Why would a meat eater, when going out to eat with vegetarian friends, choose to order vegetarian food if s/he could have ordered meat at the same restaurant and would have preferred such a meal? Is that actually a show of respect? Or is it incongruence? Or cowardice?
Do meat eaters do this because the presence of vegetarians causes them to care a little more about animals? Or do they care more about the feelings of their vegetarian friends? Or do they simply lack the courage and conviction to be fully themselves in the face of opposing social pressure and the potential for judgment? Do they fear eating differently than the group?
A committed vegetarian doesn't switch diets in a room of 100 meat eaters, regardless of whether it might cause anyone discomfort. So why do meat eaters so often feel the need to semi-apologize for their choices when the opposite situation arises?
This was shared on Facebook by a friend of mine who runs a widely-read personal development blog. I thought it was an absolutely fascinating question--something well worth thinking about, particularly since I've been in exactly this situation countless times. Readers know, we here at Casual Kitchen love vegetarian and vegan cuisine, but we also eat meat too from time to time.
And yet, whenever I'm eating with vegetarians, I almost always order a meatless dish. Moreover, when we have vegetarian or vegan friends over to our home for dinner, I make a point of cooking foods they like and that fit their diets. Otherwise, why invite them at all?
Quite honestly, the perspective above never occurred to me before, which is why my initial thought was that my friend was simply over-interpreting a simple act of common courtesy. Here's his striking response:
I know it's often due to politeness or courtesy. What I'm asking is: Why would a meat eater perceive this as a courtesy? If they feel comfortable eating meat, then why wouldn't they feel just as comfortable eating meat in front of those who don't?
So.... is it a courtesy or isn't it? All of a sudden I'm not so sure.
Readers, what do you think? What would you do as an omnivore eating out with vegetarians or vegan eaters? Would you order meat? Or veggie? And now that you've read the discussion above, do you consider it courtesy? Or incongruency?
Share your thoughts below!
How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.