I have a confession.
Yes, another one. (Don’t act like you’re surprised.)
I am a terrible vegetarian.
Yup. It’s true. I have been flirting with the vegetarian lifestyle since May of last year and, while I have made many strides, I still fail a fair amount. For example, when I cook my delicious and not-nutritious tofu hotdog, I have no qualms about boiling it in the same water at the same time as Kevin’s 100% Beef dog. And I don’t care if you use the same spoon to stir your chicken soup as the one you use to break up my veggie ground round, even if you did forget to rinse it. As for my worst offense? I ate (and thoroughly enjoyed) my Mom’s Parmesan Chicken on my birthday. (It was delicious and I don’t regret it for a second.)
Still, despite my failings, vegetarianism is something I feel very strongly about as it relates to me, myself, and I. As for everyone else? I genuinely don’t care if they eat meat. Honestly. You go right on ahead and enjoy that meat on meat on meat sandwich. This isn’t sarcasm. I honestly don’t care. I even have no problems cooking meat for other people. I make a delicious chicken chili if you ever are in the mood for some. Also, my better-than-ever beef enchiladas are Dad-Approved!
But I digress.
You see, dear reader, despite the fact that I feel very strongly about my own eating habits and my decisions to change them, I have no interest in discussing those decisions with other people. I’m not interested in preaching, divulging, or even casually mentioning what brought me to this stage in my life. I am firmly against trying to force one’s beliefs on others, to each their own!
That being said, what I do care about are people’s reactions to my decision to not eat meat.
In this last year I have met more carnivores that hate vegetarians than I have preachy vegetarians. The stereotype of the vegan hippie harping on everyone at the barbeque has become a bit dated (especially in the city of Victoria where vegetarianism and vegan lifestyles are quite commonplace). We Veggiesaurus’ are happy to live and let live (or, more accurately, to live and let others eat bacon). But the bacon lovers, the burger eaters, the chicken devourers? They hate vegetarians.
Think I’m exaggerating?
A group of my coworkers order burgers in from White Spot once a month. Now, understanding the importance of office politics and being social at work, I was keen to join them when asked. At least I was until I found out that a vegetarian substitute is not offered with this particular deal. Not wanting to sit once a week with a beef burger I definitely won’t eat (probably starting eating disorder rumors in the process –Why hasn’t she bitten that patty? Does she have a complex of eating in front of others? Maybe she turned to anorexia after we started that rumor that she was pregnant?) I politely declined.
Most people would just leave it at that.
Instead I was greeted in my office the next morning by a concerned coworker wanting to know why I had changed my mind. Was I too poor? Too shy? Too snobby? That concern quickly turned to disdain when I mentioned that I was a vegetarian.
“A vegetarian?” she scoffed. “You don’t eat meat?”
“Nope. But thanks for the invite, I really appr-“
“Any meat? Do you eat chicken?” “No, I don’t eat chicken. I do occasionally eat fish though.” (Just pretend I didn’t mentioned my birthday chicken dinner). At this my coworker sat in the chair across from my desk. Clearly this was turning into a full conversation, not just a quick exchange. “Why don’t you eat meat?”
Resisting the urge to respond like a smartass I instead just said that I don’t eat meat for personal reasons. However, instead of ending the conversation, my use of the phrase “personal reasons” just irked my coworker further. She left my office then but has since popped by every few days to make comments about it.
“Don’t you miss bacon?” “How do you get enough protein?” “Mankind is meant to eat meat, that’s why we have teeth.” (To which I responded, “Have you ever tried to eat an apple without teeth?” She didn’t like that.) “But you must miss bacon!” “What if you were starving and the only thing available to you was a nice steak. Would you eat it?”
This has (thankfully) finally died down.
Now, dear reader, in case you’re thinking that is just a one off here are some more of my experiences with Veggie-Hating Meat Eaters.
Last summer I went camping with Kevin, my sister, and one of my sister’s friends. For the two night/three day camping trip more than $60 of meat was purchased. Also, for the two night/three day camping trip I was subjected to hundreds of comments from my sister’s friend. (Literally, hundreds of comments). At one point he even brought a steak right up to my face asking me if I’d like to try some. “Thanks, but I don’t eat meat.” “That’s cause you haven’t had it cooked right!” (No, buddy. That’s really not the reason.)
I went to a BBQ at this same “gentleman’s” house that same summer. As usual, I arrived with my own food (more than preachy people, I am annoyed by people with dietary restrictions that expect others to accommodate them. Oh, sorry, you’re gluten free and can’t eat anything here? Maybe you should have contributed something to the potluck rather than just complaining about the lack of food available to you). Rather than just having a good time like everyone else at the BBQ, this gentleman took it upon himself to showcase every piece of chicken to me (“Now doesn’t that look gooooooooooood?! Don’t you want a bite?”). We both left annoyed. Me, because he had spilled chicken on my lap. Him, because I didn’t immediately pick up the chicken, eat it, and proclaim myself cured.
I have had other encounters this last year, though most of them are just limited to a superior glance, or a snide comment, and I have to tell you it drives me nuts. I can understand given’er to that preachy vegan I mentioned earlier (you know, the one who cries when you put honey in your tea), but why go out of your way to be a jerk about something that is so mainstream? Why does a person’s decision to not eat meat offend people on such a visceral level?
Oh well. I shall continue to enjoy my attempts at becoming a full-fledged vegetarian and will just have to come up with some really good comebacks. (I definitely need something better than “yeah, well so does your face!”… especially since it doesn’t make sense grammatically to the most often asked question: “Yeah, but where do you get your protein?”