Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Knee, jerk

Recent focus in parts of the blogosphere about food choices have got me thinking about the food choices we make and why we make them. Many of the regular bloggers I read seem to be making changes, throwing out processed food, eschewing factory-farmed meat and dairy, and making healthier choices about food in general for themselves and their loved ones.

Awesome, sez I. I've made similar choices about what I buy and what I eat for years. But all this talk about food and where it comes from and what's good and what's bad is, I've noticed, triggering my knee to start moving up toward my gut of its own accord.

Internet, I have a confession to make. When I read about someone becoming vegan, when someone tells me they are going to become vegan, I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. It's a weird roil of turmoil, of "oh crap!", and my mind automatically goes from "I like this person" to "Shit, I don't know what to think about this person now."

Admittedly, I think there's sort of a good reason for my reaction. I think I've written before about some ex-friends and some of the travails we had with them during the time when they were engaged and we were engaged. All our troubles seemed to begin with the day they announced to us that they'd watched some sort of PETA propaganda video and decided to go vegan. I tried to be understanding and accommodating (even making birthday cakes with no eggs and using vegan margarine and soy milk for the frosting) but damn, it was a trying time, which ended in frustration and tears and no longer being friends with them. I guess I'm just not OK with being proselytized to, regardless of whether it's about how Jesus should be my personal savior or tracts from Church of Vegan.

Even though I've got reasons for my reactions, it's still probably not healthy for me to snap to an instant negative judgment about someone when they announce a major dietary change. As long as they don't try to convince me that The Vegan Way Is The Only Way, I really honestly don't have a problem with it. It's just that, since our experience in 2007, whenever someone I know (either in real life or internet life) becomes vegan, I feel as though that person is going to turn into an asshole.

What about you, Internet? Do you have any knee-jerk reactions to particular situations?


Yank In Texas said...

I have the same issues with a lot of vegans. It's really the holier than thou attitude. Thankfully, I've been lucky since most of my veggie type friends are "I eat this way but I know you don't but whatever." Tasty food is tasty food. I will admit to razzing a friend who recently went veggie with a vegan stint (health reasons) but that's because he was super meat eater Texas boy before.
If you don't give me attitude on what I eat, I won't give you any.

Crafty Mama said...

i feel the same way about many vegans. i don't need someone analyzing what i eat as well, telling me "what's wrong" with whatever i'm having and basically pulling attitude about how much better a vegan diet is for the body.

EEK! said...

I'm cool with vegans, I guess because I grew up with picky eaters and since ditching meat myself I've made my peace with the idea that pickiness comes in a lot of different forms and nobody else's picky habits are any better or worse than anyone else's. Hate mushrooms? Okay then. Gluten-free? More bread for me. Carnivore? Have my side of bacon, I don't mind.

What I really can't stand is diet/weight loss talk, especially from women* who aren't at a health-critical point, who are just trying to fit into a dress or some ideal they have of themselves. [Jerk alert:] It's boring and makes me anxious about unacknowledged EDs. Chalk it up to lingering fall-out from a traumatic college roommate, but also chalk it up to I'd rather hear sanctimony than caloric counts. I know I can engage with the former, but the latter makes me run for the hills as it's a total and complete conversation-stoppper.

*I say women because in my regular blog reading I don't encounter this topic so much from men. Also I don't read many dude-blogs, so.

EEK! said...

I'll also add that my totally knee-jerk reaction kicks my own issues into overdrive (she's smaller than me, should I be dieting?) and I resent the hell out of that stupid voice in my head because it reminds me of my stupid freshman year in college, when that poisonous thinking just wound its way through our dorm. #firstworldproblems

Anonymous said...

Oh, dude, I totally have the same reaction to the vegans. But I have known some that are really cool about it and don't feel the need to tell me that I'm killing my body by eating a slice of cheese. I think the problems happen whenever people use veganism as a way to feel superior/righteous, instead of just letting it be a simple change in their diets.

My guard also snaps up whenever someone suddenly becomes very religious, because I feel like they will immediately start judging the way I live my life. Fun times!

Hillary said...

I have weird issues with vegetarians because of a family member who is a vegetarian except for when she eats meat. Yeah. So now I get all twitchy whenever someone tells me they're vegetarian. I want to ask HOW vegetarian but I think that makes me an asshole.

MLE said...

Yank, exactly.

Crafty Mama, nobody needs to comment on what other people eat, ever.

EEK, I get what you're saying. My problem isn't with vegans per se, it's more with people who weren't vegan when I met/started reading them and then BECAME vegan at some point along the way. It's like they suddenly get religion or something, and I've just never had a good experience with it.

But I totally agree with you on the diet/weight loss talk, and having had an ED in the past it's super-duper triggering. Some people manage to do it without pushing my buttons, but most don't. And I agree that it's mostly boring, which is why I don't write about my exercise regiment or my eating habits anymore on this blog. Nobody who is reading cares, so I keep it to myself. And the answer to your question in your second comment is no, you should not be dieting. :)

JT, exactly. It's very much like a religious conversion or something, and raises my hackles.

Hills, ha! "How vegetarian?" is a valid question sometimes I think. For my own dietary habits, I generally say "I don't eat mammal" which makes it easiest.

Cilicious said...

I have to admit that I tend to wonder how vegans manage their protein intake, but the only thing I actively dislike is a sanctimonious attitude.