One thing I’ve realized since going veggie is how included I’ve been throughout my entire life. With isolated exceptions, I’ve studied, trained, worked, and lived in institutions that have been built for me–or the demographics I exhibit. I’m white and sport an indigenous accent in a predominantly white, native society. I’m middle class in a middle-class driven economy. I’m female at a point in history that’s becoming female-dominated. I have no physical, mental, or emotional conditions that limit my mobility or utilization of the abundant resources surrounding me. I’ve never known the isolation of being the outsider, the person who is implicitly not made welcome, or welcomed in such a way that the gap between my position and the majority is embarrassingly exposed.
It’s such a small thing–to not eat meat–it barely registers on the hierarchy of social privilege, but it’s given me a blurry glimpse of life for those labeled minority, those labeled exceptions, those labeled underprivileged. Those without stars upon thars.
I’ve learned that work meetings, weddings, conferences, and picnics that advertise “meals provided” do not mean meals are provided for me. I’ve learned the majority of American side dishes are nothing but empty carbs, salt, and fats. I’ve learned that people can get flustered or even irritated if you ask whether a menu item is vegetarian. And I’ve learned that the standard follow-up question after hearing that I’ve gone veggie is, “Do you still eat fish?”
I’m tagging this post as part of the veggie perks and though it might not seem so, this is by far the most important benefit I’ve gained from becoming vegetarian. Not the health reasons or moral ones or any of that. No, this writer appreciates the subtle, yet invaluable shift in point of view.