The Best Responses to Uppity Vegetarians
Read advice from Amy Dickinson and her readers on this meaty topic
Every year, says advice columnist Amy Dickinson, “I step away from my column for two weeks to work on other creative projects. (Anyone interested in my non-advicey personal essays and photographs can subscribe to my free newsletter: amydickinson.substack.com).” Instead of original Q&A, she presents “Best Of” columns, like this one, compiling a lengthy discussion on responses to uppity vegetarians from 10 years ago.
I have a friend who recently decided to become vegetarian/vegan.
She now shares articles via email and Facebook calling people who eat meat “depraved,” “confused,” and “unethical.”
There was even an article accusing meat eaters of being “species-ist.”
I could care less about her diet, but how should I deal with the vicious language she’s using toward people like me who do eat meat?
Every time I try to talk to her about it, she thinks I’m somehow disagreeing with vegetarianism, which is not the case. I don’t want to lose a good friend, but things are going downhill fast.
– Offended Omnivore
It would be fairly easy for you to “block” or “hide” these messages.
If you don’t want to do this, I suggest you alter your own attitude and see these diatribes for what they are: Vegetarian comedy.
If you insist (to yourself) that these polemics are hilarious, you might be able to enjoy them – along with a nice juicy steak and a glass of merlot. [April 2012]
Was that advice obnoxious?
I was offended by your response to “Offended Omnivore.” Granted, her rantings were obnoxious, but your suggestion that she treat these statements as “vegetarian comedy” was obnoxious, too.
And your suggestion that she enjoy this along with a “juicy steak” was offensive.
– Also Offended
Dear Offended: I was reacting to the reality that even a vegetarian can be a jerk. [May 2012]
More responses to uppity vegetarians
I’m not sure if I agree with your advice to “Offended” to treat her friend’s abrasive vegetarian comments as comedy.
I suggest she turn the words around and ask her friend how she would feel if her friends pushed pro-carnivore details at her.
I have been vegetarian since June 1973. I don’t tell others how to eat because I don’t want them to tell me how to eat.
– Ms. Jay
Dear Ms. Jay: This solution is easy to swallow. Thank you. [May 2012]
Age is irrelevant
My son recently became engaged to a girl whose parents are vegans (although she isn’t).
They invited my husband and me to dinner and served a vegan meal, which we graciously ate and enjoyed.
We always host Thanksgiving dinner at our home, and I invited them to join us.
I offered to prepare an all-vegan meal for them, alongside our more traditional Thanksgiving feast.
Their answer was that they would be unable to eat in a home where there are dead animal products served at the table.
In other words, if there is turkey on the table, they cannot attend. Amy, my family enjoys the traditional Thanksgiving meal every year.
I don’t think it’s fair to dictate what we should serve. My son said I should just make a vegan meal for everyone to keep the peace.
My family will not attend Thanksgiving dinner under those circumstances, and I don’t blame them. How should I handle this?
– Meat Lovers
Dear Meat Lovers:
Despite what your son says, you should not assume that “the peace” is at stake. If these people are consistent, this means they cannot enjoy a meal or snack in many homes, restaurants or coffee shops.
This is their choice, and after trying to reasonably accommodate them, you should respond with acceptance.
Do not put your son or his fiancee in the middle of this. Tell her parents that you hope they would be able to join you on Thanksgiving Day for a vegan dessert. If they refuse the invitation, say you’d enjoy hosting them another time.
Be friendly and maintain a cheerful attitude of understanding, but do not let them control you. [October 2012]
Responses to uppity vegetarians continue
“Meat Lovers” wrote to you, concerned about their future in-laws, who are vegans who refused to attend a Thanksgiving feast if there is any meat served with the meal.
I suggest they ask these in-laws, “Do you wear leather shoes?” If so, then they are using animal products.
– Tired of Demands.
The vegans I know do not wear leather.
Regardless, it is not up to these “Meat Lovers” to challenge their in-laws’ lifestyle. All they need to do is be clear about what they are willing and able to serve for their feast. The rest is up to the guests. [November 2012]
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from a mother mourning non-existent grandchildren to DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
© 2021 by Amy Dickinson