You may have heard me talk about the Uncle Ruckus in your life. Just what do I mean by that? And what does this have to do with how you eat?
Uncle Ruckus is a character on the cartoon strip and TV show Boondocks. Wikipedia describes him as “repellent in appearance, behavior, and attitude.” He is generally negative, critical, and he hates black people and being black.
So what does he have to do with being a black vegetarian?
Most of us have someone in our family or community who is generally negative, critical. This person (male or female) will talk about you and the way you eat in a negative and disrespectful way. They may make rude statements at meal times. “What are you too good to eat meat now?” They may call you out and embarrass you. They may seem to feel like it is their mission to save you by getting you to eat something animal. “Hey Ama, you better eat that chicken before you waste away!”
Who is your Uncle (or Aunt) Ruckus? How do they make your life as a vegetarian difficult? And what can you do about it?
1. Prepare: Consider how they are likely to be a problem for you and decide how you will respond. Practice saying what you want to say. Have several different responses ready.
2. Get an ally: Talk to someone who supports you and will be willing to step up and run interference from time to time.
3. Be patient: Over time your Uncle Ruckus with get used to your “weird” diet and you won’t be as sensitive anymore.
4. Don’t Evangelize: This will set Uncle Ruckus off. Most people don’t want to hear about why they should be vegetarian. They don’t care about what you know or how good you feel. Your best bet is to just be a shining example of vegan health. Those who are likely to consider making the change will let you know.
5. Don’t talk about diet at mealtimes: This one can be hard because it is precisely when folks have questions. Uncle Ruckus might say “So what’s wrong with this chicken wing? We’ve been eating these for hundred of years!” Don’t answer. Maybe you can say, “I don’t want to ruin your appetite.” If someone is really interested tell them to come ask you after the meal.
Your Uncle Ruckus may be a pain in the you-know-what but you can enjoy your family and friends despite them.
Tell us your Uncle Ruckus stories in the comments, or in the member forum section.