3 Things This Vegetarian Would Say To a Meat Eater

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I’ll preface this article by saying I’m a vegetarian. I’ve seen the looks on meat lover’s faces when I tell them as much. Not all, but many imagine I am tree-hugging hippie with arrogant ideals and a tiara to match my superior status. But it just ain’t so. With the Thanksgiving holiday just weeks ahead, I was asked to write an article called My Meatless Thanksgiving for one of my freelance clients. It was a fun topic (and a bit controversial) so I thought I’d discuss it again here…

What it Means to Be a Vegetarian

I am not from another planet where pepperoni is profane. I don’t judge my bacon-loving buddies, and I don’t find it hard to eat out with any one of them. If you’re among the carnivorous crowd, take me to your barbecue. I’ll get down with an ear of corn, a plate of baked beans, and a cold adult beverage. I’m not shy. So what does it mean to be a vegetarian? For me, it means I don’t eat burgers, brats, or hot wings. It means I don’t feel right about meat consumption, and so my plate may look different from yours. But it’s my plate, so don’t take it personally.

How I arrived at Vegetarianism

My mama didn’t fill my sippy cup with kale smoothies. In fact, I grew up with meat on the menu. I mostly hated it then, and not for any of the reasons some vegetarians choose the meat-free lifestyle. The word vegetarian was never in my vocabulary, and the philosophy of focusing on  plant-based foods was beyond me and most people I knew. It’s only recently become more apparent, along with the popularity and acceptance of veganism (even in public places like health food markets/organic food stores and modern restaurants).

As a child, I’d ask my mom what kind of “animal” we were eating as she sliced the meat at the family table. I’d wrinkle my nose and promptly be chastised for my poor manners. Eating beef didn’t feel quite right then, and after many years of preparing chicken, I began to loath poultry too. If I think about it now, the self-awareness that yoga has helped me cultivate is probably what pushed me onto the meatless path.

In a previous post, I talked about riding the diet roller coasters and how yoga has helped me to develop healthier habits, listen to my inner promptings, and begin to eat and live an authentic life.

Sure, the ethical reasons to abstain from meat make sense to me, and the health reasons are a huge draw too. But honestly, I chose vegetarianism because it just felt right for me.

3 Things I’d Say to A Meat Eater

  1. Let’s not get caught up in arguments about our opposing views. Your food choices are all your own, and mine are MINE. I refuse to feel guilty about who I am or the path I’ve chosen. That said, I don’t propose you feel guilty about your choices either.
  2. I am not silently judging you. I respect your right to make choices that suit you. Who am I to begrudge you a burger, or steak, or whatever your little heart desires?
  3. Please don’t ask probing questions about my diet while we’re passing a platter at a holiday feast, or sharing a table at some celebration. I don’t enjoy the spotlight enough to engage in a public debate. I just want to eat! We can have that conversation later, in a more appropriate place.

Rest assured meat lovers, I am not in the business of converting you. Some staunch vegetarians may have noble-sounding arguments about the ethics involved. They might tell you that a meatless lifestyle is the most conscientious and humane path. They may even cite statistics on environmentalism, the energy used for animal protein production, and the toxic waste that’s involved. But I won’t go there. I believe that every human being ought to let his conscience be his guide. Let’s explore our own best paths and stay true to what feels good for us, individually.

I am grateful for the diverse world in which we live.

Mantra: Love is the absence of judgement. ~Dalai Lama

  • Talk Less, Say More
    November 8, 2015

    4 – You don’t need to apologize for eating meat in front of me.

    5 – Can we not get into a discussion on what “label” of vegetarian I am…cue:: “oh you eat eggs, you’re a pescetarian”


    • Rica Lewis
      November 8, 2015

      Yes! You’ve got the spirit of it! And actually, I do eat eggs so technically, I am a pescatarian. But who cares about labels? Thanks for making me laugh, Katelyn.

      • K
        February 25, 2016

        A pescatarian is someone who eat fish and seafood and no other meat, not a vegetarian who eat eggs

        • Rica Lewis
          February 25, 2016

          I have heard that, Kaylee. I don’t worry too much about the labeling part. I really just say “vegetarian” because most people understand the term. I truly had no idea what a pescatarian was until last year when I was told I was one! 🙂 It’s all semantics. You’d think I’d care more, being a writer. But honestly, I don’t! Thanks for stopping in and reading.

  • Chanel
    November 8, 2015

    I am not a vegetarian, but I have many friends who are. I applaud you all! For whatever reason you choose to be a vegetarian, they are just that. YOUR reasons! Who am I to judge!

    • Rica Lewis
      November 8, 2015

      Thank you, Chanel! I’d totally eat a meal with you!

  • Angel the Alien
    November 9, 2015

    I’m a vegetarian, and I agree with you totally! I am perfectly happy to fill up my plate with salads and vegetables at the Thanksgiving dinner, and I will not expect anyone to cook anything special for me. I would prefer a world in which nobody ate meat, but I can only be responsible for my own choices. In exchange, please don’t spend time trying to convince me that I SHOULD or MUST eat meat. “God put the animals here for us to eat,” people tell me. Didn’t anyone ever tell them not to discuss religion or politics at the dinner table? Let me eat my mashed potatoes and no gravy in peace!

    • Rica Lewis
      November 11, 2015

      Ha ha! Yes! I agree. It’s hard to explain to people that they do NOT have to make special accommodations for me. It really only makes me feel like a burden, although the gesture is nice. I’m totally on board with the potatoes and gravy! And a salad, of course. 🙂

  • Laura McGowan
    November 25, 2015

    Hi Vegetarian friends!!!!

    I’m not a vegetarian, but I do have a question.
    Why does my co-worker expect everyone to rally around her and provide all vegetarian dishes for our potluck dinners, and when we don’t, she decides to not join us.

    She won’t go to restaurants with us and order a salad, she says “vegetarian, sorry”
    She turns her nose up at me while I’m eating ham out of a baggie.
    She says she would rather starve to death than eat meat.
    She says those that eat pork are pretty much cannibals.

    Is it because she’s vegetarian? Or because she’s just nuts.

    • Rica Lewis
      November 25, 2015

      She’s a self-righteous bitch! Ha ha, that was my non-zen answer. It was completely inappropriate. But really, I think she needs to chill out and have some respect/compassion for other people and their choices. I feel sorry for her really, because she is missing out on life by letting her rigid philosophies become barriers to relationships/good times. So she sits at home alone with her meatless little meal while the “cannibals” carouse and make merry without her? Sad.

  • Kristin Eileen
    February 23, 2016

    This is exactly how I feel! When I first found out about my autoimmune disease, I was told that my body can not handle red meat or pork. I was devastated, at first, because I ate that stuff growing up.
    Eight years later, I do not miss it at all and feel so much healthier without red meat in my diet. I was judged a lot in those years, but I was doing something for myself and no one else! Great article!

    • Rica Lewis
      February 23, 2016

      Yes! Judgement sucks! I’m glad you found a healthy way to eat that suits your body and feels good for you. Thanks for chatting with me, Kristin!

  • Shann Eva
    February 23, 2016

    So awesome! I wish people would just stop judging each other all together, but that will probably never happen. I don’t eat much meat, just because the preparation grosses me out, but I don’t care what anybody else eats…except my kids. I just want them to eat!!! They are at the picky stage, so I’m happy with just about anything 😉

    • Rica Lewis
      February 23, 2016

      Ahh, I remember the picky eater stage my son went through. He was the only kid on the planet who wouldn’t eat McDonald’s. On the other hand, my younger guy was scavenging through the trash at night and eating scraps for fun– with the dog, of course. I wonder who coerced whom? Those were the days! Good luck, Shann Eva!

  • Wendy Bottrell
    April 21, 2016

    There are so many ways people can eat for their best health and well-being so I get your post! I have attempted to eat a vegetarian diet a few times in my past and have did not thrive. I think the most important point you make is finding our own way and I would add that whatever one chooses to eat, let health be the focus!

    • Rica Lewis
      April 21, 2016

      Absolutely, Wendy! We each have our own path. Thank you for your insight.

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