Like many other people, I’ve greatly reduced the amount of meat in my diet. I just prefer vegetables, fruits and grains to beef, pork and lamb.
I was eating lunch in a restaurant with some friends and I ordered my meal off the appetizer and side dish menus.
Well, you would have thought I had made these choices as a personal affront to the meat eaters in the group. I instantly felt challenged by the remarks they made — “oh, are you a veg-a-tar-i- an now?” spoken with a bit of a sneer and drawing the words out to emphasize the obvious displeasure with my meal choice. Other remarks: “Well, if you don’t eat any meat you can’t be healthy” “Are you a member of PETA now, too?” “I suppose next you will be vegan” “I think it’s just weird”
All this because I ordered green beans, broccoli and rice pilaf for lunch. I wonder why what I choose to eat would make any difference at all to someone else. I don’t understand why people act like you have to be vegetarian or carnivore. It’s that kind of “if you’re not with us you’re agin us” attitude that causes all kinds of strife in this world.
I’ve never been very fond of labels of any kind. I don’t think it’s helpful to categorize people, whether it’s labels of ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation or dining choices.
Grouping people by these criteria makes those labels far more important than they should be. We are not one-dimensional. So many factors go into making us who we are that sticking a sign on us reduces all the other facets of what makes us human.
I can eat vegetables every day if I choose and it doesn’t make me a vegetarian. It makes me a person who likes veggies.
For the record, I eat meat when I darn well feel like it. And I have no reason to feel guilty. I haven’t taken a vow. It’s not a religion. I don’t have to swear off meat entirely.
The problem of my lunchtime attackers is indicative of so many problems in this world. First, everything is not black or white, life is made up of many shades of gray.
We have been given freedom of choice, but many people only think that applies if your choice is exactly the same as theirs. Most importantly, people should learn to worry about themselves and stop worrying about what the other guys are doing. What you eat, how you vote, who you sleep with and what you watch on TV and your method of birth control is your business, not mine. I have enough work to take care of myself and you probably do too. I know what’s right for me. You know what’s right for you. That’s the way it should be.
See you next week.
Be kind to each other.