Insensitivity toward vegetarianism

KENDRA HINTON Columnist

I don’t know if I could ever go vegetarian—I like meat too much. 

However, just because I don’t think I could give up meat, doesn’t mean I judge anyone who wants to go meat-free. My sister and a few of my best friends are actually vegetarians. While it has altered their diets and made going out to eat together a little tougher, I think they’re very happy with their decision and don’t feel the need to go back to eating meat.

Some non-vegetarians or “normal people” haven’t been as understanding, which I think is ridiculous. When I have made an offhand comment about my sister being vegetarian when she isn’t in the room, I’ve gotten an eye roll or a weird look in response. That bothered me because what people choose to do with their bodies and their lives is their decision.

One of my friends actually switched this past summer. She was messaging me, freaking out and having a bit of an emotional breakthrough about this documentary on farming, and how cruel it is. I don’t know which documentary it was, and I know being in South Dakota where farming is a very large part of the culture, there are people who have very different opinions to hers. Both my friend and I grew up in the city of Winnipeg, Canada, very far removed from farming culture, so I admit we don’t know as much as the average person in South Dakota about farming. 

Regardless, she was having a bit of a breakdown and decided then and there she was never eating meat again. I totally understood where she was coming from, and I didn’t try to change her mind. I wasn’t going to try to force her to keep eating meat, especially when the very thought made her sick to her stomach. 

The conversation tapered off and moved on, and then about ten minutes after she made her decision, I —unthinkingly — expressed how excited I was to eat the butter chicken I had brought for lunch that day. She was appalled, and it took me a moment to realize what I had done. She took it in good humor, but since then, I have been more mindful of when and how I talk about food, if the topic ever comes up. I think at the moment, everything was so fresh and sensitive, but out of respect for her preferences, I keep mentions of meat to a minimum. 

The people who I know that are vegetarians almost never make the fact that they’re vegetarians a big deal —most people don’t even know that they actually are vegetarians unless asked. In my opinion, it isn’t a big deal.

Seeing this happen has made me more aware of vegetarianism and what many vegetarians experience frequently. I just don’t understand how it’s anyone else’s business whether someone is a vegetarian or not since it’s their decision and their life. They may do as they please as long as they aren’t hurting anyone. 

And of course they aren’t hurting anyone! 

Vegetarianism is, of course, the exact opposite or hurting anyone or anything. 

Kendra Hinton is an English major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected]