The following letter appeared in Dear Abby's advice column a couple weeks ago...
I am 27 and have been a vegetarian for five years. I am trying to develop a thick
skin when it comes to people who question or make fun of my choice, but I'm
tired of laughing and letting the comments "roll off" my back.
When my grandfather sits near me at a family event, he will analyze my plate,
look at me in disgust and then tell me, "Carrots have feelings too."
When I go to a well-known sandwich shop, I order a basic and "boring" sandwich,
which I really enjoy. The sandwich makers give me funny looks and ask,
"That's all?" or, "You're spending five bucks on THIS?"
I am tired of people questioning what I eat or what kind of sandwich I choose to
spend my money on. What is the best response to people who are so rude?--
Herbivore by Choice in New York
Sorry, there is no one-size-fits-all snappy one-liner. But take comfort in the fact
that a growing number of people are choosing to avoid meat and poultry not
only for ethical reasons, but also because they prefer to avoid the hormones and
antibiotics used in their production.
When someone comments or questions you, it's important to consider the source
as well as the intent behind the remarks. Your grandfather may be trying to be
humorous--or he may be showing concern because he comes from a generation
that didn't learn there can be benefits from a vegetarian diet.
As to the sandwich shop employee--the person may be trying to "sell you up."
I completely agree that ridiculing a customer is not only bad manners but also
bad for business. The next time it happens, complain about it to the manager.