Nor did I want people to shy away from me for fear of a rant about health, animal welfare, and environmental issues. They didn’t have to worry since that’s not my style and, except for my blog and cookbooks, I tend not to openly discuss my lifestyle decisions unless there is a large desire to know (which there rarely is). I take pride in doing what I feel is best for me and my community without needing to explain or defend it.
This started to change when I had to get more involved at work and spent more time taking people out to lunch or meeting colleagues for dinner while traveling. Most times, ordering from the menu would go smoothly for my colleagues until it got to me and I had to make special requests for meat-dairy-egg free meals if it was possible; if not, then I would make a very long dinner out of a simple garden salad.
Surprisingly, most of the people I met took a serious interest in my vegan diet rather than being shocked or turned-off by it. In fact, there was always one person who said that they had considered it seriously, tried going vegetarian or vegan at least once a week, and wanted more ideas for recipes and ingredients. They had questions about meat replacements, getting enough protein and calcium, having enough energy, and feeling full after an all-vegetable meal.
Over time I had so much genuine interest in the way I ate, and even had people call me and tell me that they had tried going vegetarian or vegan after they spoke with me, that I realized that more people than I thought wanted to try going vegan or vegetarian. It was in their mind already and all they really needed was an enthusiastic affirmation that it was OK to try it, that it wasn’t going to harm them, and that it was possible to enjoy it. When they spoke with someone who was genuine about adopting and appreciating the diet, it gave them the confidence to change.
Eating habits are very hard to change, maybe one of the hardest things to change in life. It's an endeavor that requires prolonged effort. So a human connection, a partner, is sometimes what is needed to give people the strength and determination to eat differently. This is especially true when they are concerned for their own health and know that going vegan could probably help them, but aren’t convinced enough switch.
Finally, so many people asked me about what I ate that I decided it was more efficient to write a cookbook which I could send them and produce a blog to answer questions that I was commonly asked rather than spending 30 or 40 minutes every time I met people for dinner to explain how I eat and why. My cookbooks and this blog are a result of those dinner time conversations. I hope they're useful for you, too!