LOOKING for: Do you get any grief?

Jenny SSeptember 28, 2000

I'm just wondering if you-all get any grief regarding your dietary choices. I get some god-natured ribbing from family and friends but when I first became vegetarian I was surprised at how passionately my decision was debated/opposed! What are your experiences?

-- Jenny

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I expected to meet a lot of opposition when we decided to go vegan b/c it was right when most people introduce milk & cereal etc into their baby's diet. Our pediatrician always tells me to give him milk (even though he is never sick & is perfectly healthy) and one lady who's daughter is Ben's age always makes snooty comments. Other than those 2, most people actually admire us & say they "wish they had that much willpower." I have been pleasantly surprised at how many people agree with what we're doing!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2000 at 10:09AM
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carolb W FL

I think vegetarianism is more "fashionable" in some circles than others, don't you?Everyone in my family here in FL & NY thinks it's cool, however my family in the Midwest find it mind boggling.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2000 at 9:12PM
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Carol Ann

I think location has a lot to do with it. I know California is more receptive and I suspect the east coast is also but the midwest is a more conservative area. I went to a conference last week and had requested veg. meals - to me, no big deal, just give me more vegies and leave the meat off. But we (and I say we because other vegetarians at the conf. had the same experience) were greeted with "oh, you're one of the vegetarians" as if it were a disease or a huge problem. sigh. My family also teases me, and I wouldn't say it's always good-natured, but my 11 year old neice is also trying to become a vegetarian so we bond over that! :) Of course her parents think she won't get enough protein and altho they don't actively discourage her, their idea of eating vegetarian is eating lots of cheese and eggs, and they haven't helped her find alternatives for eating. Ah well. I help her when I can but they don't live close. Overall I would say most people at least to my face respect my choice, but this is the midwest, dairy and beef country. A co-worker is a vegetarian, which helps, but some staff members are also on the Atkins diet, so there's been a division over that. I won't even start on how appalling I find that diet on even the most basic intuitive level.... and I want people to respect my right to chose, so I respect theirs. We have some great restaurants in the area and a culturally mixed population (big 10 university) so that helps. Mostly it doesn't come up a lot; I haven't been a big meat eater for years and years, so most people don't think anything of it when I order a meatless meal, and I'm not the type to make an announcement about it unless it comes up in conversation. I feel good about my choice, and bottom line is that's what's important.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2000 at 8:45AM
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I've been an ova-lacto vegetarian for about 12 years and, truly, only my immediate circle is even aware of it. When eating out with a group, I just order ala carte and most people don't even notice that I have no meat entree. If questioned, I say I'm saving room for dessert (which is true!)

    Bookmark   October 3, 2000 at 4:23PM
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For the most part my friends have been very supportive, also my family. However there is always that moment in a room full of meat eaters when I am asked why I am a vegetarian. One of my reasons is that I feel very strongly about how badly domesticated animals are treated right up to the slaughter process. However I really hesitate to go in to that when everyone else is about to eat meat, they have the same information I do and have obviously made a choice opposite to mine. So I always say it is for personal reasons and I am usually not asked to elaborate. Which makes me think that the questioner really doesn't want to know the answer.
Another thing that surprises me is how many people think vegetarians only eat vegetables.
However, despite the fact that I am the only vegetarian amongst my friends and aside from my daughter the only one in my family, people are usually very accommodating. My biggest problem is restaurants, I do get sick of the proverbial pasta dish. I am also on weight watchers, - going to a restaurant as a weight-watching vegetarian is an experience in itself!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2000 at 12:25PM
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Diana in WI

I just have never made a big deal out of it. I quit eating meat over 5 years ago, and truly, have only had a few comments on it. I don't bash people over the head with it (reminds me of my lesbian sister...love her, hate her politics!)
I just don't take the meat, if I am eating at another's home, or if we're out, I just order a pasta dish. Simple. What I choose to eat, and not to eat, is really MY business, and no one else's. If I'm asked, I just say there is a lot of cancer in my family, so I avoid meat, and I make a simple statement about how uncomfotable I feel at the concept of raising animals as "crops." No one has ever made a big deal about it to me. Diana ;)
(There's plenty to eat, without eating meat! Pugsly)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2000 at 7:30PM
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I personally take the most grief from my inlaws. Though my husband and I are not complete vegetarians yet, we are very close. My inlaws feel that I'm not really experiencing life, that I'm not getting the nutrition that I need without meat products in my diet (this coming from two people who consume meat every day and could really stand to lose weight that can no doubt be attributed to their diet), and that I'm forcing their son to eat odd foods. I used to joke with them about it, now I flat say that it's our choice to make, not theirs.

I've gotten to a point where I've quit defending my choices, they are mine to make, no one elses. Heaven help us if we ever have a child and don't give them meat. I'm sure we'll never hear the end of that one.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2000 at 9:16PM
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Jenny S

I'm lucky - my in-laws have been very cool about the whole vegetarian thing. Whenever we have dinner together, my MIL is kind enough to substitute Boca Crumbles or something similar in her recipes...the only thing she
gave DH and I a little grief for was when we mixed tofu with my DS's baby food...

    Bookmark   October 17, 2000 at 10:48PM
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Zia S

I live in Chicago (the city, not the suburbs) and at least in the city there isn't much of a problem being a vegetarian, especially in the downtown and North Side areas.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2000 at 9:39AM
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I live in Columbus Ohio and have found that most people are very interested in knowing why I decided to make the change. I haven't had anyone make any rude comments concerning my decision. My husband calls me a veg-head and says that makes him a meat-head.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2000 at 8:31PM
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Strangely enough, I get the most grief from co-workers who want me to go lunch with them at Hooter's or Mcdonald's. They either say, "Can't you make an exception just this once?" or "You can get a salad..." like i want to eat iceburg lettuce every day of my life, LOL!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2000 at 6:12PM
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My friends think its funny when they sarcastically say "michelle, do ya want a peice of my steak?" That got old real fast...but I dont say much because the whole vegan thing baffels most of them. People that find out Im a vegetable are generally shocked and curious. I dont see what the big deal is, people arent shocked when a meat eater doesnt like veal, or pizza, or peanut butter or whatever. So what if i dont like beef or chicken or whatever...

what i eat does not define me as a person :)

    Bookmark   November 7, 2000 at 12:25AM
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I don't even bother explaining my eating choices anymore - it's AMAZING how threatened people become when you mention that you're a vegetarian, and I'm sick to death of justifying my decision. I HAVE TO eat this way (no milk, eggs, tomatoes, citric acid, smoked *anything*, chocolate, booze, the list goes on and on), because I get migraines, and avoiding these foods prevents the pain. But I also believe that eating this way is better all the way around (environmentally, ethically, spiritually), so I just tell folks I can't eat meat anymore cuz I'll drop dead from high cholesterol! (Doctors orders, you know).

    Bookmark   November 8, 2000 at 12:37PM
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I live in the midwest and am looking forward to moving away! ha! But seriously, people seem to be curious about it but I don't think anyone makes a big deal anymore. I think in the past 4-5 years it has gotten a lot better. More and more people are becoming v's and it's not so uncommon anymore. There are more and more restaurants that are adding v menus. I just tell people that meat grosses me out and they usually don't say anything else.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2000 at 11:24AM
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My biggest grief is if I so much as sneeze or mention an ailment - the across the board reaction of course is "If you'd quit being a vegetarian and start eating better you wouldn't be sick".

Aside from that, here in the midwest, most people react with a silent 'well snooty knock me down a notch because I eat meat' look on their face. Their problem not mine.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2000 at 8:16PM
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Wow, I wish we could start a support group. I'm currently engaged to a vegan, and I myself am slowly easing into a vegetarian lifestyle. He's definitly an EDUCATED vegan. He's got an answer for anyone's comments about health problems! My family doesn't seem to care that he is a vegetarian, but his does! So, we're planning a little surprize for them: Our food at our wedding reception will be COMPLETELY vegetarian! We won't tell anyone, and we'll see if anyone even notices. We both are great lovers of food of all kinds, and we don't see why people should get so upset just because you don't want to eat something. I never liked orange juice when I was a kid and no one ever gave me the evil eye! What's wrong with not want to eat meat?! How is it any different? At least with being a vegetarian, you have ethical and health reasons!!! Some people are so illogical! Most other cultures eat WAY more vegetable-based foods than americans. Why is it that in this country (the only country in the world it seems) its SO taboo to NOT eat an animal? It always seems the people who will give you the most grief about the way you eat are people who are seriously in need of a dietary change (need to lose weight, heart and/or cancer problems in the family). The best thing to do is to act as if it ISN'T a big deal! If you don't get so defensive about how you eat, people won't be so ready to attack you. I think they mostly just do it to get a reaction from you, so you can flustered and they can annoy you! Annoy them - tell 'em they're ugly or something!!! Just kidding! Good eats to all! Happy Holidays!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2000 at 6:01PM
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Carol Ann

It's good to see more posts on this topic. Someone, perhaps jokingly, mentioned starting a suppport group.... on those lines... I'm pretty much alone in my vegetarian choice (I know there are other vegetarians in town, but no immediate friends) so I've been searching the internet from time to time for support - just reading what others are doing or about the benefits give me a boost. Does anyone know of a vegetarian message board that's reasonably active, where people provide support for each other? I found one once but lost the address (forgot to bookmark). Carolb, did I get it from you?....

I would also be more than happy to compile names/e-addreses for a listserve of sorts - was on one for a long time for running and it was a huge help. In that case, there were about 15 of us who e-mailed once a week (or occassionally more) to the whole group about our progress for the past week, any problems or injuries or successes, etc. It was a great way to keep my motivation up, find support and help during down times, etc., since I run alone and out in the boonies. If anyone is interested in that kind of thing for vegetarianism I'd be glad to collect addresses and send them out to everyone so we could get going. Let me know!!

I think age is a factor in reactions also - younger people often seem more accepting than older - although I will say that my parents are pretty good about it (although dad keeps saying, "But if we go out to eat and I buy you a good steak you'd eat it, right?") :-) I think sometimes people take my choice as an attack on theirs and that's not my intent. Mostly I just keep my mouth shut.

I will say that I do find that being a vegetarian has spilled over into many areas/levels of my life that I didn't anticipate - especially since I haven't been a big meat-eater for years and years anyway.

Bon appetit, everyone!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2000 at 8:28AM
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That stupid "child eating meat" post really got under my skin, which I guess was the intention. It just saddens me that some persons can be so cruel. What did we as a group ever do to that person? I just want to cry! Not at the letter itself, but at the kind of person it takes to do something so mean! Why would someone take all the time to find the forum and write a stupid letter like that just to annoy people?


I hope that person has a great excuse: like a crazed vegan killed his whole family... otherwise, I just.... well I just can't say what I feel without stooping to the same level as the poster.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2000 at 11:05PM
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carolb W FL

Don't let it get to you - it's prolly a teenager.

(if not - it could be a case of arrested development)

    Bookmark   December 21, 2000 at 6:40PM
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Jenny S

WoW! What happened here? What stupid post? I haven't been here for awhile so I'm lost. I'm surprised to see that there are still responses to this thread!

-- Jenny

    Bookmark   December 21, 2000 at 7:03PM
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Remember junior high and the couple of guys who pestered others incessantly just to get a reaction? Some of them don't grow out of it. They typically get bored quickly if there's no response.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2000 at 9:06AM
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