Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being vegan is not so much a dietary choice as a never-ending journey guided by strong beliefs and convictions. We learn as we go, encounter road bumps, and discover new things about ourselves and others. When we become vegan, we don’t take this journey alone; our friends and family join us for certain parts of the ride, which can result in humorous consequences.

I’m lucky to have a pretty supportive and curious group of friends and family who are eager to accommodate me at events, ask questions, and frequently visit my blog for recipes. I remember telling my friend Lauren not to worry about making a vegan fondue for me at one of her get-togethers — that I was perfectly fine bringing an appetizer. I didn’t want to impose, but she insisted and said, “No. I need to learn.”  I was blown away at how determined she was to support me.

I often bring cupcakes to parties because I think it’s bad luck to show up invited empty-handed, and on one occasion my friend introduced me by saying, “This is Lindsay, the one who makes cupcakes with nothing in them!” I sometimes have to dispel the myth that vegan doesn’t always mean healthy; that a vegan cupcake is essentially still a cupcake.

I have to give my father credit for continuing to make an effort to support my veganism, despite the fact that I think he died a little inside when I said I’d never eat steak again. He used to call and ask what he should pick up so I could eat with everyone. One time I told him to just get a couple of potatoes, and that I could make a few filling dishes with them. I didn’t think anything of it until we were on our way and my sister called and said, “You’re going to need to pick up some veggie dogs or something, Dad has 5 different types of potato salad for you from Safeway.” From then on my dad would call ahead and tell me the menu, and I’d make the call whether to drop by Whole Foods on the way or not.

Sometimes friends ask questions that I realize I don’t know the answer to, which forces me to investigate. One of my biologist friends asked me if I could eat bread since yeast is a living organism. It turns out that it is a fungi and not a sentient being that vegans avoid consuming – good to know!

Even my 80-year-old Grandma will get in on the action by preparing a 3-course vegan meal; and she found vegan whipped cream before I did! She told me that she started out by heading to the grocery store and asking an employee for help by saying, “I need to make a meal for my granddaughter who only eats vegetables.” Apparently the employee said, “Don’t worry, I do too.”

I think the most hilarious questions might come from strangers. I’ve ordered sandwiches with no meat, cheese, or mayonnaise and when I explained why, one cashier asked “How….do you live?”

However, the indicator of a true friend or loving family member is the friendly and creative vegan-inspired insult, to ensure that we are absolutely still one of the gang. My boyfriend dropped me off at a vegan event and told me to have fun with my “Hummus-breathed hippie friends” while my sister will respond to my sarcasm by telling me I smell like tofu. Being able to laugh at yourself and not take things too seriously is a key part of surviving as a happy vegan in this non-vegan world.

What are some of the funniest things non-vegans have said to you? Share your comments below…