An Omnivore’s Guide to Keeping The Peace
“We need to talk,” he says. “Wait, are we breaking up?” you joke. Silence. Your eyes grow wide. “We are breaking up!” He shakes his head, eyes closed. “It’s someone else, isn’t it?” He inhales irritatedly. “You’re… gay?” He rolls his eyes. “It’s ok if you are, I mean, I always kinda knew—” He suppresses a scream. “Will you let me speak?!” You meet his eye. “Yeah, go ahead, you just made me very nervous with that ‘we need to talk’ thing. No conversation that started like that ever ended well for me,” you say. “I wonder why,” he says, adding, “I’ve decided I’m… vegan.”
For a moment it feels like your world’s dissolving into thin air just a little bit, but you turn the drama down just a smidge. You want to ask, “What about all those trips to McDonald’s on our BMXs?” but you never rode to McDonald’s on your BMXs. Different movie. Still, though. You had your thing. That dodgy chicken place you frequented after a night out when you were students. That time you went to that place where, if you can eat the entire kilogram of steak, you can have it for free – and actually did… both of you. It’s hard not to see this as a betrayal. “You’re like, lank quiet,” he says. “You know this doesn’t change anything, right?”
But it does. Or doesn’t it? It’s a lot. What are you supposed to do now?! The truth is, not much. But whatever you do…
… DON’T BRING UP THE P WORD
Don’t see this as an opportunity to impart “sound” advice on what to expect when you’re expecting… not to eat meat. It’s a slippery slope. You’re best friend’s vegan now. Chances are, protein was one of the first things that crossed his mind. Every other fitness guru is vegan these days, so there’s no shortage of advice on the topic. But whatever you do, resist the urge to bank your friend of 20-plus years under “saint”. Vegan doesn’t mean you suddenly do everything right. No one’s perfect. The last thing your friend wants is for this to change your friendship, unless of course your entire friendship hinged on the consumption of animals, in which case it was too fragile to begin with.
… DON’T BE FOMO GUY
You know how you used to go for burgers after a movie? A juicy steak, perhaps? Maybe a chicken Caesar was more your thing. Point is, your friend knows what he’s missing out on, and this is probably hard for him too, but he still made his choice, and that needs to be respected. It’s a sacrifice. When we go vegan, we usually do it to be more environmentally friendly, to spare animals, or for health reasons – something bigger than us. Whatever the reason, don’t make it harder than it needs to be. If he ever seems to come off as a bit sanctimonious, though, call him on it. It’s a two-way street.
… DON’T DO LETTUCE AND CUCUMBER CUPS
Two very healthy ingredients to be sure, but where’s the love? Going plant based doesn’t mean you say goodbye to comfort food. If you don’t know what to make, ask. If you’d rather surprise your friend with your plant-based repertoire, Google it. Veganism is nothing new. But while you’re there, avoid those vegan recipes that are made of weird ingredients that make the food taste like something it’s not. While that does it for some vegans, it can be really off-putting to others. Rule of thumb, if there was an animal involved in any way – think dairy, eggs and even honey – steer clear. But think of it this way, everything else is fair game!
… DON’T EVEN IMPLY THE B WORD
The word you’re looking for is burden. Don’t go there. Not if you value your friendship. Whether your friend is lactose or gluten intolerant, has allergies, or in this case, made the switch to veganism, why would you make them feel like there’s something wrong with them? Sure, you might not get as much joy from the steakhouse you’ve been going to since you’ve been five, but think of all the new places you can try. Vegan is totally a thing now, and most menus cater to that.
… DON’T SAY IT TASTES LIKE CHICKEN
Let’s be honest, plant-based burgers never really tasted like beef. And if they did you probably shouldn’t have eaten them. Spoiler alert: plant-based products will likely retain a taste of, well, the plant they come from. And that’s ok. In fact, it’s preferable. The edible plant kingdom is vast and full of flavour. Enjoy it for what it is. It’s not a competition, so don’t feel the urge to compare. It’s just another normal.