I have never been part of a minority.
I've never stood out as not belonging.
I've always fitted in.
Even within the subgroups that exist within my demographic.
I can mix it with the sporties.
With the book lovers.
With the indie crowd.
With the top 40 crew.
With folks from the country.
With the well educated.
I've never not felt like I belonged.
Then I became vegan.
More accurately, I’m a plant-based rather than a true ethical vegan (whatever that means).
But sometimes it's just easier to say ‘vegan’ so the waiter knows what I don’t want to eat.
And most of the time it’s easy. I live in the trendy part of a large city and vegan-ism is having a moment. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve become completely comfortable with being part of a minority, even if it’s a growing one.
Because now I've become the one.
The one that no one wants to invite to dinner.
The one that that goes silent when discussion turns to the latest article on how butter is back.
The one that has special needs when it comes to choosing a restaurant.
And I hate that. I'm used to fitting in.
Which brings me to World Vegan Day.
I attended last year uncertain of whether I belonged there.
Could 'they' tell my shoes were leather?
When I last ate cheese?
Would I not fit in here too?
It was like visiting a foreign country where you aren’t completely au fait with the etiquette. I stood out. Didn’t engage. Just observed, half afraid I would be tapped on the shoulder and asked to leave.
This year I returned with the air of someone who knew what they were doing.
I no longer felt like the new kid.
I walked with my head held high.
With an air of confidence.
I had this.
We were all welcome and no one would look at me strange, confused or offended when I said the v word. And I didn’t need to. It was all vegan!
The freedom to eat whatever was on offer was exhilarating. Sure, it was mostly junk food but I really didn’t care.
All these people were vegan or confirmed as being accepting of vegans.
Once again I was in a place where I wasn’t the weird or difficult one.
And it was nice.