What can I say in response to purposefully dense remarks about my diet?
May 15, 2012 2:51 PM   Subscribe

What can I say in response to purposefully dense remarks about my diet?

Someone in my life doesn't respect that I don't eat meat. This isn't someone I can just cut out. They will offer me meat whenever we are out, and if it comes up that I don't eat a certain food, they will ask "So?" Doing so is not in earnest. This is someone who thought it was oh so funny that she fed pork to a couple of very young Muslim children without their parents knowing. She is an adult in her 50's.

I've been told by someone else that she does it because she thinks it's funny and because she is waiting for the time we stop saying no to meat, etc. They are not so dense as to not get it. For instance, the other day, she asked, "Why aren't you eating the jello." Her husband responded, "Because it contains gelatin, an animal product." She looked at me and said "So?" My SO and I then reminded her we're vegetarians. And she said again, "So?"

At a wedding she kept telling us the meat was faux-meat (it clearly wasn't.) My SO thinks she did it so that if we ate it she could then be like gotcha!

Whenever we are at her house, she'll offer meat, and when we say no, she'll offer a different kind of meat. She knows my SO and I are vegetarians, but pretends like she doesn't.

I'd like a smart thing to say when she does this. Something quick and sharp, because so far just changing the subject and ignoring it isn't making this behavior stop. At this point, it's not even that I want her to respect my choice, I just want to be left alone about it.
posted by DeltaForce to Human Relations (85 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
No amount of clever quips is gonna stop someone from being a dick to you... can you tell them to go fuck themselves 1x w/o cutting them out of your life
posted by MangyCarface at 2:54 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd start tossing her some nonsense words. You can't make her see she's awful at this point, might as well have some fun with her.

"So what? Chicken Butt!"
posted by Dynex at 2:54 PM on May 15, 2012 [6 favorites]

You don't have to be polite or nice here. This personnel is an obnoxious asshole. There's nothing wrong with telling her she's an obnoxious asshole. Everyoone but her knows it.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 2:55 PM on May 15, 2012 [26 favorites]

Every time she offered me meat, I'd say "What the fuck is wrong with you?" Repeat until she stops.
posted by rtha at 2:55 PM on May 15, 2012 [107 favorites]

posted by fluffy battle kitten at 2:57 PM on May 15, 2012

"I'm terribly sorry it's so difficult for you to comprehend the vegetarian diet. Shall I explain it again?" Yes, it is designed to make the person feel dumb. Yes, it is snarky. But, it also gets them to shut up, because no one likes looking dumb.
posted by kellyblah at 2:57 PM on May 15, 2012 [29 favorites]

I came to suggest something similar to Dynex. Turn the joke back on her.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:57 PM on May 15, 2012

I would confront her:

"Why are you offering me meat when you know I do not eat it? I feel like you are making fun of me and it hurts my feelings. I care about you and want to be around you, so please stop."
posted by maya at 2:58 PM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

> Whenever we are at her house, she'll offer meat, and when we say no, she'll offer a different kind of meat. She knows my SO and I are vegetarians, but pretends like she doesn't.

My first response is, why are you still going to her house? She clearly doesn't actually care about you or what you want, only what she wants. Maybe if you stop going, she'll get the hint; maybe she won't, but you'll have at least removed that stress.

If you can't avoid going to her house (family?), you could try eating separately beforehand and telling her that since you know she won't bother making food you can eat, you've already eaten.
posted by FlyingMonkey at 2:58 PM on May 15, 2012 [24 favorites]

"I just don't enjoy meat, but I really love vegetables" seems to always work for me.
posted by 4ster at 2:58 PM on May 15, 2012

"Why aren't you eating the jello."

"Because it contains gelatin, an animal product."


"We're vegetarians."


"Well, we have excellent will power. I guess some people don't, huh?"


"Because we have the mightiest convictions!"


"We're vegetarian."


"We're vegetarian."


"We're vegetarian."

posted by two lights above the sea at 2:59 PM on May 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

Next time she brings it up say this,

"AnnoyingLady, you know, husband and I are starting to worry about you. Have you been having these memory issues a lot or is it just this specific thing you can't remember? I know we've told you tons of times that we don't eat meat or animal products, but you can't seem to remember that. Are there other things you're forgetting? At your age, you should be careful...I mean, forgetting stuff about your favorite (relative/friend/whateveryouaretoher)...it just seems...a little worrisome."
posted by teleri025 at 3:01 PM on May 15, 2012 [49 favorites]

I'd try to suck the humor and grace out of any of these situations in any way you can. Just make them really unpleasant and awkward. Finding the most awkward possible path is really best done in the moment, but here's the kind of thing I'm picturing: When she says "So?" just stare at her. For a really long time. Until she turns away, and past that, until she says something about you staring at her. Then say "So?" back to her and keep up the stare until you make her seriously twitchy and she demands that you cut it out.

On preview-- The World Famous has exactly the right idea.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:01 PM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

You say you can't cut this person out of your life, but is there any good reason why you can't cut them out of your life in terms of food? Stop accepting invitations to dinner/restaurants, etc.?
posted by Gator at 3:03 PM on May 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

You can make it really ugly -- just once -- and I doubt you'll have the problem again.

"Hey, do you know how cattle are slaughtered? Well, first they load them into a truck..."

By the time you get to the automatic defecation that occurs at the point of the bolt gun, they should ask you to stop. You must speak earnestly and vividly, detailing each moment, burning it into their minds.

Discuss how animals have two of three brain structures of humans, thus they have emotions -- like fear -- and feel pain. If they attempt to stop you, stare at them very intensely and say something like, "I have listened to you for a very long time make jokes about what one of the darkest aspects of human existence. Now you will hear me when I tell you where you food comes from, the being that had to die to give it to you, how that being died, and why it's not funny."

This works, because someone did it to me. I never waste an ounce of meat, nor would I ever make fun of a vegetarian again.
posted by nickrussell at 3:04 PM on May 15, 2012 [12 favorites]

I have a friend who, without fail, responds to the question, "So?" with: "Sew your lips to my ass!" Personally, I think it's funny because it's just so ridiculous. (Much like her constantly shitting on your dietary choices.) If she's having fun at your expense, do it back. You may as well get some pleasure out of it.
posted by heyho at 3:04 PM on May 15, 2012 [13 favorites]

This person is pretty obviously purposely being a jerk. Changing the subject and ignoring it doesn't work because that doesn't stop them from continuing to purposely be a jerk to you, and snappy comebacks are probably not going to do it either. What you need to do is somehow make it uncomfortable for this person to keep saying these things.

As some other people have suggested, you should probably say something directly confrontational to her that she is not going to like, and repeat it whenever she does it again until she stops. Personally I would go with something that makes it clear that you're annoyed and offending and do not think the situation is at all funny, and possibly that asks her to explain why she keeps doing this. Personally I think sarcasm or joking, even mean joking, is not as effective because that turns it into more of a game that she will feel like she needs to one up you in.
posted by burnmp3s at 3:04 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm so conflicted about this question, because it always seems like there are people who are just dumb and rude and what on earth can you do about it without turning into a monster, yourself. And then I remember that it is only people who are innately polite and self effacing who have to put up with this sort of shit, and if you had a sort of chancy reputation, temper wise, that maybe it would never happen.

That said, I agree with the above responses to make the discomfort she is trying to give to you, hers again. I also think you might start taking serving dishes of natto with you, and offering that to her in return when she makes with the "steak? chicken? how about bacon?" stuff, I like to imagine it like this:

"Here's some tasty pork!"
"We don't eat meat."
"What about this chicken?"
"Maybe you'd like some nice slimy natto?"
"No! I don't eat slimy soy beans!"
posted by thylacinthine at 3:06 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Whenever she asks you why you won't eat something, ask her right back: "Why do you ask?"

Continue to interrogate her -- shift the spotlight to her -- with more "why" questions. e.g. "And WHY do you think it's weird that I don't eat meat?"

It's fun, and works a charm. This approach is great for anyone who sticks their snout in your personal business.
posted by quivering_fantods at 3:07 PM on May 15, 2012 [18 favorites]

What do you say to an adult that takes delight in taking advantage of a child's innocence?

I would give her a "you will cut out those remarks about food now" conversation and avoid her as much as possible. I would also strongly consider just how much you are obligated to see her.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:11 PM on May 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

This sounds horrible. She sounds like a horrible, horrible person. (I think I'm reacting a little emotionally because I knew a woman once who pulled the same pork shit with two Jewish children she was babysitting, and... eugh. She had no redeeming qualities.)

First off, stop accepting any invitation to any eating event at her home. "From what you said last time we understand that it's too much trouble for you to have vegetarians over, so we're going to pass."

Secondly, although I like the confrontational ideas above, a kill-with-kindness thing could also work. "Want some pork?" "Are you feeling all right, Phyllis? I'm concerned about your memory loss. They say daily crossword puzzles can help, have you tried that?"
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:13 PM on May 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

I would say, one day, in front of other people, very quietly and not angrily, "Sometimes I can't believe how really and truly disrespectful you are". And then leave and don't argue with her about it and don't speak about it.
posted by gt2 at 3:14 PM on May 15, 2012 [46 favorites]

Yeah, I'm not sure that you need to be diplomatic with someone who thinks it's hilarious to give pork to Muslim kids.

"You're being extremely rude." Or, "that was uncalled for." Keep "What the fuck is your problem, lady?" in the bullpen if you need it.
posted by moammargaret at 3:16 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here's what you say:

"no, thank you."

Make sure you eat before you are at her house or every other time you might be dependent on her for food. Just decline politely when she offers you meat, again, and if pressed, continue to say "no, thank you". Give her the least amount of reaction possible - because obviously she is doing this because she enjoys the reaction that she gets.
posted by bq at 3:17 PM on May 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Also, I'm not eating that because I hear that you can't fucking cook and your food tastes like shit."
posted by Elly Vortex at 3:19 PM on May 15, 2012 [13 favorites]

The next time she offers you meat at her house, accept a plate of it and then obviously and conspicuously "accidentally" drop it on the floor right in front of her. Preferably on carpet. Repeat as needed.
posted by andoatnp at 3:19 PM on May 15, 2012 [13 favorites]

Don't give her a response!

When people do that kind of obnoxious shit (where they are clearly trying to be obnoxious) I usually just stare blankly at them. I don't say anything or acknowledge what they said, I just look at them with a mixture of 'huh??' as in duh you idiot, I know you already know I am a vegetarian, and 'wtf is wrong with you?' It actually is surprisingly effective. In my experience just staring makes a person uncomfortable enough to change behavior.

Then continue with the conversation as if it never happened. Or change the subject.
posted by fromageball at 3:20 PM on May 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

When someone's just being provacative, I will often just disregard the question. There is no reason to answer questions you'd rather not.

Q: Why aren't you eating the Jello?

A: Eh. (hand wave) So, Bob & I watched The Avengers last Saturday...

Q: Have some Jello!

A: Eh. (hand wave) We both thought it was pretty funny!
posted by small_ruminant at 3:20 PM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

The grown-up way to do this is to take her aside and say "You know we're vegetarian, and you keep making these digs at us. It's rude and immature and makes us feel unwelcome. Please stop it."

In the moment: she's obviously trying to provoke you into a reaction, and as tempting as it would be to respond with "So fuck off," don't rise to the bait. Don't bother trying to explain or persuade, either, because she clearly doesn't care. Just get to an end statement ("I don't eat meat" or "I'm vegetarian") with minimal explanation, and respond to any "so?" by repeating that statement as calmly and matter-of-factly as you can muster.

"I don't eat meat."
"So, I don't eat meat."
"So, I don't eat meat."

And hopefully you can find a way to avoid her as much as possible. And if you have to see her, eat beforehand.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:23 PM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

And if they persist, I'd ask why it is they're trying to start something at a family gathering, for god's sake. Don't they have ANY sense of propriety?! (Of course they don't, but be charitable and pretend.) Also, I am assuming that you're putting up with her in your life because she's in some way attached to someone you care about.

Also, I will substitute a cheery "Nope!" for the "Eh", even if it isn't grammatically appropriate.

Q: Why aren't you eating the Jello?

A: Nope! So Bob and I watched...
posted by small_ruminant at 3:24 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's no point in even attempting to be rational with her because she's just doing this for the lols.

You either ignore her or you just repeat, we're vegetarian (so? we're vegetarian. so? we're vegetarian).

Ignoring is more cathartic though.
posted by mleigh at 3:25 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Wow, you have issues."
posted by smirkette at 3:26 PM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

You might really appreciate the advice given in Living Among Meat Eaters.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 3:27 PM on May 15, 2012

As others have said, she wants to engage you, to get your goat (as it were) on the issue. Don't respond to her in any way. Just keep going like you didn't hear the question.

And yuck, I am sad that you have to have someone like this in your life.
posted by Cosine at 3:28 PM on May 15, 2012

I agree with the "repeat" answers. I am a former HS teacher, and by the very nature of the job I dealt with individuals who sometimes would not be reasoned with as they were specifically attempting to get me angry of have me fly off the handle. Nothing deadens that sort of obnoxious will like bland repetition.
posted by oflinkey at 3:33 PM on May 15, 2012

A number of the strategies suggested in this thread rely on expressing hostility, trying to humiliate her in front of other people, or telling her in one way or another that she is a bad person. I think it's possible to address this without doing any of those things. You could try this. Take her aside, on her own, at a time that might be good for her and say something like this:

"Can I talk to you about something that I've been a bit concerned about? Yes? Okay... It seems to me that a lot of the time you make it hard for me to be a vegetarian. When I say I don't want to eat meat, you offer me meat anyhow, and make a joke about it. I'm not sure if you mean to hurt my feelings when you do that, but it really does feel like you are making fun of me when you do this, and it really hurts my feelings a lot. I get the sense that being a vegetarian is a choice you agree with. I'm okay with that. But it's really serious and important issue to me, and when you joke about is so much, it really makes me feel really disrespected. Do you think you could stop doing that?"

She might respond well to that. Or she might not. But at least you'll have tried to take up the converstation in a way that's grown-up and respectful.
posted by ManInSuit at 3:35 PM on May 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

posted by oflinkey at 3:35 PM on May 15, 2012

(sigh... typo: "I get the sense that being a vegetarian is a choice you DON'T agree with.")
posted by ManInSuit at 3:36 PM on May 15, 2012

Repeat it again louder and slowly like you are comically speaking to someone that speaks another language.

"We're Vegetarians."


"WE (gesture to the 2 of you) ARE . . VEGETARIANS."

Or just tell her to fuck off.
posted by wwax at 3:38 PM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think if I *had* to be around a person like this often, the only way I could survive would be to treat her as I would someone with severe mental problems. Like pretend she's had a brain injury, or has an IQ of below 60. Just assume she is not capable of getting it, and repeat yourself/ignore her/take plates out of her hands and move them away as needed. If there are Muslim children or other vulnerable/unknowing people around, go out of your way to look out for them, because in her ignorance she might unwittingly harm them. Etc. I can totally sympathize with your wish to have a smart retort, but I just can't see a smart retort working on such a stupid person.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 3:41 PM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just leave.

Repeat as necessary.
posted by backwards guitar at 3:41 PM on May 15, 2012

This would make me crazy and all I can think of is ways to escalate, so maybe this advice won't make her stop, but what if you just went over the top with appreciating her awesome sense of humor?

"Wow that is SUPER funny! Do it again!"
"You are such a cut-up"
"Wow, what a stitch"
"I just love this joke"
"It never gets old - do you remember when you did this an hour ago? It's just as funny now"
"There goes Marge again, what a joker"

And bring your own food to her house.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:41 PM on May 15, 2012 [9 favorites]

Horrible person. Reasoning/arguing/explaining won't help even a bit.

She want's to provoke you. But how will she react if you don't remain polite? (what you did so far it seems)

If you have to go to her house bring your own food. She will feel confused, maybe even hurt or ashamed that you don't want to enjoy her cooking. It might be a new, humbling experience for her.

If she offers you meat and starts her usual 'So?' game, talk to her husband in front of her about her.
Have some meat!
No thanks.
Come on! Yummy!
Bob, is Phyllis acting strange lately or is it just now? We're kinda concerned...is it getting worse with every visit?

Let's see if she keeps laughing.

Other than that, gift her some great DVD like Food Inc. or Fresh!
posted by travelwithcats at 3:45 PM on May 15, 2012

Former vegetarian here - unless I'm really off the mark, it sounds like the key issue you're having is that she's saying this to you when other people are around in an attempt to humiliate/shame you. Not cool. :(

You could instead take some pre-emptive action with the friends or family members who are likely to be present at these gatherings, and who are hopefully more sensible than she is (frankly, this person is a child and there's no point in trying to reason with her).

Talk to some folks beforehand who you know will be around on these occasions, and mention to them that "I really don't appreciate that (Dickhead Lady X) acts like this and it really upsets me and makes things awkward. I wish she'd stop."

When the people you've spoken to witness DLX repeating the behaviour toward you, they will be primed for it and already on your side. This in itself is satisfying. Look at them knowingly. You won't have to say anything, and who knows - maybe one of them will stick up for you. You could even ask them to, if you are comfortable with that. Having another voice/voices on your side could be impactful.

Good luck, stay strong!
posted by gohabsgo at 3:46 PM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

"You have really shown disrespect to me and my wishes and it really concerns and saddens me that you would do so."

The time for jokes in response to this clear disregard for your choices and your identity is long since gone. You have to be honest and direct and tell her what you truly feel about her spitting in your face.
posted by inturnaround at 3:50 PM on May 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

When she offers you pork, say: 'What, do I look Muslim?'

With other meats, if your partner is a blood relative of hers, say 'Thank God you didn't inherit this!', or, if not: 'You have meat on the brain!-- or for brains, I guess.'
posted by jamjam at 3:51 PM on May 15, 2012

Earlier on AskMefi. Not exactly the question (the jerk discussed there wouldn't stop harping on the questioner's weight) but the general theme was identical: How to deal with a rude person who won't stop badgering when you are not a position to avoid the person exactly.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 3:54 PM on May 15, 2012

"Think how happy we will all be when you die."


(smile) "Nothing."
posted by cyndigo at 4:00 PM on May 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

If you don't want to go all confrontational on her, maybe do the Southern-style ding training and every time she offers you meat, don't answer, just say "Bless your heart" and change the subject.

If I were you, however, I would get up and leave the moment she starts. If you are a guest at her house, get up and leave, she is being incredibly rude. If you are both out, get up and leave, she is being incredibly rude. You may feel you cannot cut her out, but there is some room on the spectrum between "put up with her shit" and "cut her out." Life is too short to put up with assholes, even if you are related to them.
posted by ambrosia at 4:02 PM on May 15, 2012 [7 favorites]

I'd do something just as dense and immature as she is, without escalating.
her: "Why aren't you eating the jello?" or "Have some delicious pork!"
you: "Because why?"

bonus: as two year olds know, this is an appropriate response to every phrase or question ever. So you can just keep using it no matter what she says. And there's no way to actually 'end' it except "Because I said so!" and that only works against a kid when you have an actual point.
posted by jacalata at 4:08 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

-I don't eat meat.
-I don't eat meat.
{repeat as necessary}

-What do you mean?
posted by J. Wilson at 4:11 PM on May 15, 2012

"You ask that every time I see you. Why is it so important to you that I eat meat?"

- Because it's good for you!
("Thanks for your concern, but my doctor says my vegetarian diet is doing me a lot of good. Do you have medical training yourself?)

- Because it's rude not to eat what I cook!
("You don't have to cook for me. Next time I'll being enough salad for everyone. But it is tremendously rude of you to constantly challenge my beliefs about food. It makes me feel unwelcome in your home.")

I've found that debating the philosophical underpinnings of my diet with people like this is generally a waste of time. I make sure my vegetarianism doesn't inconvenience anyone else, and in return I expect them not to start arguments about what I choose to put in my mouth. It's just basic good manners.
posted by embrangled at 4:11 PM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

I usually say to rude people who ask personal questions "I beg your pardon?" as if I didn't hear and with a cold stare. They do shut up.
posted by francesca too at 4:16 PM on May 15, 2012

I'm with the people saying you need to confront her. I'd be really serious and polite and just say, "Please stop teasing me about what I eat. I find it really rude that you can't respect my choices. I'm not going to talk to you about this again."
posted by something something at 4:19 PM on May 15, 2012

Yeah, I'm not really comfortable with tit-for-tat stuff, mocking them etc. I mean, you're an adult you don't need to bother with that stuff. Also, this person is such an aggressive shitbag from your description I'm not really sure that being honest and respectful about it (you hurt my feelings etc) would really help. I mean, this is a serial offender here.

What I, personally, would do, in a very serious tone:

"Phyllis, fuck off. The next time you offer me meat, I will throw it in your face. Do not test me."
posted by smoke at 4:27 PM on May 15, 2012 [13 favorites]

I like rtha's suggestion.

I might even append "Are you too much of an idiot to understand what we're saying over and over again?"

(There's a very small amount of time I'd personally, speaking as someone who became a vegetarian in 1989, hang out with someone who always did that to me. It's bullshit and your dumb friend knows it. Call her out on it repeatedly and virulently until you have reached your dosage of this friend. Then, find better friends.)
posted by phoebus at 4:29 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

She's a control freak. The only way to stop them is to make them afraid to provoke you. They thrive on anything else. Next time she does this cause a huge scene and badmouth her to everyone you know. Or say something so cutting and so personal back to her that she is so taken aback that she never fucks with you again. Something humiliating that she can't argue with and has trouble laughing off.

Layer on when she cones crying to ask why youre so mean to her tell her you are sick of her meat bullshit and that's going to be your response from now on. Shell back off.
posted by fshgrl at 4:31 PM on May 15, 2012

Christ, what an asshole. I think something like, "You do realize no one else finds this amusing?" might be worth a shot.
posted by jabes at 4:33 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would ask yourself why you keep interacting with this person. If she's family, follow the confrontational advice above if it's important to stay in touch, because family is family and one has to hope that engagement will eventually make things better. If she's just a friend, look up the definition of "friend" and decide whether or not she fills the bill. If not, DTMFA. Seriously. This is not someone I would choose to hang out with.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:41 PM on May 15, 2012

Also, following the excellent suggestion of "bless your heart", here's a fun list of backhanded "polite" sounding phrases.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:51 PM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

As a fellow non meat eater, I would say this is a great opportunity to reply, "So fuck you, that's what." under your breath and then move on. What a pill! I would be mad too.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:52 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Take a deep breath. Speak slowly and deliberately while directly facing her: "Now you are just being rude and inconsiderate." Turn to the others in the room and explain, "XXX knows we're vegetarian. She just refuses to recognize it or doesn't seem to respect our beliefs."

And gracefully exit.
posted by HeyAllie at 4:57 PM on May 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

Q: Why aren't you eating the Jell-O?

A: I give up. Why aren't I eating the Jell-O?
posted by aubilenon at 5:19 PM on May 15, 2012 [28 favorites]

Maybe one sort of brutally kind way of dealing with it would be like one does, when say, somebody is on the sidewalk half-naked and screaming about U.N. conspiracies -- i.e., act as if she donned a cloak of invisibility. Maybe tell other people at the gathering about it first. And bring your own dishes.
posted by angrycat at 5:37 PM on May 15, 2012

There are a lot of great suggestions in these comments, so why not combine all of them?

- So?
- So What? /pause/ Bless your heart! /pause/ Actually, I'm very upset that you are so rude and inconsiderate every time we are here. /pause/ Fuck off, cupcake!
posted by rainy at 5:48 PM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Her respect for others is zero. Don't feel the need to be polite about pointing that out. She will get found out sooner or later and it's better she stops now through you that from a far less-sympathetic Muslim parent of a child to whom she's just fed pork. What if she'd fed something to a child she knew the child couldn't have but didn't know it was for allergy reasons and the child went into toxic shock. Jesus.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:50 PM on May 15, 2012

Don't give her something to work with by bringing up your vegetarianism.

Her: "Here, try the roast beef! I made it special for you!"

You: "No, thanks."

Her: "But whyyyyyyyy?"

You: "I don't care for any, thanks."

Her: "What, are you a vegetarian?"

You: "I don't care for any, thanks. Would you please pass the cabbage salad?"
posted by lakeroon at 5:54 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Stop being an ass. It isn't funny and I'm tired of it."
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 5:56 PM on May 15, 2012

"We're vegetarian."


"So we don't eat meat or meat products."


"I'm not sure why this is difficult for you to understand. I know several six-year-olds who understand it just fine."
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:12 PM on May 15, 2012

We had a problem like this in my family for many years. My aunt married a Jewish man, converted, and had kids. For years her father would invite the family over for dinners and holidays and... always serve pork. They started picking up McDonald's or pizza on the way there and eat it at the table. Nothing could have horrified the grandparents more than to see half the family rather eat fast food for Christmas dinner than their carefully prepared honeyed ham.

Now they usually serve a sub-par chicken dish along with the ham, and make a point of telling the family the extra lengths they went to to cater to their diet. So, the topic didn't go away, but the grandparents now play the role of gracious martyrs rather than dumb but well-meaning hosts, and everyone gets to eat. It's an improvement.

I think bringing your own food and eating it out in the open might be better than an angry confrontation (if this is family you're talking about). It sends a pretty strong message that you won't play by her game. If she asks about it you can continue to be polite by saying, "We felt it would be easier on all of us if you didn't have to worry about our dietary restrictions" or "We weren't sure if you had planned anything vegetarian" or "We heard you were serving ribs and instead of asking you to make something special we decided to make it easier on your by bringing our own food."

Also, I recommend refusing food by saying you aren't interested or don't want it or already ate, rather than explaining for the nth time that you're vegetarian. She knows you're vegetarian. Each time she gets you to mention your vegetarianism is a opportunity to needle you about it. Just don't give her any more opportunities.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 6:23 PM on May 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

She's obsessing over the fact that you are vegetarian. Don't mention that you are vegetarian. Just refuse all the meat dishes, and when asked why, say "because I don't want any thanks". If pressed why just repeat "no thank you, I don't want any". Don't mention vegetarianism, that's what she is waiting for you to do, so she can make an issue out of it.
posted by Joh at 6:49 PM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

First off: ugh.

I'd really want to start bringing over the most adventurous (vegetarian!) food you can, not tell her what it is, and then freak her out afterwards.

But I actually think a better plan is for you to host her instead (then you choose the menu; make sure she doesn't bring food, though. Or assign her something like wine or sparkling water where it's hard to go wrong).

If that's not possible, bring your own food whenever you go to her place, or refuse to go to her place during any kind of meal.

And rest assured that this is changing- I know a few not-such-a-big-fan-of-vegetarians types (sometimes I even qualify as one myself, depending on the vegetarian in question) of my generation- but I just absolutely can't imagine the lack of respect that involves trying to sneak meat into someone's diet. We've all got veggie friends these days and respecting that is pretty important (although maybe this is also location dependent).
posted by nat at 7:08 PM on May 15, 2012

"Do you have any idea how stupid you sound?"
posted by Green With You at 7:24 PM on May 15, 2012

"Sorry, Mary, I hate to disappoint you, but we're still vegetarians. If we change our convictions, we'll let you know."

If she keeps up at it just repeat, "Thank you, but I don't eat meat."

Can you enlist anyone else to help reinforce this? She's being a bully--maybe getting called out about it by a bystander will startle her.
posted by elizeh at 7:31 PM on May 15, 2012

I don't think snappy retorts have the same effect in real life that they do in your head or in the movies, because they often wind up getting you to stoop to the level of the person who's provoking you and showing the people close to you your angry side, which is not usually a good way to be perceived by people whom you want to have good opinions of you.

So, I think your better options are to get the person in your social or familial circle who is closest to her to spell things out for her, and/or to eat ahead of time, and/or to bring your own food, and/or to address the issue privately, and/or to invert the energy and the tone of her response in the way you address her.

I teach, and in my class, when a kid does something that bothers me, I find something to occupy everyone else's attention (which comes up naturally enough), and while they're focused on that, I walk around the room, get up close to the offender, and have the conversation via whisper, which produces this weird, intense combination of both intimidation and respect without any of the payoff (attention from others) they were seeking from the original offense.

So, maybe you could make a plan to deflect the issue with a subject change the next time it pops up, then have your SO trot out an amusing story, a joke, or a party game while you excuse yourself, and then pop in a minute later, lean in on the offender, and whisper, "I know exactly what you're doing, and it isn't going to work. Stop it."

Not "everybody knows what you're doing," because that rewards the behavior by suggesting the attention it's getting, not "you're pissing me off" because that's an emotional reaction, and not "you're acting like an asshole," because that gives her something to push off against.

Alternatively, you could ACCEPT the meat, create the distraction, have the conversation, then return to your seat and find a way for your plate to wind up on the floor as soon as you get there.
posted by alphanerd at 7:50 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mod note: revenge answers not considered helpful.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:11 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

This woman is surpassing what I have had to deal with as a vegetarian, fortunately for me, but I have dealt with a family member who added meat to every dish so that I wouldn't have anything to eat - even when it created results that no one wanted. (Hamburger-mashed potatoes? Really?) At least it was blatant, though, so I didn't have to worry about sneak-meat in my food.

The way I got my family member X to stop was to shame it out. When I'd be over at someone else's house, at a potluck with X's coworkers, etc., and was provided with something separate to eat, I'd gush over how nice the friends/coworkers were and how X not only never made me something separate but actively denied me normal side dishes, etc. Not saying it with apparent anger, but as a compliment to the friend/coworker that just so happens to put X down.

"Wow, it is so so nice that you made me a private vegetarian lasagna! Seriously, I don't expect that at all and usually just eat side dishes, and it's leaps and bounds better than what I get at X's house and they're my own relative! X is finding new uses for meat since I became vegetarian, actually - have you tried X's new broccoli-and-lard? But really, this is seriously the most awesome thing ever, thanks so much!"

X initially kept pulling me aside after I made those comments and told me to stop making X look bad. I told X that if they didn't like hearing accurate portrayals of their behavior, they needed to cut that behavior out. It took a few repetitions, but they soon stopped acting like a crazy person and started accepting my vegetarianism. No one likes losing face.
posted by vegartanipla at 8:27 PM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

If this has been going on for so long, particularly with bystanders present, then it sounds like at the very least, they're complicit in this - don't look to them for support.

Alphanerd has a great suggestion (although the power dynamics between you and your relative are different enough than between teacher and student that I'm not sure how well that whispered comment will work.) Getting mad or insulting her will make you the bad guy (particularly if the rest of the family isn't sympathetic or is super confrontation-averse.)

The only way to win is not to play. As several others have suggested, stop eating there. Or when you go over, and she starts in, you give her one calm answer, and then, "Well, doesn't look like there's anything here for us, so SO and I will see you all later. Time to eat!" and just gracefully exit.
posted by canine epigram at 5:40 AM on May 16, 2012

I'd also go for the "we are concerned for your mental health" approach. And I'd say it slowly and have a very concerned look on my face while I was at it. And, giving her a taste of her own medicine, I'd say the same thing at least twice. But keep a concerned look on your face or else you'll be the dick.
posted by Neekee at 6:51 AM on May 16, 2012

Do your vegetarian ethics allow you to put it in your mouth without swallowing? Then make a show of spitting it out (into a napkin if it's a large group, but if it's just you, SO, and fuckhead, spit it directly on the table).

"See, I told you I didn't eat meat."
posted by desjardins at 9:53 AM on May 16, 2012

"Have some meat."
- "I don't each meat."
- "I am a vegetarian."
- "You really are frightened of the those different from you, I think that is terribly sad."
posted by Cosine at 11:25 AM on May 16, 2012


Oh, bless your heart! You really should check with your doctor regarding your memory problems.
posted by deborah at 9:34 PM on May 16, 2012

She's just mean and a bully, and I expect she's probably sneaking meat products into your food whenever possible.

She does this for the thrill of it. There's not much you can do short of removing yourself from the situation. You can answer all her questions with a simple "You know why" or even "You know why, bitch" but you can't make her stop. There's no sense in talking to her or explaining that it bothers you -- she KNOWS it bothers you, that's why she does it.
posted by callmejay at 10:49 AM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Next time she offers, Take the meat, hold eye contact, and throw it on the ground.
posted by hishtafel at 5:49 PM on May 18, 2012

You might try asking her, earnestly, "Why does it bother you so much that we don't eat meat? Why do you keep bringing it up?"

If she's not willing to engage with that question in earnest, it might be a way to at least get her to shut up about it: "There you go again, whining about us not eating meat. Why do you keep doing that?"

And you can keep "But why?"-ing her no matter what she says ("I'm just making a joke"; "Why do you think that's funny?" etc.) until she's asking you to drop the subject.
posted by straight at 9:55 PM on May 21, 2012

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