How to NOT debate vegetarianism with friends, family and others
Question for Savvy Vegetarian:
First of all, let me thank you for your website! I’m a vegetarian college student (veg for almost 4 years now) and I want to thank you for this enormous resource. I’ve learned how to cook quinoa, how to prepare shopping lists, what to buy at the grocery store, how to deal with obnoxious carnivores and all sorts of great veggie things.
But here’s my question: what is a polite way to firmly and clearly say that I’m not interested in debating vegetarianism? This is my choice and no one else’s business. Too often, I feel assaulted by strangers, family members, dates…the list goes on!
I’ve tried a simple “I just don’t like meat”, the more aggressive “Actually, I don’t understand how you can eat meat!”, vaguely mentioning the environment, ethics and health… Nothing works.
How can I make it clear that my personal choice of a vegetarian diet is not up for debate, without seeming like a B-I-T-C-H?
Savvy Vegetarian Advice:
I’m so glad that Savvy Vegetarian has been helpful for you!
You’re right that you don’t owe anybody an explanation about what you choose to eat. The fact that people expect one continues to flabbergast me 40+ years down the vegetarian road.
I think what you said, “This is my choice and no one else’s business” is your cue. All you have to say is “It’s a personal choice, and not something I want to discuss”. When pressed by the rude and clueless, you could say something like, “It’s your choice what you eat, and none of my business. Right?” Wait for emphatic affirmation. “And that works both ways, right?” Wait for reluctant agreement. Then say “Thank you!” and change the subject.
This is why I don’t urge people to go vegetarian, I don’t harangue them about animal rights or ethics or the environment or their health. Even though (of course) I feel that a vegetarian diet is the best, it’s not my right to tell people what they should eat, only to give encouragement and support if they decide to go veg. I’m counting on the hundredth monkey effect!
Speaking of which – one thing to keep in mind is that sometimes people just want to improve their diets and be healthier. They may have heard that vegetarian diet is a good way to do that. When they see happy healthy vegetarian you, they want to know your secrets and be just like you. In that case, feel free to refer them to Savvy Vegetarian! :-)
As for the rest, don’t worry too much about being a B-I-T-C-H if all else fails.
Thanks for writing! All the best, Judith Kingsbury