I haven’t eaten meat in almost 20 years. I am not saying this to brag. It’s just a part of who I am now. I have accepted this, even if other people don’t understand. I can’t recall how many times meat eaters have given me a hard time, when I simply ask for a non-meat item. I am not suggesting they not eat meat, but I’d like them to respect that, because they do, doesn’t mean all people eat meat.
My latest encounter with this happened just this weekend at a rib cook-off. Yeah, I know. I may have been setting myself up. But still, there’s no reason I shouldn’t attend and plus there were really good homemade potato chips and deep fried goodies that I can eat and enjoy.
After waiting in line with a friend, who was purchasing some ribs, the woman at the counter told us that we should get this specific meal because, “you know it feeds two.” But, I wasn’t eating any, so was it presumptuous for her to assume I was?
This wasn’t the first time I have run into people who assume everyone eats meat. I remember in college, while working at the school library one summer a run-in I had with a librarian. She and I along with another friend of mine were working one weekend. The librarian thought it would be a nice treat to order a pizza for us since we would be working through dinner. She never asked what I wanted, so I assumed she would at least order half plain, since not all people like the same toppings on their pizza.
Well, to my dismay, it arrived and it was a meat lovers pizza. There wasn’t even a centimeter that wasn’t covered in meat. Normally, I would just pick the meat off and go about my business. But this was extreme. I tried to do that but the task was futile and I just took the entire top layer, including cheese off my pizza slice.
When she saw what I was doing, she was astonished! Why was I destroying this perfectly good pizza? I said, that I didn’t eat meat and tried to leave it at that. I am not a pushy non-meat eater. My theory is that if you want to eat meat that’s fine, but please don’t make me eat it, which I felt was happening now.
She asked why I didn’t eat meat, and I naively told her. She then proceeded to try and make me feel bad for not eating meat. It is this reason that many people, to this day, don’t know why I don’t eat meat. Actually, my best friend who I have known since before that incident didn’t know and asked me just last month!
I have chalked this confrontational event as well as the others I have had after it and even at the rib cook-off to sheer ignorance. Even in 2013, for some reason, it is strange for someone not to eat meat. And even stranger, I think, that people will confront you about it to make themselves feel better and oftentimes will not see that their view on the subject may not be the only one. Like the librarian who fought me on my beliefs when all I wanted was her consideration to not assume that everyone likes pizza dripping with meat.
Let’s respect both non-meat eaters AND carnivores alike!
Good points, Melanie.
Fundamentally, we all want a choice.
Also, it’s one thing to talk about one’s choices voluntarily with a friend. It’s another for an acquaintance or even a stranger to demand an explanation or to express a value judgment about something that’s none of his or her business.
That goes beyond food and into basic respect.