Apart from a few pickled items, consumption of vegetables has never been a high priority within Mennonite culinary tradition, so when Abram and Kathy Giesbrecht’s son Justin came out as a vegetarian, the family was initially confused.
“You mean you’re not going to eat meat anymore?” wondered Kathy. “Like not even formavorscht?”
Justin, now 20 years old and a second year Theatre & Film student at the University of Winnipeg, said he had known from a young age that he was not really a meat-eater.
“The Mennonite culture is very carnivore-normative,” explained Justin. “It’s just always assumed that you’d like another slice of ham or helping of klopps. A lot of people around here aren’t even aware that vegetarians exist.”
Few restaurants in southeast Manitoba are accommodating of vegetarians, usually offering cucumber salad as the only non-meat option.
“It will continue to be a struggle to gain acceptance and understanding within the community,” said Justin. “I think education is the key.”
Justin’s parents have slowly learned to accept his non-meat-consumption and have said although they don’t agree with his vegetarian lifestyle, they love him anyway and he will always be their son.
(Photo credit: by Arizona Parrot/CC)