Giving up smoking? Congratulations! Giving up alcohol? Good for you! Giving up meat? Animals can’t feel pain, stop being such a hippy, cows will rise up and revolt if we stop eating them! Being a vegetarian is not without it’s hardships.
When I first became a vegetarian, my parents labeled it as a “phase, because seriously Lauren, you love chicken nuggets.” Ironically, when I came out as bi they nodded their heads and said they supported my lifestyle. I mostly chalk up that conversation as a win.
My friends on the other hand were excited because they’d never met a real vegetarian before. At first I thought they were accepting; they asked the usual questions of “isn’t killing plants the same as killing animals?” and “wait, you eat eggs? Isn’t that basically the same as eating a chicken?” Erm, no. I cannot fault them though, the teachers were always telling us there was no such thing as a ‘stupid question’. I beg to differ.
That was just the storm before the calm.
A month later, one of my closest friends decide that she too would become a vegetarian. I was excited because I was finally spreading the Vegetarian Agenda and when you introduce a friend, you get money off your next salad or something. However, she was weak willed and not a week later, she was scoffing down the school made chicken burgers, but it was okay because “it’s not real meat, Lauren.” Yeah okay, Brutus.
This incident, more commonly known as The Great Betrayal, seemed to spark something in the rest of my friends. They were impressed that thus far I had stuck true to my word and had been living off toast and grass, so they concocted a scheme to bring me back from the dark side. They decided to test my resolve.
That evening, my friends, I witnessed hell. I was taken to a den of sin, filled with debauchery and gluttony. I was taken to Nando’s.
It has definitely been the worst decision they’ve ever made. I didn’t even like Nando’s before I turned to vegetarianism. It most certainly was not going to break my resolve now. Idiots. When my friends then decided that dragging me here wasn’t enough, their next plan of action was to show me how much meat could be enjoyed. Every time one of them forked a bit of flesh into their mouth, they moaned. If a blind person had walked into the joint, they would have sworn they had stumbled into an orgy. Staff and patrons alike did not care for our antics, so we were given an ultimatum: shut up or leave. I was tempted to start moaning myself, if only to accelerate my escape. That night I dined on garlic bread and discomfort.
After that disaster, my friends finally accepted that I am who I am; a vegetarian.
Classmates, however, were not quite as understanding. One of my teachers started a debate of the pros and cons of becoming a vegetarian/vegan during class and naturally I told them the pros: healthier eating, a cleaner conscious and when you sweat you don’t smell like hamburgers. Of course the majority of the responses were “that’s stupid. The bible says we’re better than animals. You’re stupid.” The bible also says that you’re not allowed round haircuts. Your bowl cut is a sin.
As an ‘adult’ (and I use the term loosely), I’ve had less confrontations. We’re no longer those bratty kids who think we know better. The people around me have accepted my dietary habits and have fully embraced the whole ‘live and let live’ thing. However, my mother still has a penchant to introduce me to people by saying “this is Lauren, she’s a vegetarian,” as if it defines me, but I suppose it’s better than the previous “this is Lauren, she is destructive.”
As vegetarians/vegans, we give up a lot; nuggets, bacon, the list goes on. But the one thing we’ll never have to give up? Wine. Hallelujah.