That Red Robin commercial hawking veggie burgers really got some vegetarians' carrots in a boil. The ad starts with a mention of the meatless burger, followed by an actress saying, "We even have a garden burger just in case your teenage daughter is going through a phase." This was probably meant to be playful, but instead aroused the social media ire of meat-free folks who resent any implication that their lifestyles are temporary fad-fixes. There are a lot of vegetarians and vegans out there who are mad as hell at the Denver-based chain, and aren't going to take it anymore -- or at least got angry enough at Red Robin to vent on the Internet, which is our modern equivalent of shouting from a ledge.
While Red Robin is going through its own phase, here are five ways to really piss off a vegetarian. Do any of these things, and you risk having a kohlrabi thrown at your head.
5. Assume all meatless people are hippies The world needs hippies. They are mellow, lovable, peaceable people with good music and great weed, but not every hippie is a vegetarian or vegan -- and not every veggie-eater is a hippie. Sure, it's easy to assume that eschewing meat is a choice made by tree-hugging, planet-saving, patchouli-wearing, dreadlock-sporting, new-generation hippies who want to save innocent animals from getting knocked on the head and ground up for breakfast sausages, but meat-freedom lifestyles have been popular for decades with a broad spectrum of everyday folks in the city, country or suburbs, from every class, income level and ethnic background, and supposing that all meat-free people are hippies is like assuming that all meat-eaters are roughneck, yokel, mouth-breathing, Texas-loving, shit-kicker-wearing hucklebucks with no empathy for four-legged critters or two-legged mutton.
Ask a hundred vegans or vegetarians what the Grateful Dead's best album was, and see how many of them stare at you with sliced cucumber eyes and mutter, "Whuh?"
4. Say really stupid things about vegetables and fruits "But vegetables have feelings, too!" "What about all the screaming turnips and crying apricots who die every day for you to eat?" And "You actually must hate animals because you eat up all their food!" These distinctly illogical and blatantly un-funny produce statements won't win any vegetarian hearts or minds, and if carnivores had any clue how effin ridiculous they sound when laying down these rectal-extractions, they'd stop and move on to other japes like knock-knock jokes or funny stories about dead babies.
And nobody ever makes really funny jokes about grains -- maybe that is the next, unexplored meatless humor terrain.
3. Tell them how delicious meat tastes Describe a steak dinner to a vegetarian sometime, just for chuckles. Tell 'em how the warm, bloody center wiggles under a steak knife, how the charred, fatty edges are blackened and crispy, and how chewing a mouthful of medium-rare beef is a combination of juicy beef blood and tender muscle fibers, all reeking of charcoal and delicious death. It never works, though. To someone who doesn't eat meat, you may as well be painting a mental picture of a vicious crime scene, complete with weapons and a chalk outline in the shape of a cow. The next time it seems tempting to give voice-worship to the virtues of meat, try to imagine a vegetarian describing a quinoa patty to you. How appetizing does that sound?
Feeling the wet crunch of ancient grains between your teeth will surely bring you around to the meat-free place, right?
2. Say how difficult it is to plan meals without meat Depending on where vegetarians live, it can be challenging to plan every meal, every day, without meat products....and with fresh produce. Yes, it's easier than it used to be -- with a better variety of pre-packaged meatless items at grocery stores, and vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurants paying more and more attention to meatless dishes -- but living a meat-free life sure hasn't gotten any cheaper. Reminding folks about the difficulties of making three squares plus snacks sans flesh-foods is not just annoying -- it's also super-obvious.
Twisting the knife in the turnip will piss off veggie-eaters, and no, they do not want to eat the same spaghetti squash casseroles every day any more than you want to eat Hamburger Helper every night of the week.
1. Tell them it's a phase Maybe you know someone who went through a meatless phase-- and maybe it was you who gave up meat for a while, for whatever reason. People go through phases where they do or don't do things -- everything from dumping soda to ditching leather to giving up caffeine to saving spotted owls and taking the bus. But telling your friends, family members, co-workers and random people you meet at Jamba Juice how whatever they are into at the moment is "just a phase" never seems to result in them clutching their hands to their heads, hollering about how they've seen the error of their ways, and thanking you for bringing them in from the darkness so they can bathe in the bright light of Your Way.
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Instead of pre-emptively telling vegetarians that their meatlessness is just a phase, just wait a while and see if it really is -- then make fun of them if they go back to eating meat again. But be aware that their time without meat may have made them leaner, healthier and stronger-- and better able to kick your ass.