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The Hardest Part of Vegetarianism

Madeline Burns, Contributor

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There are many reasons to become a vegetarian; the two most common are ethical issues and health reasons. We all know the vegetarian who is all too excited to tell you about the cruelties that occur on factory farms and make you highly aware that eating meat is murder. This person does not have a hard time saying no to meat. Instead, they have a hard time being around meat. We also know the person who genuinely finds the salad the most appealing item on the menu. It almost seems as though they are faking, but I can promise you they are not—I am one of them.

Similarly, this type of person does not have a hard time saying no to meat, they simply do not like it. However, when people ask— which they frequently do—“what is the hardest part about not eating meat?” they expect the answer to be something along the lines of, “saying no to meat when I would actually like to be eating it,” but this is just not the case. To most vegetarians, especially those who stay vegetarian, meat has lost its appeal. So, saying no to meat is not at all difficult. In fact, it is preferred.

You may then ask, “Well, then what is the hardest part about not eating meat?” To which my answer is always “other people.” If I lived in a vacuum or in a world where I had little to no human contact, being a vegetarian would be a piece of cake. My family has even adapted in such a way that I did not fully realize the difficulties of vegetarianism until I got to college and began eating with other people often. I live my life in a way that accommodates my eating habits—I enjoy restaurants that offer dishes without meat and I don’t think twice about it. Other people, however, do not think in this way and it can make for awkward situations. Imagine you are going over to a new friend’s house for the first time and their parents cooked dinner for you. If you are a picky eater this might already be a stressful situation. What if you do not like what they make? Then you can at least eat a bite and politely stop eating without drawing much attention.

However, what if you are a vegetarian and they make lasagna? There is no polite way to get out of that one. You will have three options: You can put the food on your plate, not eat it and hope that no one notices; you can explain that you do not eat meat and make the hosts feel bad; or, you can break your seven years of vegetarianism and eat the lasagna. All three options are awkward and less than desirable.

I have picked the first and second often and have highly considered the third a number of times. All options are hard to recover from—the topic of the dinner is now your protein intake. This situation is a regular occurrence for your vegetarian friends and can cause much stress. So, the next time you find out your new friend is a vegetarian, maybe instead of asking them what the hardest part is, ask them what their favorite meal is.

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The Hardest Part of Vegetarianism