British vegetarians lie to friends about not eating meat, says crappy study

“I love eating animal flesh, hoo boy, I sure do!”
“I love eating animal flesh, hoo boy, I sure do!”
Photo: GLimages (iStock)

I’m giving this Daily Mail story about “embarrassed” British vegetarians enough skeptical side-eye that it’s straining my ocular muscles. The gist of the woefully short article is that a professor of social and cultural geography at the University Of Southampton interviewed 20 male British vegetarians, and found that most are “still ordering meat in restaurants to avoid being judged by friends and colleagues.” For real?

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I wish I had a Rolodex of male British vegetarians so I could investigate this further. But according to the professor, Dr. Emma Roe, “we found men who ate a vegetarian or vegan diet at home found it difficult to avoid eating meat when socializing with other men.” She cites the story of one such man who considers himself a vegetarian, yet found it “awkward” not to partake of a bacon sandwich when out with friends after a soccer match.

I’m sure this could be true for some vegetarian men, but I find it hard to believe this is overwhelmingly the case. According to a BBC report from earlier this year, nearly 30 percent of dinners eaten in the U.K. over a 3-month period were vegetarian or vegan. This doesn’t mean the people eating them would consider themselves vegetarian, of course, but it points to a growing normalization of meat-free diets in the U.K.

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Is ordering a vegetarian meal really considered so embarrassing that men would lie about their diets to their friends? If so, I’m proposing a follow-up study: “British male vegetarians overwhelming have shitty, unaccepting friend groups.”

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

simon-on-the-river3
simon-on-the-river3

That seems a terribly small sample, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some truth in it. And you are probably right about the last bit. Some vegetarians seem to live with a siege mentality. My sister-in-law perpetually apologises for being vegetarian. That’s not a problem, but getting a clear idea on what she would like to eat can be a little tortured. A friend won’t apologise, but she will cook you Sunday roast and then lecture you on the evils of eating meat.