Good-hearted Omnis

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Over on VeggieBoards, there’s a recently resurrected lengthy discussion about “good hearted omnis,” those meat-eating friends and family members that go out of their way to make sure that your crazy veggie needs are accounted for. And for all the annoying, “Mmmm… meat tastes so good!” comment that a vegetarian endures, there are plenty of people in our lives who will go out of their way to make sure that we have something to eat or don’t feel uncomfortable in large groups.

I’m fortunate in that I have a number of people in my life that always make sure I’m covered when it comes to food, and they’re the ones that keep me from becoming a bitter vegetarian. My wife, as I’ve mentioned, still eats meat, but at home we never have any in the house. She’s become a great label-reader and will keep her eyes out for all the crazy little ingredients like whey or casein. One of her favorite phrases is, “This has ‘natural flavorings’ in it, so you may not want to eat it…”

Similarly, while my parents still eat meat, they’ve cut down substantially on the amount for health reasons. But when I visit, my mom’s always found a good veggie dish to make (and will gladly make a vegan version of something for me if I ask) and when we go out to eat, I’ve noticed that my mom often orders what I have even though I don’t openly criticize anyone’s meal choices at the table. :)

And on top of that, I’ve got countless friends that are inquisitive about veg*nism and are even anxious to try out new veggie foods. Fortunately, most of them seem to appreciate Indian or Asian foods (which makes eating out with them much easier) and enjoy the challenge of cooking without eggs, dairy, or meat.

I’m also glad that even though they know they’ll be eating vegan when they come over, that friends and family don’t seem to avoid visiting for that reason. Perhaps my greatest achievement came when I served a family friend a piece of vegan cheesecake I had made and though he tried it with a bit of hesitation, he went back for seconds before anybody else.

Even co-workers have become more understanding over time. A few months back, a co-worker was going out to buy ice cream for for an ice cream social at my work and I jokingly said to her, “Are you going to get some soy ice cream?” And she did! Another co-worker seemed to look to me for acceptance when she told me the other day, “Hey, I kind of like tofu now!” I wasn’t sure if I should touch her head and say, “That is good, my follower, you have my blessing. You may go now.”

It really does show you what a person’s really like when it comes to acknowledging and respecting differences. I know I was kind of an ignorant ass to vegetarians before I became one, so I definitely notice and appreciate when a non-vegetarian is especially understanding.

So, to all of my friends and family that don’t make me feel like a freak when it comes time to eat, consider this a very appreciative “thank you.”

3 Responses to “Good-hearted Omnis”

  1. Levi

    While I’m coming from a different end of the spectrum (although I wouldn’t call it opposite), as a low carber this has a lot of similarities to some of the discussions I’ve seen. Vegetarianism can be perceived very negatively as I’m sure you’ve noticed, but so can anyone trying to eat low carb. It’s gotten a bit better with the huge onslaught of low-carb products and the various diets’ popularity, but then there’s the backlash of people who are sick of hearing about it.

    In any case, some people tend to think it’s their right to lecture you about how the way you eat is bad and how their philosophy is the right one, although if you were to actually sit down and eat with them on a regular basis I’m sure many of them eat total crap.

    I think it’s important to respect others food choices even if we disagree with them. Often people view how they eat as such a huge part of their identity that they feel they have to defend it to the death. I’ve decided that you have to pick your battles. If someone wants to have an intelligent conversation with you that doesn’t rely on cliched but unsubstantiated “common wisdom,” then great, but often people don’t want to have a discussion, they want to enlighten someone who has chosen the “wrong path.”

    Otherwise, I do have another question for you and other vegetarians out there. Other than non-veggie folks who are respectful of how you eat, what about those who are not vegetarian, but srtive only to eat animals who have been killed humanely? I realize there is a large segment of the veggie population (or at least ethical veggies) who have an all or nothing view – any killing of an animal is inhumane. I just wonder if there are those who take into consideration that there could be a couple shades of grey and might just think better of those who are interested in animal welfare but still believe that it’s ok to eat them, as long as measures have been taken to make their lives livable and deaths as humane as possible?

  2. Ryan

    Other than non-veggie folks who are respectful of how you eat, what about those who are not vegetarian, but srtive only to eat animals who have been killed humanely?

    Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to find animals that have been both raised and killed humanely (if one is of the belief that killing an animal “humanely” is really possible at all). The labels of “organic,” “free range,” “grass fed,” etc. are absolutely meaningless and give no insight whatsoever into the lives the animals have lived up to the point they were “humanely killed.” While there may be a few very small farms that can make this type of claim, it just doesn’t exist on any sort of large scale. It’s unfortunate.

    Personally, I would never eat any animal ever again, but I would very much like to see the lives of those animals that are raised for meat improved since there will always be people that continue to eat meat.

  3. Renée

    I’ve also found people generally are helpful in catering for the needs of me and my fellow vegetarians. There’s always a couple of ignorant people who try to argue the case against veggies… But interestingly, I’ve never seen a veggie lose an argument… ;)

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