Awww... I love my family. We just spent almost 2 weeks visiting family (mine and my husbands) and it was our first visit since becoming vegan. I should point out that before vegan, we were meat-eaters, not just vegetarians who recently gave up eggs.
As much as each person is well-meaning, it's nice to be home and away from that.
My mom, who is totally supportive, seemed to get defensive and in what I felt was out of nowhere decided to try and come up with a product I use that harms animals. I could have easily helped her by pointing out that the effects of my consumption of most mass-produced items is harmful to wild animals whose habitats are destroyed to build factories and the like, but I didn't really want to help her out. Instead I assured her that my soap and shampoo are both vegan (Dr. Bronners and Pureology).
My grandfather believes everything should be enjoyed in moderation and doesn't seem to have any sympathy for the plight of animals, so a complete elimination of animal products just doesn't make sense to him. He wanted me to admit that I would eat the neighbor's eggs raised humanely and with plenty of space to roam. I just don't want to eat the neighbor's eggs. Sorry. Also, those same neighbors were clearly neglecting their cow who I almost climbed the fence to milk after I saw her two days in a row completely engorged and barely able to walk because her calf was in a seperate field.
My in-laws come from cattle ranchers and just don't get it. When my husband told my mother-in-law that we weren't eating animal products (he used the word "meat") anymore, her response was, "People need protein, you know." My father-in-law is not a fan of most vegetables, and refused to eat them when he came to visit us last summer, so I figured this would be interesting. My mother-in-law suggested that if I want my husband to gain weight (he is underweight due to his inability to absorb fat), I need to feed him meat. I pointed out that eating meat hasn't worked in the last 15 years or so, and we're trying something different.
The surprises of the visit were when my husband's aunt, who raises cattle for a living, had us over for lunch and made a great green salad and a fruit salad. She even got bread that she had carefully read the label on to make sure it would be okay for us. It was the easiest meal we had with anyone else and she didn't make us feel like a burden at all. The other surprise was when my low-carb friend whose diet includes quite a bit of meat directed us to a great vegan cafe. I think these two examples prove a theory I have been tossing around for a while: the people who are anti-vegan are those who are insecure about their own diets. Those who feel confident in their own eating habits respect the choices of others and are happy to accomodate those they care about.
Speaking of vegan cafes, we first visited Sugar Plum Vegan Cafe in downtown Sacramento, Ca. What an amazing little place. We had sandwiches on our first visit and got whoopie pie to eat later. I got a sweet potato sandwich that had perfectly melted daiya in it. So amazing and very comforting. My husband got a great tempeh reuben. The second time we went was for brunch and I got the tofu scramble and was startled by how much better than mine it was. It was otherworldly. We got a chocolate chip sandwich cookie with peanut butter cream filling. When I ate the cookie later that night, my husband actually laughed out loud because he said the expression on my face was so blissful it was hilarious. Peanut butter and chocolate causes bliss.
We also found a place in Sonora, Ca called Toukies. It was weird because they didn't say vegan anywhere on the menu or in the restaurant, but when I asked about the "soy cheese" in the shells and cheese, the waitress said, "Oh, everything in the restaurant is vegan." It makes me wonder why they don't just say so, but I didn't ask. The shells and cheese were outstanding and the cheesecake we had for desert was unlike any other vegan cheesecake I've tried. It was light and fluffy and had a similar consistency to the no-bake cheesecakes- but better!
These two cafes left us feeling like a vegan cafe is far from a crazy idea. Both seemed busy and successful despite being such a specific type of food. We were inspired and have begun a search for a venue to open our own. We stayed up late asking my grandfather about his experiences as a small business owner and what it was like to start out with a baby and such an uncertain job. He opened his own second-hand store in downtown Sacramento when my mom was just a baby and they had my uncle on the way. He was able to provide for his family with that store and started with just three items out on the sidewalk in front of a small store front that he leased from a very nice man who let him defer the first three month payments until he got going. He still has the first two dollars he made (on a push mower that he had paid a dollar for) framed in his living room. We want our daughter to have a family business to grow up in, and to learn from our example that it's a good thing to follow your dreams.