'I've been a vegetarian for 18 years. I don't care if you eat/cook/talk about meat in front of me. You don't have to apologize for eating meat. You don't have to tell me how many years you were a vegetarian or why it didn't work for you. I am not judging you and I am not recruiting. Now, can we just go out to eat?
I'll be honest with you. I forgot I wrote that. And it's now been two decades since I ate meat. Most people who hang out with me know I'm veggie. But if you've never been out to eat with me, you probably don't. It's not something I bring up a lot. Not because I'm hiding it. And not because I don't have every reason that I am burned into my brain and ready to recite. It's because I don't need to hear your apology.
That's right. Being vegetarian makes people more uncomfortable than when they try to figure out if someone is pregnant or just had a lot of beer. You feel judged, don't you? When I say, 'I'm a vegetarian,' you feel like I've just told you that all your life choices suck and you're a cruel person. And any secret guilt (and admit it...some of you do feel guilty) comes rushing to the surface from that time you went to the petting zoo, cuddled a baby cow and then ate McDonald's on the way home.
Well, I am here to tell you, I don't give a shit. Sorry for the harshness. I believe I've warned you all about my truck driver mouth in the past. You do not have to tell me that you tried it once and it made you sick. I know it does that to some people. You don't have to make sure I'm aware that all your pets are rescues. I think that's wonderful. It doesn't matter to me that you gave up pork after you saw 'Babe.' Awesome for the piggies, but here's the thing. I'm not judging. Your choices are your own. I don't get to judge. I certainly don't think less of you than I did five minutes ago. I already assumed you ate chicken and I liked you anyway.
I'm not going to moo at you while you eat. It's an incredibly rare event when I say I can't eat somewhere. Almost every place either has something veggie or will make something. I'm not going to make a scene in a restaurant. Pissing off waiters only makes them spit in your food. If I come to your house and you're not already serving veggie food, I'll offer to bring some or just eat salad. But stop getting all twitchy on me. I don't care about your religion or politics either. I may argue about your choice of video game or Marvel vs. DC. I'll defend my opinions on movies all day long. I'll work my ass off to convince you that World of Warcraft is a legitimate use of my free time. But unless you're eating an eyeball, I'm not going to say a word about what's on your plate. Now, let's go grab dinner.
In case you're curious though, here are the answers to questions I'm always asked:
When did you decide to become a vegetarian?
I never liked the taste of meat as a kid and once I made the connection between the Long Island Game Farm where I'd just pet baby chicks and what was on my plate, I told my mother I didn't want to eat it anymore. She tried telling me the chickens on my plate died of old age or were hit by a car and already dead. She tried saying I could do what I wanted the second I left her house. I did. But for most of my childhood, our West Highland Terrier, Dundee ate the meat off my plate.
Do you do it for health reasons or because you love animals?
Yes. I'm thinner, I get sick less and I have a lot more energy since I stopped eating meat. And I love animals so much I can't even kill a bug. I had a bee infestation and I caught them and released them, and they promptly flew around the house and back inside. I do it for both reasons.
I found it so hard to get protein when I was a veggie. How do you get yours?
In the beginning, I lived on cream cheese and crackers. And spray cheese. Oh, I am not proud of it but it's true. Nowadays, there are so many ways to get protein outside of tofu and beans. There are products like Quorn (try their cutlets with the goat cheese and cranberries inside) and Morningstar Farms has a ton of stuff as well. My mom bought me their Chix patties and my dad ate them for two years, not realizing they weren't chicken.
I still eat fish and I call myself a vegetarian. Do you hate me?
Nope. But you're not a vegetarian. We don't eat animals. Fish are not made of cardboard. By the way, my dad offers to grill cardboard for me every time I see him. :)
Are your pets vegetarian?
Dude, I had a snake. He eats rats. They don't make those out of tofu. My cats eat cat food. My dog ate everything. Though I will admit, he did love soy protein. And my bunny...well, he used to steal dog food, so I suppose even he isn't veggie.
I love you all. Now finish your hamburger.