Going against the grain with eating grain

Straying from social norm builds a stronger sense of character

More stories from Bri Hageman


Hageman embraces veganism with all her various grainy snacks

When I was growing up, my parents always told me to go against the grain. For some reason whenever I heard this, I always thought this meant to not eat cereal.

So despite cereal being my favorite food, I tried desperately not to eat it, thinking it would be better for my well being. Sad right? Cereal rocks.

Once I got into my preteens, I discovered it really meant to go against the grain, to not always go with what everyone else is doing, to be unique, to do whatever you want to do despite the social norm.

With this in mind, I continued on to try and not let the opinion of others get the best of me.

I didn’t know what this truly meant to the highest extent until I became vegan.

I was called names like hippie, tree hugger, twig eater or as my friend Hannah describes it, “vibe crusher.” All these negative connotations connect solely to the lifestyle of not eating any animal products whatsoever.

Let’s first get one thing straight: I do not, nor have I ever, eaten twigs. All these negative connotations connected to veganism are clearly false. In the beginning, it was hard to get past the judgment from my peers.  It was hard to break free from what everyone else was doing: eating meat, eating cheese, eating meat with cheese. Nope, I just ate fruit.

Let me tell you, going against the grain is hard, no matter what off-beat path you choose to go down. People try to steer you down the busiest intersection.

I would receive comments like “but but but what about bacon?” or  “oh my god you poor thing” to anyone who I told I am vegan. People literally wave hamburgers in front of my face trying to get me to eat animals again. Others just get satisfaction out of teasing people who are doing something different for once.

Even though my friends are just lightly teasing, when you do something you truly care about, it can be hard to get so much distaste for your passion. I learned that the key to going against the grain is surrounding yourself with the right people.

The friends who go out of their way to buy you vegan chocolate for Valentine’s day, or the ones who are truly just as strange as you and also keeping crates of bananas under their dorm bed. The people that support you in whatever abandoned path you travel down are the ones you want by your side.

Through veganism, I have become much stronger mentally. Going against the grain builds character, it makes you able to be your own person and actually differ from the rest. I strongly encourage everyone and anyone to embark on a similar enlightening journey to stray from the norm, whether it’s not eating animals, or anything else you are passionate about.

As for me, I’ll stick with veganism, because when you are vegan, you can eat lots of cereal.