I don’t feel that way at all. I think that any change that someone makes – even if it’s just cutting back on their meat and dairy intake – is an amazing thing. Instead of trying to make people feel inferior, we should encourage and be supportive of even the smallest changes. Ten years ago, I knew a girl who was vegan and remember thinking, “I could never be vegan,” and look at me now.
Q: Who's your favorite vegan chef?
A: There are so many amazing vegan chefs out there but I’d have to say Chloe Coscarelli. She’s young, innovative and has come up with some amazing recipes. I’m also a cupcake fanatic and her win on Cupcake Wars was a hugely inspirational for me.
Going vegan was a challenge because I didn't have the support I needed. What was the somethin' special that helped you live the vegan lifestyle with gusto?