12 Things You Shouldn’t Say To A Vegetarian

About six years ago, after reading a book called Skinny Bitch, I stopped eating meat and chicken. I didn’t stop eating seafood, so I am technically a pescetarian, but I feel that in these past six years, I have dealt with almost every annoying thing that a vegetarian deals with. Also, people insist on calling me a vegetarian even though I insist that I am not one, so… yeah. I have a pretty good idea of exactly what vegetarians are sick of hearing.

Being a vegetarian (or a pescetarian, in my case) means a lot of things. One of those things? People feel that they get to say whatever the eff they want to you because you don’t eat meat. Why? I don’t know. All I know is that before I cut meat out of my diet, I never had so many strangers interested in what I was and wasn’t eating. For some reason, people are simultaneously fascinated, confused and angered by the fact that there are people in the world who – gasp! – choose not to eat animals.

It’s totally fine to be curious about a person who eats so differently than you. It’s a different lifestyle, it’s natural to have questions. I get it. That being said, it is not totally fine to be rude to people who eat different than you just because you don’t understand. Here are 12 things you shouldn’t say to a vegetarian or pescetarian. No, seriously, stop before I get violent.

 

“Wait, so how are you a vegan? Don’t you miss cheese?”

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Ugh, GOD people, educate yourselves! There is a huge difference between being vegan, vegetarian or pescetarian. Being a vegetarian doesn’t mean I’m vegan. If I were vegan, I would say, “I am vegan.” 

 

“You know you’re not getting enough protein, right?”

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I’m sorry, why is the amount of protein I eat any of your business? Do you care about the amount of protein other people consume? Do you even care about how much protein YOU consume? Probably not, so please take what you think is a smart argument away from me. Also, people don’t need nearly as much protein as they think they do – and I get plenty in other ways. Believe it or not, it’s possible. 

 

“Ugh, why would you ever stop eating meat?”

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Ugh, why would YOU eat meat? — I have literally never said that statement in a serious way in my life. I don’t judge or make fun of people for eating meat. Why do you feel the need to express your disgust at a choice I made? Oh, right, you’re rude. 

 

“So… what do you eat then?”

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What do YOU eat? Oh, right, I don’t care. So why exactly do you care what I eat? Also, do you realize that there is food in this world that is not meat or chicken? SHOCKING, I know. 

 

“I’m going to get you to eat meat one day when you don’t realize it.”

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Um… why? You’re an idiot. 

 

“I hate vegetarians. Why do you have to be so picky? And why do you have to push your opinions on other people?”

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That’s a sweet thing to say. Also, just because there are some judgey vegetarians out there does not mean we all preach our vegetarian-ness. I only care about what I eat. I have never in my life tried to convince someone else to be a vegetarian. But yet, here you are, accusing me of doing that while simultaneously judging me. One word: hypocritical. 

 

“Do you mind if I eat this dead animal in front of you? Does that gross you out?”

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I have literally heard people say that exact sentence – more than once, if you can believe it. I don’t care what you eat in front of me. Asking makes me feel extremely uncomfortable and awkward. 

 

“Animals die all the time, I don’t really care how they’re treated. They taste good, whatever.”

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That’s a good way to look at things. You don’t sound ignorant and small-minded at all! Also, being a vegetarian isn’t just about how animals are treated – it’s also about what you’re putting into your body. 

 

“I know you want some of this delicious bacon. Yum, yum, yum.” 

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Um, no, I don’t. No one is forcing me to forgo bacon. If I wanted to eat it, I would eat it. Your taunting is pointless. 

 

“Oh, I know someone who tried to be a vegetarian. She only lasted a few years. It’s just a phase.” 

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Right, because all vegetarians are the same, you know? 

 

“Do you eat animal crackers?” 

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Oh, very clever! I’ve never heard that one before. Seriously, how do you think up your jokes? 

 

For pescetarians: “Fish have lives too, but I guess you don’t care about them.” 

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Again, you’re so clever! Can I ask you one more time why you care about what I’m eating? I still don’t understand. 

 

Are you a vegetarian, vegan or pescetarian? What is the most annoying thing anyone has ever said to you? Can you relate to this? Tell me in the comments.

 

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  • unschoolingmom

    I have been vegetarian for 25 years now… and that’s a long time. I started at home with my parents, when they finally decided that I was “allowed” to stop eating meat. I had never, ever enjoyed the thought of eating what, to me, was a potential pet.

    Over these past 25 years I have heard the most obnoxious, absurd and offensive comments. I have had everything from very sincere, interested and polite people, to very, very rude and ridiculous ones.

    I have lived in Spain, France, England and the US, and not every culture understands things in the same way. While being vegetarian in the UK is totally accepted, in Spain you are some kind of strange cave person if you ever mention it. I have had people make fun of me because I couldn’t pick something up that was particularly heavy, claiming that it was because I don’t eat meat. I have also had people try to trick me into eating meat, and even got a dead bird as a gift in high school. Pretty, huh?

    Many times I have been asked questions like: “if you were on a desert island and all there was to eat was meat, what would you do?” or comments like “if nobody ate cows, there would be too many of them in the world”. Yep, people either think they are hilarious or they are just big idiots.

    I now live in the Bay Area and things are very different. Nonetheless, and even though I may sound angry or frustrated in this comment (I’m really not!), I have learned to live with it, and it really never bothers me anymore (after many years, I must say).

    If somebody is genuinely interested, I happily explain, and if they’re just being closed-minded and silly… it’s really not my problem. I know I don’t go around making a fool out of myself. And I also know that I am happy with the decision I made to stop eating meat. I think that deep down inside, those who make offensive comments are those who feel the worse about eating what is in fact: a dead animal.

  • Ingvild

    I think this is a great article! Although, if one does not pay sufficient attention in the introduction, it might come across a bit like “all meat eaters are assholes who don’t understand that we have a different lifestyle”. I get it, though, don’t go hating on me. (Though I am a bit of a correctional asshole at times, and I really feel the need to say that chicken is meat. There is no reason to differentiate, as is often done in the article.)

    However (and I realize this might not be the best place to ask, but what the hell), I am genuinely curious about why someone might become a pescetarian. I know one, but she avoids eating meat because she doesn’t like it, so I get why she would be okay with eating fish. People changing their diet like this for ethical reasons – well, I’m interested in learning some reasons why they would eat fish, but not meat. Where the difference lies and so on.

    I also have two vegetarian friends, one who is VERY strict about what she eats (nothing with added red food coloring, because it’s made from lice or something, for instance), and one who just stays away from meat and fish, but she eats stuff containing gelatin. I will admit, I have never wanted to point out to her that gelatin is made from animal bones, because she’s an adult and should know, and I don’t want to make her uncomfortable… Are there others out there who eat gelatin and the like, as long as it is not made from the actual meat, or is my friend a special case?

    Thank you in advance for all answers, and good luck to all pescetarians, vegetarians and vegans, with letting the world know that what you eat is YOUR choice! :)

  • Anon

    I’m a vegetarian and people say to me because I am low on iron they say oh that’s not healthy you need to eat meat, but that’s just it I don’t want to eat meat. Ya feel me.

  • Claire

    Oh, and don’t forget the 20 minute argument about when they say: If chicken was the last thing on Earth to eat, would you eat it?

  • MC2217

    I feel like this article is very unfair towards people who don’t understand and want to. Some of these are obnoxious, taunting, and rude. But I understand if a coworker or acquaintance is trying to make conversation by asking about yourself. I also understand how this isn’t probably the best conversation choice for someone you don’t know well. But I don’t think shaming someone for making a little mistake like that or for trying to make conversation is necessary. I think it’s quite mean.

    • Jessica Booth

      If you read the introduction you’ll see that I said:

      It’s totally fine to be curious about a person who eats so differently than you. It’s a different lifestyle, it’s natural to have questions. I get it. That being said, it is not totally fine to be rude to people who eat different than you just because you don’t understand.

  • Toby Hanmore

    ZOMG FISH HAVE FEELINGS TOO…

  • sally

    I am vegetarian out, vegan at home(started as pescetarian).My boss and one of my coworkers are the worst. Typical closed minded country “meat and potatoes” types. I usually pack lunch, and it is vegan. They always mock me with “oh, you’re so healthy”, even though i fairly regularly eat fries. Although I’ve explained to them countless times that the changes I make in my diet are for ethical reasons, they always ask things like “so, tell me again why you’re not eating cheese. Why is that bad for your diet? Why is this or that bad for you? Do you feel healthier now that you stopped eating meat? How about turkey burgers?” And then I repeat, for the 80th time, that I am changing my eating for the animals who are enslaved and abused by us( I don’t even correct them and explain that turkey is still very much and animal and meat!). Even when I get explicit about the mistreatment, hoping it will make them uncomfortable enough to not discuss anymore, they can’t seem to stop. I don’t know how to silence this stupidity, but best of luck to you all! :/