By Asha Brogan
I have been a vegetarian for nine years, and amongst immediate family and friends this has been just an easily accepted fact. Yet more often in my life I have run into issues with my chosen die. This consists of people being at a complete loss for how to feed me and thus feeling frustrated which tends comes out as anger or irritation. Another one is people putting down my diet choice, usually for “health reasons”. “You’re too skinny!” is a major comment, “You clearly don’t get enough protein and vitamins” is another. I calmly reply that I am a 5’1 female with petite parents and am in perfect weight and health according to doctors.
This consist fight in my life with the general public seems to stem from public misconceptions about being vegetarian. The media has widely pushed that being vegetarian is “different”. That people who don’t eat meat are automatically weird. Many times they are portrayed as hippies who just aren’t in tune with society. The diet is treated like a disability in so many cases, special provisions must given to those who have eliminated such major food group. When talking about how the media and general public pushes stereotypes in class over the last two weeks I was reminded of the controversy around vegetarianism and how it is a complete perception that being vegetarian is an “issue”. In western culture, it is something that has become a natural part of media proving it’s cultural integration. A rather quirky film featuring Elijah Wood has a scene illustrating this point perfectly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=um2p4GlEbKg . In the scene Wood’s character visits the Ukraine and can’t eat anything because not eating meat is such a foreign concept, and while this makes sense in a cultural setting, it’s films like these that emphasis only “odd” people are vegetarian. In the satirical animated comedy South Park there’s a scene that at base level seems to be making fun of vegetarians but is also picking fun at how truly alien the general public makes the diet, considering it more akin to a disease, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTog_NtCEio . While many more films and TV shows have touched on the subject Shark Tale, featuring a vegetarian shark is key. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJvsk7NsZe4 . While featuring something like this is a great push, the vegetarian in the film is considered odd, and a problem, simply highlighting the issue vegetarians face in day to day life, but not helping make it “normal”.