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Why Vegetarian? 10/12/10

Questions about your vegetarian lifestyle can be insistent. What's the best response?

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Being a vegetarian, I am sure you have been asked many questions as to why you have chosen this (happier) path.  Annoying, time-wasting and often ignorant questions are as part of a vegetarian lifestyle as your daily veggies.  What is the best way to deal with these questions?

My standard response is short, in the hope that we can peacefully and quickly change topics.

“I don’t eat meat for ethical reasons”.

But this normally leaves the person either looking more bewildered or allows them to wave a piece of bacon or sausage or whatever it is in my face and ask, “But don’t you just feel lus for a stuk wors?”

At this point I’m torn between either delivering a scathing attack on his/her lifestyle choice that will make the wors-eater choke on his synthetic casing, or to just laugh nervously, shrug my shoulders and throw back my hair like the girl from the Timotei ad. Usually I respond with a perplexed, “Uhhh.. No…”

What I’d like to do the most is let them know that I’ve chosen vegetarianism for me, not for anyone else, and it is therefore none of their business.  This is difficult though when you get emotional about the response.

I like Judith Kingsbury’s reply the most, which hinges on people minding their own business.

All you have to say is “It’s a personal choice, and not something I want to discuss”. When pressed by the rude and clueless, you could say something like, “It’s your choice what you eat, and none of my business. Right?”  Wait for emphatic affirmation. “And that works both ways, right?” Wait for reluctant agreement. Then say “Thank you!” and change the subject.”

It might not be the wittiest, but it really is the most practical and neutral way of tackling the situation head-on without causing a fork-fueled fight with dinner guests.

And as she gently reminds us, sometimes people just want to improve their diets. They may have heard that a vegetarian diet is a good way to do that. When they see happy, healthy shining vegetarian you, they might be asking you questions to simply know your secret!

By Roline Bosch

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2 Responses to this article

KaB October 15, 2010 Reply

Okay, frustrations are understandable! In some cases, I’d hope you’d want to share that shiny, healthy disposition vegetarians are suppose to have…unless the person sticking their piece of wors in your face is truly annoying and naive about the question, perhaps trying to help create understanding around it, the benefits and the ethical reasons for having made the lifestyle choice would help the other person understand.

I mean, you saw the change in me once reading the book ‘Eating Animals’ which you recommended…and I’m still happy to say that I’ve become a lot less of a carnivorous person than I used to be – in actual fact I don’t think I’ve eaten meat in 4 days and I only eat beef and lamb and on the rare occasion! All of this because I asked you that exact same question that irritates you so, yet after you took the time to explain it, I’ve already started making educated decisions on what I do and don’t put in my mouth!

Just a thought from my side! You have the knowledge, if the person is genuinely interested in finding out why, maybe sharing your own healthy experience would shape another’s.

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Roline.Bosch October 15, 2010 Reply

Thanks for the reply, KaB. I totally agree that the responsibility lies with the vegetarian to explain his/her lifestyle choice only if the desired goal is to make the world a better place. Whatever the goal of the vegetarian so should he/she alter his response. In my case, I have definitely explained to those who have been keen to make a change, as I did with you, but feel that this type of explanation has to suit the situation. In exactly the same way as “Bible bashers” are frowned upon because of their extreme sentiments in trying to convert one, so too I feel vegetarians should be careful to not come across as overbearing, as this might put the wors-waving individual totally off changing his eating ways.

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