By Jacqueline Miller of boogersabroad.com
As a vegetarian, it can be tricky going out to eat. Certain types of cuisine are easier than others—Italian is awesome, a steakhouse not so much. Thai and Indian restaurants, no problems there. But a seafood shack, iffy at best for non fish-eaters.
It also depends where you live. Big cities and diverse areas tend to be more veggie friendly than smaller towns in rural places.
But no matter where you live or what type of restaurant you choose, it’s often your dining companion who helps make the experience a lovely social event or an uncomfortable chore.
Ask a vegetarian. Chances are, they’ve dined with each of these six people. Maybe you’re one of them.
1. Helpful Harry
Harry reads you the menu, pointing out every single item you can eat. You don’t want to burst his bubble, so you bite your lip, even though you want to tell him that you’re an above-average reader and can decipher the text just fine. Plus the little green leaf icon or “V” next to meatless items are pretty easy to spot.
Given the opportunity, Harry will proactively announce to the waitstaff, your fellow diners, and anyone in earshot that he is dining with an actual vegetarian.
2. Ali your Ally
Ali tells you how much she would really like to become vegetarian someday (just not today). She will ask for recipe ideas and directions to your favorite markets. When it’s time to order, she selects a plant-based meal in support of your “lifestyle.”
3. Apologetic Pete
Pete feels the need to tell you how little meat he actually eats — almost no red meat at all! — and, even though you tell him to order whatever the hell he wants, he’ll probably order vegetarian more out of guilt than solidarity.
4. Suspicious Sam
Sam automatically assumes you’re trying to convert him and makes sure you know, as soon as you sit down, that he’s “not into salads.” He asks your reasons for becoming vegetarian and expects you’ll want to debate him (you don’t).
Sam orders meat with every course and needs to tell you how tasty it is. At some point, he asks what you “actually eat” even though he can see for himself, just across the table.
5. Clueless Carol
No matter how many times you’ve mentioned your dietary preferences, Carol will highly recommend the meat dishes on the menu and won’t catch the hint when you order the veggie burger. She might get buffalo wings for the table and will look hurt when you don’t partake. Later, still oblivious, she tries to offer you bites of her veal parmigiana.
6. Antagonist Andy
Andy loves his meat and will outright mock you for your chosen diet. He says you’re going through a phase, you’re lacking key vitamins for survival and pontificates that humans couldn’t have evolved without a carnivorous diet. He tells you (not for the first time) he’d “die” without a juicy steak. This guy loudly enjoys his rack of ribs, licking his fingers and trying to entice you to “live it up” by ingesting a morsel of animal flesh with him.
Do you know these characters? Maybe you see yourself in some of them?
The point is simple: Respect whomever you’re eating with. Chances are, they aren’t commenting about what’s on your plate, no need to fret about what’s on (or not on) theirs.
About the Author
Jacqueline Miller is the lone female in a house full of guys. She travels freakishly light and can balance two kids on her Dutch bicycle. Her recent articles appear in Scary Mommy, Her View From Home and Grown & Flown, and she’s working on a book about her three years in the Netherlands. If you enjoyed this, you can follow her at www.boogersabroad.com and https://www.facebook.com/boogersabroad.