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What It's Like to be Veggie in a Meat Eating World

I've never had anyone say this to me. Also don't know many people that would eat a koala bear.

Since becoming vegetarian I've had very few snags. I made the transition smoothly and most people have accepted my decision. However something that has caught my stomach in a knot a few times has been the meat-eating majority assuming they know what it's like to be vegetarian or telling me how to feel, as if they know more about living my life than I do.

Not saying my view represent all veggie views as vegetarianism can take many forms. However to have someone who eats meat or a restaurant assuring its guests that it is a vegetarian friendly establishment when you're the one who lives that lifestyle can be down-right patronising. I don't go around telling other minorities in society how to feel about about being gay/vegan/Jewish/homeless so I don't understand why meat eaters feel the need to do this to me. 

Out of the meat-eaters who have assumed they know the ins and out's of vegetarianism there appears to be two extremes - one is that I always have to carry my own lunchbox everywhere I go because no restaurant ever caters for salad munchers or that every food-place ever there's a veggie option with two people informing me that veggie burgers are available in McDonald's (certainly not when I've had a look). The truth lies somewhere in between. 

Most restaurants do have a veggie option. Albeit sometimes by accident. Even if somewhere hasn't intentionally added a vegetarian section to the menu dishes such as macaroni cheese, baked potato and beans and margarita pizza aren't thought of as vegetarian and will feature on most menus by accident.

I will however always double check beforehand. If I struggle to find a menu on a website then it's likely that establishment will not be gaining my custom. Even prior to my no-meat days I'd always want a menu check just to make sure there was something there I'd enjoy eating. RESTAURANTS ARE YOU LISTENING? 

Formal events are the worst. I need a sealed contract guaranteeing there will be a veggie option at proms/weddings/balls/birthdays/fundraisers. As a lot of these events have a set meal it means anyone who doesn't like the chosen dish is left out, which usually includes me. It's a situation of speak up beforehand or sit it out. I wasn't veggie at school but my fifth year prom had one main dish and my six year one had a carvery which only gives meat eaters more than one option. The deal for my Graduation Ball is the main dish is Balmoral Chicken and the staff will check for dietary requirements on the night. I attended a formal event pre-veggie days in the same venue and they asked for dietary requirements as they took out the rest of the food! I imagine that they'll just quickly chuck basil leaves together in the kitchen. Or that I'd have to wait an extra half hour longer. Needless to say I haven't bought a ticket. 

Just because a place offers a veggie option doesn't mean it's veggie friendly. Was it prepared separately? Is it clearly marked as vegetarian? Is it being served on the same plate? Simply offering a veggie dish won't guarantee becoming Vegetarian Society Approved. It is normally really easy to tell if there's a veggie amongst the staff or if it was a carnivore who came up with the vegetarian section of the menu. If you want to up the veggie street cred of your restaurant get a real living vegetarian in to review it. I'm open for commission. 

Supermarket shopping is a doddle. I've been asked where I shop to find everything I need in order to sustain my lifestyle. Answer: most places. I shop between Co-op, Lild's and Tesco Metro. Co-op for my main weekly shop (ethical shopping yo!), Lidl's if I quickly need wine or fruit and veg, and Tesco's if I'm needing soya alternatives. But all in all supermarket shopping and cooking at home is not hard, at all. If you're vegan you'll need to haul your ass over to a health food store to get your cheese or chocolate fix but soya milk, soya spread and vegetables (and pasta! and fruit! and condiments!) are all at my local supermarket and not some secret veggie food haven. Just don't go in the meat isle and you'll be fine! 

People will ask why, but very few people will argue your decision. I've had to hold my ground a few times. But it's been seldom. Everyone who's asked about my decision has been curious rather than judgemental. The most annoying situation was the time I was asked if I was allergic. Which could have been true. 

And I eat bread. Because my grandmother wasn't sure once. 

Morag x

morag | mo adore
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