Being Vegetarian in a Meat Eater World

Although vegetarian and vegan diets are becoming more popular, there is still a lot of stigma that surrounds them. When I inform people of my vegetarian eating habits, there are a few responses that I normally receive. The first, and most common, is people asking why I would ever NOT want to eat meat, the second being “Oh that's good for you! I just could never give up ___” and the third, people are disgusted and bothered that I would dare stray away from the social norm. There seems to be this idea that those that choose not to eat meat are automatically shaming all those that do. Or, that us simply not having a space on our plates for a piece of meat is our way of forcing our ideals and beliefs onto others. Obviously this isn’t the case, but for some reason many people automatically become defensive when they hear of someone that doesn’t eat exactly like them.

The first thing that I want to address is that most vegetarians don’t care if you eat meat and they don’t. They have made the decision for themselves and could honestly care less what path you choose to take. Of course if you did choose to be vegetarian or vegan we’d say "awesome," but we definitely don’t shame you if you don't!  So when you offer us some of your chicken nuggets and we say “no thanks, I’m vegetarian,” no need to give us your whole life story, mixed with your spiel on how you wouldn’t get enough protein, but you tried it for a like a day, and you swear you really love animals, but you just couldn’t go a week without bacon and … don't worry, save it. Everything is good on our end, we aren’t offended by your meal so you shouldn’t be offended by ours!

 

The second thing is just because we choose not to eat meat doesn’t mean that the only thing we consume is leafy greens. Contrary to popular belief there are a lot of other delicious meals that aren’t just  bowls of lettuce! Some of which actually consists of faux meat, usually made from soy or tofu.  And no, just because I’m eating ‘fake meat’ doesn’t mean that I might as well eat the real version.

Lastly, meat-eaters really have it made. It can be so hard to find an appetizing meal when you go out to eat at certain restaurants, especially if you are sick and tired of having the garden salad at every place you go. If you’re out with friends and stop at a fast food restaurant just about all your friends know to order you a side of fries because that’s pretty much all you can eat there (unless of course you order the cheeseburger, minus the burger).

(TIP for my fellow vegetarians: Before going out to restaurants especially ones you’ve never been to before, look up the menu and see their options, it will save you time once you're there. Then you can rest assured that you won't have to order the side salad that you have just about everywhere.)

Oh, and of course, I wouldn’t be a true vegetarian if I didn’t attempt to further the vegetarian agenda. So I will leave you all with this fun fact: the average American will eat 222 pounds of red meat per year. That’s the equivalent of 800 hamburgers! Or (2.5 burgers a day). So, if you didn’t eat meat one day a week, or just became a bit more "meat-conscious" you could help to reduce pollution, combat climate change and ocean dead zones and help make the planet a healthier place for everyone!