Conversations in the supermarket…
Husband to son: “Should we get the zucchini pasta or the cauliflower one?”
Total stranger: “Oh, are you vegan?”
Husband: “No, actually we…”
Total stranger: “We’re vegan and it’s amazing, I’m so healthy and virtuous.” Okay, she didn’t say virtuous, but you get the tone of the exchange. She was a vegan evangelist. It’s a televangelist but with vegetables.
Son: “Dad…” Meaning, let’s leave before this becomes even more uncomfortable.
Husband: “Actually, we’re just trying to cut carbs.”
Total stranger’s husband, very quietly and in desperation: “Once a month she spends the weekend with her friends, and my brother and I have a braai. And a beer.”
I get the feeling he needed to get this off his chest. Especially with Heritage Day aka Braai Day just around the corner and no chop in his future.
For the international reader a braai is what you call a barbecue. Although a barbecue is just a weak approximation of the cultural ritual of the braai.
Honestly, talking to strangers while grocery shopping is a bit odd. We all push our trolleys around in little impenetrable bubbles. We don’t engage. Like Londoners on the Tube. What kind of world would it be if we all started chatting to people in the aisles? Anarchy! Absolute anarchy!
I don’t really have an opinion on what you choose to eat. Hell, my people eat haggis. So, I can’t really judge.
But, like Paleo and Keto and Banting, when your diet becomes a religion and how you choose to imprison yourself into a neat little neo-cultural box, and then you start on a conversion drive, I tend to step back to a safe distance and make a run for it. In Scientologist vegan terms, I am a suppressive person. I also don’t like boxes. They give me claustrophobia.
I don’t define myself by what I eat, my sexuality or my religion.
It’s not like I introduce myself to total strangers with “Hi, my name is Sue and I’m a vegan, non-binary. Bikram yoga, Reiki master.”
Well, I might if I was and I happened to be involved in a speed dating game.
I usually just stick with, “Hi. My name is XXX. It’s nice to meet you.” And then go from there.