I was at work last week, and somebody asked me if I had tried a certain meat product.  When I said no, he automatically replied with, “I didn’t know you were vegetarian!  I mean, I figured you ate meat because of the gun thing.” (I’m pretty open about my views on guns and gun control at work, and people know that I carry outside of work).  I was pretty stunned.  I mean, this fellow made two assumptions: because I hadn’t tried the product, I was automatically a vegetarian, and because I carry a gun, this presents a disparity.  I disagree on both parts.

First, just because I’m an omnivore doesn’t mean that I have tried everything that has meat in it.  I have never tried blood sausage or veal or venison either.  That lack of experience does not make me a vegetarian.

Second, just because I carry a gun does not mean I can not be a vegetarian.  I don’t carry a gun to hunt-I carry it for self-defense.  I actually know a vegetarian who carries a gun, and it’s not weird or shocking to me.  There are lots of reasons that people are vegetarians, and there are lots of reasons that people carry guns-assuming that the two overlapping is strange is kind of naive.

I know that the comment was not meant in an insulting way.  I know that.  I was just really surprised by the instant use of stereotypes.  I think that as soon as this fellow found out I carry, he automatically fit me into a category that I’m not really sure I fit into.  I was disappointed.

Unfortunately, we all do this.  We meet someone and automatically categorize them based on one or two things we know about them.  But people are so much more complex than that.  We are so much more than just Republicans or Democrats, men or women, young or old.  We are more than our race, our job title, or our education.  And it frustrates me when we stereotype others based on a set of often inaccurate assumptions about a group.

So please, don’t assume I can not be a vegetarian just because I carry a gun.  Never mind that I’m not; just don’t assume that.