Fact: everyone hates a vegetarian. Particularly a grown-up, newly converted vegetarian. So annoying. Eat a sausage, won’t you?
I know this because I became a vegetarian three months ago, just in time for barbecue season. I actually thought not eating meat was pretty normal these days. I mean, everyone seems to be gluten-free or a vegan or no-sugar or something. Vegetarian is old school, no? No. People are furious. People are indignant. People really wish you’d just have a bacon sandwich.
Well, there seems to be an underlying suspicion that you’re attention-seeking. That you’re being a bit gap year. Listening to too much Morrissey. Self-important. Hippy. But the truth is, I’ve wanted to go vegetarian for ages and finally decided to just do it. To stop fannying about with Meat-Free Monday. To take action. Very, very quietly. “Why?” people ask. Umm, “Personal reasons.” I might as well say, “Women’s problems” or “Spiritual growth.” Everyone hates me. Except animals.
Mum: “Vegetarian?! What about anaemia? Don’t you dare go vegan. People need eggs.”
Husband: “Listen, I don’t have to be one though, do I?”
Best friend: “Fine, but I’m going to do Nando’s with other people now.”
I’m not going to say I feel better. That’s no strategy to claw back popularity. It’s no way to endear yourself to friends who have to sit across from someone eating a butternut risotto. However, I have found that my anecdotes of headaches, steak cravings and feeling too faint to take your B12 supplement go down a treat. People shake their heads, gaze at you with infinite wisdom and say, “Protein. That’s because you need protein.” No one defends their protein intake like a vegetarian.
So, given the ongoing resentment, is it worth it? Should you try it? I’d say yes. I’d say give it a try. But don’t tell anyone. Just say, “I’m having the risotto because I had bacon for breakfast and lamb for lunch.” Because everyone hates a Midult vegetarian.