Being open-minded is a good thing. I try to be cognizant of differences in how people view things, and respecting their right to have an opinion different from mine. It’s not something I’m perfect at, by any stretch. However, it’s something I make a conscious effort to do.
This concepts applies to vegetarianism. I’m not a vegetarian, and never have been. I will admit that I’m making a genuine effort to try to eat less meat, for my own health benefits. Now, it’s yet another thing I’m not perfect at, and I don’t plan to give it up entirely anytime soon. Nevertheless, I respect the views of people who take pride in being vegetarian. Some of these folks don’t eat meat because of health reasons, others due to feeling bad for the animals. Whatever the case is, it’s all cool.
How far should one go, however, to show respect for the strong feelings of vegetarians?
This question comes to mind when thinking about a person I’ve known for a number of years. When going out for dinner with a group of people, she and her husband would always want to order vegetarian options. Thus, anytime they were included in a meal outside, the place had to have enough meatless choices for them to have a good experience. To me, that’s totally fine and I get it. It’s not a big deal at all to accommodate them.
However, they went further than that. When going out to dinner, the woman would wince when others at the table ordered meat. Her husband explained that just the smell of meat really bothers her. No matter if it’s beef, chicken, fish, etc. – anything clearly non-vegetarian would not sit well with her.
She even mentioned her preference that people don’t order meat around her. She did it very nicely, at another time that wasn’t dinner, in a separate conversation. She commented how it goes against her beliefs, and in a roundabout way indicated would prefer not to be around it at the table. She also mentioned how the smell of meat bothers her. Again, she was very polite about it, and not “holier-than-thou” in her approach.
This is a tough one to approach, at least for me. I’m not one of those people who just takes the approach that everybody should fit into so-called “normal” viewpoints, and that everyone should conform. I do believe in respecting different points of view, and also accommodating different points of view. Yes, this also means being cognizant of what could offend someone and trying to avoid doing such things around them. We should make exceptions for people in many cases, as that’s an inherent part of living in the diverse society we have. The majority needs to understand that others who are not in the majority should be accommodated for different views.
Nevertheless, when it comes to dining with someone who’s a serious vegetarian, I think as far as I feel comfortable going to accommodate the person will be choosing a place with plenty of options for everyone. I don’t think it’s fair for a non-vegetarian to be forced to alter their order, or making a food choice, based on what fits the other person’s belief. In other words, as long as the other person can eat his or her own vegetarian dish, it shouldn’t matter if I chose a chicken dish for my own enjoyment. We are all free to spend our money as we choose to do so!
I’m interested in your thoughts on this topic.
My Questions for You
If you’re vegetarian:
- Do you get offended if people who are non-vegetarian order meat around you?
- How do you handle dining out or cooking for friends or family that aren’t vegetarian?
If you’re not vegetarian:
- How far are you willing to accommodate someone who is vegetarian, in terms of providing options for them when cooking or dining out?
- Have you ever encountered someone who didn’t want you to eat meat around them? If so, how did you handle it?