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Vegan as a Tantrum

'It's just a phase.'

Do you remember as a child when your parents would punish you by not letting you have sweets? Maybe you cried for sweets the next time you were at the store with them. Then, as a teenager they would place an activity or item off limits. 

Let's say it was dancing. They didn’t want you to dance around the house or at night clubs with your friends. Then a week later it’s your cousins wedding and your dad asks you to dance. You say no because “you’re not allowed.”  He assures you it’s fine but you remain. Next, your uncle comes to dance with you, but again you say no because “you’re not allowed." He looks over at your parents and they have a sort of mortified face, thinking that your uncle may think that you’re either a misbehaved child or being suppressed/abused by your parents. 

The real reason you’re not dancing with either of your family members isn’t because you don’t like to dance. You’re abstaining in order to prove a point. Proving that their restriction was absurd and has counter consequences. When you get home later that evening, they proceed to scold you; saying that you were rude and raised concern for no reason from your other family members. 

In your mind, it’s almost the response you wanted. To get them to see the error they’d made and lift the punishment. But the punishment doesn’t get lifted. "You still may not dance, and don’t you even think of causing a scene like that again." 

So you abstain completely, even when alone, even on special occasions, even when out with friends, because you’re committed to proving your point and also want to see what other physical activities are out there. You know, I’ve heard that gymnastics includes a lot of full body movement. 

You get older; old enough to live on your own and make your own decisions. You still don’t dance at the family reunions, barbecues, or holiday parties, and honestly your family thinks you’re strange and no fun. So your parents buy you some dance lessons for your birthday at a really nice studio with a well renowned dance instructor. You decline. They’re baffled and quite angry that you continue to extend the tantrum. They say you are no longer invited to family events until you apologize and end the ridiculous tantrum. You simply agree and follow their new punishment. But hey, you’ve been getting really good at gymnastics. You look great and you’ve even added swimming. 

You may think, "why don’t my parents just lift the stupid punishment? Then all would be right with the world." But they’re stubborn, think they’re doing what’s best. 

That’s comparable to what being vegan is like. At one point or other, we have an epiphany or realization that we must change our life and adhere to this new lifestyle. Some do it for the animals, some for health reasons, some as a quiet—or not so quiet—form of rebellion against the government and other animal industries (fur, leather, hunting). When people notice you’re vegan, they think you’re strange. They ask why you don’t bend the rules when you’re alone, have a special occasion or are out with friends. They ask if it’s a phase, AKA a child-like tantrum, your friends may want to make plans at a hip new restaurant that only serves steak and potatoes only to remember that you’d be no fun and only eat a stupid baked potato. But you remain. 

Then one day out of the blue, you’re at the supermarket and notice the prices on animal products are pretty low. And not just the bad stuff. The “organic, free range” stuff. Not that you were looking, it's just posted in huge letters outside the store and in every aisle. You pull out your phone and search why prices are low. Not much of an answer but then see an article that over the past year or two the meat and dairy industry has taken a huge hit. It’s bad, like companies have gone bankrupt. You look up and yet another epiphany. 

They’re lowering the prices of the expensive stuff so everyone can afford it. They’re trying to suck more people in. They’re promising it’s good for them. Promising it makes them healthy, makes men manly, makes babies in utero stronger. 

And people do fall for it, some have no choice. Because they’ve also raised the price on non animal products, making it hard for lower income level families to buy enough food. You’re single and have a good job so you don’t mind too much because you’re healthy. You cancelled your health insurance because you can’t remember the last time you went to the doctor or needed a prescription. 

Now, don’t freak out, but this is actually what’s happening. You hear people complain about the price of soda vs water all the time. Why is water not free? Why is junk food so cheap and clean food not? It’s almost like they’re subliminally telling you to eat and drink badly, only to blame you for being chronically ill. Or blame your parents, and their parents. You have diabetes or are obese because your parents are, and their parents were. It actually killed all four of them. So guess where you’re heading?

Of course you may have some sort of health problem they had. You were raised by them weren’t you? Ate the same foods, probably led the same sedentary life. But they didn’t know better, that’s what they were taught and believed was good for themselves and you. But you decide not to get angry at your parents or their choices. But at the food you had to eat as a child and continue to eat. 

Now look up, and have an epiphany of your own. What’s that snack in your hand? What’s that junk in your fridge, your cabinets?

If more and more people participate in the quiet or not so quiet form of rebellion, one day, our “parents” will lift the punishment.

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