On Becoming Veggie
One of my blog friends named Sarah (and I have a lot of them) asked me to blog about how I announced my vegetarianism and how I deal with people criticizing my decision. Sarah asked me about this a HONKIN' LONG TIME AGO and I'm just getting to it. So here it is.
I didn't go veggie until we moved to Arkansas. I've never liked meat all that much and had fantasized about giving it up altogether but I figured it would be too hard since I live with carnivores. I was reading online one day about going veggie and I decided it wouldn't really be that hard after all. A couple of days later, I was sitting in Burger King eating a salad with big chunks of chicken in it. I thought, "This is the last time I'm eating this stuff." And it was. Upon more reading, I've discovered the health benefits of not eating meat. You can cut your cancer risk by as much as 60 percent, and you also lower your chances of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. All those things run in my family, so I'm just trying to be smart.
What's funny about giving up meat is this. All of a sudden, people who have previously taken no interest whatsoever in your dietary habits are suddenly very concerned that you are not getting enough protein, iron, grease, etc. because you have given up meat. I did have to deal with this somewhat. But what has helped me a lot is that there are several other veggie people at our church, so I just kind of got lumped in with them. "Oh, you're one of THEM now..." So at church functions, the wonderful cooks who know about me and the other couple of veggie people will invariably have a couple of Bocas or other veggie alternatives stashed in the kitchen for us. We have never asked for special treatment, so this consideration is always very much appreciated.
Then there are the people who just want to harass you about not eating meat. We have a teen in our youth group who does this. He's always calling me a vegan (which I'm not) and rolling his eyes and making comments like I'm the biggest idiot alive for not wanting to eat dead animals. (Never mind that giving up meat is actually healthy, and this person is pouring soda into his body every time I see him, and I think he's going to be on insulin by age 40, and I've never pointed this out to him. But I might soon.)
And there's a guy who brings it up every time we are eating together. I went vegetarian "just to get attention," he says. First of all, I am the youngest in my family. Believe me, I can get attention without having to give up an entire food group. Second, I never, NEVER bring up my veggie-ism with this guy. (I really don't bring it up with anyone.) He always does. So if my vegetarianism ever gets me attention when he's around, it's because of him and not me. But I digress.
Here is my basic rule for vegetarians and their friends. This is important, so you might want to take notes. My rule is this: Don't be a jerk. Seriously. If you go veggie and your friend doesn't, do not EVER say, as that person is lifting a cheeseburger to his mouth, "Do you know what that animal went through before it died???" And friends of vegetarians, you also don't get to be jerks. Your veggie friends did not give up meat as a personal attack against you. To be honest, our eating choices are actually private matters and not your business.
The bottom line is that meat-eaters and veggie-eaters can all co-exist in peace. We can go out to Olive Garden without me gagging over your veal parmiagana and you snickering over my veggie lasagna. Let's be friends and leave each others' food alone.