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.”