To the vegetarians before me: As I've said, if I've not openly mocked your abstaining from meat, I've at least challenged it. And I know I'm new, but sweet Jesus, don't people have an opinion about others' dietary choices! So for any offense or weariness caused by having to justify yourself to me, I am sincerely sorry.
I've made two references to going veggie on Facebook in the last week, both generating a flurry of comments from friends on both sides of the meaty fence. I'm sure commenters' intentions were nothing more than lighthearted jest, but it didn't take long for my omnivore friends to incite the rage of their herbivore counterparts.
One comment hit a chord - "politics has no place in the kitchen". Is vegetarianism political? I suppose it depends on someone's reasons for it. I'm not sticking it to The Man here. I don't have any immediate urge to hold up a placard outside the Art Gallery or an abattoir, or lobby the Legislature to ban burgers. As a proclaimed vegetarian, am I putting up my tent in the patchouli-scented, tie-dyed section of the political landscape? Nonsense. Using that logic, as a woman who expects equal pay, I should be burning my bras.
I have not done this to set an example or make people feel guilty for eating meat. I have control over my impact on those around me, human and animal, and I want to do better by my fellow beings, as well as my own body. My decision is, well, mine. That's the beauty of where and when we live. It strikes me as odd, therefore, that people should get so riled up about the choices of others.
I'm through the looking glass here, suddenly very aware of the pressure placed on someone who doesn't fit the norm. Don't get me wrong - I'm not stupid enough to suggest that this is anywhere in league with actual discrimination. I mean instead that I have a newfound respect for those who have forged the path that I am now walking. And a little more perspective on the knowing looks that long-time vegetarians give me when I say I've been veggie... for a week.
So, a call for respect on all sides. Meat-abstaining friends, continue to show patience to the meaties. Vegans, long-time and occasional vegetarians: we newbies thank you and need you. There's strength in numbers, and we're only trying to join in the fun. Meat-eating friends, be tolerant of us veggies. We're not hurting anyone. In fact, that's kind of the point.