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Although I’ve lived with mental illness my whole life, I am not a medical professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclaimer.
Being a vegan is so much easier than it was when I started my journey when I was just 11 years old. I only knew one other vegetarian in middle school, and now I get to see things labeled “vegan” on packages at the grocery store. It’s beautiful how much more accepted it is now.
However, I am still constantly judged for my decisions.
And even though I haven’t eaten meat for over half my life, the anxieties that come with this lifestyle just won’t go away.
1. OFF THE SHELF
Does this soy cheese actually contain casein? Does this granola have honey?
My mind is in constant overdrive. I have to read the ingredient list with nearly everything I want to purchase. I’ve become a pro at it, but things still catch me off guard.
Let’s just thank the heavens for places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. They’re more likely going to have the answers to my questions. Plus, I feel a sense of peace to know that there are other people out there like me.
The less time it takes me to read the ingredient list, the better. The crowds of grocery stores really start to get to me.
2. WHAT’S IN THIS?
I religiously check menus online before I go to a restaurant. I research and research. I double check and triple check.
I absolutely love when menus have the ingredient list and nutrition facts online. I think every single restaurant should follow these types of guidelines, because it would make life so much easier for people like me.
My social anxiety limits me from asking the waiter if certain foods have my restricted ingredients in them. So instead of asking, I’ll usually have someone else eat it for me. Or if I’m really brave, I’ll tell them to hold the soup cause it might have animal broth in it. Or I’ll tell them no rice and beans on the side, because well….you never know.
3. EATING WITH OTHER PEOPLE
Like many people with anxiety, I am super sensitive to my surroundings. And I’m not talking about me crying over everything. I’m talking about that I can literally sense people’s emotions. I notice the slight fluctuations of their eyes and the way they jitter in their seat.
People think that I’m judging them for their food choices, and I try my best not to. But them thinking I’m judging them starts to make them question why they’re eating what they’re eating. It’s just an uncomfortable situation all around.
4. SO…WHAT DO YOU EAT?
After the uncomfortable silence and stares, I always get the dreaded question…so, what do you eat? If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me that I’d be able to afford a round trip vacation to the Bahamas, flying first class.
The fact is, I absolutely hate being asked this. To me, it’s more of a judgmental question rather than an honest, genuine conversation.
Let’s not even get started that this question is almost always followed by, Oh, I could never do that. Or better yet, I went through that phase before.
Just stop. My anxiety is only going to be perpetuated because of your curiosity. Or dare I say ignorance?
5. DID YOU BRUSH YOUR TEETH?
Dating a vegan can have its many benefits. Unfortunately, a vegan dating a meat eater is just not the same thing. No one really likes to think about it, but what someone consumes can actually have a profound effect on their relationship.
If someone stops eating meat because of humane reasons, a lot of compromising has to be done. No kissing until you brush the teeth. Or please don’t eat this and that around me. There are going to be a lot of sacrifices, and it’s not going to be easy.
I think of it as having two completely opposing religions. Different beliefs. Different morals. The harsh reality is that some relationships just can’t last.
Oh yeah, and I will never understand how it’s more accepted to take drugs at a music festival than it is to believe in my lifestyle.
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