Yes, Hannah; it's true. The only thing I can eat is the grass I grow on my lawn and the leaves that fall to the ground in autumn, and my usual grub is quite scarce in the winter. This is because I am a giraffe, duh.
Ah, the good ol' South. We're famous for our hospitality, summers and buttermilk chicken. It's never really bothered me that I can't enjoy that third thing, but there are some struggles that accompany the no-meat life. Even if you don't live in Georgia like I do, these are some things that you'll grin and nod at if you're a vegetarian southerner. And who better to tell this tale than our darling wizards from Harry Potter?
Disclaimer: This article will be very passive-aggressive.
1. People constantly think that you eat fish.
What part of no meat don't you understand? Fish meat still equals meat because it's still an animal. Plus, the smell and taste of fish are usually enormous no-nos for vegetarians.
Once, when I went to Russia and we told the restaurant chefs that we were vegetarian, we were served these cute orange orbs that looked like beautiful jelly with some sour cream on top of a perfect crêpe. Hungry and eager to try a Russian dish, we bit in and were met with the worse taste we had ever dared put in our poor, poor mouths. Apparently, it was caviar, which (if you don't know the definition) is fish eggs. And apparently, that doesn't qualify as meat. It took two months to get that god-awful taste out of my mouth.
2. Everyone always wants to get Chick-fil-A or McDonald's, but there's literally nothing to eat there.
Um, hello? Consider me, too! I know going to these fast food places is super iconic in the South, but part of hanging out with friends is paying attention to everyone in the group. Southerners are obsessed with these places, but when you're vegetarian, there aren't many option besides a good ol' McFlurry, which really doesn't constitute a healthy meal.
Instead, there are about a million other options to try, like Taco Bell (my personal favorite) or Burger King, which has a mean veggie burger and delicious onion rings. This is why if you're that carnivorous friend who brings up your vegetarian friend when ordering, you will be loved and cherished forever. My best friend is one of those stunningly considerate people, and I love her all-the-more for it.
3. After you tell people, they always ask, "Why? Chicken nuggets taste so good!"
All right, so here's the thing about the vegetarian palate: meat doesn't taste good to us. Obviously, if you just stopped eating meat, you're an exception, but this applies to 98 percent of vegetarians. Let's look at an analogy.Let's say Roy has been playing soccer since he was four, and Andy took one soccer lesson when he was 12 and then never played it again. Roy will be better than Andy at soccer and will therefore enjoy it much more. Since Andy doesn't know how to play soccer, he won't like playing it at all.
When you don't eat something for a long time or you haven't eaten it since birth, you don't develop a taste for it.
I hate the smell and taste of any meat, and that's why I immediately knew that the Russian "jelly" was actually some kind of fish product. Our tastebuds become hypersensitive to the things we hate or don't usually eat, so we can immediately tell the taste of meat and cringe at it. To people who always say, "Aw, you're missing out!": nope, I'm not, honey.
4. People think it's totally fine to just scrape off the meat part and hand it to you.
Again with the hypersensitive taste buds! I can still taste the tang of meat when I bite into whatever you're giving me. It sucks! Some vegetarians like me don't accept things that have touched meat for moral and ethical reasons too, not just taste.
Don't take the pepperoni off a pizza or the ham out of a sandwich and hand it to me. I just don't like it, and I'd rather go hungry than have that taste of meat on my tongue and that guilt of taking advantage of an animal on my heart.
5. While biting into a BBQ chicken wing, they ask you, "So what do you even eat?"
6. When you go to Cracker Barrel, cornbread and fried okra are all too familiar because there's nothing else to eat.
Oh, the age-old dilemma. You can't walk a mile in Georgia before running straight into a Cracker Barrel. They're everywhere, like cockroaches and stupidity. So when I walk into one of them, I shake my head, knowing I'm just going to get the same options.
Cracker Barrel is actually pretty considerate about including options for vegetarians, but it still only includes about two appetizers and two entrees. Compared to a menu of about a 100 or more different options, a meager sum of five-ish choices seems like a "what-the-heck-is-goin'-on" statistic.
This is not to say that the vegetarian choices taste bad. Their meal options are terrific, but after a while, they become banal and repetitive.
7. During or after a football game, everyone wants to get some hotdogs or chicken nuggets, but you can't eat them.
"But it's a tradition!"
But I can't eat it! It sucks when we're all hungry after a football game, but your friends want to go to a mainly meat-related place to get something; you can't eat what you want there. I only eat salads from four places in the entire world, and some fast-food place is not one of them.
Everyone watches football in the South, so there's absolutely no way to avoid this if you are going to watch a game.
Back to point number two, be considerate of everyone in your group, and go to one of the splendid places with a bunch of options for both the vegetarians and the meat-eaters.
8. Barbecue parties are a no-go unless they're grilling vegetables or something that you can eat.
What's more southern than a barbecue party? My neighbors are always grilling things, so we bought a grill too! There's so many different things that vegetarians can grill and eat with barbecue sauce, like zucchini, bell peppers, corn and more!
However, most people when throwing a barbecue party don't consider other options that would suit the vegetarian diet and just shrug and say "sorry" insincerely. Vegetarians are left eating a sandwich or something really saddening. We wish people would make more of an effort!
9. You roll your eyes until they roll out of their sockets when people say, "Oh, just try it! I promise you'll like it!"
Oof. I know for a fact that all vegetarians have experienced this rude little phenomenon. People try to shove meat onto us to convince us that it's good, and honestly? It makes meat seem even more lackluster.
I don't try to force my lifestyle on meat-eaters because that's really rude, so they shouldn't do it to me either. It may seem harmless, but when you hear it constantly, it gets supremely annoying.
We wish y'all would stop shoving bacon in our faces and waiting for us to take a bite.
10. People think you're too choosy or pretentious for being vegetarian.
People have told me to "get over it" and "stop being so snobby." Well, excuse you! Why can't I pick the things I eat? It's not a matter of being high-and-mighty; it's a matter of my beliefs and tastes. I can eat whatever I want, and others will have no say in it whatsoever.
When people say that eating meat is not a big deal, I tell them that it's a big deal and really matters to me. I believe that animals aren't just there for us to eat, so I don't want to contribute to animal deaths any more than I already am. I also don't want to taste that bloody flavor. It's my choice and my belief system.
It's just one thing that us vegetarians choose to maintain in our lives, so it doesn't make us any more haughty and stuck-up than the rest of the human population.
11. You're not seen as a "true Southerner" just because you don't eat shrimp and grits, chicken pot pie and chicken fried steak.
When I say I'm a Southerner through and through, I mean it.
It's so annoying when people assume that to be a Southerner, you have to eat all of these foods. There are so many other defining characteristics that make me proud to be a Southerner through and through, like our famous "Southern hospitality," sweet tea, comfortable oversized t-shirts, the love of curly hair and the adoration of football.
I enjoy and use so many other Southern things that make me a Southerner too (refer to the y'all in the title of this article)! So it's unfair to generalize that all Southerners eat meat and if I don't, then I'm not really a Southerner.
These struggles are so irritating, and we'd love it if everyone else helped ease them, whether it's by expanding a menu or just being considerate. Also I googled types of caviar, and apparently, the kind I ate in Russia was salmon eggs. Ew.