Monday, 7 January 2008

la confession

When I tell omnivorous people I'm vegan, they all have the same response. I call it The Confession. There is a high chance that the first sentence is "I don't eat that much meat". This is usually followed by a fairly in-depth explanation of what they've eaten over the past few days, which invariably involves lots of animal products, all of which are somehow "exceptions". A note to those of you without dictionaries: when you do something habitually, it is not an exception. If you have milk in your coffee every single day, butter your bread and eat the special at the cafeteria, then consuming animal products is not an exception in your life. As much as it grosses me out to hear the details of who my beloved omni friends are eating this week, the unsolicited information isn't why I think of this as The Confession. It's the way that the information is given and justified, with turned-up sentence ends full of question marks and a vaguely guilty look, as if they somehow want me to say it's okay (which I won't). At the very best, I will summon all of my diplomatic skills and remind myself that friendships are valuable, and say nothing. More commonly, I ask them to stop, because it really does disgust me to hear it, much like most omnivores would be disgusted to hear a firsthand account of cannabalism. I also ask them to stop because it makes me sad to know that someone I love is doing something I find so very wrong when they could do otherwise.
However, I do have a pressing question, which I've never actually asked in response to The Confession, because I don't know that I could reliably dodge a projectile at close range. But now that I'm alone in the kitchen, I can ask it: If you don't think you're doing anything wrong, then why are you going to such great lengths to a) convince me that you rarely do it and b) justify it? I don't spontaneously ask omnivores what they eat or why, even though people often ask me to why I'm vegan, or ask me to justify refusing to eat/wear/do something not vegan. I try to remember to say that I'll explain my decision, but I don't feel the need to justify it. We don't justify behavior when we think that behavior is okay, and we certainly don't try to convince others that we're behaving otherwise, even if that behavior challenges a social norm. Imagine it. Can you picture someone blushing and muttering "Oh, I rarely volunteer. Except yesterday. And last week. But that was exceptional." or "I try not to tell little girls that they are equal to boys. I know, well, except for last week when my daughter asked about being a fireman. Oh, and there was that incident with the doll purchase, but other than every night before she goes to bed, I try not to challenge the dominant idea that she's just not as important as a boy." ? If I feel the need to justify or hide something in my life, either to myself or to others, it gets me thinking: what about this is making me uncomfortable? Sometimes it's that I'm doing something wrong. Sometimes I'm passively allowing some sort of screwy dynamic, or selling out to make others happy. Usually, if I find myself justifying something, it's a good indication that things have to change. So don't confess your omnivorous activities to me. I won't tell you it's okay, and I won't buy any of your excuses. Instead, howabout if I give you yummy food and silly dances that I don't need to justify. But I do like to share.

above is quick-ish post-running food. i almost couldn't wait long enough to take a picture before eating. it was a perfect clear cold night and the streetlamps were doing wonderful gothic novel things to the trees. i was a little afraid of vampires. it was a wonderful run. afterwards i made this: chickpea pancake (chickpea flour, barley flour, salt, nutritional yeast, baking soda, water) attacking, or possibly lovingly hugging a mess of veg (aubergine, and onion cooked in veg stock, a dab of red wine, basil, oregano and capers. at the last minute i added some spinach and leftover garlic-roasted tomatoes from the squash cocoa nib soup that i am still dreaming about). if you use japanse eggplant and have leftover tomatoes like i did, the whole thing only takes about 10 minutes, which is good, because i was thinking about gnawing on one of the kitchen chairs.
run/cook/dance/rant track: shriekback (big night music) and the clash (london calling).

No comments: