Then you have your, what I like to call, silent haters. Silent haters are the people who do not say they have an issue with your choices to your face. They may show their discontent by eye rolling when someone asks you a question about your vegetarian lifestyle. They may sigh when you say no thank you to a meat dish at a meal. In my opinion, these people are harmless, and at least put some effort to respect your choice. I say they are putting forth an effort to respect your choice because they are not getting in your face shoving their opinions at you. They obviously disagree with you, but have chosen to remain silent.
Lastly, you have your supporters. These people are the ones that actively support your choice. They will be the one's to ask the most questions. Supporters want to know how far your vegetarian diet goes. Do you eat fish? What about dairy? Does chicken stock count? They are asking these questions not to argue with you about it, but to know for future reference what you can and can not eat. These are the one's that will be your biggest allies. They will be the ones to make sure you are going to a restaurant that as vegetarian-friendly options. They will be the ones to make sure to cook your food in a different pan than the meat was cooked in. They do not choose to eat the same diet as you, they may not even understand why you made the choice. What they do is respect your choice and try to help.
My family is made up of a combination of all of these. I am lucky to have mostly supporters, but we have our fair share of up in your face people and silent haters. The important thing to take note of is that I am the only vegetarian. My cousin had a short courtship with being a vegetarian last year but has since gone back to eating meat.
Tonight, I have been invited to a family dinner at a Mexican restaurant. By the way, Mexican restaurants are the best places to go as a family if you are a vegetarian. I say this because it is very likely they will have something on the menu you can eat. However, you will not be so lucky every time. About a month ago my Grandma was visiting and we were all out to lunch. The restaurant that was picked out had plenty of vegetarian options and was really a great choice for everyone. We get to the restaurant and it had closed early for the local college game.
My grandma decides that we are going to go to the BBQ restaurant instead. On the way there I find their menu online and see what I can eat. There is not a single meal on the menu that I can eat. The only things I could eat was a side of Mac&Cheese and apple sauce. So that is what I ordered.
Here are a few tips to survive going out to eat with your family.
- Always look at the menu ahead of time
This gives you the opportunity to have time to figure it out in private. At the very least you want to narrow it down to a few options of what you can eat. Sometimes you might need to request that the restaurant leaves off the meat. For example, if they have chicken alfredo on the menu you can simply request that they leave off the chicken. Looking at the menu ahead of time gives you an idea of what you are getting into. I don't know about you, but I always like to know if there is going to be an issue ahead of time.
- Be Flexible
It is very important to make sure our actions do not paint being a vegetarian or vegan in a negative light. One of the things we can do is be flexible in situations with others. This does not mean that you eat meat just because everyone else is. What I mean is you do everything possible to make the experience a positive one.
These are the two main tips I have. I have found that if you follow these two tips most situations will work out for the better. At the end the day we all love our family and we want acceptance from them. While that can take time I find that it helps to put myself in their shoes. To them, this was a drastic change. A few months ago I ate meat, now I don't. This is a change for them also, just remember to be kind and give the people in your life time to adjust.