Some of you may know that I’ve been vegetarian since birth – that means I’ve never eaten meat. And frankly, I very rarely think about it. My Dad is not vegetarian and my Mum is and so they gave me two different approaches to the lifestyle. My Dad made it clear that I could try meat or fish if I wanted to and my Mum never judged my Dad for his diet. I subsequently grew up without hating meat eaters but also seeing that meat eaters could respect vegetarianism. My Dad eats vegetarian food 99% of the time, purely because he enjoys it.
You may wonder why I’ve called this blog post “Bacon”. Some of you probably clicked on it hoping for controversy or for me to say that I’ve never been able to resist the smell. In fact I’ve used this title to convey what the word “bacon” represents to a vegetarian – the scorn of some meat eaters.
I wrote this blog post recently asking meat eating Coeliacs to respect the fact that I am able to be vegetarian and a Coeliac – one through choice but not the other. I ask for this respect again. I am not a preachy vegetarian, nor do I look down my nose at meat eaters. This is my lifestyle choice and I do not deserve your scorn.
Any vegetarians reading this will know what I mean. We’ve all been sat at a party with new acquaintances or chatted to work colleagues about being vegetarian and heard the trusty, trotted out phrase “But what about bacon?”. They look at you with dumbfounded yet smug expressions, thinking “I’ve got her now, how could she possibly not want to eat bacon?”. I’ve had 22 years of that. It has never becomes less annoying but my responses have become better, quicker, more direct. When I was a child I would just shrug, embarrassed, unable to voice my viewpoint to the (usually) grown adults that would ask me this.
Now, a nearly adult woman, I can fire off my reply with an amused and not an embarrassed mindset. After all this time the phrase has just become a parody of itself.
So then, in case you’re still wondering, what about bacon?
The answer, from my point of view, is simple. Vegetarians, especially those who have been vegetarian all of their lives like myself, don’t sit around thinking about meat. We don’t block it out or learn to fear and hate it like a brain washed cultist, we just don’t find ourselves daydreaming about it. We understand that nearly everyone in Western culture raves about bacon, but quite frankly we’re not that interested. We find joy in our food just the same as you do.
All I ask for is respect for each other’s choice goes both ways. Eating meat is just as much a choice as being vegetarian, and that choice is up to the individual. Next time you ask a vegetarian, “what about bacon?” perhaps you’ll consider that.