I ate meat accidentally on Wednesday. I was with a party who hadn’t realized there was meat hidden in a dish. I was mortified when it was discussed afterward and it seemed everyone knew– apart from me, although it was announced that I was a vegetarian in the beginning. Everyone seemed to smile at me when it was revealed, as if my eating meat was this cute accident that I’d get over quickly. But, being that I was a tag-along to a family visit– a family I don’t belong to –I kept quiet and simply avoided the eyes of those watching my reaction to the news.
This has happened twice before, and again, I am mortified. Yes, 2 days later and I’m still upset. And no, it isn’t because I’m Muslim or Hindu, or a part of any religion with a large vegetarian community. It’s because I’m a vegetarian. Period. That’s why I’m still upset.
Thinking about theses other experiences, reminded me of the ways in which people can try to minimize an experience of trauma simply because they don’t empathize or sympathize with the distress. Thankfully, the “Is it because you’re Muslim?” question didn’t come up as the people I ate with aren’t ignorant. Though, I hate that religion seems to be the only way to enforce my practicing vegetarianism. Why can’t it simply be that this lifestyle is a matter of self-care, self-love, and self-discipline? Why do you need the power of religion to give my distress validity?
Funny enough, this also reminds me of a few experiences at work. My dress-code at work is quite flexible; it fluctuates from creative to glamorous, but business casual is the base-line. Now, my aesthetic is 50s-60s inspired with a modern twist, which includes colour/blocking, mid-length dresses and skirts, and autumn colour palette and geometric silhouettes, etc (FYI I work in fashion). For a while, my co-workers nagged me to wear mini skirts and fitted clothing, and even after I explained to them that I preferred a more modest mode of dressing, they asked if I were religious. Because naturally, being religious is the only reason I’d refuse anything FashionNova.
Or perhaps, this “pursuit or interest followed with great devotion” makes my eating and dressing religious: See the google dictionary definition of religion. Why is it that personal beliefs and practices are less valid and respected than those of theology? Do I need to bring God into the picture for you respect my choices? And then isn’t your respect only given to God or to my following God and not to me?
As long as folk aren’t being abused mentally, emotionally or physically, respect the choices, practices and beliefs of others. It shouldn’t take God, a superhuman or any authority in power to inspire you to respect other people.
Meat and mini skirts are, simply, not for me.