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Sunday, April 11, 2010

a breakthrough?

While lingering at my dad's tonight, he broached a subject to me that I was surprised to hear him voice.  Strangely, it felt like progress... 

The main course this evening was hamburgers and hot dogs, personally barbecued by Dad himself.  They were not vegan.  But I was aware of what was going to be served, so knowing I'd likely be the only vegan present, I brought along my own animal-free patties.  This way I could easily blend in with the festivities and not compromise my compassion.  (Not that I wanted a cow burger anyway--that gets a friendly "no thanks"...)  Well, I blended in so well that many family members, including my step-mom, Marie, thought I was actually biting into a regular old burger!  Knowing me, she nearly stopped in her tracks when she saw what she thought was on my plate!  Smilingly, I reassured those concerned parties that it was only a veggie burger, and as such, was no cause for alarm.  We all had a good laugh about it.  :)

But later on, during a conversation, my father randomly piped up,  

"There's something I doesn't understand about vegans--why is it that you eat foods that resemble meat but aren't really meat?  Why not just eat whole foods as they are?  Why do you try to disguise other foods as meat?" 

Well, his question quite surprised me!  But in a good way!  I was honored that he would even feel comfortable to voice his query to me; to trust that I wouldn't go off on some long tangent, and for lack of a better phrase, throw-up a bunch of unwanted information on him.  We see each other fairly regularly, and this is the first time I can recall that Dad's asked me anything about my being vegan in all the four years I've lived this lifestyle!  I'm loathe to read too much into this, but it felt like a breakthrough!  Like a vegan dialogue of sorts had been opened!  It was like the elephant in the room had finally been acknowledged in some small way!  How liberating! 

I gave him a brief reply.  Feeling caught a bit off guard by such a question from my meat-and-potatoes father, I shared the first and foremost explanation I could think of.  It could have been better--it could have been worse.  Still, it was from my heart.  I replied,  

"When everybody is enjoying a certain traditional meal, it's nice to be able to join in with them, but still hold to one's personal values."... 

I said something like that.  I could have given any number of good answers but that was the one that was really resonating with me at the moment. 

There's honestly nothing more to the tale, other than that Dad mentioned that while he was at Costco the other day, he tried a sample of vegetarian meatballs and thought they tasted horrible, to which the only response I could really give was, "Oh. I'm sorry."...  My dad.  I do love him though.  :)

Maybe next time he sees me, he'll have a new question to ask me about vegans or vegan food?  That would be cool!  Let's keep this dialogue going, that's what I say!  Dare I even hope?  It may be the tiniest of baby steps, but to my mind, it's a step forward nonetheless. 


Keri - I Eat Trees said...

Aww, awesome! Sounds like a good answer to me!

Veg is Sexy said...

Good answer! It's nice that he was curious and comfortable to ask!

Mandiee said...

Wow, it's great that your dad is starting to take an interest in your veganism. I think your answer was quiet good, as well. I agree with you that sometimes it's just nice to fit in while still sticking to your views. I experience feeling like a "weird vegan" at school a lot and sometimes I just don't want to deal with it so I use vegan substitutes. I do enjoy questions, though, and I think it is very good to be well informed so that you can defend your views. Good job, girl! (Oh, and I got quite a laugh about you almost-burger-mishap haha).

Have a lovely day!

VivaciousVegan said...

I honestly do not know why people make a big deal about what our food looks like....I think it is ridiculous at best and would be silly if we asked them why their food didn't look like a mass of bloody tissue instead of a burger.
On a happier note, I am glad that your father had the courage to ask you a question without berating your answer. My father in law irritates me to the core. He Asks me questions like that and then sticks some kind of dead procesed animal under my nose and says things like, This smells so delicious, I bet you want a bite..just give in to the smell....I smile while trying not to throw up...thanks dad...but I'll pass on your meatcicle!!

Tiffany said...

I liked your answer to your dad's query. :) I think the ability to openly discuss what is on one's mind and ask questions is important for understanding one another and the choices we all make, so yes, this seems like a wonderful breakthrough!

the gardeners cottage said...


First I wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving such a nice comment.

I think your response was superb. And I'm happy he is taking an interest in a part of your life that is so important. Bravo!


Heather (Where's the Beach) said...

My father has never come right out and questioned my decision to not eat meat. He'll gladly (with a joke thrown in of course) try my dishes. Thus far, no complaints on anything I've made. I think the only thing that disappoints him is that I no longer eat the meatballs served at Thanksgiving (family recipe). I almost always have to bring my own main course to family gatherings, especially at the in-laws' or to friend's homes. I think everyone has gotten used to me showing up with my own cooler of food now.

Jill said...

Awwwwww that's such a sweet story. I love when my parents are willing to openly talk about my vegan lifestyle and why it's the best choice for me. I think your answer was great. It doesn't sound like anyone else decided to try your burgers. Did you offer anyone the chance to sample one?

I was recently at a family BBQ and had some extra veggie burgers left over. Those who tried them with a bun and all the dressings really like them. BUT, two people decided to try them cold and half cooked. BIG SURPRISE, they were disgusted. Maybe that's why your dad didn't like the veggie meatball. Would a cold, meaty meatball without sauce or anything else be tasty? Probably not. You should encourage him to give it another try :)

Tamart said...

I think your dad will eventually go back to his roots from his training. Nutrition is the first foundation of health and sadly the last place people look to heal themselves!
I am not a vegan or vegetarian but feel very strongly about the source of meat being kosher and in moderation. Hey... my religion even supports that!

PB and Jess said...

How insightful! It's great that he's interested about your diet in one way or another. :)

VeganHeartDoc said...

Valerie, I love that answer!

Anonymous said...

FYI be careful about eating Morning Star products if they are not organic

HiHoRosie said...

Yeah, good answer. Hopefully your dad will be willing to try other vegan fare and find that it's actually very tasty and filling. ;)

Vegan Valerie said...

Hi Jill!

That's a good point you made about my dad tasting that vegetarian meatball at Costco. There's a very good chance it was under less than ideal conditions--unheated, no sauces, etc. That could make a big difference in flavor or texture or both. If I would have been thinking a little more clearly that night, I would have offered that suggestion to him. Ah well. Thanks for the insight!

And unfortunately, no, I didn't bring a lot of veggie burgers to share with my family. I should have. But I didn't want to make a scene, inviting everyone to a vegan burger when I was certain there'd be no takers. I'm a shy vegan and I don't like to engage others about my personal choices unless they ask first and I can tell they are sincere; it just hurts too much to feel others indifference to my strongest core beliefs. Still, if anyone would have asked for a taste, I would have been unprepared. And that would be such a missed opportunity! I'd never forgive myself!

So, next time, I think I will bring along some extra veggie burgers... just in case. :) Thanks for another good idea, Jill. :)

Vegan Valerie said...

Hello Miss or Mister Anonymous

Thanks for the link. I checked it out. Hexane in our veggie burgers? That's terrible! Why do manufacturers have to pollute everything we put in our bodies?! If it's not rotting carcasses than it's hexane?! Is nothing sacred?! I'm so annoyed. Next time, I'll shop for organic veggie patties. I know it's better to make them from scratch myself. But some days, I need a quick meal that's ready to go.

Thanks for the heads up, Anon. And do come back again--but please register yourself so we can get to know you, here, in the vegan blogger community! :)

Vegan Valerie said...

Hi Tamart! Miss Cousin! :)

I don't know if my dad has healthy roots to go back to... Does he? If so, I've never experienced them first hand. But I still love him. Even if he thinks I'm weird for being vegan. :)

I hate to say this but I believe that you (and everybody, for that matter) deserve to know that Kosher meats are some of the most cruelly derived animal products of all. Something to do with the fact that the animal still has to be conscious when killed and there are other rules as well. I've read so many books and pamphlets, I'm having trouble remembering exactly where I first learned about Kosher meat products. If I can pinpoint the origin of my information, I will do so here or in an upcoming post.

I love you Tam, I don't want to hurt you or make you feel bad. I just want to get the truth out there. I don't blame you at all. I think everybody equates Kosher with quality. But when it come to animal products, it's far from a pretty picture, Kosher or not.

(And if any of my readers know more about this matter, please leave me a link or something. I want to be sure I know exactly what I'm talking about. There's enough propaganda floating around and I'd never want to add to it. Truth and transparency is what I'm after.)

Love you Tam!

Vegan Valerie said...

Thanks everyone, for chiming in about my breakthrough with my dad. I sounds like many of you have also had similar situations with friends and family. (And probably handled them better than I did!) I appreciate your reassurances though--that the answer I gave my father was a good one. You are all very kind!

And Vivacious, you crack me up! Mass of bloody tissue?! Eewww! Gross! But that's the whole point!!! Why do people ask the questions they do?! Sometimes, we can only wonder! :)

Michal said...

Ive gotten that question too! You handled it very well, whenever i get that question it always catches me off guard. I mean why wouldnt i want to eat tasty food sometimes that reminds me of the foods i used to eat. Sometimes a girl wants a burger!

Congrats on your dad's question, that is such a big step (even though it seems tiny!)

Vegan Valerie said...

Thanks Michal! :)

amy said...

Thank you so much for your comment!
I just saw it on my juice post. I really need a nut milk back or something to ease the process of juicing. A JUICER would be great, but I'll have to wait till the summer ends, since I'll be away working.

Thanks again :) Ps. i love your blog, and also believe in God. It makes a difference when I live my life for someone who I know loves me and wants the best for me!


dirtyduck said...

excellent answer to your dad!!! i just stutter around and never know what to say!! my husband has done the same thing as your mom, sometimes something will look so "meaty" that he has me double check the ingredients!! great post Val

Vegan Valerie said...


Thanks for coming by my blog! It is so nice to know that you believe in God. My religion means the world to me. It's great to know your faith brings you joy as well.

I hope you get a juicer soon, although I concur they're expensive. I want a VitaMix really bad!!! But it'll have to wait. So, I know what you mean. Someday...

Take care Amy! :) Stop by again sometime!

Vegan Valerie said...

Thanks D.D.! So great to hear from you!

Don't get me wrong, I stutter a-plenty! It's hard for me to talk about my vegan values to most people. I hate the rejection I feel from others. Not that they mean to hurt my feelings, but... well, you understand, don't you?

And yes, faux meat can be very head-turning! It's hard to tell the difference sometimes. But that difference is everything to us vegans! :)

Gauri Radha गौरी राधा said...

Must make a veggie burger with these sometime!!