What I get tired of hearing after 18 years of vegetarianism
By Julie Wright, Contributor
As a long-time vegetarian, I’ve had to deal with a number of annoying requests or responses based on my dietary choices. I’ve narrowed these down to a list of 10. Please, for the sake of the vegetarian in your life, stop saying and doing these things!
1. “Do you eat fish?”
No. No vegetarian will ever answer “yes” to this, unless they don’t know what it is to be a real vegetarian. Some vegetarians will eat eggs and milk products, but no vegetarian will eat meat, fish, or poultry.
2. “Don’t you ever want to try meat?”
Also, no. Personally, I ate meat once by accident as the result of a burrito mix-up and threw up half an hour later. So no, if it’s quite alright with you I’ll stick to my vegetable friends. They understand my lifestyle.
3. “Do you want this pizza? I picked off the meat.”
The answers to this question will range greatly: some people are more picky or strict than others, but still, it’s kind of like offering a person who is allergic to peanuts a piece of toast that you scraped the peanut butter off of. Obviously, the picked-off-meat pizza will have less severe consequences than the peanut butter, but still, same idea. Sort of.
4. Talking about how you recycle, bike, and use cloth grocery bags (and how I should probably do more for the environment).
I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now how much the meat industry negatively impacts the environment, especially with their use of water. If not, let me enlighten you. According to an article by Ami Sedghi for the Guardian, to produce one kilogram of beef alone, 15,415 litres of water must be consumed. I’m not saying that producing vegetables and grain products uses no water, but the 214 litres to produce one kilogram of tomatoes certainly seems like nothing next to its meat counterpart.
5. “You must like vegetables; they’re basically all you eat!”
Just because I’m a vegetarian, doesn’t mean that I’m picky by default. However, it also doesn’t mean that I like every vegetable there is. It’s true that some vegetarians don’t like a lot of vegetables, and some vegetarians like them all. Also, nuts, tofu, grains, beans, fruit, and dairy products (unless you’re addressing a vegan) were never an animal as far as I can recall, and are therefore 100 per cent acceptable to feed to your vegetarian friend.
6. Cooking really bland food for your vegetarian guest.
Just because I don’t eat meat doesn’t mean I don’t have taste buds or enjoy intense and surprising flavours. Lately, a lot of restaurants and households have been getting more creative with non-meat dishes, but earlier in my life I’d have the option to eat spaghetti and a watered-down version of a tomato sauce anywhere I went. Maybe I’d get some basil if I was lucky. Thank goodness that changed.
7. “But you’re not an extreme vegetarian, are you?”
I feel that vegetarians are the tiny neutral party of the ever-lasting herbivore vs. omnivore battle. Extreme veganism (when the individual refuses to touch or associate with any animal products or by-products) certainly exists, and is fairly common within the health-conscious population of Vancouver. At the other end of the spectrum, extreme meat-eaters (who eat mostly meat and refuse to associate with vegans, as it will bring down their meat-eater status) exist, and can still be found, mostly in more rural areas.
8. “I don’t know if there’s anything you can eat at this restaurant.”
Keli Monkman, local business owner and vegetarian extraordinaire, stated that she “can read the menu and figure it out for [herself].” I must agree with Monkman in this instance, as it is rather insulting to assume that your vegetarian friend is unable to read the menu—especially since it takes a modicum of brain power to make the conscious effort to stop eating meat.
9. “Well, I’m basically vegetarian.”
This is like saying, “Well, I’m almost tall enough to ride the roller coaster, so I should be able to ride.” You’re not though, are you? Therefore, if you call yourself a vegetarian, but still eat meat sometimes, you aren’t actually qualified to achieve vegetarian status.
10. “If I didn’t eat meat, there would just be too many animals.”
This statement is 100 per cent false: the meat industry raises animals for the sole purpose of being dinner. Chickens, cows, and pigs are all raised crammed together so tightly they can’t turn around, and fed so much that they can’t support their own body weight. If you (as a non-vegetarian) are eating meat to control the animal population, you might want to look in the mirror and contemplate the facts.