I heard this today. I’ve always thought my favorite barista was veganizable. He’s often been interested in the fact that I go to the sanctuary to help out, and he’ll ask me my opinion about various animal issues that come up in the media. We’ve had very interesting conversations over the past year in the minute or so it takes him to make my lattes.
I’m not sure I ever told him that I’m vegan (though I consciously mentioned it today), but I have often brought people in there; we always all get soy milk, and it is often a crowd of us going to the sanctuary. It was probably self evident. And I have worn message t-shirts in there. Today it was a RAN t-shirt, but I most of my t-shirts are animal message t-shirts, and he’d have been bound to have read one or two of them.
Today as we were talking he asked if I’d been to one of the local vegetarian restaurants in town. I’d been to it, and we talked about how it is hit or miss with the dishes. Some people rave about this restaurant, and I find myself driving an hour away to go to a different one. The menu is extensive, however, and I’ve always half assumed that if I found the right dish, I’d be much more impressed. In fact, I am pretty sure this is the case.
He asked me about nutritional yeast and where I got it. We talked about various food items, the local grocery stores, and he mentioned that he wants to take charge of his nutrition. Or his eating habits. I can’t remember the exact words he used, but that’s when he said that he’d flirted with veganism for about a year and that it didn’t work for him.
I never know how to respond to that, and it isn’t the first time I’ve heard it. I don’t know why it didn’t work for him. It wasn’t the time or the place to ask further, but of course now I’m very curious. My assumption when people tell me this is that they were eating mostly junk food or perhaps almost nothing at all. A lot of people end up eating far fewer calories than they need when they first go vegan, and they seem surprised when you point this out to them. I didn’t have this problem, maybe because I was a lot closer to a vegan diet than I realized before I went vegan, so it wasn’t that much of an adjustment for me.
Hopefully I’ll have a chance to talk to him more next week when I stop in for my latte. I’m bringing him a cookbook (if I remember) because he also talked about a tofu dish he used to have that he misses. I told him I’d bring the cookbook for him to look at and borrow if he thinks the recipe I’m thinking of might be what he is looking for.
Former vegans are usually among the people least open to hearing about veganism or animal rights, but I don’t think my barista is among that crowd. Maybe he really is veganizable. I don’t know why he flirted with veganism for that year – it could have been purely for health reasons, though if that was the case, he does seem to have a greater understanding of the real issues behind animal rights than the average non-vegan.
The conversation we had today made me think of the several posts Mary at AnimalPerson has made in the past week, especially “On the Human Truth Threshold.” This especially seemed appropriate:
We have our unique truth thresholds, and once they’re reached there’s a law of exponentially-diminishing returns that kicks in and makes you less likely to do anything and more likely to be defensive once you’ve reached your threshold. And the problem is that because everyone has a different threshold, unless you know the person you’re speaking with fairly well, your enthusiasm to get them to think about what they’re doing could easily be the reason you fail (because you say too much at once and it’s simply too challenging for them).
She thought I was operating on this premise already (no chance) because she complimented me on the way I plant one seed whenever I see her or talk to her, and I don’t necessarily explain anything, though sometimes I do, and I don’t initiate the discussion. Ever.
My interactions with my barista have been exactly like this. I don’t initiate, and there is time for only the briefest conversations. It is impossible to do more than plant seeds, mostly with no explanations. It works both ways – he mentioned a book once, wondering if I’d read it. That was all he had time to say, but I found myself checking it out of the library the very next week.