I’ve Managed to Be a Vegetarian and Not Make Everyone Around Me Hate My Guts

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The hardest thing about being a vegetarian isn’t giving up bacon; it’s making sure that you don’t become the annoying stereotypical vegetarian who annoys everyone around them. As someone who hasn’t eaten meat since 2011, this has become a big part of my everyday life.

If you’re a vegetarian, you know the struggle. But I have good news! I’ve been a vegetarian for 6+ years and none of my friends hate me! You, too, can accomplish this by following these simple tips.

If you get nothing else from this article, please remember this: Nobody. Cares. What. You. Eat. Think of vegetarianism as a kind of Fight Club. You don’t have to talk about it. Nobody cares that you’re a vegetarian, and they certainly don’t care to hear about how bad you think it is for them to eat animals.

You know what the most beautiful thing about Earth is? It’s that there are millions of people on it, and none of them is exactly the same as another. People get to make their own decisions about life, and they don’t need to hear your interpretation of those decisions. That being said, people will find out that you don’t eat meat, and they will ask you why. That leads me to tip no. 2.

This one can be tricky. Another beautiful thing about life on Earth is that humans are naturally curious creatures, and they’re prone to asking questions about things they don’t understand. The fact that you don’t eat meat is likely to be one of those things.

Whatever you say is obviously up to you, but I find that the answer people have the least qualms with is the environmental one. I usually say something like this: Out of all the land that is used to grow food, a very small percentage of that land is used to grow food for humans. But a lot of it is used to grow food for the animals that humans eat. From a purely logical standpoint, it seems more efficient to use that land for human food. Bada bing, bada boom, donezo. Move on to another conversation topic. (Of course, they might want to talk more about vegetarianism, in which case you can talk to your little heart’s content. I’m just saying it’s usually easier if you’re not the one who’s always bringing it up.)

Going to a barbecue? Bring some veggie dogs or brats along to pop on the grill. Having a potluck? Consider making a side for everyone and a main dish for you in case there aren’t a lot of options. Is your office ordering pizza for lunch? Maybe brown bag it just in case it’s all meat-lover’s stuff. And of course, do all these things as un-obnoxiously as possible. You don’t need to announce that you brought Smart Dogs. Just be cool. The next tip is all about being flexible…  

This is where you’re going to have to make some decisions for yourself. For me, this means that when I get free Chik-Fil-A breakfast at work and there aren’t any sandwiches without meat, I take the sausage off one of the sandwiches and enjoy it anyway. For you, it might mean that you skip the free Chik-Fil-A altogether. No one’s forcing you to participate.

If you choose not to eat parmesan cheese or marshmallows or Guinness beer or any of the other seemingly vegetarian foods that contain sneaky animal byproducts, that’s totally fine! But if you can make something work within your own rules for vegetarianism, please do.

If your friends are cool, they’ll probably be overly concerned with finding a restaurant that serves vegetarian food for your convenience. Thank them for their thoughtfulness, but assure them that you can eat pretty much anywhere.

In my nearly 7 years of vegetarianism, there have only been three restaurants in which I’ve been completely unable to find something to eat (Lookin’ at you, Applebees). You might have to get a little creative, but you can make it work. Order a couple sides if you have to.

Seriously. You’re not fooling anyone. Bacon is delicious. Salmon is delicious. Couldn’t you go for a good steak right about now? You could. I know it. No one has ever fallen for the “meat is gross” routine. Tip No. 7 is along those same lines…

  Again, no one is falling for that. Tofu cannot and will not ever taste anything like meat.

Just talk about food like everyone talks about food. You don’t need to preface every recipe you try by clarifying that you used fake chicken made from fungus, even if it does actually taste weirdly good (shoutout to Quorn!). (It’s probably also best to save all the nutritional yeast talk for your veggie friends. That’s another weird one.)

I may be starting to get repetitive here, but that’s because all of these tips boil down to pretty much the same thing: Think about others and do your best to be a good person. They’re the same guidelines that every human should try to follow, really.

At the end of the day, there’s really no point in comparing yourself to others — not to meat-eaters, vegans, or even other vegetarians. Everyone’s doing their best.

We’re all just trying to build a society, ya know? As you go forth in your vegetarian adventures, keep these tips and mind and you’re sure to be the least annoying vegetarian on the block. Happy veggin’!