“My biggest nightmare would be if one of the kids ever came up to me and said, ‘Dad, I’m a vegetarian’. Then I would sit them on the fence and electrocute them.” Gordon Ramsey
Vegetarians and vegans; don’t you just love comments like this? If you’ve been veggie for a while you’ve probably heard it all before. Hopefully you can let it roll off you like water off a duck’s back. But what if you’re newly vegetarian and the moment you announce your decision to your friends and family you are met with a barrage of smart-arse comments like the ones below?
“But humans are meant to eat meat” and “You’ll get really sick” and my favourite, “Aren’t you concerned about NZ’s economy if we stopped farming?”
God forbid you dare to announce your decision to go veggie on Facebook! Prepare for hurtful remarks that mock your epiphany as if it’s some faddy diet or passing phase, rather than the selfless lifestyle choice it is.
Seriously, when it comes to announcing your vegetarianism/veganism on Facebook you might as well change your status to “***** has just joined a satanic cult”.
We all tolerate a gentle ribbing from our close friends and have probably learned to laugh off those harmless (but unoriginal) comments such as “But vegetables have feelings” and “Mmmmmm bacon” but what about those aggressive comments that make us feel down right awful? Should we be just laughing off these kinds of comments? If we openly defend ourselves will we be accused of preaching? (Because nobody likes a preachy vegan!)
I realise I’m singling out the minority here, and I myself have some amazingly supportive meat-eating friends.
But what’s with the overly defensive meat-eater? Do they feel that vegetarians are silently judging them? Do they feel we are trying to gain the moral high ground? Why do some people defend themselves when they are not even being challenged? Or do they simply love to hate us? Gordon Ramsey – please answer this!
Has anybody, like me, been a closet vegetarian for fear of this kind of reaction? I was in the closet for years. In fact, I even ate meat at dinner parties so as not to offend the host. But now, thankfully I have become rather proud of my decision not to harm other beings unnecessarily and I have decided to own it! And no, that does not mean preaching and giving vegans a bad name. For me it just means being a positive, unapologetic, healthy role model for veganism.
So what is my advice to new vegetarians? Be prepared to be challenged. Stay positive! Gain support from other veggies. Don’t preach or judge your meat-eating friends, you will only antagonise them. Don’t ‘bite’ when your beliefs are challenged. Learn to laugh it off. Own your decision!
And remember…. It’s often those who challenge us the most who will surprise us later by announcing that they have gone veg too!
October is SAFE’s official Go Veg month. There is no better time than NOW to try SAFE’s 30-day go veg pledge! For your health, for the planet and, of course, for the animals.
Laura Gentle, National Volunteer Coordinator