Thursday, July 9, 2015

When Your Friends Eat Meat And You Don't

Posted by Amanda Villaruel | |
Are you a new vegetarian? Do you feel it's difficult to dine with your friends because they meat?

Whatever your reason, I share my experiences on how to make your relationship with your friends work - on the meat front :-)
Served Persian vegetarian food (home made falafel and bean stew)
Served Persian vegetarian food (home made falafel and bean stew)

Being one of the few in my closest circle who doesn't eat meat, was certainly challenging in the beginning. Trust me, many of my friends couldn't live without their steaks and they couldn't understand that I could live without meat :-)

Having me around has hopefully adjusted their views.
"Becoming a vegetarian is a lifestyle. First of all, share your new lifestyle with your friends." 
Making BBQ veggie burgers
Making BBQ veggie burgers
with Maria (summer 2014)

When I stopped eating meat, I wanted to make it official so my friends would know what they could expect in the future.

I got questions like: "But what about chicken?" Nope. Chicken is also meat, was my answer. "Do you get enough protein?" I'm not sure, but I try my best. "What about eggs, honey and milk - is that OK?" My answer was : "I'm not vegan." And I confused them even more...! I love them for their curiosity :-)

In the beginning, I actually found it a bit uncomfortable when friends asked me what I ate and didn't ate. I felt uncomfortable because I never had to explain my eating habits before. It was a new change for me too, not only for them ;-)

Meat-less dates with your friends

It's been two years now since I left the meat wagon. Luckily, I have friends who are supportive and who automatically adjust the dinner the day I come to visit.

Otherwise, this is how I make my vegetarian diet 'work' with my friends:
  1. Cook them a vegetarian dinner.

     Sometimes I find it easier if I make the dinner. They get to try vegetarian food, and I have total control of the kitchen. Most of the time, they have been surprised by how delicious the meat-less dish was :-)

  2. If you're invited to weddings or larger dinner settingslet them know that you don't eat meat.

    There hasn't been a problem for me to get a proper served vegetarian meal. When I say 'proper', I mean not just potatoes, carrots and some gravy on the side. But a complete course. All I need to do is to let my friends know beforehand. And sometimes I don't need to let them know, because they already do.
  3. Tapas with friends, including vegetarian tapas dishes
    Tapas with the girls (winter 2015)
  4. Propose a tapas evening, where anyone can bring whatever they like, and then you share.

    One of my best friends sometimes arrange tapas evenings at her place, and everyone brings something. This type of arrangement is actually a good idea, because you get to bring veggie stuff, and the others can bring chicken wings or meat balls if they want to.

    On other occasions, my best friend has made me my own veggie pizza two times now :-) Another friend of mine also made me my own veggie pizza with plenty of vegetables, when I babysat her kids :-)
Also read: Recipe for untraditional vegetarian Thai red curry with noodles
When your friends eat meat and you don't - thoughts and tips
When your friends eat meat and you don't

Is it awkward to dine with friends who eat meat?

Most of the time, I don't think about it. I only focus on myself and my veggie dinner. But I won't lie, sometimes certain thoughts strife my mind.

The few times we don't share the same content on the dinner table, I get reminded of why I don't meat, especially when I see my friends eat their pork chops, rare steaks or chicken wings.

I only think these thoughts. I don't make a big deal out of it.

We shouldn't always say what we think, a wise man once said.

If you shout out animal rights at the dinner table, I frankly don't think your friends will instantly stop eating meat - or call you again for dinner ;-)

This doesn't mean that we haven't had a debate about animal welfare and definition of healthy food at the dinner table. But there's a difference between a calm, constructive discussion than upfront propaganda. I want more people to reduce their meat intake, but that doesn't mean that we have to preach about it.

Read: Simple recipe for potato-kale pie.

To sum things up:

  1. Any relationship is about making compromises. Your relationship to your friends is no exception. 

  2. I don't think it's appropriate to expect a meat-free meal when you're visiting your friends who eat meat. But if they're good friends, they will accommodate you :-) This relies on the fact that they know that you don't eat meat.

    Some might think that you maybe eat meat once in a while, or that you make an exception when you're visiting other people's homes.

    So, it should be communicated that you don't eat meat at all, if that's the case. And whether you also eat eggs or accept dairy in the food. 

    The more information you provide, the better for both parties. You'll avoid the awkwardness of having to reject the food, and your friend will avoid feeling like an idiot :-) 
  3. Cactus salad at Tijuana restaurant in Oslo
    Cactus salad at Tijuana restaurant
    in Oslo, my friend eating ceviche
  4. Yes, during dinner you probably want to shout your lungs out that they shouldn't eat meat and that they're indirectly killing animals. But have in mind that they made a choice, and so did you ;-)

I didn't stop eating meat because someone gave me a long speech about how wrong it was. I stopped when I realized on my own that eating meat is not for me.

Also read: 
When your better half eats meat and you don't

Aronia berries - the free superfood.

Have your say about what you just read :)

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