I have been a vegetarian for almost 20 years. It’s something that is just as me as being blonde or Italian or snorting when I laugh. Really, really fortunately, my boyfriend is really supportive about it. He loves vegetarian food — he doesn’t even bring meat into our apartment. (I tell him he can!) He eats it when he is out, which gives him a nice balance. But there have definitely been people in my life who gave me a hard time, tried to change me, or tried to make me feel bad. None of those things were good ideas because I never caved. I never ate the "just one!" chicken wing. I just got… annoyed.
Food is love. It’s life — it’s so important that it can take over your relationship if you are butting heads about your eating habits with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Don’t let it! Think about these rules. They are mine — not everyone’s. If you have a girlfriend or boyfriend who doesn’t eat meat (or gluten, or orange-colored foods, or whatever), talk about it. Figure it out. Then it will never be an awkward thing or cause resentment or passive aggressiveness. Then you can dig in. Yes! Nommmnomnomnomnom…
1. Don’t assume that I adhere to other random lifestyle decisions because I have decided to abstain from meat. I’m not on a diet, I’m not into Bikram yoga, I don’t really care about eating organic, I don’t love the Grateful Dead. The only thing that being a vegetarian means is that I don’t eat meat.
2. Don’t think it’s OK to sneak chicken broth or some animal product into my food as long as I don’t know. If you know there is chicken in something, tell me. I don’t put cocaine in your blueberry muffins. Or do I?
3. Don’t give me a hard time about wearing leather. Unless I was living in the woods, it’d be really hard (and expensive) to abstain from animal products all the time. I do everything feasible to not kill animals, and I figure that is better than nothing.
4. Please don’t pick a restaurant with just one vegetarian thing on the menu. That gets so old so fast — especially because it’s always the pasta primavera. You are used to having lots of menu options; it’d be nice for me to have a few, too.
5. Don’t act annoyed when I have to give the waitress special instructions. Hey, I don’t like it either when I have to ask for the sausage rigatoni without the sausage. I’m not doing it to be a pain. I’m sticking to my guns. I’m awesome.
6. Don’t try to get me to eat meat or change my mind. This isn’t a phase. It shouldn’t really affect you. Why do you care?
7. Don’t act like tofu is gross. When I have tempeh, seitan, or soy meatballs on my plate, there is nothing more rude than when someone turns up their nose and says, "EWWW what is that?!" I don’t act grossed out about your food. (And I think meat is pretty gross.)
8. Don’t ask me if I’m getting enough protein. Most annoying question ever. Since when did you start worrying about my protein intake?
9. I actually don’t think it’s funny to see pictures of dead animal carcasses, so don’t throw them in my face. It doesn’t shock me or make me feel bad — it’s just mean-spirited.
10. Don’t tell me that you’re in PETA, too — "People for Eating Delicious Animals." First of all, that just sounds like the worst pickup line ever. It’s also a pretty mean thing to say. Plus, I’m not even in the real PETA.
11. Don’t give me the "egg" lecture. A vegan doesn’t eat eggs. I’m a vegetarian. And I’m fine with eating eggs. You don’t have to throw facts about eggs at me. I know them.
12. Don’t be afraid to ask me why I’m a vegetarian. I like to talk about it. (But you don’t have to.)
13. If we’re at your family or friend’s house for a meal and there isn’t much for me, make the situation less awkward by helping me find something or explaining to the hosts why I’m not eating meat. In other words, stand by me, even if you don’t agree with vegetarianism.
14. No, I don’t want to eat that pizza with the pepperoni picked out. Or that pasta salad with the chicken picked out.
15. This may sound stupid, but try to remember I’m a vegetarian. It’s an important part of who I am. If you keep forgetting it’s like you don’t care about something important to me. And don’t say things like, "Oh you’re a vegetarian, but you can eat chicken, right?"
In return, I promise:
1. I’ll let you eat all the meat you want. In front of me. I don’t care as long as it’s not going into my body.
2. I’ll stay sane about meat on pots or pans. As long as I clean the pan, I don’t care that chicken gizzards (or whatever people eat) were once there.
3. I won’t drag you to a bunch of vegetarian restaurants that you hate. Or keep making you try meatless food you don’t like.
4. I won’t act like your food is gross while you’re eating it.
5. I won’t spew off facts about factory farming or animal slaughter.
6. I’ll buy you Kentucky Fried Chicken when you’re having a bad day.
7. I’ll never try to get you to eat like me.
8. I’ll never give you guilt trips or a hard time. You do your thing. And let me do mine. Cool?
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