My experience of the world growing up was a world that rejected me for being different.
That rejection has become symbolized for me by what I ate. I grew up eating tofu and always being the weird kid at school with hippy parents and strange stuff in my sack lunch. I remember going to school in the 1st and 2nd grade with delicious sandwiches like beet and cheese, squash, or sprouts. You can imagine how the other kids reacted. One day when I had sprouts on my sandwich I remember being asked if I was a cow since I was eating grass.
Tofu had come to symbolize for me my alternative eating habits, and in a way my rejection by mainstream society. In 2008 I taught myself how to make tofu from scratch, using nothing more than dried soybeans and a little epsom salts as ingredients. I started inviting friends over for dinner parties where we would make the tofu together from scratch, then cook it up in a stir-fry and eat together. I found that there were other people who liked and identified with tofu as much as I did.
The whole project culminated in a Tofu Workshop presented as part of a weeklong Public Art project called Free University Weimar. Out of the connections made at that workshop, the Vegan Allstars Volksküche developed, sort of a soup kitchen for the poor students, but more of a community event, which I recently heard is still happening regularly.
Of course I didn't realize exactly what I was doing until afterwards, but all the while I had a sense that this was about me and my identity. But recently a friend pointed out exactly what I was doing by gathering people around tofu. I was taking the thing that separated me and made me an outsider and an outcast, and transforming it into something that connected me to others and made me a part of a community.
I gave tofu a logo. We were team tofu. And this time I wasn't the last to be picked.