Her: ‘Why are you a vegetarian?’
Friend: ‘I was raised as a vegetarian.’
Her: ‘So you are a vegetarian because your parents made you one? I don’t want to offend you but that’s stupid.’
I didn’t defend Friend in this conversation even though I was in the same boat. I was raised a vegetarian and decided to stay one. I should have defended her choices and my own but was too scared to inflict ‘her’ vegetarian loathing wrath on myself. I was young (but old enough to know better) and very scared that I would be judged for not eating meat. It should also be noted that this woman, the ‘her’ in the above conversation was and probably still is a complete idiot and someone I haven’t kept in touch with after university. She also did a lot of things because of her parents, like believe in organised religion and that white underwear was the only kind a ‘virtuous woman’ should wear, but of course, that was completely fine.
So far too many years after the fact I am going to say on record that I was raised a vegetarian because my parents are Hindus. I decided to stay vegetarian because I still like that aspect of Hinduism and because I want to. No, I do not think of it as a restrictive diet which potentially could be a gateway to eating disorders.
Before that conversation I have never had to defend my food choices. Since then it has come up more often than I would like – and I can only imagine how hellish it must be for vegans – and I want to address some of the things which people say to me most often.
- Eating disorders
The article I linked to above made this massive cultural assumption which discounted all brown people – Gujarati vegetarians – like myself. My culture has been practicing vegetarianism for generations and there isn’t a link to eating disorders. Same with all the other cultures which do so. And like the amazement of my friend the article doesn’t take into consideration that I, and lots of other people, grew up as a vegetarian. To all future people who ask, yes I did.
Also, and this is the outraged part of me, you think VEGETARIANISM leads to an eating disorder?! I am choosing not to eat meat, nothing more or less than that. I have absolutely no idea if studies have been done but I am pretty sure people who suffer from anorexia aren’t all vegetarians.
- You must be so healthy
Not true. Like all food, some vegetarian food is healthy and some isn’t. Don’t forget that almost all desserts are vegetarian. As is bread.
- Don’t you find it annoying limiting your diet?
You know that omnivores didn’t limit their diet too right? Everyone limits what they eat – for some incomprehensible reason people don’t eat brussel sprouts because they don’t like them. Not liking bananas impacts my daily life a lot more than not eating meat – every single smoothie out there seems to have banana in it, WHY?
I also don’t think of the food I eat as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and I find it so strange to think of my food like that. Meals from the canteen aren’t good or bad because they have vegetables in them. I don’t find myself randomly musing throughout the day ‘I don’t eat meat, what a shame’ and the only time I do think about it is usually when someone else brings it up in conversation.
And there are other things too: yes I get enough protein (meat isn’t the only source), no I don’t have any deficiencies, I probably will never be stranded on a desert island, and Hitler not being or being a vegetarian has nothing to do with anything.
You know I rarely talk about food on this blog apart from restaurants I go to and that’s because it is this massive personal issue. I am in the camp that while I would love for everyone to be vegetarian or vegan, I don’t care about what you eat. But if you see me and say anything ridiculous about what I choose to do I will ask you why you eat dead carcasses.