Why am I vegetarian? A two decade retrospective.
I’m vegetarian, but I talk about it as little as possible.
Years and years of people asking me the same question, throughout my childhood, teenage years and adult life have rather blotted out any emerging desires to talk about it, but I think it’s important to explain…
I was raised in a vegetarian family. When I was born, my parents were vegetarian, thus I was vegetarian. Your parents actually made a similar decision for you too probably. You probably ate what your parents ate, which in likelihood was “everything”, so you ate that.
There’s a joke that goes:
Q: How do you know if there’s a Vegetarian in the room?
A: Don’t worry they’ll tell you.
Throughout my life, I’ve always had to deal with people who have unfortunately come to assume that as someone who doesn’t eat meat or fish, I’ll be a vegetarian like the one in the joke. People assume I’m about to inflict what they imagine “my beliefs” are on them so they come up fighting – trying to reason with me, trying to get me to try meat, how I get email protein, trying to persuade me that ‘what they cook is lovely’, asking me whether I’ve ever tried X.
There’s another (much rarer) reaction, which is where people say that “they don’t eat much meat” like that’ll instantly mean we’re best buddies.
The thing is, I don’t care what anyone else eats (so long as they don’t force their views down my throat).
Combative culinary experiences were rather tiresome in the first decade of my life, dull in the second decade, and now, I can hardly think of few subjects I’d wish to debate less than vegetarianism.
If you’re an omnivore’s who’s been brought up to enjoy to the taste of meat – everyone has said “om nom nom” etc to when they were little, imagine how difficult it’d be to retroactively condition your brain to find the idea of your favourite meat unpleasant.
I mean, you’ve probably thought that turning vegetarian would be very difficult – what I’m asking you to do though, is to work out how difficult it would be to teach yourself to like something that you’ve always been taught is unpleasant.
For me to eat meat, I’d have to condition my brain to think that something I’ve always thought/been told was disgusting etc, was nice. I think this would be a considerable effort – imagine trying to persuade yourself to enjoy eating a cowpat – I think it’d be comparatively difficult for me.
Once when I was in France, my exchange partner’s grandmother, on hearing I was vegetarian, asked “well how is he so fat?”, and could barely comprehend that I’d survived thus far in life without meat or fish.
Since things are going pretty good, and I’ve no burning desires to change anything, I’ll continue as I am – things are going great.
I’m a vegetarian because I’ve always been a vegetarian.
If you were wondering, “evangelical” vegans and vegetarians disproportionately annoy me, probably because I’ve over two decades of experience being preached at, and it is an exceptionally unpleasant experience.