Not every vegetarian is an angry, animal rights activist, out to convert everyone type of vegetarian. Some of us choose vegetarianism for personal reasons, and we really don’t feel the need to explain ourselves. But for those of you who insist on asking a billion questions, here are some points to read before the next time you interrogate a vegetarian.
1. I am a vegetarian — not a vegan.
Therefore I eat milk and eggs. Yes, this means that I eat cheese, and ice cream and quiches. Yes, I also know that many cheeses contain rennet and most ice creams contain gelatin, but I have chosen not to extend my vegetarianism that far. I’m allowed to choose what I do and don’t want to eat.
2. I am a vegetarian for spiritual reasons.
Somewhere in my psyche, the thought of eating another soul doesn’t quite gel with me. I feel as though each body (be it of feather, fur or fin variety) was created to house a soul, and I don’t feel that it’s my place to decide when that body’s time is up. I’m well aware that may make me sound like a tree hugging hippie to you, but just let me be. I’m also an engineer, so clearly there’s some rational thought in my head too, right?
3. I am a vegetarian because I believe in animal rights.
I don’t believe animals should be hurt, much less killed for me to eat them. I don’t need to eat them to survive, so there is no reason for them to suffer or die for me.
4. I am a vegetarian because I don’t like the taste of meat.
Even as a child, before the issues about spirituality and animal rights came into my head, I never really liked the taste of meat. The chicken curry was always pushed to the side of the plate, the lamb curry was always palmed off to my mum because I was too full, and the smell of fried fish made me dry reach. Believe it or not, not everybody like the taste of meat, so when you ask me how I could possible enjoy life without bacon in it, you need to understand that the smell of bacon makes me feel ill.
5. I am a vegetarian.
That’s right. ME. Not you, not my family, not my partner, not my friends. Their dietary choices are theirs to make. I do not want to influence them, or force them into changing their ways. I can enjoy a meal and their company at a table despite that fact that I am eating a different meal. It doesn’t make a difference.
6. Yes, I understand that plants have feelings too.
But plants don’t have a central nervous system. Besides, let’s be a little bit practical here. Remember that rational thought that’s in my head? That’s what kicks in. I need to food to survive. If I’m not going to eat animals, then my only other option is plants. So I’m going to eat plants.
But the most important this I wish people would remember is that this is MY choice that I’ve made for MYSELF. I’m not hurting anyone, or trying to influence anyone, so please just let me be.