When you follow a vegetarian diet, dining out with your non-vegetarian friends and family members can get a bit uncomfortable. People might ask questions about your diet, and even worse, try to persuade you to go back to eating meat. For this reason, many vegetarians avoid dining out with their meat-eating friends altogether. However, it does not have to be this way! With these tips, you can make dining with your meat-eating friends less awkward.
Invite them to a vegetarian restaurant.
If part of the awkwardness of dining with your meat-eating friend stems from your unease when watching them eat meat, suggest a vegetarian restaurant for all of you to attend. This way, you do not have to watch them eat meat, and they do not have to feel uncomfortable ordering meat with you there. With any luck, your friends will discover how delicious vegetarian meals really can be, and they will be more accepting of your lifestyle in the future.
Don't call attention to your diet.
If going to a strictly vegetarian restaurant is not an option, you can still enjoy yourself at a traditional restaurant like A Taste Of Saigon. The experience will be more pleasant if you call as little attention to your dietary preferences as possible. Some strategies for doing this include:
- Order a dish that is already vegetarian, rather than ordering one that is typically made with meat and requesting that the meat is left off.
- If your friends' meat dishes make you feel a bit queasy, simply look away and focus on the fun conversation and camaraderie you're having that evening, rather than complaining.
- Come prepared with other topics to discuss, so that if your diet comes up in conversation in an uncomfortable way, you can divert to a topic you would rather discuss.
If someone does ask about your diet, don't automatically become defensive.
Some vegetarians become so accustomed to being questioned and made fun of that they automatically assume the worst when someone brings up their diet. If you truly don't want to discuss your diet at all, then follow the advice above and divert to a different topic. Consider the possibility, however, that one of your friends may be bringing up the topic of your diet because he or she is curious and wants to learn more. If you think this may be the case, feel free to offer some light talk about your diet. Tell your friends why you eat vegetarian, some of the benefits you've experienced, and about the foods you love.
Be careful to frame these issues in a positive light. For instance, instead of saying "I am a vegetarian because I think eating meat is wrong," which can insult your friends who eat meat, say something to the effect of "I am a vegetarian because eating this way saves animal lives." This phrasing focuses on what you're accomplishing, rather than passing blame.
As a vegetarian, getting used to dining out with others can be tough. By choosing vegetarian restaurants when possible, not calling too much attention to your diet, and not getting defensive when it's not warranted, you can make the experience go more smoothly.