Choosing to live a vegetarian (or vegan) lifestyle is not a choice made halfheartedly. For me, it took years of on again off again vegetarian eating and reading several texts before I made my decision to eat responsibly. It baffles me that the majority of the world still looks down on vegetarianism. How somehow vegetarians have become the world’s collective joke. When you are a vegetarian and approaching a social eating situation, you know you will be faced with judgement, jokes, and the ever present “I literally could not live without bacon!” I’m here, I’m living and I’m not eating bacon. It’s possible.
1. Talking about your favorite meat, and asking me how I survive without out.
I’m so happy that you love chicken, turkey, beef or pork. Great for you. Some of the meats I don’t care for, other times I see a chicken nugget and I miss the taste. Here’s the thing: I don’t eat it. Vegetarianism is giving a voice to those voiceless, factory farmed animals; the movement is bigger than a “diet.” I don’t want to push my lifestyle on you, please don’t push yours on me.
2. Asking, “Why are you a vegetarian?” and then proceeding to start an argument with me about my stance on the issue.
I am not a vegetarian because it’s trendy or hip. I am a vegetarian because I believe that the meat industry in the United States is so cruel and unsustainable that I refuse to contribute to their sales (99% of meat is produced in a factory farm – even that “natural” “organic” “free range” and “cage-free” BS). When I express my opinion and you respond that I am wrong – you’re entitled to that opinion.
What I want you to know is that my decision is informed and heavily researched. I have refused to turn a blind eye to it because it “tastes good.” I’m not willing to argue with someone arguing in favor of factory farming. If you Google factory farming, it’s very, very hard to make a case in favor of it.
3. “But, do you get enough protein?”
I always want to respond with an equally as personal question: “do you get enough fiber?” Let me worry about my food choices and I won’t get invasive about yours. The answer is yes. Protein is available in a lot of other foods. Typically, meat eaters consume much more protein than they actually need.
4. “So, like, what do you eat then?”
Literally everything else that isn’t meat. Yes, I do eat tofu. And yes, it is really delicious. See #3 for questions about my lifestyle choices.
5. “One time I was a vegetarian for a week.”
My response: “Cool.” In my head I am thinking “Yeah, but clearly the data and cruelty did not shock you enough to stick with it…but I guess I’m glad you tried.”
Be polite to your veggie friends. They have made decisions to better both the planet and their health. If you have questions about the lifestyle, ask respectfully, without intention to talk your friend out of vegetarianism or veganism. Perhaps I am being oversensitive to the topic, contributing to the easily offended young adult population, but the vegetarian lifestyle is something I believe in. It is something I want to advocate for, even if for now, I can only advocate for in my actions.