Avoiding AOS (Awkward Omnivore Situations) does not equate being ashamed of who you are; it’s reducing undue stress. It’s about at least keeping the meat eater’s mind open to decreasing their meat consumption or at the very least, being less judgmental and defensive towards us. Why should you care? Whatever led you to this lifestyle is a worthy cause. The perception that Vegans and Vegetarians are preachy and judgemental does not help this cause. So… don’t do this in what could be pleasant social situations.
*** Don’t broadcast your dietary differences. Hear me out….
I know how wonderfully progressive you are and how you have moved beyond flesh eating, but keep in mind that there is a thin line between educating and appearing self righteous. Eliminating meat from one’s diet is a major lifestyle change. Acceptance of the idea that it is possible is the first step. “Preaching” only makes them defensive and injures the cause.
The cause is to decrease the overall demand of animal products responsible for animal factory farming and greenhouse gas emission. Sometimes this means holding back how you really feel about “Vegetarians” who only eat fish, and eggs, and chicken. Do I think it’s silly that they believe they are vegetarians…Yes. Do I verbalize this ? No. Why? At least they don’t eat pork and beef. They are going in the right direction and with time and patience they may fully convert.
***There is a difference between educating and debating: Avoid Debating if possible….Nobody “wins” and it only creates negativity.
You can tell if someone is genuinely curious versus those who want to debate. Graduation dinners, office parties, wedding receptions, thanksgiving, etc…are not appropriate places to debate. Situations you consider inappropriate to discuss religion and politics would also be a potential AOS, so proceed accordingly. How should you respond when the debate seeking omnivore engages you? Use my favorite awkwardness abating quote: “I avoid certain foods for personal reasons that we can discuss at another time if you are interested”. Okay…that didn’t work…they’re getting pushy…. “I believe our lifestyle, diet included, is guided by our beliefs and personal convictions, and that’s not something I feel is productive to debate”.
***Instead of talking about what you can’t eat and what you would eat if it didn’t contain flesh, talk about what is tasty. Examples: What NOT to say: “That baked potato looks great; too bad it’s laying next to that fish that probably suffered a horrible death”. What to say: “That baked potato looks great” or just talk about how good your own food is. Ooops…now they offered you some… What not to say (if you don’t want an AOS) “No thanks, I don’t eat death”. How you should respond (to avoid an AOS): “No thanks, I’m full, but thank you for offering”.
***I don’t condone lying…but… Allergies and other health issues will squash any AOS. People eagerly challenge beliefs, but they don’t challenge digestive issues.
***Have your facts straight. Sometimes AOS are unavoidable and whether you choose to engage in a discussion of this sort is your decision, but don’t go in with broad statement like “It’s healthier.” They are gonna be concerned about your “obvious” lack of protein and other nutrients easily obtained from non-meat sources. Respond appropriately and intelligently. *Read previous blog “How to safely be a vegetarian” for more info.
***Being accommodated is nice, but don’t expect it. Going to a BBQ? Bring your own veggie burgers for the grill. Going to a dinner party? Bring something with you to share in case the main course and sides have meat.
I’m always open to more tips and AOS solutions. Feel free to share.