Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


The Honey Man

Today's Moment in Veganism for you.

It has been threatening to rain all day so this evening CK & I nipped out to rake up the grass off the lawn. We purchased a reel mower (yes, this means it must be pushed to go) and it tends to get hung up on clumps of wet or drying grass. I was out raking up the long, thin strip that runs the length of our lot.

I heard the neighbor behind us talking to a guy who had stopped in the street. He was walking with a cooler and chatting. I heard my neighbor say something about "You might check with her." I looked up and my neighbor called out to me, "Its great honey! We get it all the time."

With that the man made his way down the street to where I was raking and asked me if I'd like to buy some honey or handmade beeswax candles. Here I made a decision to actually tell him why I didn't want to buy his honey. I started out, "I'm sure it is very good honey but we don't eat any animal products. We're vegan."

He blinked at me and proceeded to explain to me that bees aren't animals, they are insects. "I know," I replied, "but we don't consume any products that use other living beings."

Thus begins a short conversation about our not being able to eat! He asked what we had for dinner (black-eyed peas, red quinoa, braised kale and a ginger/yeast/miso dressing) and then pointed out how our dinner was made from living things! I then carefully restate to him, "We don't consume products that come from any other living beings. No fish, no insects, no animals."

With this he muttered something and continued walking down the street, shaking his head at us a couple of more times. CK called over to me and I explained about the honey conversation. She shook her head at the whole exchange and we finished up the raking.

Yeah, the vegan thing is hard sometimes. Totally random people on the street will argue with you and in the end walk away muttering about the crazy person. Sometimes it gets old.

I don't get angry if someone accidentally feeds me a piece of pie that they were certain was "safe" but in the end contained some dairy because they didn't know that "whey" listed in the ingredients means "dairy". CK told me this week that the bagels we consumed most mornings at OSCON last year were most likely not vegan since the same catering company is doing OSBridge and informed them they didn't have vegan bagels. Once in a while someone gives me something with honey in it, but I don't get mad at them for trying hard to do something for me without realizing that bees count as other living beings.

Being a vegan is a choice I made because I believe it is the best way of living to support my practice. I don't condone other people for not making this choice and I don't try and talk people out of their "meat eating ways". I just make this choice for myself with everything I put into my body. When people ask me questions (because complete strangers seem to think it is perfectly OK to grill me about where I get my* calcium, protein, iron, omega-3/6 fatty acids, etc.), I try to honestly, mindfully answer them without letting irritation arise. I prepare and share all kinds of delicious, vegan dishes.

Which is why I had a conversation with a complete stranger tonight about how I eat. Yes, I could have just told him that I didn't want to buy any. That would have been truthful, but I guess I was trying to tell him that it wasn't him or the quality of his honey, it was my decision about how I live my life.

By the bye, the answers are:

  • Calcium -- found in lots of dark, leafy greens like kale, collards, & chard. Broccoli also has quite a lot as does tofu, tempeh and almonds.
  • Protein -- Legumes and whole grains, like the quinoa we had for dinner (a total super-grain) are loaded in both protein and fiber!
  • Omega 3/6 Fatty Acids -- Walnuts, I eat some most days. Also show up in tofu!
  • Iron -- Legumes, legumes, legumes! Yes, they are the magical fruit!
  • I also take a vegan multi-vitamin most days. This rounds out anything I might be a bit low in on a given day as well as being certain I get enough B12 (although we do consume a lot of nutritional yeast, which is just packed with B12). Pretty much everyone, regardless of diet, does well to take a multi-vitamin daily, not just vegans.
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