Etiquette Hell

Etiquette School is in session! => "What an interesting assumption." => Topic started by: Nikko-chan on August 31, 2013, 08:07:08 PM

Title: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Nikko-chan on August 31, 2013, 08:07:08 PM
I was at work the other day eating my lunch. Lunch consisted of falafel (yes this is relevant).

In fifteen minutes I got asked by no less than three people. "What is that?"

"falafel," said i.

"What is that?"

I launched into a quick explanation each and every time.

"Oh! So you're a vegetarian then!"

I just kinda looked at them funny. "Nope."

By the third time, I was tempted to say "What an interesting assumption." But I held my tongue, knowing it wouldn't be appropriate. I am just tired of explaining that no I am not a vegetarian and would you people just stop!


Anyone else have similar stories? Anything better I can say other than "No" especially to the one person who kept insisting that because I  was eating falafel I must have been a vegetarian.
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Lorelei_Evil on August 31, 2013, 08:36:05 PM
I eat falafel because I have a near addiction to any and all forms of chickpea. 

I go with the complete silence response, quirked eyebrow optional.  I have to hold my tongue due to its tendency to bolt like a frightened horse when I'm irritated.
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: veronaz on August 31, 2013, 08:43:34 PM
I think it's rude to keep questioning someone when they are trying to eat/enjoy a meal, particularly during a lunch break at work when time is limited.

I might say what the dish is, then "could you excuse me?"
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Tea Drinker on August 31, 2013, 11:15:57 PM
I tend to say "I'm not a vegetarian, I just like vegetables," which has the advantages of being true and not defensive. I'm not talking about whether they're good for me, or whether I think I should eat more vegetables, I'm sticking to the fact that I am eating a salad because that particular day, I want a salad, or I'm eating sweet potato fries because I really really like sweet potatoes.
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Danika on August 31, 2013, 11:24:39 PM
I tend to say "I'm not a vegetarian, I just like vegetables," which has the advantages of being true and not defensive. I'm not talking about whether they're good for me, or whether I think I should eat more vegetables, I'm sticking to the fact that I am eating a salad because that particular day, I want a salad, or I'm eating sweet potato fries because I really really like sweet potatoes.

That's a good response.

I, too, like falafel and hummus. But I'm generally a beef eater. I, personally, would have found the 'you must be a vegetarian' comment hilarious because it's rare that I'm not eating meat. I would have chuckled and said "ha! You caught me at a rare moment when I was not eating meat."
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Psychopoesie on August 31, 2013, 11:35:08 PM
Coworkers have often asked what I'm having for lunch - it's sort of a conversation starter if you're in the shared lunchroom. If it's homemade, leads to talk of recipes. If it's bought, leads to discussion of best lunch places around work.

I'd be surprised that someone assumed I was vegetarian because I was eating a felafel. They're yummy. Not an unusual lunch choice where I live in Australia so maybe that's why no one's ever made that comment.

OP's response was fine  - kept it brief and minimised the interruption.

For the coworker who keeps going on about being vegetarian, sounds like it could be a good time for a bean dip and ask "so what are you having for lunch?". Though that would open up further conversation which may not be the OP's goal.
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Redsoil on September 01, 2013, 12:03:59 AM
"...so you're a vegetarian?"

"No, I eat pretty much everything... veggies, cow, low-flying ducks..."
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Lorelei_Evil on September 01, 2013, 11:14:43 AM
Things that don't move fast enough to get away in time...
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: #borecore on September 01, 2013, 03:44:56 PM
Just wanted to reassure the OP that this kind of conversation is no better if you actually ARE a vegetarian. Sometimes you just want to say, "Yep" and leave it at that, but it's rare that anyone making such broad assumptions will leave it at that anyway.

(I still try the "one-word answer" technique when I'm not up for discussing my personal choices or ethics. Another option is, "Have you *tried* the falafel from _____ (or the falafel mix from ____ brand or ____'s recipe)? They're so good, I don't care what's in them!" Just pretend you're talking about reasonable stuff that you're comfortable with and allow the person to come along with you .)

Also, we had a vegetarian wedding with falafel as a central dish, and all but 8 guests are happy omnivores. No one seemed to be having a discussion about the vegetarianess or lack thereof of the meal. I would guess you just were having a weird day!
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Hmmmmm on September 01, 2013, 04:13:22 PM
I bought tofu the other day and though I was also buying a couple of lamb racks, the checker asked if I was a vegetarian. "Nope, just like it as an alternate source of protein."

In your case, I'd quit providing much detail. Maybe just a "it's a Middle Eastern dish"
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Mental Magpie on September 04, 2013, 12:15:21 AM
I tend to say "I'm not a vegetarian, I just like vegetables," which has the advantages of being true and not defensive. I'm not talking about whether they're good for me, or whether I think I should eat more vegetables, I'm sticking to the fact that I am eating a salad because that particular day, I want a salad, or I'm eating sweet potato fries because I really really like sweet potatoes.

This is pretty much what I do.

I LOVE vegetarian "chik'n" patties and nuggets and vegetarian corn dogs.  I eat them all the time at work and often get odd looks because I'm also the lady walking around giving out homemade jerky.  When someone inquires, "But don't you...?"  I just smile and say, "Yup.  I eat vegetarian food because I think it's delicious!"

I will admit, however, that I am getting tired of the endless "quizzes" about my vegetarian food and the defensive accusations a la "I feel like you're judging me with your choices so I'm going to belittle you for the ones I perceive you to be making!"
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: BeagleMommy on September 05, 2013, 03:25:16 PM
"Are you a vegetarian?"

"Nope. Omnivore."
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Softly Spoken on September 06, 2013, 02:26:01 PM
"Are you a vegetarian?"

"Nope. Omnivore."

Win!  ;D

Wow so eating vegetables makes you a vegetarian? I didn't realize I had to eat meat with every meal to keep my club membership! ::)

Anecdote time: I looove me some meat, but I have vegetarian sausage patties in my freezer. I bought them because I wanted sausage in patty form and all the real pork was links - not helpful if you are trying to make a breakfast sandwich. I found the veggie patties to taste good enough, but were too dry to stand on their own. No matter - I plan to crumble them up and use them to make a less fatty 'sausage' gravy. Regular sausage is still awesome, but meat substitutes have come a long way and I'm not adverse to experimenting with other forms of protein as long as they taste good. Speaking of tasting good...

So by your coworker's logic, anything you aren't eating right that moment has been stricken from your diet? Or maybe it was specifically because it was falafel. I had to look up falafel, and maybe they weren't 100% off base - there is not a meat version of falafel, it is considered a substitute for meat. Is it completely off base to think that if someone is eating a meat substitute, they don't eat meat? I wouldn't assume someone was a vegetarian if they were eating a salad, but since meat substitutes are considered just that I would probably wonder if someone was eating one because meat wasn't an option - that's the primary reason they exist. You were the unfortunate victim of a food assumption, but I think they are inevitable to some degree. Lettuce and carrots don't automatically mean a diet, dessert doesn't mean you're a sinful glutton, passing on alcohol doesn't mean you are in AA, and refusing sugar doesn't make you diabetic. We eat what we eat for millions of reasons.
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: amylouky on September 06, 2013, 02:52:35 PM
I love veggie burgers (specifically spicy black bean burgers). I'm not a vegetarian, but most processed meats and ground meats just gross me out, so I like the faux version of those things. Veggie corn dogs? Send 'em my way..   Tofurkey? No thanks, I'll have the real thing. :)

Anyway I applaud you for holding your tongue, it is odd the ideas that people have about food. Like no one could possibly want to eat falafel just because the LIKE it, right?

Aaaand.. now I'm craving falafel.    :)
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Tea Drinker on September 06, 2013, 05:51:52 PM
Saying "there isn't a meat version of falafel" sounds like saying "there isn't a meat version of fruit salad" or "there isn't a dairy version of Cheddar cheese." Falafel isn't not a "substitute for meat" unless meat=protein. In my mind, meat substitutes are things like veggie burgers and the "vegetarian 'pork'" that turn up on Chinese restaurant menus; falafel or mushroom-barley soup or black beans and rice are separate things which people will like or dislike for varying reasons.
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: #borecore on September 07, 2013, 04:32:31 PM
On that note, I present this image. This sort of thing will definitely not make the lives of people who aren't "meat and potatoes" eaters any easier:

(https://sphotos-b-lga.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/1231653_10201829810008295_130617064_n.jpg)
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Nikko-chan on September 07, 2013, 04:59:19 PM
Note to all ehellions: If you see a menu with that on it, get thee away... quickly!
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: VorFemme on September 07, 2013, 05:07:48 PM
On that note, I present this image. This sort of thing will definitely not make the lives of people who aren't "meat and potatoes" eaters any easier:

(https://sphotos-b-lga.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/1231653_10201829810008295_130617064_n.jpg)

I see it as "fried rice prepared with chicken broth and meat fragments that might be lizard, bird, rabbit, pork (the other white meat), or random bits from the chopping block that we can't positively identify what animal it came from" versus "fried rice prepared with chicken broth AND guaranteed chopped pieces of chicken".
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Minmom3 on September 08, 2013, 12:26:14 AM
You may be right!  I see it as something to avoid like the plague!   :P



It, as in any menu that has that.  Not vegetarian items.
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: VorFemme on September 08, 2013, 09:56:11 AM
You may be right!  I see it as something to avoid like the plague!   :P



It, as in any menu that has that.  Not vegetarian items.

I don't want to eat it - but I do want to figure out what the options are - so I know if I want to order something else off the menu this time and next time pick a different place to eat.....when driving across country, sometimes I end up stopping when I'm too hungry to drive to the next exit (in parts of Texas they can be every mile or less than a minute apart - in parts of West Texas, they can be an hour apart at 75 mph).  You eat what's there....
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Biker Granny on September 18, 2013, 11:50:42 AM
I think there's some over-reacting going on. 
If I see someone eating something that looks interesting and I feel I know them well enough, I'll ask what it is.

It would create a reasonable assumption that the person eating it might be a vegetarian.  What's wrong with asking?  It's not like I know the two other people ahead of my have asked the same question.

I might answer with "No....but if I was, this would be my main staple...I really love it."

No wonder no one wants to start up conversations anymore.
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Tea Drinker on September 18, 2013, 02:09:36 PM
I think there's some over-reacting going on. 
If I see someone eating something that looks interesting and I feel I know them well enough, I'll ask what it is.

It would create a reasonable assumption that the person eating it might be a vegetarian.  What's wrong with asking?  It's not like I know the two other people ahead of my have asked the same question.

I might answer with "No....but if I was, this would be my main staple...I really love it."

No wonder no one wants to start up conversations anymore.

You also don't know that the two people ahead of you haven't asked the same question. If a question or remark seems obvious, whether it's "nice weather" or "you're very tall" or "are you a vegetarian?" you probably aren't the first person to ask it, maybe not the first person that day. At best, you might be the first one to ask it without following up with "did you play basketball in college?" or "why don't you eat meat?"

I don't mind having two people within five minutes ask me "is this where I get the train to the airport?" because that's impersonal and each, separately, has a practical use for the information. But it's not useful for a stranger to know whether I'm a vegetarian; it might be useful for them to know whether my lunch is, but "Is that vegetarian? I'm looking for more good vegetarian options" or "Is that vegetarian?" followed by "Can I get some around here, I'm looking for a lunch spot" makes it impersonal or about the asker: rather than demanding information about me, they're offering information about themselves.

There are lots of ways to start a conversation that don't start by asking for information about the other person's lifestyle or health.
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Danika on September 18, 2013, 02:17:42 PM
There's also tone and intent, of course. Someone could be a vegetarian and be very excited to find another possible vegetarian and say excitedly "OH! Are you a vegetarian?" And someone else might be saying it with their nose wrinkled up, in disgust, as an accusation.
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: whiskeytangofoxtrot on September 18, 2013, 04:39:02 PM
My reply would most likely be a chipper, "Nope. I just like falafel."

Mmmm, falafel... doggone it, now I'm hungry!  :P
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Biker Granny on September 19, 2013, 10:53:03 AM
I think there's some over-reacting going on. 
If I see someone eating something that looks interesting and I feel I know them well enough, I'll ask what it is.

It would create a reasonable assumption that the person eating it might be a vegetarian.  What's wrong with asking?  It's not like I know the two other people ahead of my have asked the same question.

I might answer with "No....but if I was, this would be my main staple...I really love it."

No wonder no one wants to start up conversations anymore.

You also don't know that the two people ahead of you haven't asked the same question. If a question or remark seems obvious, whether it's "nice weather" or "you're very tall" or "are you a vegetarian?" you probably aren't the first person to ask it, maybe not the first person that day. At best, you might be the first one to ask it without following up with "did you play basketball in college?" or "why don't you eat meat?"

I don't mind having two people within five minutes ask me "is this where I get the train to the airport?" because that's impersonal and each, separately, has a practical use for the information. But it's not useful for a stranger to know whether I'm a vegetarian; it might be useful for them to know whether my lunch is, but "Is that vegetarian? I'm looking for more good vegetarian options" or "Is that vegetarian?" followed by "Can I get some around here, I'm looking for a lunch spot" makes it impersonal or about the asker: rather than demanding information about me, they're offering information about themselves.

There are lots of ways to start a conversation that don't start by asking for information about the other person's lifestyle or health.

One shouldn't be held responsible for the questions of others before them.

And I can only go by what what written on the OP.  I haven't read between any lines and added my own.

And these are not complete strangers.  This was at work so these were coworkers.  She's having lunch...her lunch looks interesting.  They asked what it was. Oh the horrors! :o
No one was demanding to know anything. From the OP the questions were asked with curiosity not disdain.   It was a very normal assumption that she might be a vegetarian because she was eating a vegetarian dish.  No one asked any thing more personal than that.  Maybe they were curious about the vegetarian eating lifestyle and thought it would be a good conversation starter.

Luckily this won't stop me from asking quite normal questions about something that interests me and might help me get to know someone a bit better.
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: magician5 on September 21, 2013, 02:59:11 PM
On that note, I present this image. This sort of thing will definitely not make the lives of people who aren't "meat and potatoes" eaters any easier:

(https://sphotos-b-lga.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/1231653_10201829810008295_130617064_n.jpg)

I see it as "fried rice prepared with chicken broth and meat fragments that might be lizard, bird, rabbit, pork (the other white meat), or random bits from the chopping block that we can't positively identify what animal it came from" versus "fried rice prepared with chicken broth AND guaranteed chopped pieces of chicken".

One of Tony Bourdain's travel/food shows a couple of years ago showed him riding with a local driver to try the various foods of a country (I think Latin American) and the driver, not fluent in English, was describing the source of the meat: "I think it is a kind of a squeezle."

Since then, rather than go into detail about some dish I am trying to cook, I say (or someone else is first to say" "It's a kind of a squeezle."
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Owly on October 08, 2013, 12:21:23 AM
On that note, I present this image. This sort of thing will definitely not make the lives of people who aren't "meat and potatoes" eaters any easier:

(https://sphotos-b-lga.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/1231653_10201829810008295_130617064_n.jpg)

I also notice that "meatless" fried rice costs less than it does with pork. What? It's almost like they're paying you to take the pork off their hands.
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Zilla on October 08, 2013, 08:13:15 AM
If this is a common thing, I would write out a little sign on a piece of paper, fold it in half so it stands in front of you as you eat:


Falafel: Recipe below: Not Vegetarian. :D
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: flickan on October 08, 2013, 08:20:10 AM
I also get a bit irked when people assume I'm a vegetarian or "going vegetarian" because I'm eating something without any meat, or ordering something meatless at a restaurant.

There's nothing weird about being a vegetarian, consequently there's nothing strange at all about ordering something meatless.  Why people notice meat more than anything else is beyond me.  There seems to be a common assumption that a meal without meat is "incomplete".  Why should this be the case?
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Nikko-chan on October 08, 2013, 08:27:17 AM
If this is a common thing, I would write out a little sign on a piece of paper, fold it in half so it stands in front of you as you eat:


Falafel: Recipe below: Not Vegetarian. :D

I like it!
Title: Re: Wanted to say this, but knew it wasn't appropriate.
Post by: Twik on October 08, 2013, 10:24:08 AM
Since then, rather than go into detail about some dish I am trying to cook, I say (or someone else is first to say" "It's a kind of a squeezle."

Hmmph. So that's why squeezles are nearly extinct now!