Everyone has a token vegetarian friend. Right? You know, that special person you sneak off with for late-night veggie fare, away from your cheeseburger-eating friends who would assuredly taunt you for ordering dishes with names like tabbouleh and baba ghanoush. People gravitate to vegetarianism and veganism for different reasons. But here are a few things you may not know, and several truisms that are completely obvious about your veghead friend.
1) Don’t Preach to Me!
Just like when someone first becomes a “born-again” Christian, self-righteousness and hypocrisy run rampant in newly converted vegetarians. And, things get even worse if they decide to go all-out and turn vegan on your ass. The zealousness generally softens in time, and you are no longer forced to hear stuff like “I don’t eat anything with a face.” (I guess gummy bears and fish crackers are out of the question!) If the self-righteousness doesn’t go away, or becomes worse, that person will usually end up with no one to talk to but his or her cat. Let’s face it, nobody likes to hang out with a blowhard “new vegetarian”–not even fellow vegetarians.
2) What Do You Mean You’re Vegetarian?
There are different levels of vegetarianism. It’s important to know what kind of vegetarian your friend is so you don’t offend them with a stinky wedge of cheese or something. Of course, at the fundamental core, vegetarians don’t eat meat, fish, or fowl, but that doesn’t mean they don’t eat animal by-products. Some vegetarians make an exception for fish, yet those types are considered to be wannabes by true vegetarians. The most common kind of vegetarian is the lacto-ovo variety, meaning they have no problem eating eggs, honey, and dairy products. So, a nice cheese plate with a bottle of good wine is within the realm of possibility if you’re courting a lacto-ovo.
3) Lacto What?
Straight-up lacto-vegetarians are like their lacto-ovo comrades except they don’t do eggs.
But dairy products and honey are cool with this subset of vegheads. The only problem here is that many items in restaurants are made with eggs (tarts, cakes, bread, aioli, etc…) so finding something to order can be a challenge. Plus, it drives servers nuts when vegetarians ask a million and one questions about the menu. With that said, don’t ask the waitress if there are eggs in the quiche.
4) Ova and Out
Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs and honey but dairy products are a no-no. Life without Gouda and Gruyère may seem like hell for some people, yet a dairy-free diet is all right with this minority, who sometimes state that dairy products clog them up. “I can’t poop when I eat the stuff,” they often spout. That’s probably why lacto-vegetarians are so uptight. While few things are better than a creamy milkshake on a hot summer day, you may instead want to plan a trip to the fruit smoothie shop to appease your ovo-vegetarian friend.
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