I recently was invited to stay at somebody’s house for the weekend. I was very much looking forward to it and I indeed had a great time there. But a thought struck me just a couple of days before the trip: Was me being a vegetarian going to be an issue? I had been there before, so I knew their eating habits. But were they aware that I no longer ate meat? I hadn’t told them. But had my family? I told myself that surely they had mentioned it. Well … guess who was wrong?
Dinner time came and we were all dished some awkwardness. I noticed quickly that nobody had mentioned to my hosts that I was a vegetarian. I had mentally prepared myself for this possibility and even found some humour in it. Not so much my hosts. They were weirdly irritated by me eating nothing but salad and offered me some chicken. I thankfully declined and went to explain only to be interrupted by my family. “She doesn’t eat chicken. She’s a vegetarian!” one of the little ones shouted. What shall I say? It’s a very big deal for the kids. They would tell strangers on the streets, if only I let them. So there it was. The V-word, that can change the mood at a dinner table completely. Before I knew what was happening I found myself saying sorry over and over. But what for? For being an inconvenience? I wasn’t asking for special treatment. I never became a vegetarian to be a burden to anybody. I became a vegetarian, because I couldn’t justify to myself feeding on animals, when I could comfortably live without their suffering and death. I shouldn’t apologise for that.
So again, why was I apologising. I believe, because I put my hosts into a position where they felt they couldn’t live up to being good hosts. Or rather their interpretation of a good host. I was perfectly happy. They felt I shouldn’t be, that they should’ve provided me with something better. And who’s fault was it that they felt that way? Entirely mine! I suspected they didn’t know about my vegetarianism and still I didn’t act upon that suspicion. It would’ve been fairly easy to warn them. Instead I had told myself that it would be fine. To me being a vegetarian is not a big deal. It’s just the way it is. A part of my life. To others it occasionally happens to be quite a big deal. I know that. And I should respect that, the way I expect them to respect my decision not to eat meat. So for others I will have to make a bigger deal out of it at times. Just to make sure that their not knowing won’t cause them to feel uncomfortable.
And then hopefully I won’t have to apologise for being a vegetarian again. Cause really … it’s a good thing!