16 Thoughts Vegetarians Have While at a BBQ

Go inside the mind of a non-meat-eater before you fire up the grill for the Fourth of July.

Photo: NSphotostudi/Getty Images.

This summer marks 10 years since I decided to become a vegetarian. It was before my senior year of high school, and I had made a few lifestyle changes to be healthier, and I realized that I hadn't eaten meat in a couple months. And it wasn't just the health reasons. I really just did not prefer the taste of meat, and with my new, healthier lifestyle I began to discover a whole plethora of flavors and dishes. So I decided to make the label official and have never looked back. (That isn't the case for everyone. In fact, most vegetarians go back to eating meat.)

The change was, for the most part, well-received by the people in my life, but living in Kansas City, MO, the barbecue capital of the world, meant that I definitely found myself on a few occasions being targeted for my non-meat-eating ways, especially during summer picnics and cookouts. While you're over there eating hotdogs and hamburgers, the party is much different for me. Listen up, this is what it was like to be a vegetarian in the Midwest.

1. No, I will not fall over and die of starvation right now.

There are definitely things here I can eat, and look: I brought my own veggie-friendly sides! This isn't my first rodeo. (Vegetarian recipe inspiration: Creative Side Dishes for Your Weekend Barbecue)

2. Stop asking me why I don't eat meat.

Why does it matter? I'm here to enjoy everyone's company and generally bask in the lovely summer air. We can talk about my non-meat-eating ways later…over e-mail…maybe.

3. No, I can't eat the potato salad just because it's a salad.

It has bacon bits. (Okay, mostly, it's just I don't like potato salad and this is just a nice way of saying it's not your potato salad, it's me. But really it's the potato salad and the bacon bits.)

4. Um, that's a pig.

A whole pig. Roasting on a spit in the corner.

5. Yes, I really do love pickles.

I'm not just eating these because they're one of the only vegetables here.

6. Just because I don't eat meat doesn't mean I want a meat substitute.

Veggie burger? Bleck. If I gave up meat, why would I want to eat something designed to taste just like it? (One writer went on a search for the best veggie burger and meat alternatives money can buy.)

7. Grilled veggies? Yasss!

Definitely. Would love some of those. Thank you for asking.

8. Whoa, whoa! Please clean that grill and the tools off before putting those veggies on there.

I did not sign up for meat-greased veggies when we made that agreement. Cross-contamination is not cool.

9. What's that? My vegetarian side dishes are the bomb? I know.

It's really not as painful as it may seem to be a vegetarian.

10. No, I'm not still hungry.

As previously mentioned, there is a lot of other food here, and believe it or not, it's all very filling.

11. Did you really ask me 'that' again?

For the last time: I decided to stop eating meat because I started making healthier decisions, didn't prefer the taste, and found myself naturally eating more meatless foods. (

12. OK, so now you're confused about what I even eat.

Are you serious? Come on, now. You just saw me eat a full plate of food.

13. We both know saying you're interested in becoming a vegetarian is all talk.

Talking about it right now is cute, but you just went back for another piece of chicken. No judge, but we both know that wouldn't stick.

14. I really don't judge you for eating meat.

To each her own. I'm not here to convert. (Just please keep our conversation over here, out of sight line of the pig remains.)

15. Oh, yes, I definitely eat dessert!

I'm not trying to be a perfect health foodie. I just eat what I want. And I don't want to eat burgers and hot dogs, but I do want to eat that piece of blueberry pie.

16. OMG, there hasn't been an eating-related question in the past 30 minutes.

I think I did it. I think I survived this summer backyard BBQ. Or everyone's just a little tipsy by now and totally distracted. Amazing. Pour me another glass.

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