The “I’m a vegetarian” conversation

Despite the silence here, I am alive, well, and breathing – although I’ll admit to laying low this last week. My body and mind were tired, I was out of town last weekend and Alex was gone this weekend, so my laptop wasn’t very compelling.

But, I’ve said it time and time again, my writing is important to me, and although I may not post every day, my commitment to this blog is strong. So I’ve now scheduled in writing times throughout the week. Much like track practice and date night, these times are going to be fairly non-negotiable. Setting aside time will help me create the mental space to be creative here.

But! I’m not just here to talk about my commitment issues, I came to talk about “the conversation.” You know, the one after you decide that for at least the forseeable future, you’re not eating any meat. I believe it’s a highly personal decision that no one else needs to comment on. However, I can also respect that for people unfamiliar with vegetarianism, or people that fear it may inconvenience them (such as when a kid goes vegetarian with omni parents), or if non-vegheads feel judged, the conversation isn’t as straightforward.

I also want to put it out there that there is no need to stick to a label on your choices if you don’t want to – but if you WANT to, then here’s my advice for that conversation.

It took me a long time to make the official switch, to start integrating “vegetarian” as a part of my identity. For six months before I declared it on Facebook (the natural way to share personal decisions – oi vey), I wasn’t eating much meat, but I wasn’t ready to defend my position if push came to shove. And sometimes, that’s what it takes. So how do you tell people if you’re a newb?

1. Choose the right time. It’s probably not the best idea to launch into the vegetarian conversation as your significant other is grilling you a steak. A great way to do it is to cook a fabulous vegetarian meal and then share your decision. Can’t cook? Order in some veggie pizza – everyone loves pizza!

2. Have your reasons at the ready. Make a list of why you’re leaving the omni realm  – is it health reasons? Environmental? Animal cruelty issues? Maybe you just don’t like it? It’s too expensive? Know your reasons and know the research behind it. Really, I think you should know all this for yourself – it just happens to help when talking to others. Sharing information can help develop awareness about the vegetarian lifestyle.

I can respect the bacon.

3. When telling someone, be confident but not judgmental. There’s no need to be too demure – be honest about your reasons, but don’t try to convert the person you’re talking to. I believe this is the number one reason why conversations between people with different dietary lifestyles get heated, whether it’s an omni and veg, or veggie and vegan, or omni and paleo, or whatever. Each person has to choose what’s right for them. I understand that when there are moral issues involved, it can be tempting to push people, but at least for me, I can be more open minded when someone is sharing genuinely and not putting pressure on me.

Fajitas are a great veggie/omni choice!

4.  Be accommodating. If you’re telling someone that cooks for you, such as parents or a significant other or roommate, assure them that you won’t inconvenience them. Offer to make dishes for meals, propose ideas that can be either omni or veggie – like build your own burritos, or for a meal with several components, find a way to replace the meat portion with a veggie protein.

5. When people tease you, don’t take it personally. My brother in law loves himself some bacon – and always teases Alex and I about being vegetarian – we just tease him right back! We’re both respectful and it’s fun and funny. If you don’t get offended, it’s less likely to become a negative conversation.

That’s my advice – I’ve been a vegetarian for a few years now and I still catch flak sometimes – but it’s never mean spirited – always just questioning or teasing. I’ve used these points many times to have great conversations with omnis (and vegans actually) about why I choose what I choose.

I hope it helps!



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