I don’t usually tell people I’m vegetarian (unless they say something like ‘why aren’t you having any bacon?’). But when I do I occasionally get an odd reaction.
Some quiz me on exactly what I do and don’t eat, why I decided to stop eating meat, and why I still eat eggs and milk. I’m not sure why they care so much, but it often seems like they’re convinced I’m judging them (I am – I think they’re weird).
What I’m starting to realise is that this odd reaction might be the tip of an iceberg – one that you can see the full extent of in the comments left on most online articles that mention vegetarians.
There is a hell of a lot of web hate directed towards people who choose not to eat meat. This ranges from comments like ‘oh they’re just being a pain, give them food with chicken stock in they’ll never know ha ha’, to accusations that all vegetarians are self-righteous crusading hippies who are constantly judging anyone who enjoys eating bacon.
I promise we’re not. I actually find it quite boring talking about why I’m vegetarian, which is why I don’t bring it up. I do think more people should be veggie, but it’s hardly a black and white choice, and I wouldn’t have many friends (or relatives) left if I secretly hated everyone I know who eats meat.
So what’s the deal? Clearly these commenters either think all vegetarians are fanatical and irritating (I wonder how many they’ve met), or they feel a bit threatened by the fact that some people choose not to eat meat. Either way, I do wonder why they bother reading articles about vegetarian food and then commenting on them. You’d think they’d be too busy stuffing rare steaks into their mouths (woah, did I just make a sweeping generalisation?).
But what really annoys me is when the comments try to bring science into the ‘debate’. A lot of veggie haters bang on about how humans are ‘designed to eat meat’ or moan that we ‘evolved to be omnivores’. They’re convinced that anyone who doesn’t eat meat is stupid, confused and maybe even endangering their own health.
I’m sure cavemen ate meat (when they could get it), but I’m also sure humans can survive perfectly well without it. And anyway this particular bit of pseudo-science – ‘cavemen ate meat, therefore we MUST and SHOULD eat meat’ is up there with ‘cavewomen looked after children and gathered berries, therefore women MUST stay at home and not have careers’ as a stupid and prejudiced idea that isn’t backed up by science.
If people like eating meat and don’t think it’s cruel, then why should I have a problem with that? And why should they have a problem with me and my love of tofu?
The only thing most vegetarians and vegans have done is make a choice to change their diets. I don’t think this choice is offensive or judgemental. It’s also odd that it’s a much more accepted ‘cultural choice’ to have a different diet because of your religion. No one complains that Jews are crazy for not eating pork. It’s just a choice you can make for yourself.
The other typical type of comment is even more annoying – this one goes like this: ‘vegetarians really grind my gears – they rely heavily on the dairy industry, which must be the most cruellest and wasteful of all the farming industries’ (real comment). This person then goes on to say that they eat ‘ethically sourced’ meat and game. So choosing not to eat meat is cruel, while actually eating meat is of course perfectly fine. No hypocrisy there at all then.
Luckily there are also some vegetarians lurking on the internet, and occasionally they try to set the record straight:
‘if you overhear someone on the bus talking about their vegetarianism while tucking into a bag of haribo and an egg McMuffin just leave them to it, it’s not really any of your business.’
Quite. Go back to eating your bacon sarnie and leave us to our Quorn sausages.