Sunday, April 11, 2010
While lingering at my dad's house 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. Being aware of what would be served and knowing my husband and I would likely be the only vegans present, I brought along some animal-free patties. I wanted to blend in with the festivities and not compromise my compassion. (Well, I blended in so well that many family members, including my step-mom, 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. We see each other fairly regularly, and this is the first time I can recall that he ever asked me anything about my being vegan in all the 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 begun. It was like the elephant in the room had finally been acknowledged in some small way. How liberating!
Feeling caught a bit off guard by the question from my meat-and-potatoes father, after a brief pause I shared the first and foremost explanation I could think of. It could have been better, it could have been worse, but it was honest. 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 to that effect. I could have given any number of good answers but that was the one resonating with me at the moment.
There's honestly nothing more to the tale, other than 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." But 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.