Vegetarian, Not Alien
I am a woman, college student, sister, daughter, champion of tying knots out of cherry stems with my tongue (holler at your girl;), and vegetarian. I have been a vegetarian since I was about 9 years old; it has become such a normal part of my life to me that I rarely think about it anymore. The exception is when I have meals with people who have not eaten with me before. During Spring Break(a hip), I stayed at a friend’s grandpa’s place. My friend told her grandpa when we arrived that I was a vegetarian, and I informed him as well. Of course, I do not expect people to remember every detail about my life, and he soon forgot about my eating habits. The first night he made a dinner especially for us, but the dinner was only chicken. I felt terrible because I know he felt bad for making something I could not eat. I could tell that he had never been around a vegetarian before, and therefore, understandably, had no idea how to adjust his cooking so I could eat it. I feel bad making people adjust their cooking, and honestly, he did not have to since I got plenty full on various delicious beverages. But anyways, this experience got me to thinking that a lot of people do not know how to act when eating with me. So I thought it would be useful to address some of the issues that I find myself facing as a vegetarian, as well as the issues of those who eat with me.
First of all, I cannot speak for all vegetarians, but I personally do not terribly mind if people eat meat around me. Would I prefer they ordered a veggie burger instead of a BLT? Of course, but I will never insist on it. Although, I will say that certain meat honestly makes me sick to my stomach, particularly any sort of seafood being cooked at a hibachi place. But the way I see it, I will not try to talk you out of eating meat if you do not try to talk me into eating it. We can each maintain our own personal eating habitats and personal beliefs about those habits.
What is my personal belief about not eating meat? Well first of all, I am not a vegetarian because of the health benefits. I made the decision to cut out all meat and seafood when I was nine…I still ate gushers as part of a nutritional breakfast when I was nine. Nutrition was never a factor for me. I made the decision to become vegetarian because I feel it is wrong and barbaric to eat meat. Plain and simple. As I said, I try to avoid being preachy because I recognize how annoying that can be, but I am firm in my beliefs, and people need to respect that.
A lot of times I get the question “What do you eat?”. I understand people may be genuinely curious, but to me it seems like such a ridiculous question. Bitch what do YOU eat? I guarantee you do not eat only meat for every meal of everyday. And if you do, have a nice heart attack. You probably have sides, like vegetables, salad, bread, rice, potatoes, etc. I eat those. Plus for protein, there is this magical fruit called beans, black beans, pinto, garbanzo, all types of beans. There are honestly so many incredible vegetarian meals that actually taste delicious if made properly.
Another question I am often asked, mostly by idiotic drunk ex uncles, is something along the lines of “hey want some bacon? It’s vegetarian?.” It is clearly not vegetarian bacon; it is a sizzling piece of animal fat. You are not funny so stop (Side note:vegetarian bacon does exist, but I recommend sticking to the more natural option of veggie burgers). Oh, and a note of advice, do not ask a vegetarian if he or she eats animal crackers. I guarantee they have heard that question 100 times and rolled their eyes at it 200. Of course we can eat animal crackers, they are CRACKERS, not actual animals. That is not an intelligent, cute, charming, or funny question, so do not ask it.
Meat is not the end all be all. Just because you may be a fan of it, open up your mind and acknowledge that it is okay for people to be different from you. Also, I urge you to try to be as accommodating as possible when eating with a vegetarian. Trust me, I feel like a terrible burden having to have something specifically made for me. Yet if you let me know in advance that literally all you are having at your cookout are burgers, hot dogs, and beans with meat, then I will know to bring my own veggie burgers and neither of us will have to feel bad. Or even better, simply put out a salad and have vegetarian baked beans. It is not that hard to leave something like ham out of a salad, or bacon bits out of mashed potatoes especially when there are other foods with meat and a vegetarian is present. Try not to purposely get annoyed at vegetarians for not eating meat and “being difficult.” Yes, it is choice, but it is a huge life choice that I will not change just because you really want me to try the delicious chicken you made.