I'm thinking of starting a series of posts called 'Vegan Life Tips' with crowdsourced tips and tricks from me and other vegans about how to handle specific scenarios life throws at you while maintaining your veganism. Thoughts? I wish I had had something like that when I first went vegan, even still! This is my first year as a vegan so I certainly haven't figured it all out and I'm grateful to have a really really close friend (who is also vegan) and the internet to navigate all the scenarios that are all of a sudden new as a vegan, but without that, I'd certainly be left to my own devices more often than not. So here it is... first 'Vegan Life Tips' post!
I had been vegan for about 4 months when I was getting ready to go to a wedding and realized I had no idea what they would be serving for dinner, though I assumed it was not going to be vegan-friendly in the least bit. I had just moved from San Francisco and J and I were in transition, staying at his moms house in the south, and going to his second-cousins very, very, very southern wedding. I was the +1 and knew almost no one, not even the bride or groom, so I wasn't really in a position to be making special requests of them or the caterer for a vegan meal. I texted my friend saying, "Girl wtf do I do, I'm going to a wedding and don't know anyone and don't wanna starve." Her advice: "BYOF - bring your own food" and then "Have the caterer discreetly plate it for you and serve it at the same time as everyone else." Its almost so obvious I don't know how I didn't think of it.
Fast forward to this past weekend, we went to another wedding much like that previous one, and again I was the +1 at a very southern wedding where I didn't know a single soul. I took some time earlier in the day to quickly cook up whatever I had around the kitchen that might taste fine if eaten cold: sautéed veggies with tofu, some quinoa, black beans, and roasted purple potatoes. A bit of a random meal but well-rounded, healthy, and quite tasty. I packed it up in my little glass pyrex bowl, put it in my purse, and headed out to the wedding. I'm so glad I brought my food along because there was literally not one item in sight that was remotely vegan. They didn't even serve vegetables! It was a buffet-style meal and it included large cuts of steak, mashed potatoes, chicken parmesan, and macaroni & cheese. (Even if I wasn't vegan but just health-conscious, I probably would have wanted to bring my own food, tbh).
I found the wedding planner, asked her to help me plate it, and I came back with a really lovely quinoa-veggie dish that had people saying, "That looks so good! Where was that?". Shh, its my secret.
I got lucky that the format of the wedding was very casual and it was easy enough to be discreet, but sometimes you get invited to a wedding where the servers bring you a dish based on the icon on your name card and you eat in a much more formal setting. If this happens, the advice my friend gave me was to try to contact the bride or groom a few weeks in advance and ask if they can request a vegan meal for you from the caterer, even if its just a plate of steamed veggies or one of the sides they were serving. If you think you'll be hungry, bring snacks, and eat before you go.
Moral of the story: Being vegan is not hard. Yes, there will be some moments in your life when you may need to plan a little more, but when you are committed to living a life that is in alignment with your values and your highest self, the smallest and largest efforts feel effortless. Living in dissonance and denial is so much harder, so much more taxing on your spirit, so much heavier for your heart, and so much worse for your body and for the planet. The world is not built around vegans [yet], nor is it built around peace, compassion, environmental care, or the rejection of wealth and materialism, but when you care about something, you don't question doing what you need to do to live the life you want to live, to bring change to the world you want to live in. Going to a wedding as a vegan is one small thing we may encounter during our journey. But the intention behind the process is profound. It says, "I give a fuck."