Vegetarian etiquette

Katie Settos, A&E Editor

Put down your (pitch) forks please.

My biggest complaint as a vegetarian has not been the food – which I’ve found to be every bit as savory and satisfying as meat–but the ridiculous questions, strange looks and worst of all, aggressive interrogations from meat-praising extremists. The 7.3 million of us who are vegetarians in the U.S. are unfortunately a misunderstood minority, which is why I bring you five things you need to know when dealing with vegetarians.

1.  Shed the idea that we are tie-dye clad hippies who subsist solely on bean sprouts and granola. For whatever reason, there is this strong misconception that vegetarian culture is very bizarre. However, I think it is safe to say that in my five years and 205 days meat-free, I have never spent my free time hanging out with fruits and veggies in an open pasture. Never.

2. Contrary to popular belief, many of us vegetarians are not malnourished. In fact, I am living proof you don’t need meat to survive. So for all the mothers of children I babysit, I am not going to die. Your extensive lists of supplements are thoughtful and appreciated, but I have a secret: gummy bear vitamins do the trick.

3.  Sadly, pepperoni isn’t a vegetable. Do vegetarians a favor and save us some cheese pizza (and no, picking off the pepperoni and soaking up some of the grease is not enough).

4. Dearest omnivores (or carnivores, for you macho men who insist on being called so), I am not going to bully you into becoming a vegetarian, so cease fire. While you don’t have to feel self-conscious eating meat around me, you certainly don’t have to attack me with meat either. Secretly hiding beef in my meals or trying to toss chicken in my mouth while sitting across the dinner table is not a sport.

5.  While trying to guilt me into eating your family meatball recipe is a definite no-no, taking too much creative license on a meat-free dish is just as much of a crime. I can tell you first hand that choking down an elaborate egg, ketchup and fake sausage casserole is not a very pleasant experience.  For future reference, serving your vegetarian guest the default pasta option is preferable over a disastrous mock-meat concoction.

All I’m asking for is a little mutual respect. You leave my tofu and carrot sticks alone and I promise to spare you the icky details on where exactly your hamburger came from.