I survived my first visit as a vegetarian to a hot dog joint. I was in Arizona for a wedding, and one of the wedding events was a trip to a Mexican hot dog place because the groom was dying for a “Sonora Dog”. (In retrospect, my whole AZ trip would have been less problematic and possibly more fun if I hadn’t converted to a meatless diet a few weeks earlier, but c’est la vie.)
This hot dog event actually wasn’t too bad for me – I’m a hot dog purist, so the Sonora Dog, covered with cheese and lord knows what all, didn’t really entice me. What was hard was not being able to participate in what the rest of my group was doing, the group experience of eating this particular food. I got two cheese quesadillas and heaped salsa on them. I found out later from the bride that I could have requested other filling inserts, like avocado and onions, but as it was, I ate what I ate and it was fine. I did get to drink horchata, which is one of my absolute favorite beverages, so that was great. Overall I focused on enjoying how happy my friends and family were to be eating this crazy food, because it makes me happy when the people I care about are happy.
The overall experience reminded me that there are just going to be times when, because of my choice not to eat meat, I’ll feel left out. That’s inevitable, but it’s also okay. Everybody feels left out sometimes. I made this choice for a reason, and a little discomfort doesn’t change that. I can appreciate my friends’ fun without resentment and without guilting them about it. And on future occasions, I can cook good food without meat and have friends over, or when it’s my turn to pick I can suggest vegetarian restaurants where we can all enjoy the meal.