A vegetarian’s pet hates: It’s not as fun or easy as we make out
If it were easy, we’d all be veggies
I've been a vegetarian for just over two years now, it's the only new years resolution I've ever kept. Having loved meat, some veggie pals (and an old lady I spoke to at a Morrissey concert) told me that soon enough, I'll be repulsed by the thought of it. Sadly, that's not the case for me. If you put a full rack of BBQ ribs in front of me, the temptation would be unbearable.
Over the last two years, I've come to realise that it's definitely not all fun and games. There are some common annoyances that I'm convinced most vegetarians will experience on a regular basis.
A lot of menu's in restaurants are still restrictive
Don't get me wrong, they're definitely getting better, but it's not fun having only one section of the menu that you can eat off. If some places are limited and you don't like the goat's cheese burger or any form of mushroom, you're in trouble. And whilst the chicken does look tempting, you'll end up making a meal of garlic bread, chips and onion rings from the sides. This may not sound too bad, but some variety is nice.
Gelatine is in so much more stuff than you'd think
After preparing to give up Haribo, it's quickly revealed that gelatine is in fucking everything. It can be in some ice creams, in marshmallows, and even things like shampoos and body washes. Similarly, you learn that things like parmesan aren't veggie, and you end up having to check everything to ensure you stay true to the vegetarian lifestyle. Sometimes chips are even cooked in fat. Nothing is safe.
Meat replacements are so hit and miss
They can be really good. Quorn Southern Fried Bites and of course Linda McCartney's sausages (also vegan) are great shouts, but some replacements are absolutely woeful. I doubt you hear any vegetarians raving about a good Quorn steak. That's cos they don't exist.
I've developed a general rule that any meat that would typically be processed (e.g. nuggets, breaded burgers) is fine, but anything like steak and pretend chicken roasts are dire. If you miss proper meaty meat, you're out of luck. Some veggie fast food places ace fake meat, but day-to-day products sadly won't suffice our carnivorous tendencies.
The drunk food options are very limited
Picture this. You're drunk and your friends have just dragged you out of the club to hit McDonalds before it closes, and naturally all you're thinking about is Chicken Selects, the new Big Mac, the Quarter pounders, and all the rest.
But no, you're stuck with a Spicy Veggie Deluxe', along with some fries and some cheese melts if you're feeling exotic. If you did want chicken nuggets, you'll be sat up waiting whilst your Quorn bites are in the oven. Let's be honest, by the time they're done you'll be asleep on the couch. At least we can rely on pizza and garlic bread in most takeouts, but still it doesn't quite cut a kebab or greasy 3am burger.
Everyone asks you why you're veggie and it's annoying
When people ask me why I'm a veggie, I say the same line every time "because animal agriculture is the leading cause of global warming" – all of a sudden, Simon from your history tutorial has become a leading expert in environmental science, and insists you're foolish. Similarly, if it's because you don't want to eat dead things, you'll get the food chain explained to you by someone who thinks they're from the healthy eating bus. Cut it out.
One of my main incentives to live like a herbivore was that I may drop a dress size or two, but sadly I ended up trading in chicken for carbs and gained a fucking stone. I got badly done over here. If you're looking for a quick way to lose weight, you still need to eat salad.
You're expected to like certain foods
Since when did hummus become a 'vegetarian food', the only people I ever see eating it are meat eaters. This goes with falafal and quinoa as well, if you don't like these foods, you're basically fucked. I had to force myself to eat halloumi and thankfully I like mushrooms, so I can survive It's a hard knock life for those who didn't grow up on a yoga mum diet of hummus and cucumber.
The ready meal selection is atrocious
I'm a shit cook, so outside of the Quorn selection of shit lasagnes and cottage pies, good luck finding a quick and easy ready meal that you can pop in the microwave after a long day at Uni. You'll constantly spend your life chopping up onions, making food all the time when you're not eating your Quorn nuggets.
You become addicted to cheese, which is definitely not healthy
I didn't really like cheese before becoming a veggie, but being introduced to halloumi with every veggie meal, you end up eating your weight in cheese all the time. This also is not a good one for the waist line.
You are not quite a vegan, so your morals aren't quite perfect
You know that you should be vegan because you've already taken the first step, but you've given up too much already and now you're stuck in some sort of morality limbo that makes you question if you're wasting time if you don't give up dairy products.
The older generation don't seem to quite get vegetarianism
Not to be ageist, but many old people simply don't get it. My nan still offers me chicken wings when she knows I'm a vegetarian, because she has this idea that white meat isn't meat, and then you have to disappoint her. Similarly, I've had older ladies try and force their left over jelly on me before it runs out of date, and you seem like a pretentious, ungrateful arsehole when you have to turn her down because 'it has gelatine in'.
People can act a bit awkward around you
There's two kinds of people you meet as a vegetarian, the ones who order a BLT and will apologise profusely because they know you don't eat meat, or the ones who order a rare steak and go on to say something like, 'just because you don't eat meat, it doesn't mean that I can't'. Most of us don't care what you eat, just don't steal our chips.
Whilst I hate being a vegetarian for all of the above reasons, I'd never go back now, and I know that I'm doing a little bit of good for society, and that is something I'm not prepared to give up.