True Life: I’m a Vegetarian…and I’m Black.
Now, that fact may or may not surprise you. It’s not like being a vegetarian is strictly a white people practice. There are many communities of color that eat only a plant-based diet.
But in my household, things are still a little taboo. And a quick, super non-scientific, poll I conducted concluded that I wasn’t alone in my sentiments. Being a vegetarian is hard…but being a black vegetarian? Well, that’s another story.
You might say I’m generalizing, or giving ammo to an internet that loves to exploit my people with stereotypes and what not, but (and I’m sorry to burst your bubble) these are my truths. Maybe it’s the idea that vegetarianism is wasteful (and where I’m from, you don’t waste food), or that it’s just incomprehensible that someone would pass up a steak, or bacon, or…dare I say it…chicken.
Which, by the way, IS NOT A BLACK FOOD! It is a people food. Everyone loves delicious chicken! So did I, once upon a time…
And while these experiences are my own, I’m sure someone can relate to the debilitating headache that is vegetarianism in this world, whether those curious or disapproving individuals asking you annoying questions are white, brown, purple, yellow, green or pink.
Whatever the case, sitting down to dinner is annoying, frustrating, and soul-crushing (if, like me, you’ve stopped eating meat for environmental reasons, not because it tastes gross…because IT DOESN’T). And it goes a little something like this…
First, you sit down to eat dinner with your family and you have to remind them, for the 345th time, that you don’t eat meat. And they look at you like this…
Then, your great aunt or grandma starts commenting on how skinny and bony you are – probably because you “never” get any protein. And I’m just like…
After that, it’s time to make your plate. So you’re waiting for the vegetables, but then you see it. Unmistakable shreds of porky goodness. Remember, there are ALWAYS ham hocks in the collards. ALWAYS.
And even though you’ve resolved to eating just the potato salad and a dinner roll, someone always manages to pass you a plate of succulent meat and peer pressures you into taking a bite and you’re all like…
So you tell them – for the 10th time since you’ve sat down – that you don’t eat meat…ever! And they respond with, “but what about chicken,” as if that’s somehow exempt.
And your jerk-of-a-cousin tries to take away your “Black Card” like it’s even a real thing. And everyone around you starts laughing…
And then he says he’s just kidding and tries to make you smile, but at this point you’re hungry and all you want is something made out of seitan and some grape tomatoes to snack on.
So you assure your family that, yes, you can still indulge in a little Sunday soul food.
But then someone tries to take the golden goodness that is macaroni away from you because they’ve confused vegetarians with vegans, who don’t eat dairy at all. And you’re all like…
And instead they make you eat that sad, lifeless, wilted, and pathetic green salad that your weird uncle brought to dinner…that doesn’t even have, like, sliced cucumbers on top or anything…
Then, again, I have to go through the things I can eat, and the things I can’t, and no one seems to understand the simple rules, like why vegetarians can’t eat chicken broth. HELLO!!!
And someone chimes in about that one time they gave up bacon for Lent and how it was sooooooo hard…
And…you know it’s coming. The dreaded sermon about how vegetarians are so preachy. How we want the whole world to be vegetarian and how we push our cause around like Westboro Church, AND how we’re so judgemental…and OH the irony!
Because, at the end of the day, God made animals for us to eat. But Jesus made wine for me to drink to get through this hellish meal…
And by this point you’re so frustrated with trying to explain yourself, then being told you talk about vegetarianism too much, and being offered meat in different ways like that’s going to change something, that you just want to scarf down the damn ham so that everyone will shut up. But instead, you do this…
Then…someone tells you that following a vegetarian diet is clearly not good for you mental health.
And that, my friends, is how you lose the battle against the carnivores. Stay strong, my veggies. Stay strong.
Christina Coleman is the News and Politics Editor at GlobalGrind and a Howard University Alumna. Prior to this she was a science writer. That explains her NASA obsession. She crushes on Anthony Bourdain. Nothing explains that.
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