Please Stop Saying You’re “Sorry” I’m a Vegetarian

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When I was five years old, I decided to stop eating meat. I never liked the taste, and finding out that the "sun-dried tomatoes" I was eating were actually pancetta was the last straw. I had always been a stubborn kid, so rather than argue with me, my mom decided to ride it out. "We'll see how long that lasts," she told me as I got ready for kindergarten one morning. Joke's on her, because 18 years later, I'm still going strong.

The first time I told my now-boyfriend that I was a vegetarian, I watched a look of pity cross over his face. On our first date, he copied my exact order, careful not to be seen eating chicken in front of me. He ate vegetarian for a few more weeks, but really, we were just delaying the inevitable. "I'm sorry," he uttered, before chowing down on a burger.

This apologetic response is the norm, but I've never thought it made much sense. “Oh, sorry, you can’t eat this.” “Sorry for eating meat in front of you.” “I’m sorry you can’t taste this—it’s so good.” Vegetarians will write lengthy Reddit threads and ranting posts about the many injustices that carnivores pose to our kind (bacon hummus, are you kidding me?), but never in the dark hole of the Internet have I seen a fellow veggie take issue with the apologies we seem to field at every meal.

And while the sorry's invariably come up in conversation, my confusion continues to grow. I’m not allergic to eating animals, nor did I give it up for health reasons. Going vegetarian was a choice, not a punishment, so why does my veggie sushi yield pity?

I’m not some girl on a no-carb diet, salivating over a slice of pizza, or someone with a legitimate medical malady that means you can't eat a bagel. Someone going ham on a burger will not give me a sympathy case of meat sweats. I’ll gladly listen to you describe how good your chicken parm is. I might even throw in a “yum”—that is, if you don’t say “sorry” when you remember that I won’t ask for a bite.

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If anything, I’m a better dinner date than any carnivore you'll come across: I’ll let you try some of my dish without asking for a taste in return, and I won’t make a stank face at your steak if you promise not to turn your nose up at my tofu. Plus, my meal is probably cheaper than yours, though I wouldn’t object to splitting the bill evenly.

Vegetarians already have it hard enough. French restaurants hate us, Shake Shack’s only veggie option is mediocre, and it’s practically impossible to get a table at by CHLOE on the weekends. So, from my table to yours: Please stop saying you’re sorry for something that was our own choice.

Unless, of course, they were forcibly made a vegetarian by some crazy cult I’ve never heard of. Then, by all means, apologize.

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