Having been vegetarian for my whole life, I get asked a lot of questions. Often the same ones over and over again, and sometimes even by the same people. This is my (slightly tongue-in-cheek) response to those FAQs. Believe me, I’ve had enough practice.
Why are you a vegetarian?
Short answer: Because my parents raised me that way. Long answer because I know there will be follow-up questions: Because my parents raised me that way and I love animals. I don’t want to eat them. I don’t see them as food. Actual answer: It’s a personal choice which does not require justification to you or anyone else.
Don’t you get tempted to eat meat?
Yeah, you must get tempted.
What you need is a good bacon butty, that’ll sort you out.
No thank you. I’m perfectly fine as I am.
How do you know you don’t like it if you’ve never tried it?
First off, I can smell it, and 90% of meat smells so awful it makes me feel ill. Secondly, I wouldn’t eat it even if I did like it.
You’re missing out. You should try it to see if you like it.
Again, no thanks. I don’t mind missing out if it means animals don’t have to die for me. (Also, I used to eat sweets that contained gelatine and I really like them. Then I found out what gelatine was and I stopped. I’m not tempted to go back even though I know they’re tasty).
Wait, there’s meat in sweets?
Yup. And in some yoghurts, too. And marshmallows. And sometimes crazy things like frosting or coffee. Who knows why.
So you can’t eat any of those things?
I can, but only when the manufacturers are sensible enough to replace it with pectin.
Cavemen weren’t vegetarians, you shouldn’t be either.
Cavemen didn’t have iPhones or skateboards or DSLRs or television shows. I like to believe in this thing called evolution. Besides, there were actually veggie cavemen, according to scientific evidence, they just happened to be in the minority.
Why do you eat meat substitutes if you don’t like meat?
1: Protein. 2: My partner likes it because he still eats meat outside of the house. 3: Why do you eat sweeteners if you don’t want sugar? 4: Some of the newer products are secretly quite tasty, and y’know, burgers are burger-shaped because that’s a sensible shape to fit in the bread. Not because they’re normally made of meat. So really, a veggie burger isn’t a meat substitute, it’s just a different filling, like the difference between a ham sandwich and a cheese one.
Vegetarianism stunts growth/intelligence/isn’t healthy/isn’t good for kids.
Yes, as evidenced by the fact that I died of rickets at age 8. Obviously. Just to state facts, I’ve made it long enough to get a university degree and a mortgage (and no, I’ve never been anemic either).
Do you eat fish?
No, you blithering idiot. Vegetarians don’t eat the flesh of any animal. A person who eats fish but no other meat is a pescetarian. A person who eats fish and calls themselves vegetarian is a liar.
What do you eat then?
Imagine what you eat, then take meat off it. Pizza without the pepperoni. Pasta without the meatballs. Burgers made from vegetables. I actually eat exactly what you eat most of the time. Vegetarian food doesn’t have to be “weird”, it’s just that you aren’t thinking of it as vegetarian when it’s “normal”.
Aren’t all vegetarians super skinny?
Er, no, and it’s kind of rude for you to ask that whilst looking pointedly at my stomach. Anyway, as I said, I eat the same as you. Pizza, burger and chips, ice cream, and cheesecake are some of my top weaknesses.
You’re killing plants!!!
I’m killing the minimum of organisms that I need to stay alive. Not to mention that most plants can regrow fruits or leaves, while most sheep are incapable of growing back legs. Thank you for reminding me of the fact that I can’t save all living things, it does bother me, but there you have it. I’m doing what I can.
Why don’t you eat meat but yet you wear leather?
Firstly, since I’m not telling you to be vegetarian, I’m not being hypocritical if I choose to wear leather. Wearing leather and eating meat are different activities done for different reasons. Secondly, this is actually pleather. Thanks for checking first.
Why don’t you go vegan?
I’m constantly disappointed in myself that I haven’t gone full vegan. I do try to eat vegan where possible and share vegan recipes too. Right now I struggle with my calcium intake when I go off dairy, so that’s my main area to work on. I console myself with the knowledge that I am at least saving the meat stock that would be slaughtered for my consumption if I wasn’t already vegetarian. Plus, I like cheese and eggs. Sorry, chickens and cows/sheep/goats. (Seriously, I am sorry)
Is there anything you dislike about being vegetarian?
Honestly? Yes. Knowing that many restaurants and pubs don’t serve vegetarian food, even in this day and age. Not being able to take some medicines because they are made from animals (or even stupider, because the manufacturers use gelatine to make the pills easier to swallow). Being asked constant questions and having to stand up for my dietary choices, even though it’s my right to eat whatever I like, and even though I consciously don’t preach to others. The fact that other people seem to have a serious problem with it to the point of being aggressive. Oh, and childish anti-veggie jokes, which are on about the equivalent un-PC and old-fashioned level as sexist or racist jokes to me.
What do you like about being vegetarian?
Literally everything else. Although it’s sort of a weird question, because I’ve never been anything else to compare it to.
Is it okay to eat this meat in front of you?
Since you asked me nicely, I’m going to say yes. Go ahead. But honestly? No, it’s gross. It’s like when a smoker stands next to a non-smoker and blows smoke in their face. I don’t want to smell that. But I’m not a giant douchebag, so I won’t dictate your diet if you’re respectful of mine, and yes, you can eat that meat in front of me.