First, a disclaimer. Most omnivores are lovely people. They may not understand the dietary and ethical choices I have made, but they respect them. Most of the time, they ask reasonable, intelligent questions about my diet and I’m happy to provide answers.
This post is not about those omnivores.
This post is about the others … who can say the darndest things!
- “Bacon. Baaacon. Baaaacoon.” This is usually said by a man rubbing his tummy, with a large, drooling, goofy smile on his face and absolutely zero idea how unoriginal he is being.
Now, something happened in the years since I stopped eating meat. Many moons ago, bacon was something you had for breakfast. Or it was a condiment – a slice might be added to a tomato sandwich, or a club sandwich, or a hamburger. (I personally never cared for the greasy, fatty meat.) Since those days, bacon has somehow obtained cult status and just hearing the word is supposed to spin me and other vegans into a meat-eating frenzy. Maybe they’d have a better chance of evoking nostalgia if they chanted “Filet Mignon, Filet Mignon,” or “She-Crab Soup, She-Crab Soup.”
- “Yes ma’am, you did order that.” Said to me on several occasions by a waitress. I’ll admit, maybe I was dithering between the ubiquitous black bean burger and the overpriced hummus wrap. Maybe I was distracted and said “hummus wrap” when I meant to say “barf bean burger.” But I’m absolutely positive the words “pulled pork sandwich” or “baby back ribs” never crossed my lips.
- “Here’s your veggie pizza with vegan cheese. Would you like some fresh ground mozzarella on that?” No, actually, I wouldn’t.
- “I bet it makes you sad every time you see a McDonald’s.” Yes, it does, but not for the reasons you’re hoping.
- “Just take the meat and cheese out of the sandwich.” Said to me by a former employer. Sorry, I do not want to eat two pieces of meat-flavored bread with a single leaf of spinach pressed between them. Couldn’t you have ordered a black bean burger for me? I know the deli had one – EVERY restaurant in Charlotte has one.
- “You did not seem appreciative of the Christmas luncheon that was served.” This told to me by a former supervisor. Even though everyone at that company knew I was vegetarian at the time (hence all the “bacon, baaacon” and “moo, moo” comments) there wasn’t one single vegetarian dish on the Italian buffet that was catered. No spaghetti with marinara sauce, no fettucine alfredo, no cheese tortellini. I wound up eating a piece of bread, and going to Subway afterwards. If I did not seem appreciative – maybe it’s because I wasn’t.
- “You can’t eat that – it has GLUTEN!”
- “I could never be vegetarian/vegan, because I can’t eat soy!” Who says you have to?
- “I could never be vegetarian/vegan, because soy has all these estrogens!” (Uttered mostly by men.) If you’re so worried about hormones, what the heck do you think is in your milk and cheese, which comes from lactating cows?
- “I could never be vegetarian/vegan because I like black bean burgers, but couldn’t stand to eat them every day.” (In Charlotte the black bean burger is the token veg offering in almost every restaurant. Small wonder omnivores think that’s all we eat.)
- “Would you like an appetizer to start? Maybe some chicken wings?” Uttered after I spent 5 minutes quizzing the waitress about the vegan options on the menu.
- “I could never be vegetarian/vegan, because it’s too restrictive!” Ironically, this is usually said by a high-maintenance woman who’s already eating so-called hormone free “happy meat.” She eats organic and her food is locally sourced. She’s gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, salt-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free, alcohol-free, preservative-free, additive-free. For all I know, the food on her plate must face due west when she eats. These people with orthorexia are the only ones I never encourage to go veg, because I don’t want veganism to get the blame (again) for someone’s already existing eating disorder.
- “All life is precious.” Spoken by an abortion foe (ironically termed a “right-to-lifer”), while eating a hamburger.
- “Why can’t I eat fish at a vegan meetup? Fish are vegetables too!” Uttered by an R.D. at a VegCharlotte meetup. Scary.
- “You do eat chicken, right?”
- “Moo. Mooo. Mooo.” Always by a man waving a chunk of steak or hamburger on a fork in front of me. Sorry to disappoint you – it’s not going to gross me out, make me burst into tears, or otherwise cause a scene. I wasn’t vegetarian from birth – I used to eat that stuff. I now choose not too. You, however, acting like a 5-year-old child in a fancy restaurant – that grosses me out.
- “Being vegan is just so unhealthy.” Oddly, everyone who’s ever said that to me has been on heart or cholesterol medicines.
- “I care about animals. I eat only free-roaming eggs and grass-fed ghee.” Umm, since when does clarified butter graze in fields, eating grass? And by the time eggs are able to roam or range, they’re called chickens.
- “Get the chili cheese fries – it’s veggie chili.” This is what the waitress at a bowling alley encouraged my partner and I to do during our vegetarian days, when we tried to place an order for cheese fries. We were quite surprised – bowling alleys are not usually so progressive. We quizzed her several times – “Are you SURE there is no meat?” and she was adamant there was not. So we ordered the chili cheese fries. And guess what? There was meat. When we spoke to her about that, she replied,
- “Can’t you eat it anyway? What am I supposed to do – take these back to the kitchen?” She was so opposed to taking the chili fries back to the kitchen and bringing us the meat-free option we had originally asked for we had to speak to the manager.
- “I put some beef consomme in the baked rice – I decided it wouldn’t be any good without it.” My great aunt revealed this tidbit of info at the end of a “vegetarian” meal she’d made for me in my early veggie days.
- “Plants have feelings, too! There’s no difference between broccoli and a cow!” If you really think that, then instead of taking little Susie/Johnny out to an apple orchard, strawberry field, or pumpkin patch, take them on a trip to the slaughterhouse.
What is the darndest thing an omnivore has said to you?