When people find out I’m vegetarian, they invariably ask why. Sometimes they say: “Is it for ethical or health reasons?” That’s an easy one so I answer “ethical”. And hopefully the conversation stops. But sometimes they just ask why. So the answer to that is “Because I don’t like eating dead animals.” And it usually stops after that too. Often they hastily justify their own diet with “We hardly eat any meat, we are almost vegetarian too.” Like why tell me? I don’t care what you eat.
But if they are really persistent, they ask one or more of the following:
1. What about your leather shoes? (belt, handbag etc – usually shoes)
2. What about the poor dead screaming vegetables?
3. Do you realise that if people didn’t eat meat there wouldn’t be any cute little lambs and nice cows for us all to look at?
4. Don’t you miss bacon sandwiches, a good roast (insert meat of choice)
5. Where do you get your protein from?
6. How on earth do you get all the right vitamins?
and the classic
7. But what do you eat?
And the answers are:
1. No, they aren’t.
2. Very funny
5. Legumes, nuts, tofu, seitan, tempeh, plus all the complementary sources
6. By eating a balanced diet
7. Anything that comes from a vegetarian source and hasn’t been killed.
These are very boring questions that I have been asked millions of times. However, people invariably think 1-4 are thought-provoking, witty and original. They aren’t. Not even when heard for the first time. The ones who ask 5&6 really think they know what they are talking about.
The ones who ask 7 are stupid and lucky if they get an answer at all. Do I ask other people what they eat all the time? This is not “What do you like to eat, or what is your favourite meal?” This is a downright nosy insulting question. Why would I want to know what you eat from first thing in the morning to last thing at night? I don’t. So don’t ask me. Or go and ask a few non-vegetarians the same question and see what they say.
The other question of course is: “How long have you been vegetarian?” The answer to that is “Too long to be bothered to count the years.” And the implied – but unspoken additional answer is “And too long to answer your silly questions.” The truth is I have been vegetarian (and sometimes vegan) for a lot of years. I’m well-informed about it. But I’m not interested in having a discussion, justifying my choice, or educating anyone about it.