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6 Things People Do When You Tell Them You're Vegetarian

By Edited Oct 2, 2016 7 14

Being middle aged, male, Caucasian and not particularly thin, I’m often greeted with looks of confusion when people find out I’m vegetarian. The image that most people have of those of us who’ve gone veg is still an Indian mystic, Buddhist monk, or a teenage girl who will eventually come to her senses. But don’t worry, after a few months of annoyance, you’ll come to greet these most common reactions with the same bemused familiarity that I do.

Since I don’t proselytize and don’t wear “I’m a  Vegetarian”, most people find out during mealtime. They always react in one of these 6 ways:

One: Hmm

People assume that vegetarians cannot read. They develop a compulsive desire to look at their own menu and read off all the selections you might like. They mean well, but I’ve been a vegetarian for more than a decade and have eaten out before. Thanks, I can read. And they’re invariably wrong in what they choose, but whatever it is they always start with “Hmmmm…you could have…”.

Two: The Challenge

 “My cousin was a vegetarian for 3 months and she at fish” or “You eat cheese, vegetarians don’t eat cheese”.  My favorite is “you eat chicken, right? Chicken’s not meat” Um…yep, it is, trust me.

Three: The History Lesson

Be prepared to discuss the dietary habits of everyone in each of their families. Apparently, because you’re a vegetarian you’ve expressed a de-facto interest in all things dietary. It’s best if you bone up on Wheat allergies, kosher and halaal diets depending on where you live because someone they used to know used have/be/do/eat that way.

Four: The Protein Question

“How do you get your protein?” It’s universally assumed that if you don’t eat meat you must take some kind of protein supplement or you will suffer grievous consequences.  It’s best to try to dodge this question. I’ve tried to tell people that I haven’t been sick in a decade and really don’t require meat-protein to remain healthy. They’ll just never really believe you.

Five:  Me Too

Young or old, thin or fat, in every part of the nation after you tell someone you’re a vegetarian they will announce the probability of their success or failure doing the same. “I’m practically a vegetarian already. I only eat meat once a week. Wait, is chicken meat?” or “I could be a vegetarian, but I could never give up BBQ.”

Six: The Announcement

From the moment you tell someone, especially a family member, that you’re vegetarian they will feel an overwhelming need to announce it to others.  Some people I’ve eaten with don’t even wait for the waitress to get all the way to our table before they announce “He’s a vegetarian”. Of course, this starts the cycle all over again when the waitress starts reading you the menu. 



Jun 25, 2011 6:08am
Congrats on getting two articles featured. You're on your way! Great work.
Jul 1, 2011 11:04pm
This comment has been deleted.
Jun 25, 2011 7:43am
Thanks Judy! And so far it's all true! The Restaurant Menu thing is the most consistently funny.
Jun 25, 2011 3:56pm
Great article on "6 Things People Do When You Tell Them You're Vegetarian." My son-in-law is a vegetarian and I have noticed all these things, too. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on the Featured Article.
Jun 26, 2011 8:11am
Thanks southerngirl! And no more reading his menu.
Jun 26, 2011 4:42pm
This article is so funny because it is SO true! This vegan vegetarian has been witness to each point.
Jun 26, 2011 4:44pm
All so true. I'm a vegetarian too and last week found a piece of chicken in my Chinese stir fry veggie take out. Sloppy cook I am sure.
Jun 27, 2011 7:38am
I actually had one very well-meaning waitress in Texas ADD chicken to a salad order for me on the sly...she assumed I couldn't afford it :).
Jun 29, 2011 11:05pm
I go through this too, and it can be difficult for me. In my profession, we have many lunch-and-learn inservices. Normally they will only bring a salad for me, or if I'm lucky, some sort of pasta dish. Then they become uncomfortable to eat in front of me, especially if it is a really high-cal meal...
Jun 30, 2011 5:18am
Me too. I principally called on contractors in the Southeast and TX.
Jul 5, 2011 10:11pm
This is so funny, "people" just don't like anyone to be different! Congrats on the feature.
Mar 18, 2013 7:47am
Such a funny article. I would probably fall under point 5: I am not a true vegetarian, but eat fish and chicken, which in my eyes is not meat but poultry, ha ha.
You made me laugh, thanks!
Dec 17, 2013 3:27am
Thanks for sharing. But oh my, tell friends, family and resaturants that you are a gluten-free vegetarian! They can't even fling a regular plate of pasta at you. And they are not generous with the cheese and eggs,
Jul 21, 2014 9:11am
Hilarious, great article! And I'm vegetarian too:)
Jul 21, 2014 9:11am
Hilarious, great article! And I'm vegetarian too:)
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