I'm specifically talking to vegetarian/vegan teens, but any vegs out there are welcome to voice their opinions! :)
Today at lunch (I am a junior in high school)m some how the topic of me being a vegetarian came up, and all of a sudden I felt extremely targeted. It was a rather scary feeling, actually! My friends started bombarding me with the whole "where do you get your protien?" and "why don't you eat meat?" and "do you eat fish? How about turkey?" (I wanted to slap them all in the face and say, "When you've done half a years research on vegetarianism, THEN you can come criticize me, b*tches!")
This has happened several times, and each time the topic of eating comes up, I get a gut feeling of actual FEAR to tell people that I don't eat meat. Its ridiculous! I shouldn't be afraid to tell others that I'm vegetarian!
It just all reminds me how RUDE and NARROW MINDED American high schoolers can be, and its so, so, so sad (yes, I do realize that I am a high schooler my self). I suppose that goes for all people, in fact.
How about you all? What do your friends think? Have you all experienced this fear and this feeling of almost embarrassment about telling others about your vegetarianism/veganism?
In high school my best friend found it funny after being veg for 3 years to push a chicken burger in my face...I punched him. It wasnt even intentional just a gut reaction. Needless to say that never happened again.
When we go to eat people still act like I am a hassle though I can usually find something anywhere to munch on. In college I still meet people that I hear talk trash about vegs and vegans because they think they are all fundamentalists or all believe in peta. I usualy do not tell people unless I know them but tht is becuase I am a fairly private person and when asked those questions I respond with the normal answers to which I ALWYAS get back "But I love me, its so good, I am a meat eater, I could never".
If it bugs you say something. That is the only way people will stop, especially if its people you know. If it ever gets annoying I would just snap and tell them that I am sorry they never stop and think about what impact they have on the world. That they just blindly go with the herd and do as they have been forced fed to do. Tell them you are sorry they can not think for them selves. That is ONLY if they keep being jerks.
My friends are pretty much cool with it, I even influenced my best friend and she became vegetarian too. However, I do get the occasional "No meat? What you eat then!?" LoL
Although I don't know the tone which people are questioning you about the food you eat (and don't eat), perhaps they're just curious, not being judgmental, and being somewhat immature (as many high schoolers tend to be), the questions/curiosity is not expressed appropriately. Maybe they really do want to know how you get your protein and what you can and can't eat. For many people, especially young people, this may be their first exposure to vegetarianism. Without being preachy, use this as an opportunity to explain why you became a vegetarian. Let them know that you realize this is not a decision everyone can or wants to live with, that it's the best eating decision for you, and you don't judge them for what they eat (do you?), and you ask for the same respect from them.
Although when people shove a chicken burger in someone's face (re other poster), that's pretty blatant statement of disrespect.
To sum it up, friends are annoying when it comes to vegetarianism... Are you guys the only ones in your family who are vegs? I made up my mind in the beginning of 9th grade, and am still the only vegetarian in my family. My friends all bombarded me with annoying questions, the most common being "Why?" What do you mean 'why'?! Is it wrong not to want animals to die in order to feed you when you know it's unnecessary? You try having Buddhist compassion stories being told to you at bedtime (the worst being how lobsters and crab scream as they are slowly boiled to death), seeing the animals live before you eat them (seafood), and imagining the animals alive! See if you don't want to throw up then!
Sorry. I was ranting, wasn't I? But seriously, no matter how much I explain, they don't get it and still ask why.
Poster who had a chicken burger shoved in your face, I applaud you and support you 150% for punching that guy. Some people just don't realize how insulting they're being when they do stuff like that. Someone, knowing I was a vegetarian, was talking about eating horse, dogs, cats, bear meat, and all kinds of meats in front of me. I had to grit my teeth to keep from jumping him...
Hello! I am 15, a sophmore, and know exactly what you mean. None of my friends are vegetarians but my best 3 friends respect my decision and are all for it. I have been one since was 10, so over 5 years now!
However, the "group" of about 10 friends I am with in school for the most part do not respect it. Because I have been slightly overweight (was 140 at 5'7"), it wasn't that I was "fat," just that I was never "the skinny girl". THerefore I always got a lot of rude comments like "Well, I always thought vegetarians were suppose to be skinny?" or "What do you eat? Ice cream and twinkies?" I am actually an exchange student to Europe this year and no one in the states has seen me since last August. Now I am down to about 126 and hoping when I am back I won't have that problem with comments anymore! It used to always make me feel so horrible.
I think the worst thing is when I am sitting at lunch in school. Maybe someone has take out. They offer some to me and I say no thanks. They ask why and suddenly the WHOLE TABLE starts talking about your being a vegetarian. It's always just "WHY would you WANT to do that?" And then of course the "It it for ethical, health, environmental...etc reasons???" So. Annoying. Almost everyone I know just completely jumps all that and looks at it as a bad thing. I don't get it. Completely agree about the rude and narrow minded-ness!
This year though, living in northern Europe, many natives honestly do think it is crazy to consider the idea of not eating meat. They just don't get it, more so than most Americans even I think. Here, people don't "diet," they don't have "light" foods... and being a vegetarian and not eating meat is just one of those strange things. I live in a city so it's not as absolutely unheard of as in the rural areas. But to not eat fish... for them, fish isn't a meat. So here when someone says they're veggie, they really mean pesketarian.
In my family, I am the only one. My parents both eat very little "meat" but TONS of fish. My mother fully respects my decision. She is a great and healthy cook, and helps me a lot with meals.
My older brother is at university and out of the house, but he only teases me for it. Reminding me of things like the time I ate about 20 lamb kebabs at a wedding when I was 5. Yuck. For him it just means more orange chicken or salmon fillet so he's good with it!
My dad however, is not. For the past 5 years he has ALWAYS been trying to get me to eat fish. He would be perfectly happy if I was a pesketarian, but he thinks that as a vegetarian that I am not getting the proteins/omega-3's/other wholesome goodness, that I should be getting. It is really frustrating because at meals, we will be having a great dinner and they will be eating maybe salmon, and I will have tofu and my dad goes and says "You know the only thing that would make this meal better? If Adriana was eating the salmon with us." That flat out pisses me off. Especially after how long it has been, him still not taking the hint makes me so angry.
Ok, last bit. The other annoying thing for me is, like you said, when someone tries to tell you it's not healthy. When my dad does it, sure, he's just being my dad. But when someone else who has no clue what they're talking about starts going off on it I am about ready to explode.
So for me, it's not so much fear, it's more that I know I will get angry and very annoyed when someone starts speaking about it and attacking vegetarianism. Wish many in this world were more open to ideas~!
Ya at that time I had been vegetarian for 3 years and it wasnt like it was new. We joke about it now. I still get people that are idiots, I do live in texas so big surprise there. Everyone here is like more beef please. Also people find it strange that my husband is vegan also. They think that I "turned" him vegan or something even though he was vegetarian when we met (which I didnt even know ). I have always been the only weirdo in my family that ate differently. I actually never even dated any one even close to not eating meat until I met my husband. YOu just have to talk to people and try and find people that eat and think like you just so you have peers that understand.
Thanks, everyone, for the awesome replies! Lots of good adivice.
I know this is an age old conflict, and it probably always will be. Its just annoying, like a pebble in your shoe.
And, cgergely1, that's a good idea to look at it in a different way. My friends are probably more curious, but it definately comes across as rude. They are particularly loud mouthed, haha.
My friends actually arent the problem for me, they applaud me for my willpower. Then again, there are ALOT of vegetarians in my school, so many that in my cooking class we had to make our own vegetarian group that only made vegetarian meals! Its my family who bug me ridiculously on my vegetarianism. I constantly have them asking me if I want a hamburger or some bacon, and when I laugh and say no they just say "fine, have fun eating your salad and beans while we enjoy real food!". Just because I dont eat meat, doesnt mean I dont eat real food! My family is a real bunch of meat eaters, and so they are completely ignorant to my desicion to not eat meat. They think that it is just a dumb phase and think that I should "stop being so difficult and just eat what everyone else eats!" Also they always talk about how we were made with back teeth for a reason and that we were meant to eat meat. Its very irritating, but I have basically learned how to drown it out.
My friends freaked and they still are bugging me about it
I hate to forewarn you about this, but dealing with peoples' judgments about your decision not to eat meat doesn't end with high school.
Hang in there!
I've been a vegetarian for three years. A lot ofmy friends in high shcool were vegetarian too, and at first my parents were reluctant but my mom's really proud of my will power and standing up forwwhat I believe in.
I moved to amore conservative college town after high school, and while they have vegetarian options it's all the same thing. Kind of bland, flavorless- and hardly any good fresh veggies. I get a lot of people asking me why I don't eat meat- or want jello shots :]. I've gone on a few dates where guys try really hard to find something, but I also have a fair share of guys who tell me I eat 'rabbit food' and try to make me eat meat.
People can be jerks.
Yes, all the lovely criticism.
I take a cooking class and I'm in a group with all boys (I'm female) and they're actually cool with it. But the girls I eat with are still bugging me. "What are you eating today? BEANS!" *slap*
I want to say "At least I'm not eating processed and fried "potato cakes" from a frozen industrial sized box with a side of fried shrimp. Mmm, a plate full of golden crispies....not.
Heh, I'm not a vegetarian teen anymore, but I used to be one. All of my friends were completely okay with it. Never questioned it at all. The only time it ever really came up was when one of them wanted my hamburger in the cafeteria.
Other kids would pipe in about it, though. I'd answer their questions until/unless they got rude or aggressive about it. At that point, I'd usually laugh at them and move along. I remember it coming up in my home ec class and it was pretty much me and my friends and the teacher vs. the rest of the class. Good times. :D
All the questions, comments, teasing, etc, that I've seen listed here...I can honestly say I've seen it all, but it never bothered me. I became a vegan for one simple reason: I got curious and decided to try it, and just never went back when I realized how much better I felt. There wasn't any animal activism involved (though, as I tell the questioners, when you havent eaten meat for a while, the idea of the animals you used to eat is more disturbing than it was when you still ate it. It's a conditioning thing I suppose)
My reasons weren't specifically religious either. As a Christian, I didn't come from a church that believed a vegan diet was the will of god. (Nope. I came from a southern baptist church. We used potlucks to celebrate everything...weddings, funerals, births...business meetings...I really mean everything. And there was usually a whole table dedicated to the roast beef and fried chicken.) And now, as a buddhist (despite what people may have heard) it is not a requirement to be a vegeterian (although, if you think carefully about what you learn as a buddhist, veganism makes sense.) But that was just a tangent. All I meant to say was that because I didn't have deep and abiding moral reasons to be a vegan, the comments about my eating choices never really got under my skin.
I've found that a good way to turn off criticism when it does come up (Think "How do you get any protein?" with that sarcastic, condescending, I-know-all-and-meat-IS-all tone) Is to treat it like a serious question out of genuine concern or curiosity. Don't get defensive or offended, give the honest to god answer to the question that was asked. It's a good way to turn off hostility, and show that you know what you're talking about at the same time.
I first started wanting to make the switch to an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet when I was about 10 years old. I grew up next to a small New England dairy farm & the cows grazed right behind my house. I used to go on walks with my dad & I would climb up onto the old wooden fence & pet the cows. They were sweet friendly animals with big pretty eyes & loved visiting them as a little girl. One day I realized that cheeseburgers came from cows :( I was so sad & felt so terrible for the suffering & death of these animals that I told my parents I wanted to be a vegetarian, but they wouldn't let me. I kept trying & at age 13 my parents lost their battle & I became an ovo-lacto vegetarian. My parents said it was a "stupid phase" & my entire extended family teased me. Everyone asked me a million questions. I got forced to see a nutritionist. My parents thought for sure the nutritionist would get me to eat meat, but they were wrong & the nutritionist supported my healthy vegetarian diet.
So Now I'm 29 years old & for the past 16 years I have been an ovo-lacto vegetarian. I am happy & healthy. When people tease me about my eating habits; I am very good at coming up with witty funny things to say, but if they are just curious I don't mind answering their questions. If people are mean to me I generally say what I think & walk away. It's important to stand up for what you believe in.
one of my annoying friends responses was, "so what do you eat then, just bread?"
yeah course, my diet is solid bread. idiot, hmph.
I've sometimes found that, when people find I'm vegetarian, they think I'm going to get all snotty and look down on them because they eat meat (I don't! )
My friends, even when I wasn't at college, never really challenged me about it. When someone did, I shut them down with cold, hard biological facts. There's nothing like science to stop the "but you can't possibly be getting enough protein!"
Excuse me while I whip out my plant and dairy protein breakdown chart.
^haha yeah! rock on! :)
My friends still tease me about it, but they're just trying to be funny (its getting old). Its fun to see how everyone responds differently. I like the scientific approach; sounds good!
I'm 15. My best friends are really supportive of me being vegan but some of my other friends are constantly like "I feel so BAD for you!!!!!!"...umm thanks for your pity? Not.
Oh and don't you love it when someone's eating like a bagel and cream cheese next to you and they look at you and shout "OH MY GOODDDDDD!!! I just remembered YOU CAN'T HAVE CHEESE!!!!!" Ha wow really? I never knew!
Also, I understand people are curious and all but they ask so many questions!! "Where so you get your protein??"
"Then what do you eat??"
"So do you like really love animals or what?"
"Wouldn't cows explode if you didn't milk them??"
"Animals would overpopulate the world if we didn't eat them!!!"
This is perhaps my favorite and most absurd: "But...you're hurting plants!!!!"