I neither vegetarian nor vegan. And I seldom have problems with people that are. In my time at the Student’s Union in fact, I was completely unaware of people I was working with being vegetarians or vegans for quite a while. I only noticed it one day when we were preparing for a camp when I looked at the participant list. And these are my thoughts about the matter:
I stopped caring what reasons people have to eat like they eat – be it beliefs or some disease or even just as a fun challenge. I learned that’s not really my business. Yes, I am slightly interested, but to me, accepting their eating habits entails not bothering them about it. After all, they might NOT even want to talk about it. If they talk do about it, I happily listen and talk about it: about where they buy their food or how they manage their iron and other stuff. Let’s be honest, the meat replacement meals you find in discounters and at some other places, at least in Germany, are quite terrible.
I do enjoy good vegetarian food. Also, as an Asian I think tofu is quite nice if you don’t treat it as meat replacement. But everywhere you go, you see the nasty meat replacement in the vegetarian sections! And because of that I see people everywhere react negatively to the word tofu. Because in the meat-eaters mind tofu equal meat-replacement. It’s not.
While I haven’t ever seen a vegetarian complain about bad meat replacement I do have seen people working around it. One day, I saw a professor at the meat buffet. I knew she was vegetarian. Of course I asked her about it. I mean, meat buffet and vegetarian, something doesn’t match. “The salad here tastes better than the vegetarian food they have.” y point exactly.
I hear meat-eaters complaining about vegetarian food all the time. It would taste bad. Yes, as I said, tofu meat replacement tastes bad! Have you ever eaten good vegetarian food? A meal without meat replacement? Usually I get a no. Of course, this is not only a problem from the meat-eater side. Some vegetarian think it’s a good idea to show off meat replacement to people that aren’t interested. Please, just don’t do that! Don’t go there saying it doesn’t taste that bad. eat-eaters expect it to taste like meat, any other result will be a failure in their eyes.
Show the other food you make and you’ll get much better results. I mean, at events that do organize good vegetarian food, you often see the non-vegetarians eat the vegetarian food. Sometimes to the extend the vegetarians don’t have enough. No, that’s not an outlier. I’ve seen it multiple times before. So you might need to plan for it and allocate more of it. Or keep the meat-eaters away from the vegetarian food.
Some people joke about vegan declaration on plant-based products or non-food products. The latter is just huge misinformation on how vegans communicated veganism over a long time: until recently (a few years now), I thought veganism means not eating animal and their products; and it’s just a term describing their eating habits — a food term only. With that definition I can’t help but laugh about the thought a vegan might at a vegan declared soap, that’s all to it.
I haven’t thought about veganism, I regularly consume meat. So using other products that come from animals isn’t that a big deal. In fact, why shouldn’t I? I’d be a waste not to use all of the cow! Or pig. But veganism isn’t only about food. It’s about not exploiting animals at all. So extending the vegan declaration to non-food items makes sense. But people forgot to tell the non-vegans about it. And instead of properly explaining things, most vegans immediately feel insulted and start insulting others for not caring. So now you’re in the zone of people that annoy me. And if you do that, I stop respecting your opinion, you don’t deserve that anymore.
Not all though, at least the people that I met in the Student’s Union were quite level-headed and explained things to me. We had quite a healthy discussion. Would I buy vegan mustard over non-vegan mustard? Probably not, after all, I’m putting it on a piece of meat. So its ingredient being filtered using gelatine isn’t that a big deal. I’d buy it for shared use in the Student’s Union office, though. After all, we do have vegetarians and vegans. And this time it really does taste the same. How about vegan soap? Why do I have to think about the Camel Dung Soap from Ragnarök Online?1 I better check what’s actually in my soap…