This time of year, university students who are lucky enough survive exams take off by bus, train and plane to enjoy some home cooked holiday feasts. For sustainability conscious eaters, explaining your choices to a great aunt or your second cousin’s girlfriend may seem like more than small talk. For vegetarians in particular, turning down turkey may come with some puzzled looks. Eating vegetarian reduces carbon emissions, saves water and fossil fuels, and creates less demand on grain crops and the world’s forests. Although you know why you choose to eat ethically, you still might get a few confused looks or curious comments…
- What do you eat?
- So no meat?
- Do you get enough protein?
- Do you get enough iron?
- So not even chicken?
- What about fish?
- Do you eat animal crackers?
- Does it bother you to look at meat?
- Does it bother you if I eat meat in front of you?
- Doesn’t this look good?
- Would you be mad if I snuck meat in your food?
- If you were stuck on a desert island, would you eat meat?
- But cavemen ate meat, so isn’t it natural?
- So no gravy?
- Will you ever eat meat again?
- What’s tofu?
- Do you miss meat?
- Do you miss bacon?
- How much money money would I have to pay you to eat a piece of bacon?
- How do you not miss bacon?
- So wait, do you want turkey?
While you may feel like you’re being put on the spot, it’s important to remember that most people aren’t trying to make you uncomfortable, they’re just curious. You make conscious dietary decisions, so be happy to answer questions that might help others think about theirs. It’s not about preaching, it’s about raising awareness so together everyone, your loved ones especially, can be part of systemic change.
Eat ethical without the awkward: laugh off silly questions and take the opportunity to have a real conversation! And if they’re into it, here’s one of my favourite recipes for a delicious meatless version of a hearty winter meal: chili!