I remember being invited to a friend’s house for dinner and being introduced to some of her other friends. One in particular stood out in my mind. We were introduced, had a nice enough conversation, until at some point I mentioned I was vegetarian. He smiled, looked me up and down and said ‘Oh, you’re a vegetarian!’ And he whispered the word vegetarian. Whispered, like I’d just told him I was a spy on a top-secret mission…or something even remotely exciting. Then after an awkward moment in which he silently looked me up and down, he said all confused…‘But you look healthy to me’. Then he proceeded to lecture me on how humans are designed to eat meat and how I desperately needed to understand that we as a species had incisors for a reason, and why dear god why was I risking my life as my death from a lack of iron was imminent.
That was a fun evening.
Conversing at a later date with another veggie friend, I realised that apart from having to field questions about exactly why, why and WHY(?!) we choose not to eat meat without a religious need to be, and putting up with lectures about evolution, and how our ancestors ate meat, and a lot of time we have to field a ton of questions about being vegetarian, before we actually get to eat. And we’re not even the crazy ‘meat is murder’ and hating everyone who disagrees with us types.
It’s really, ridiculously frustrating. And I don’t get it. Before I went veggie if someone told me they didn’t eat meat all I did was offer them a meat-free alternative to something if I had one. If not, I didn’t stress them. It’s things like:
‘Oh that’s right you’re vegetarian? Should I get you some cucumber?’ Erm. No. But…oh ok, you did it anyway, thanks. Actually, this was an aunt. Who had cooked mac n cheese. But started stressing because she had a vegetarian at her table, and all we eat is lettuce and cucumber, right? I ate that mac n cheese. Then ate the cucumber just to spite her. But it’s ok, we’re cool now. We’re cool.
‘I had no idea! I’ll finish my bacon sandwich when I get home.’ Or, since you only have one mouthful left, you could just finish it maybe? If it bothered me so much, I wouldn’t have stood next to you in line when you bought it. Then, I definitely wouldn’t have sat down next to you when you opened the packet and started eating.
‘Oh, you must be super-healthy because you can’t eat junk.’ After I’m done laughing I remind them that four-cheese pizzas, chocolates, crisps, chips, cookies, deep-fried onion rings, cheesy fries amongst other things exist and are vegetarian and delicious (Omg. Cheese fries with sriracha! It’s not weird…it’s delicious!)
‘Where do you get your protein?’ OTHER FOODS HAVE PROTEIN!!!! This is probably the question which irritates me the most. I’ve started asking people how much protein they think the human body needs…and it usually turns out they don’t know, but they are stressed about me not getting enough from my veggie diet (also its usually between 0.6 – 0.8g per kg you weigh…assuming you’re not trying to build muscle).
‘What the damn hell do you mean you’re not anaemic?!’ Ok I admit, it is a little bit harder to get vitamin B12, but you can get it from things other than red meat, and if you’re willing to put a little thought into your meals or plan your meals in advanced you shouldn’t have a problem. Also, if you eat cereals they tend do be fortified so it’s not too much of an issue. If you’re really worried you can always take ferrous sulphate (iron) supplements (although you should be careful with these. If you take them without needing them, you could mess up your liver). And if that seriously doesn’t work for you…maybe keep eating meat.
‘Meat is murder, right?’ I promise, we’re not all cut from that cloth. Some of us just choose not to eat animals, and aren’t going to judge you if you do.
‘OK…here’s some fish’ You’ve confused me with a pescatarian…who is a vegetarian except for fish and seafood. Which means you probably think I’m vegan (this happens quite a lot to me. I don’t eat fish, so people call me their vegan friend). Vegans don’t eat anything that came from an animal.
‘So…can you eat in restaurants?’ Yes. Yes, I can. Restaurants tend to have more than just meat in their kitchens, and I like to think that chefs can handle cooking vegetables. It’s not that hard. Especially not for someone who went to culinary school. I hope it isn’t hard for someone who went to culinary school. If it is…they need to speak to someone about getting a refund on their tuition fees…or they need to go to YouTube for some recipe ideas.
‘You’re pleasant for someone who doesn’t eat bacon.’ What is it about bacon? Do other veggies get the bacon comments too?
‘You don’t like living do you?’ Totally. Blank. Face
‘But like, why…WHY?!’ *Head explodes*
OK, I know this post sounded a little bit pissy (because it is a little bit pissy), but really and truly, I laugh it off (even if it is actually quite annoying fielding questions before I eat). Ultimately the reason I’m veggie is I don’t want to eat meat. Some people have an ethical reason behind their choice, some people have a religious reason, some people just don’t want to eat meat, regardless of what you think about our incisors. And…let’s be honest for a second…how much do you really care about my iron and protein levels? Like really and truly. Why does my protein intake worry you so? It shouldn’t. You should just relax. Us veggies are perfectly pleasant people…I promise!