8 Tips for a Vegan’s Social Awkwardness

8 Tips for a Vegan’s Social Awkwardness

You are having lunch with a group of friends and someone is offering you cake, you say “no, thanks, I am vegan” and from that point onwards a whole discussion starts. You are flooded with questions around why you are a vegan, where you get your proteins from and – if some of them are fanatic meat eaters – you even get some weird reactions of people getting super hot on the subject and verbally attacking you.

I’m sure every vegan has been through this situation too many times. Probably some of us have also realized by now that some approaches in these discussions can leave a bitter taste. Unless you are a huge activist or you feel like your purpose is to convince everyone to change – good luck with that! – I wanted to give my own tips to dealing with these situations.

First of all, why do you get these reactions?

Have you noticed that when anyone says they are not having a specific ingredient because they are allergic or intolerant, most people don’t go “have a little bit, you’ll be fine”? Maybe they get some sympathy, but they don’t need to go into a lot of details as to how they became intolerant, what their symptoms are, how they “live their lives like this” and where they get different nutrients.

The deal with us is that we choose to be different. Society has long taught us to respect rules and formalities. It is to the good of a community to have everyone drive on the same side of the road, to patiently wait in line for your turn and to swipe your oyster card when you enter/leave a tube station. The problem starts when we extend this mentality to other things like how people should dress, how they choose to decorate their skin (ie tattoos, piercings), how they choose to color their hair, what sexual orientation they should have and eventually how they choose to eat – and with diet everyone seems to think they are a nutritionist. These are all things that don’t affect the community, but still, we feel like everyone needs to conform.

Having said that…

Tip #1. Prepare before you go out

Some of us already do that because we are never sure if there is an option when we eat out. However, being prepared with your order before you get there also avoids the awkward discussion with your waiter, while everyone else is witnessing. Believe me, if you thought the discussion is over once your waiter leaves, it’s only the beginning for the people at the table :D.

Tip #2. Don’t be too difficult with offered food

Be flexible with your options. If you are in a restaurant or a guest and you are offered food, just pick or combine – creativity helps here – from what you can get. Don’t be like “Oh maaan! Seriously?! How come you guys didn’t think about vegans?! What am I supposed to eat here?” Eventually, don’t forget this is your choice and you are still a minority. Also, you don’t want to invite any further, already defensive, discussions.

Top #3. Don’t offer unelicited explanations

Whenever you are offered non-vegan food, just politely say “no, thank you!” just like any regular person refuses something they don’t want or need. If this is a host offering you their cooked meal or you get surprised eyes – because the food is so delicious in their opinion and they can’t understand how someone could refuse it 😀 – then you can also say a simple “no, thank you, I eat a plant based diet”. Note that using the word “vegan” sometimes invites for discussion because some people don’t know what that entails. I prefer to avoid it or if I use it, then I immediately explain what that means in very short terms: no animal products.

Tip #4. Don’t start the discussion on your own

Unless you are a hearty vegan activist setting up an intervention to all of your friends (and their friends) on a nice dinner out, don’t go out of the blue “Oh by the way, I am a vegan and you should be too!” 😀 . Even when offered non-vegan food, try to refuse nicely without jumping into details about your veganism, especially if no one is asking. I know it’s hard to imagine, but some people really don’t care to hear more.

Tip #5. Avoid discussions in groups

If you are having lunch with a group of people and you revealed you are a vegan, 90% of the cases someone will start a conversation around it asking you one of the questions:

  • “Soooo where do you get your proteins?”
  • “Why did you go vegan? How did that help you”
  • “How can you live without cheese?! Really?!”
  • “What would you do if you were stranded on an island and had only fish to eat?” (yep, got different variations of that question)

I recommend humorously answering the question and proposing that you discuss in private “because probably not everyone is interested in talking about my diet”. I also sometimes say “Well, let’s discuss in more detail some other time if you are interested in a vegan diet. I have lots of experience to share so far.”

Tip #6. Arm yourself with some basic facts

Nothing helps more if you end up discussing your diet, than verifiable facts. I have used some I read or heard about through media. A few examples are:

  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which is one of the largest organization of nutrition professionals states in one of their releases that  “a vegan diet is nutritionally adequate”.
  • The Adventist population studies using thousands of subjects found that vegans had 15% fewer mortality rates than omnivores.
  • The only male lifter to make it to the last Olympics to Team USA was vegan and he broke a weightlifting record (Kendrick Farris)

So this should at least ensure everyone that you are not a hippie going off charts, dying or dissolving into thin air (contrary to some beliefs) haha

Tip #7. Be careful with your tone of voice

An approach like “Eeeek! How can you that, dude?!” or “Don’t you f**in’ tell me that eating meat is ok! You are a killer of animals!” never proved to yield the best results. I think there’s no need for further explanations here.

Tip #8. Humor helps

The discussions around this subject that go really bad usually are a result of people taking the matter too seriously. On either side. So joking while answering questions always helps.

Ultimately, I think it’s important that you don’t let dietary or ethical choices affect your social interactions and your friendships. Life has to be enjoyable for everyone and embracing differences is just one crucial step to getting there. Peace! 😀

 

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Vienna is a very relaxed city

Vienna is a very relaxed city

If I were to make a top of European cities, it’d be:

  1. Vienna
  2. Barcelona
  3. London
  4. Valencia
  5. Geneva

Vienna in words

So last week, I went to Vienna. For the n-th time!

I love this city, but here are a few things that struck me:

  • it’s very airy – streets are wide, buildings are wide, not that tall though
  • the weather was amazing – I think we were lucky because it was up to 30 C and that apparently is unusual
  • not everyone speaks English, contrary to the belief – I had a hard time ordering my food in some places.
  • ATMs require your card first, before they even ask whether you want to switch the language – I spent 5 mins dumbfounded in front of an ATM because I couldn’t figure out how to use it haha
  • they have “fast trains” or “schnell” trains even within the city and they look very fancy
  • you can easily go every place by public transport within 40 mins or so
  • their sidewalks are made with smooth concrete pavement, not the squares you see in London – makes it easier to ride
  • lots of kicking scooters – because sidewalks are so easy to ride 😀
  • the general atmosphere feels like a vacation – not lots of people on the street, no one seems to run places, they even stand on the left on escalator stairs (whaaaaaat?! how dare they?!)

Conclusion: London is very crammed and busy

Vienna in video

Vienna on coffee

Our trip to Vienna. We had one long weekend and among the things we visited were: The Schombrunn Palace with its gardens, a maze inside, the Stadtpark, the Belvedere, the Prat and eventually the Ernst stadion

Vienna in pictures

  • Jack the Ripper house in Prater
  • Vienna street with horse carriage
  • Schombrunn castle
  • The main videographers
  • Lemon garden in Schmbrunn
  • Garden in Schombrunn
  • Walk in the park
  • Schombrunn gardens
  • Turquoise beauty :P
  • Strauss in the park
  • Time is short
  • Waiting for Coldplay
  • Smiling before Coldplay
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Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

A nice, short sum-up of the experience

Machu Picchu, May 2017

Our trek on Machu Picchu. For more information, visit www.inquisitiveclaudia.com

Day 1

The trek started at Ollantaytambo. After the usual pictures at the entrance of the park, we started heading up. This day was considered “easy” because the steepness was … gradual. We stopped a lot at different sites where we got to introduce ourselves to the group, see a few incan ruins and get a nice introduction by our guide. The weather was amazing, sunny and encouraging for the days to come.

The first camp site looked like in the back garden of a local. The pigs, sheep, dogs and even roosters around were promising an early rise. Included in the package was the most amazing night sky I’ve ever seen! A full moon and the whole Milky Way just a short arm’s away.

 

Day 2

The roosters and dogs kept their promise and woke us up even before the 5 am “army” call. We were offered a nice coca tea at the “door” of our tent and were expected to pack up within 45 mins. Before we knew it, we were on our way to what was called the “challenging” day.

5 hours of steps were in store for us. Walking up seemed to never end. To be honest, after Rainbow Mountain, nothing seemed insurmountable anymore. The philosophy of one step after another worked like a charm. Dead Woman’s pass (4200 m) was our aim and, one after another, we conquered even this height. Afterwards, we headed down to the next camp site for another couple of hours.

This time, we were welcomed by a symphony of frog sounds (yuck!). It was also one of the coldest nights I’ve ever slept through in my life. We all literally froze in our sleeping bags, all dressed up and with caps and gloves on. The next morning couldn’t have come faster!

 

Day 3

The third day was labeled “unforgettable”. We had a bit of what our guide called “inca flat” (alternating up and down) and then a lot of stairs down. The nice part was that we were going to go through another pass and also stop on some occasions for other ruins.

The first part was quite pleasant. The second part.. the going down, though? Let me just say my biggest concern for this whole trek had been my Achillean tendons – an injury I had in the past. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that didn’t bother me at all. Instead, my knees slowly started hurting, then they started hurting some more and eventually they failed on me. If I hadn’t had my hiking poles, I probably would have crawled my way into the camp. They even called me the “myriapod” (thanks, Ovi!). “Hang on! Make space! The myriapod is coming!” hahaha.

With this occasion, I feel like I need to thank all the people that had the patience to walk behind me, walk with me, friends, trek buddies, Americans, Canadians and other people I made friends with while I was walking down this super long day for me :D.

  • Surprise cake (non-vegan) on the Machu Picchu trek
  • C:\DCIM\100GOPRO\GOPR1004.GPR

 

Day 4

The “unique” day. Yeah, we woke up at 3 am, waited in line to enter the Machu Picchu site for 1.5 hrs, walked for another 5 k (in sticks for some of us) and eventually reached the site around 9 am.

The guide walked us for a couple of hours through the ruins, giving us so much interesting information. It was surreal even being there after a 40+ k hike. The funny bit is that you can reach the place by train and bus for a day. So you can imagine there were 2 types of people there: the cleanly dressed, nicely looking and smelling, lipstick-on kind of people. And us: the hobo looking, unwashed and uncombed for 4 days. Us, the ladies, were trying to move our hair from one side to the other, maybe, just maybe, we could look decent for a picture or two.

Eventually, on the account of 0 energy, we all decided to take the bus and head down to Aguas Caliente for the restaurant we were supposed to meet at. Let me just say the lunch there was anything and everything we missed after a hike through the wilderness.

We were also properly certified for our achievement and had the chance to have a warm goodbye from our guide and other members of the group who had the brilliance to book the night in that little mountain village.

The way back to Cusco was long and windy, but, man, can I not emphasize enough that feeling the warm water and the soft sheets over our skins was enough to make all the angels sing hahaha.

 

El finale

I would definitely recommend going through this experience to anyone. I can’t describe enough the landscape, the emotional charge of the places you see. Add on top of that all the amazing people you get to meet and know along the way. There is no comparison to any conventional vacation we have.. Just do it!

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