2016 is the year to finally accept vegetarians

What’s your beef with us?

It’s 2016. You can buy little pretend chicken kievs made from fake meat and fake bacon which tastes passably like bacon. It’s never been easier to be a vegetarian but still, we are treated like we are doing something absurd, like nudism or declaring that we’re moving to Colombia to marry a cocaine king pin.

We certainly shouldn’t have to field the same questions and negative comments every time we consume food, just because that meal doesn’t include a dead animal. Vegetarianism occupies a curious space: it’s very mainstream and largely unobtrusive, yet many carnivores treat it as an affront, and respond by making herbivores the butt of the tedious joke.

Some present what they think is a veritable Sophie’s choice “If you were marooned on a desert island and the only thing to eat was a steak, would you eat it?” Yes, of course. Though what desert island has steaks lying around? Coconuts and seaweed would be more realistic. We’d eat like kings.

For a good six weeks, you get: “what do you eat at Christmas? Nut roast?”. Yes, sometimes – it tastes pretty good with a bit of cranberry sauce. Last year, I had something that looked and tasted like turkey just to fit in and avoid the intrusive questions over the table.

“Don’t you miss meat though?” Sometimes, though fake meat is a convincing substitute, and if I missed it that much I’d probably just start eating it.

That's not me

That’s not me

Some raise the cosmic question, to which every vegetarian must have a rehearsed answer: “Why did you actually become a vegetarian?” It’s deeply uncomfortable to be put on the spot in front of a room of expectant faces waiting – indeed, wanting – you to preach at them, which is rarely something you do anyway. You mutter something about animal cruelty and not liking the taste; you see people sneer. Intel: most people who stop eating meat do it for themselves and themselves only.

“For every animal you don’t eat, I’m going to eat two.” Seriously, good luck with that – eat yourself closer to that red meat-induced heart attack. We’ll dance on your corpse (this is a joke – vegetarians make those too). On a similar line there’s, “you’re still killing plants, I read that they can feel pain too.” This theory lives and dies with the kind of pseudo-science which belongs at the pub. There isn’t a single credible piece of research to back up this theory.

“Do you want to be a vegan one day?” Not particularly, right now. Again: if I wanted to be, I would be. I don’t want someone who ate a bacon sandwich for breakfast to make me feel guilty about eating (free-range) eggs. Oh, and there’s, “how do you get protein?” Nuts, seeds, pulses, whatever. Pretty much everything that passes your lips has some sort of protein in it. I’m hardly wasting away.


Actually quite nice

“Are you offended if I go ahead and eat this burger right in front of you?” That’s not why anyone gets into vegetarianism. Nobody can live their life cowering at the sight of meat, protesting at their mates and dumping fake blood over people’s fur (faux or otherwise) coats.

“Can’t you just pick the pepperoni off the pizza?” Not really. There are still little bits of it on there and some of the pepperoni got into the sauce. This is why margheritas and veggie supremes exist.

“You can come to my dinner party but I have no idea what I’m going to feed you.” Anything, seriously – just give me the sides if you have to. Few who choose to go gluten-free walk around in T-shirts with the slogan “down with wheat”; similarly, most vegetarians do not demand a fuss. Don’t make a meal of it.