So, your friend is a vegetarian, and you’ve inevitably had those awkward moments that every non-veggie experiences when it comes to eating with them. At a restaurant, you feel guilty that you can freely choose from a variety of meat dishes while they scramble to figure out what salad they can order that doesn’t include meat.
Holiday parties can be tricky as you try to accommodate what they might eat, while everyone else enjoys the roast beef. The truth is, it’s not a socially convenient way of eating. Main stream doesn’t typically cater to the non-meat eating crowd, the exceptions being L.A. or New York, and so we have learned to adapt to the meat eater’s world.
The non-meat eaters that have been living as such for awhile eventually figure out how to handle the challenges. We learn to become resourceful when it comes to food and social circumstances that would leave us irritated and hungry.
Here are 10 things you should know about your vegetarian friend and what they are thinking when you make those vegetarian faux pas.
1. We are not judging you when you eat meat.
And we don’t want to give you a lecture because you do. Everyone has their own personal food choices and just as we want to exercise that right, we wish you the same.
It’s fine to delve into that juicy burger, but if we couldn’t handle it, we would let you know and avoid that situation.
2. It’s okay to invite us to food-related social events.
We are well versed in what to expect and how to get around the pitfalls of our diets. We can eat ahead or show up with our favorite dish or kale salad.
3. Yes, I’m getting enough protein.
I am always asked about my lack of protein and the worries about what health benefits I’m missing out on. The only thing I need to take, because it’s only found in animal products, is the vitamin B12. But not to worry, I am always in good health and my doctor checkups are fine.
4. We can handle the jokes and the scrutiny, most of the time…
Yes, Uncle Harry is hilarious as he asks once again if I’m eating freshly mowed grass. And sure, I don’t mind your cousin staring at my plate with disgust, I’m used to it and have learned to be light-hearted and loving about the whole subject.
Just, don’t push it.
5. We don’t want to talk about it over dinner.
So…just a tip, please don’t ask why we don’t eat meat while you’re all sucking the life out of your baby back ribs. There’s a time and place to discuss my food choices, and over what should be a nice meal is not one of them.
6. We don’t want the juice from the meat either.
Please don’t offer to pick off the chicken from my Caesar salad because it was delivered to the table with the meat that I so adamantly said to leave off. And no, I don’t want you to take off the pepperoni from your leftover pizza.
My Dad used to say, “You can eat the red sauce I made, I removed the meatballs.” The oily remnants, just like the flesh that sat there moments before, are not something we want to eat.
7. We are not secretly starving, or craving meat, for that matter.
We don’t feel deprived, nor are we suffering, for our choices. We did it for various reasons, whether they be health, love for animals, or the environment.
8. You don’t have to introduce us as ‘The Vegetarian.”
That’s only a small part of who we are and honestly, you wouldn’t say, “This is Bill,The Carnivore”, would you?
9. We are ingredient freaks.
Sorry, but it’s a little annoying when we send the waiter back into the kitchen to find out what’s in the salad dressing, and yes Mr. Barista, can you please go fetch that box of almond milk to see if it has animal products?
Please be patient with us, but we really need to know.
10. Not eating meat is actually easier than explaining to others why we don’t.
I know there’s a certain amount of curiosity about eliminating meat from your diet, but to explain why to a meat-eater sometimes feels like a judgement on them, and it’s somewhat unavoidable.