Being a vegetarian in the South

I have been a vegetarian for 13 years, I am 25 now, yes that means I have not ate meat longer than I ever ate meat. 

Let me guess if you are a meat eater you’re wondering to yourself one of these questions:

-Well what do you eat then?

-How do you get protein?

-You mean you really don’t eat steak,…..or hamburgers,…..well what about chicken,….you eat that right?

I guess because this has been my normal for over half my life I never think twice about not eating meat.  But, apparently I am this very small minority of people in the south that don’t eat meat, and this is something people most of the time just can’t even comprehend.  People literally will say the most close minded ridiculous things when they hear I don’t eat meat.  I don’t usually tell people because it’s just such a part of who I am, that it doesn’t seem like it should be something I tell people.  Some people don’t eat turnip greens, some people can’t stand the texture of certain foods, and I don’t eat dead animals.  It’s as simple as that.

Your probably wondering how did a 12 year old up and decide one day to not eat meat?  It’s actually quite simple.

It was a Saturday; I was 12 which meant the year was 2000.  We were living comfortable after narrowly missing the end of the world during Y2K, one of apparently many various situations where we would escape the end times, in my short 25 years.  My mom had to work that day so my dad was left cooking lunch.  Somewhere in the bottom of the freezer he got a frozen Mexican dish of stuffed green peppers with hamburger meat, and put it in the oven.  When it came time to eat I was looking at the food, just sort of eating here and there, and then I saw it.  My fork pulled out this long stringy thick piece of meat.   Now I am not exactly sure what it was but, it looked like part of intestine or something.  It was just disgusting.  (Now to be fair I was never exactly a square.  I didn’t conform to what other people think, and frankly always thought it was very important for me to have my own voice in this world.  I mean if I didn’t listen to my innermost thoughts and actions how would the world ever find me lost among the countless other clones the world tends to produce? ) As I looked at whatever this thing was I started to question myself.  My thought processes went something along these lines…..

-WHAT.  IS. THAT?????

-Is that part of the intestine?

-OMG how could someone eat that?

-That’s something’s own flesh!

-How could I eat that?

-Why would anyone eat the flesh of something else?

-I am never eating meat again.

It was as easy as that.  I told my parents, and even though I don’t remember what they said, I am pretty sure they just assumed it was a phase, I mean don’t all 12 year olds question the very existence of the food that they eat?

I told my friends and soon enough everyone knew.  It was never this big deal to me because I was the type of person (and still am) that questions everything.

This also applied as to why would I eat dead animals?  Why would I?  It’s dead!  It’s another life that’s being taken for one meal on my plate that I am not even grateful for.  Why would I want to conform to that?  Why would I want to spend my life being exactly like everyone else?

But, apparently I am a minority in the South.  I live in the intersection of hunting seasons, hog houses, and chicken farms.  People literally cannot fathom the fact that I don’t eat meat.  I said earlier that I don’t tell people because it’s just not a big deal to me.  But, often times my friends will tell other people in front of me like, “O she doesn’t eat meat.”  I’m over here thinking, “so?….and?”  I haven’t eaten meat in over a decade this isn’t new information to me.  But, the reaction from people is just always the same.  It’s always the same few questions, and need to really understand why I don’t eat meat.  But, in reality most people do not see past their own lives to understand that there are actually people out there that don’t eat animals.  I am baffled most of the time at how ignorant people are.  Probably my favorite statement is when someone says, “I am going to eat a big juicy steak in front of you,” and then laughs.  I am not even sure as to what saying that is supposed to prove.  I don’t like eating meat.  I think it’s disgusting.  You don’t eat green beans.  I don’t eat meat.  It isn’t this really hard concept to understand.  So why would you think that eating a steak in front of me would make me quiver?  Is me eating green beans in front of you going to make you want green beans?  Will it make you leave the table and throw up?  Is it going to offend you?  No, no, and no.

Thankfully I have never been the type of person that cares what other people think.  I feel no need to advertise my vegetarianism, it’s a trait that I have and will always be a part of my life.  I feel as if it probably wouldn’t be that big of a deal if I lived in a place with a little bit more diversity and culture.  But, because I live in such a small town and the local college is full of agriculture students.  I am and always will be this small minority, and I am perfectly okay with that.  I actually have only met a handful of vegetarians over the past 13 years.  I enjoy the questions, and laugh at the ignorance but, also embrace that I have been able to think outside of my box for most of my life and because I don’t fit the mold I don’t expect other people to either.

Are any of you vegetarians?  How do you deal with the questions?  If you do eat meat what is your take on vegetarians?

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany


16 thoughts on “Being a vegetarian in the South

  1. I used to be a vegetarian as well! I just recently started to eat chicken again; I still won’t touch anything else. I’m from the south too. My friends and family would lecture to me about how unhealthy it was to not eat meat as they stuffed their mouths with greasy cheeseburgers. Yuck!

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  2. Thanks for the follow. My being a vegetarian started in Georgia in 1975. Took it to Louisianna with me. Oregon was easiest and the most veg friendly. California second. Colorado not so much. I’m now raising two strapping young men and a husband 😉 as vegetarians. REALLY not finding many vegetarians since we moved to France this summer. Keep at it. I like your blog.

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    1. I haven’t been to Oregon but Cali has always been very friendly to me being a vegetarian, everytime I go to LA I feel as if nobody eats meat! I found it a little challenging in Germany, Italy, Swizterland, and Austria to find meatless foods but I survived!! Ha! I’m sure France is about the same as those places.

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      1. A lot of restaurants sell standard meals with standard courses for sit down meals. I haven’t read a menu yet that was veg. High end, you can ask for what you want. But we’re not on a high-end budget with two teenaged boys.

        They make some fine thin pizzas and crepes, though.

        I cook at home for the most part.This has always helped on the vegetarian front.

        In France, there’s a LOT of GREAT bread. I’ve never had such great breads before I came here.This is the original “bread is the staff of life” culture.You can live on this bread.

        If you don’t mind cheese, there are thousands of kinds from smelly to downright wretched. The cheese is ALIVE here.

        Plus, they have the BEST fresh fruits and vegetable all year round.

        So. If you don’t mind cooking and eating a lot of bread, it’s easy.

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  3. Luckily, I live in a vegetarian paradise (Boulder, CO). When people do ask me to eat meat, I just smile and say I’m not hungry. No one asks me the other questions since I keep my food preferences private. If they did, I guess I would smile and say I get forty miles to the carrot. : ). I admire your choice…must be a challenge out there in the obese meat eater land…of the overfed and under-nourished. Nice post!

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    1. I have heard CO has a lot more options in the vegetarian department. I ususally never say anything about not eating meat because like I said in my post I just don’t think its that big of a deal but, apparently to sooooooo many people it is just a shock! Ha!

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  4. Woo! I live in north florida, and being a vegetarian here is ROUGH. If one more person asks me “if you were on a desert island and you had a chicken would you eat it” I’m going to punch someone lol

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  5. Funny you mention that it is tough to be a vegetarian in the south! (I live in NYC, so it is not hard for me at all.)
    But my last few trips/adventures to Alabama, TN, GA, NC etc….I thought the very same thing! A few folks looked at me like I had 2 heads, and there was something wrong with me.
    But I found the humor in it all and just asked for extra mac and cheese!
    Different strokes for different folks, right?

    Great reading your stories!

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    1. I have gotten all sorts of strange comments from people. But most of the time they do just look at me strange! Ha. Everytime I go to LA it’s like its sooooo cool not to eat meat but here in the south it’s such a strange concept for people to even understand! Thanks for stopping by!

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