Why am I a Vegetarian?
February 8, 2007 8:32 AM   Subscribe

I recently became a vegetarian, and need help dealing with criticism from my roommates.

I have recently, about a week ago, decided to drop meat from my diet. I had been contemplating whether or not to go vegetarian for a few months, and now it just kind of happened. My two roommates both eat meat, and so does my entire immediate family.

My roomates have ridiculed me everyday since I have switched. When I come home with tofu they call me "gay" and "fag." They've used plenty of other inappropriate descriptors, too. I understand that for them--midwestern corn-fed boys--this kind of thing can seem strange, but I just want them to accept it. They are my friends, despite their behaviors, and it's not as though I feel threatened at home(moving out isn't a choice and these guys may be homophobic and out of line or whatever, but i have to live with them for a few more months), but I just want to have a response ready when they ask, "Why the hell are you eating that shit? What the fuck got into you?"
I want to be able to defend my choice.
posted by trueluk to Society & Culture (43 answers total)
My advice? Tell the homophobic dickwads to grow. the. fuck. up.
posted by handee at 8:35 AM on February 8, 2007 [4 favorites]

I'm not sure it's possible to reason with people who call you "fag" for eating tofu, so if I were you I would simply ignore them. If they can't get a reaction out of you, the "joke" will get old fast.
posted by blue mustard at 8:40 AM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Tell them you are smarter than they are: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6180753.stm.
posted by caddis at 8:40 AM on February 8, 2007

They are doing what is known as razzing, the proper response is to razz back. I would encourage you to respond with a comment about how you managed to sexually conquer their mothers/girlfriends and how they enjoyed it. Other options include calling them homophobic slurs back, perhaps using word play involving "man meat" or something similar.

If you are feeling confident you might want to pursue the avenue that your new found culinary habits have induced physical prowess and possible enlargement of the penis (feel free to use their girlfriends/mothers as verification that such diet works).

Sometimes some light physical violence may be needed, such as slapping them (that is with your palm facing them) in the stomach at sufficient strength to cause comfort and saying something to the effect of, "Just enjoying my meal!"

If you are going to live with a bunch of douche bags you need to learn how to deal with them in the most pragmatic way possible.
posted by geoff. at 8:44 AM on February 8, 2007 [12 favorites]

Bleh, I vote for ignore that crap. Most my vegetarian friends just are. They don't make a big deal about it. I didn't even realize they were until I asked. I say this because chances are you'll encounter other people like this besides your roommates so it's better to learn how to deal with it now as you'll use the same skill 18000 times. Getting into a pissing match of ZOMG I'M A VEGETATION, YOU'RE NOT will only make things worse.
posted by jmd82 at 8:45 AM on February 8, 2007

If these guys are your friends, then geoff. is right. The proper response to being called a fag by an ignorant friend is to say, "Wow, what a coincidence, that's what your sister called you last night, while I was giving it to her." Or, "You know, you might consider dropping the meat, too; your mom says my dick tastes better when I eat soy."

If these guys are just roommate whom you don't particularly care about, then ignore them.
posted by muddgirl at 8:52 AM on February 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

They aren't going to accept it. I was a vegetarian for years, and even many of my non-homophobic friends never quite got it. If they're just just ribbing you, then rib them back. I don't know, given their comments, tell them how odd it is that they're calling you gay, but they're the ones who love to put meat in their mouths (apologies to Phil Hendrie).

Whatever you do, don't try to defend yourself, and don't try to seem superior, even though you clearly are. A lot of people, I think, actually feel attacked, in a way, by vegetarians. They get the sense that the vegetarian is looking down on them, or even negatively judging one of their most significant and enjoyable actions. This is usually not the case, I don't think, but people seem to feel that way.
posted by Doug at 8:52 AM on February 8, 2007

"Sorry, I didn't realize that my eating meat turned you on so much?"

You could also try to educate them as to the benefits of going veggie and why it's good for -you-.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:58 AM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I will never understand why vegetarians are expected to explain and defend their choice. And I can't understand why you would want to bother to justify your decision to a couple of idiots. But, if that's what you want to do, then why don't you just tell them the truth? There are a number of reasons to become a vegetarian, and you haven't stated yours here. But whatever it is, it is enough to suffice as an explanation. FWIW, when I was a vegetarian and people asked why, I usually just said, "Meat just started grossing me out so I stopped eating it," which was entirely truthful, impossible to argue with, and was generally not interpreted as an attack on other people's eating habits.
posted by amro at 8:59 AM on February 8, 2007

In case it's useful...

"I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants."
-- A. Whitney Brown
posted by gnomeloaf at 9:00 AM on February 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

Just scream in their faces (and I mean damn loud):


and then go and enjoy your soy food. Keep doing it until they stop razzing you, if they are really your friends they'll stop sooner this way than if you act like they are getting to you.

I also suggest you help them understand the difference between homosexuality and vegetarianism by hiding as much hardcore gay porn as you can around their rooms, that's just a bonus tactic though.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:01 AM on February 8, 2007

With people like this, geoff.'s route is probably the way to go. These people aren't trying to initiate a conversation about eating habits, so attempting one, even in a subversive, joking way, is a waste of time. Tell them you'll be munching soy crisps and seducing their widows at their funerals, as you'll be sure to outlive them by decades.

Though in pretty much any context, when I hear the word "fag" being tossed off as a joke by a nonfag, I make a face as if they had just emitted the most rank fart, and with a tone of pitying superiority I say, "Do you realize how ugly that makes you sound?"

My family and some of my friends think I'm nuts for not eating meat and for loving "foreign foods" (and probably for being a fag) but they are respectful at least. Glad you'll get to move in a few months if you want to.
posted by hermitosis at 9:01 AM on February 8, 2007

What geoff. said. Emphasize the "veggie == virile" connection.

(Get new roommates or move when you get the chance -- this sort of shit will sink down into your psyche and make it difficult for you to socialize with regular people after a couple of years.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:01 AM on February 8, 2007

Tell them in terms that they will understand: vegetarian girls are hot and fantastic in bed. Stick with the vegetarianism and hopefully you'll have a chance to see how true this is. And if you are indeed gay, modesty allows me only to imply that vegetarian guys are also good in the sack. So keep at it either way.
posted by peeedro at 9:04 AM on February 8, 2007

I have friends who are serious shit talkers. So I evolved a routine where I would "comfort" them by saying that I really understood that they were having issues and that's why they were shit talking and that "its okay" to feel insecure, and that you want them to know that they should discuss these fears. All, of course, with a sort of wry look in the eye. I let them know that they are not "less of a man" for having these fears. Eventually they dropped the shit talk and tried ripping me back with my "psychologist" routine. At that point, I had won.

There's no response to this type of ribbing, because everything they do to rip on you is another sign of their insecurity, which you are only trying to "help" them with.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:06 AM on February 8, 2007

Just ignore them. Can you really reason with people who call you "fag?"
posted by sneakin at 9:07 AM on February 8, 2007

I'm with muddgirl, but another response to this:

"Why the hell are you eating that shit? What the fuck got into you?"

is a plain and simple

"Why are my meals any of your fucking business?"
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:07 AM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Get used to it. I've been veg for 16 years and there are idiots everywhere. My advice is not to ignore it or tell them to grow up. My advice is to not have close-minded losers for friends.
posted by dobbs at 9:13 AM on February 8, 2007 [3 favorites]

"You know, you might consider dropping the meat, too; your mom says my dick tastes better when I eat soy."

Since they insist on calling you gay you might change that to: "You know, you might consider dropping the meat, too; your dad says my dick tastes better when I eat soy."
posted by caddis at 9:13 AM on February 8, 2007

I'm guessing the three of you are between 18 and 25. They're just fucking with you. I doubt they think any less of you, you're just the easiest target right now. All you have to do is wait until you find out one of your roommates uses women's shaving cream because it 'gives a closer shave.' After that, you'll never hear a peep about being a vegetarian again.
posted by ASM at 9:14 AM on February 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

"Why are my meals any of your fucking business?"

Bingo. The virility angle is lame, and comes off like someone's mom telling them that chess is sexy. Vegetarian girls are hot, but really, every kind of girl is hot, so what does that prove. It all boils down to the fact that this is essentially a non-issue. It's like if someone were teasing you because they don't like pie, but you do. Just silly.
posted by Doug at 9:15 AM on February 8, 2007

You like pie? Fag.

I went through this too, and I tend to agree with the "belittle back" crowd rather than the "ignore it" sentiment. Although either are completely viable options, with goons like your roommates any perceived defensiveness will be taken as weakness/insecurity; on the other hand, any snark-back will be seen as an invitation to a pissing contest. So I suggest perhaps a combination- unless you can think of a good snark that you know will stop them in their tracks, just ignore them. If they try to razz you and you can think of something especially clever to say in response, though, something you know they will be unable to top, by all means snark away. If you consistently outwit them on this topic, they'll probably learn to leave it alone.

The trick is you have to make sure your snarks are definitive, else you'll get sucked into the aforementioned pissing contest.
posted by baphomet at 9:31 AM on February 8, 2007

I doubt this will help convince them, but here's an article re the meat industry and global warming.
posted by omnidrew at 9:31 AM on February 8, 2007

I love defending vegetarianism. Its an almost visceral pleasure for me.

My favorite lines.

1. I've actually decided to eat human flesh. Don't worry, it's no one you know. Got a problem with that?

2. In Korea, they eat dogs. Would you eat dogs?

3. Someday, they are going to grow beef in a vat. Someday soon in fact. I don't know if I'll eat beef grown in a vat, after all, no cows will be killed for that beef. But what if they sell vat grown human?
posted by ewkpates at 9:39 AM on February 8, 2007

Note: You don't say WHY you became vegetarian, so we don't know if you're looking for standard retorts or arguements that fit why you switched.

but I just want them to accept it

They don't have to accept it, they really don't.

They DO have to respect you though. From the tone of your post, which sounds non-assertive, they're picking up on your meek nature (which isn't a bad thing) and fucking with you as much as they can. So fuck back, it's the time honored guy thing. Ignoring them only feeds them.

So here are responses to the "Why the hell are you eating that shit? What the fuck got into you?" questions. Keep in mind, you can't be defensive about this. You gotta be straight and ok with it in your own mind, to the point where these guys are just seen as another opportunity to talk trash as opposed to a real bother.

1. I only like hurting...other things.

2. The only meat I really like is free range pussy, which puts your girl on the market.

3. Your mom thinks I taste better if I only eat veggies.

4. Veggies keep me light, which helps your fat fuck of girlfriend.

5. Better energy for screwing.

6. Only girls put meat in their mouths.

7. Hannibal Lector was a vegetarian. Mostly. So don't fuck with me right now, I haven't had any soy today.

8. I only eat things I can kill with my bare hands. Can you say the same?

There's also this link, which offered calmer rationals. I found it after googling defending vegetarian.

Shouldn't the vegetarians already have some massive list of comebacks compiled somewhere?

Also, try finding and cooking vegetarian dishes that meat eater might enjoy, either as a side or main dish and be sure to offer it to them. If they get all defensive, thinking you're trying to change them say "Oh please, I know you're stronger than your girl and I can't flip your ass. Just fucking try it, ya weak ass, afraid to try new things other than what your momma taught you, meat whore"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:53 AM on February 8, 2007

geoff.'s advice is the best. They don't care about the effects of global warming or how healthy you are re: your diet, and "defending" vegetarianism the way some suggest is orthoganal to their razzing you. You've changed your behavior to a non-sterotypical "guy" choice, and so they're busting your balls over it. It's not that the intrinsic values or chocies of vegetarianism bothers them, but that it's simply a way to get your goat. If you start talking about enviornmental effects, or use clever, "I eat people" tactics, they will realize your goat has been gotten, and continue with more glee. If you respond to, "Why the hell are you eating that shit? What the fuck got into you?" with "Because your little sister (or brother) dosen't choke on my cum so much," it will eventually die down.
posted by Snyder at 10:08 AM on February 8, 2007

1) Rent "Super Size Me".
2) Place in DVD.
3) Invite roomies.
4) Discuss.
5) Get new roomies.
posted by Dizzy at 10:22 AM on February 8, 2007

I wouldn't razz back. As someone who has dealt with a lifetime of obnoxious shit from various directions, if you respond in kind, you'll probably only keep it interesting enough for them to keep going. If you just give them withering glares and make it clear you don't find it funny, they'll probably get used to / bored with it and move on to giving you shit for something else.

It's really only amusing to get on people about things they care about and react forcefully to; if you go on a "vegan tirade" whenever they razz you, they're going to make it into a daily, perhaps hourly, event.

You need to expend less energy responding to them, then they do in razzing you. That's the only way to not give them the upper hand.

The other alternative is you could try explaining to them, just once, why you decided to become vegetarian (because I noticed you didn't really say why; I assume you have some motivation), and then ignore all questions to that effect from then on.

Eventually they'll get over it; everyone knows people who do things that they just don't "get"...either they'll get over it and just incorporate that mystery into their perception of you, or you'll stop being friends.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:23 AM on February 8, 2007

Shit talking is basically a battle of wits and self control for the purpose of bonding and determining status, and the vegetarianism is just a convenient subject. The way to play is basically to not lose your cool or your sense of humor, especially about yourself. Be funnier than the other guy without being too mean, laugh if he's funny, if you make a winning point give the other guy a way out that isn't too humiliating, and never, ever get your feelings hurt or get actually angry.

The geoff approach is great, and the Ironmouth approach cleverly ups the ante. Being the sarcastic weenie that I am, I'd add these:

"I'm not going gay exactly, I've just become a total sex machine--I want to nail everyone and everything, and if your ass wasn't so hairy and full of pimples I'd nail you every night till you'd start begging for it."

"You keep bringing up this gay thing, and I keep wondering why you keep thinking about the state of MY dick."

"Yeah, the thing is, now that I don't eat meat my cum tastes like candy--at least that's what your sister keeps telling me, or was that your mom? It's been kind of a blur."

Deliver these with a big grin on your face, and try to get one of the guys to laugh at the other one.
posted by tula at 10:24 AM on February 8, 2007

Either you need to get really good at talking shit or you need to settle for a simple "Fuck off, it's none of your business". Don't mess about in between.

If one guy is giving you shit, you need comebacks that'll make the other guys laugh and I see very few of those here. "Your mom says it makes my dick taste better" is great, but you'll only get to use it once.
posted by teleskiving at 10:25 AM on February 8, 2007

"You say I'm a fag, but you're the one eating meat."
posted by rhizome at 11:03 AM on February 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

I raised my kids vegetarian. When my daughter was 16 she posted a reply to another teen on PETA's forum.
The other teen wanted to know what to say to people who teased him for being a veggie.
She wrote "stop being such a pussy" and was promptly banned from the site.
I love my kids.
posted by bkiddo at 11:11 AM on February 8, 2007 [3 favorites]

Another vote for geoff's advice. Launching into mottoes or an essay on the benefits of vegetarianism will go down like a ton of bricks. Razz back, don't let them get to you, and they'll eventually get tired. There's no good reason to not just live your life, despite the dweeby comments of dweeby dweebs.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:00 PM on February 8, 2007

If they are you friends and they razz you after you ask them not to, then they aren't your friends. Get out and make new ones and leave them behind. I'm all in favor of razzing but if one of my friends tells me to STFU, I do it.
posted by chairface at 12:48 PM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

My response for this sort of thing is a simple "Dude. What the fuck?". The message usually gets across fine.
posted by mendel at 1:50 PM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

You say it's only been a week. Relax, this can't go on forever. It's still a novelty, hence their continued mouth flapping.

I disagree with all the responses that say to rib back or to try and one-up them, because that only leads to a chain of more unwanted, hurtful comments. And because being childish in response to childish derogatory comments just makes you all look like asses in the end.

If you ignore them and just go about your daily life, then eventually they'll get tired of making said comments.

I've been vegetarian for 13 years, since I was 13. Sure, some people will make stupid comments, but it's rare now.
posted by cmgonzalez at 4:21 PM on February 8, 2007

Let me preface this with the fact that I am not a vegetarian. But I have many friends who are, and have observed the almost hysterical frenzy of attacks that usually follow such decisions.

My sense is that some people who eat meat feel that vegetarians/vegans, especially those who do it for moral/ethical reasons are attacking and judging them for eating meat. Example: I used to know this girl in high school who was a militant vegan. She was constantly going around saying "Meat is Murder" and even distributing flyers with photos of dead cows that condemned us hamburger lovers as inhuman fiends who would willingly drink blood if we were let. Basically, she behaved towards people that eat meat the way that anti-abortion activists treat women who show up at a clinic for an abortion. Understandably, people often gave her a hard time about her veganism. (Is that a word or did I just make it up?) Then there was the group of PETA supporters who torched a popular turkey restaurant in our town.

I'm sure you're not like that, and in fact, most vegetarians/vegans I've met aren't, but like devout Christians, most groups seem to be identified with the most fanatic of their members. The thing is to sit down and ask yourself, why, in fact, you are a vegetarian. If it's for health reasons, just tell them that. I'm sure they'll be understanding of something like, "High cholesterol runs in my family, and I've decided that if I cut out meat, I can avoid a lot of health problems down the road" or something to that nature. If your choice does stem from ethical concerns, try, if possible, to not frame it in terms of, "I'm a vegetarian because I'm a good person and you eat meat because you're a bad person". Be humble. Just as you wouldn't want someone to judge your personal lifestyle choices, you shouldn't judge theirs either. Once they realize that you're not going to be looking askance at them every time they try to enjoy a cheeseburger, they'll probably relax and the teasing will stop.
posted by katyggls at 5:32 PM on February 8, 2007

Bring them to a Slaughter House ... er sorry an Abattoir.
posted by zaphod at 5:55 PM on February 8, 2007

I'd warn against razzing back, too. You have to be good at it for it to work, and I'm guessing that, since you asked this question, you're not.

Like katyggls said, they think that you think you're better than them, and they're giving you shit. I'm not good at razzing, either, but strangely enough, I've found that acting sarcastically smug about my vegetarianism eases the tension a bit. Just say "Dude, meat is totally murder. And I hate murder." or the kind of stuff that a militant vegan would say, but do it ironically, and make sure your roomates know that you're not being serious.

It's worked for me.
posted by Kronoss at 5:58 PM on February 8, 2007

Practical ways to defend vegetarianism:

1. It's cheaper
2. Religious angle (I'm hindu, so it's easy to get out of prolonged arguments)

but yes ignoring it is usually better in the long run. They're looking for a reaction, and the absolute lack of reaction (look beyond them , ie not at their eyes, it freaks some people out) is the most energy conserving approach.
posted by dhruva at 6:36 PM on February 8, 2007

If you think they can be won over by reason (though it sounds like they can't) this link about the environmental reasons for going veggie is great.

If they can't, as others have suggested, something about their mother/sister/girlfriend saying you taste better this way should do it.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 6:36 PM on February 8, 2007

"Well, since I fuck like a rabbit, I thought I'd best eat like one too."
posted by Abiezer at 10:12 PM on February 8, 2007

I think the best way is combat ignorance is with knowledge, learn as much as you can about being a vegetarian. You have to know how to do it right or it won't be a healthy choice. I've been a veggie for over 10 years and it took my mom a long time to come around to the idea and see it wasn't just a phase I would grow out of. There are so many food options out there now that you certainly won't suffer from lack of good food. But if someone's a dick about it, you should just be able to say 'fuck off' and live your life the way you want.
posted by sweetmarie at 10:09 PM on February 12, 2007

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