I had a interesting experience at a Biggby coffee shop. Most of the baristas know me there and know my usual orders. On this day, however, there was a new guy filling in.
I ordered a Earl Grey Latte with Soy Milk (the vegan equivalent of tea with milk). The young man behind the counter chatted with me while he made my drink. One of the regular workers behind the counter who knew me was also watching, making sure he had the order right. She mentioned I am vegan and asked the stand-in to be sure he used a separate container for the soy milk (which I appreciated).
Once he realized why I ordered the drink with soy, he made (I think) an attempt to show how vegan-friendly he is. He said, “Yeah, I tried this soy stuff before. Had one of them Soy Chai lattes. It was good. I think I would do it again…”
It abruptly struck me this is the equivalent, to a vegan, of saying, “Yeah, I’m not racist. I invited a black over to dinner once. We had fried chicken. I think I would do it again…”
I know the vegan lifestyle seems strange to some non-vegans, but if you have vegan friends, just treat them like your normal friends. You do not need to impress them with how “vegan-friendly” you are (and most vegans don’t really care anyway; it is a personal choice not a social one). I joked on Facebook, “Just be normal around your vegan friends; it’s fine. We already think we are better than you. You do not need to confirm it.”
The cure for Racism (of any kind) as I see it, is to refuse to acknowledge it. As long as you see vegans (or anyone) as a separate class of people, you are forcing them to be a separate class of people. And, by the way, if you had to pick a side, would you want to be part of the “murdering, carnivorous, can’t-control-what-you-stuff-in-your-mouth” or the “You-are-not-doing-a-very-good-job-of-hiding-you-are-a-bigot” group?
Of course, the barista did not mean to offend me (and, really, he didn’t–it was just an observation), but the point is he did not have to try to befriend me by showing he is half-supportive of something he does not seem willing to commit to or learn more about.
The coffee house guy was just letting me know he tried soy milk once, but I am guessing he did not let the next person know he tried coffee once. Maybe we could have just chatted about the weather?