“Oh, you don’t eat meat? That’s fine I’ll make chicken.”

Vegetarianism Abroad

The concept of being vegetarian has not caught on in every country yet. This may be because every person who identifies as vegetarian has their own definition of the word. I am guilty of this myself. I decided to become a vegetarian my right before I moved into my dorm my first year of college. I’m still not sure why I made the decision. Part of it was that I grew up eating organic meat from my uncle’s butcher shop and Sodexo was just not cutting it.

When I arrived in Spain I was extremely relieved to learn that my host mommy had cooked for students who were vegetarian and she could adjust to the fact that I am lactose intolerant as well. People outside of my home however, were not as understanding. I sure it was especially hard for the people of Salamanca, Spain considering that their home is known for delicious cured ham. They could not believe that I hate ham. When I went out with friends they said it was okay for me not to eat meat because there was plenty of chicken. It was hard to explain that I did not eat that either. By the end of my time in Spain I had broken down and started eating chicken about once a week.

Jamon Iberico, a famous delicacy in Salamanca.
Jamon Iberico, a famous delicacy in Salamanca.

It is a bit comical to think about now, but it was difficult for me to find things to eat at times. The important thing I learned is that you have to stay positive and remember that every culture has a different cuisine. I tried to be careful and explain that it was not their food that I didn’t like, I simply did not eat any meat (or chicken),  regardless of how it was cooked.

-Adrianna, DU Study Abroad Peer Advisor

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One thought on ““Oh, you don’t eat meat? That’s fine I’ll make chicken.”

  1. Eating meat is mainly cultural, in my opinion. I have experienced what you have described above as my father comes from a meat-eating region in northern Italy. At first, I was reluctant to tell my relatives that I was a vegetarian as I did not want to bother them and have them prepare different dishes for me. But I decided to stand up for my principles and, to my surprise, they had absolutely no problem with this. So that, for instance, even at weddings I would be given meat-free dishes. Unfortunately, even through dialogue, I have still been unable to convert any relative or family member (except my wife) to ditch meat … maybe I have not tried hard enough …

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