It's hard enough being an environmentalist, animal rights advocate, vegan, vegetarian, or any other "woke" individual in a society that feeds off of capitalism and a fear of change. It doesn't help that a few times out of the year there are awkward dinners with cousins, uncles and great aunts who question your sanity and try shoving their opinions onto you.
Here are five things that your vegan or vegetarian family and friends hear at every gathering and don't want to hear this year.
"You don't know what you're missing!"
Uh...yeah, they do. Smoked turkey is not a new creation. Most vegans or vegetarians are so by choice. They're not missing out on anything or restricted from eating certain foods. They CHOOSE not to consume animals or animal by-products. Instead of poking, perhaps take an interest in their views.
2. "One bite won't hurt."
Veganism or vegetarianism is not a fad. It's a lifestyle, so consistently offering meat isn't polite or cute. Let's all respect each other's boundaries.
3. "But...what are you gonna eat then?"
I got greens, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, yams, tofu, you name it. Contrary to common belief, vegans and vegetarians don't have limited food options. Giving up meat doesn't mean you sit around eating carrots and hummus. In my own experience, giving up meat has broadened my food choices because I'm more aware of different options.
4. "Just pick the ham out of the green beans."
No grandma. How about not putting meat in with the veggies. You knew I was coming.
Maybe this specific example is just a Southern thing, but it is an ongoing struggle for animal lovers everywhere to find random meat bits in their food. Would you pick a fly out of your food and keep moving? Probably not. Think of it that way.
It's best to be courteous and not mix and match food groups if you know this person is coming. There's also always the option of making a separate portion just for them. They'd feel special and respected.
5. "I couldn't give up meat. Bacon is LIFE!"
Quite the opposite, actually. People who choose not to consume animals probably view animals differently than you do, so saying something like "bacon is life" may be insulting. Let's all respect each other's views and agree to disagree. Keep sensitive comments like these to yourself and bond over how cousin Jeff is on his fifth plate.
The best thing you can do is be supportive of other's choices. If your non-meat-eating family or friends aren't constantly badgering you about your food or life choices, you owe it to them to do the same. We're all just trying to stuff our faces and enjoy each other's company.
About the Author
Karyn is currently studying mass communication at The University of Southern Mississippi. She received a bachelor of arts degree in public relations with a minor in vocal music performance from the university in 2015. Karyn is the graduate assistant to the College of Arts and Letters’ Public Relations and Marketing Director and completing a thesis that focuses on media’s influence on society’s food choices and views of animals. She will complete her master's degree in spring 2018 and will pursue a career in television and film production while lobbying for animal rights.