I’m Vegan; Now Go Away

So here I am at a more-than-memorable, five-star spa in Styria, southwest of Vienna, Austria.  Trust me; I have nothing whatsoever to complain about. From the food to the room to the pools, to the spa treatments to the gift shop to the lobby, to the grounds to the moonlight walks, this is one of those places that separates the rich from the rest of us. And yet, here of all places, maybe because I am here of all places, I have a gripe.

Sometimes, storyteller that I am and, according to those who know me well, I have always been, I simply do not want to tell my story. Sometimes, I want to simply do the Garbo thing and be left alone. I don’t mean literally alone, at least not here. I am on holiday for a couple of days with a dear friend who means the world to me, who is always, as much as any human being can be, fun and interesting and caring.

What I mean is, I am vegan. When I eat on my own, or with my husband, I virtually never, that is, 99.9 percent of the time, I do not have a problem finding something wonderful to eat among non-animal products. But when I am with others, who go out of their way to accommodate my particular strangeness, it’s always a hassle. This time, a hassle in two languages.

Either people are interested to know why I am vegan, how long I have been vegan, what does veganism mean, how do I survive if I get no protein (!), etc. Now, I know the answers to these intelligent and not-so-intelligent questions, and they’re not difficult to explain. And I know, I know, people are interested and/or just want to make conversation. The thing is, I am not out to convert anyone to veganism. I am not especially radical or political about it. I do what I believe, period. I… just…want…to…eat…my… meal. Don’t make me anything special, please; I love salad. No, I DO NOT WANT ANYTHING SPECIAL, PLEASE! I am an adult. I will tell you if I want special food. But I do not. PLEASE!

Call me a curmudgeon in my middle age. Except isn’t it almost worse when people are annoyingly trying to be  nice rather than trying to be annoying? I mean what a waste of good intentions!

But back to storytelling. We in the oral narrative line talk quite a bit about how important it is for everyone to have the opportunity to share his or her story. How empowering it is. How freeing. How much it bonds strangers and heals wounds. And it does. Except when it doesn’t. This little fact is something I am constantly forgetting, except sometimes, when someone tries, kindly, to get me to share my veganism story. Sometimes we simply need to keep our stories to ourselves, either for the course of a meal, or forever.

I promise, always, to remember that sometimes, it’s more empowering to keep one’s story to oneself.

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  • irenesavarese  On September 14, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Cool story Caren about not telling a story. No, honestly I do understand and I also remember having you over for tea and feeling bad about not having something vegan to go with the tea. My problem? Definitely!

    • Caren Neile  On September 14, 2011 at 1:08 pm

      As always, I so much appreciate your comments. And you never make me feel uncomfortable, so don’t worry!

  • Marsha Decker  On December 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Nice story, I too am a Vegan mainly for health reasons and understand completly where you are coming from. Thank you for sharing.

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