Being a vegetarian in a culture that is so heavily reliant on animal products and byproducts can be a problem. Especially when your local dishes are built around beef, mutton, chicken, and fish.
People are constantly shocked to hear that you would chose not to eat their favorite part of the meal. If you're brave enough to be a vegetarian in Egypt, then you've probably dealt with most --if not all-- of these reactions.
1. Vegetarian, huh? But you eat fish, right?
What? No. I don't eat any animals whatsoever, that's what being a vegetarian actually means. The word you're probably looking for is 'pescatarian'.
2. So you eat rabbit food? Are you a rabbit?
Yes, that seems to be the case.
3. You don't eat meat? What do you eat then?
EVERYTHING ELSE. There's actually a crazy wide variety of food to eat that does not involve eating animals. Sur-prise!
4. Its haram for you to refuse to eat something God has allowed you to eat.
...Thank you for your sincere concern.
5. But where do you get your protein from? Your body needs meat!
Yeahhh, that's not actually a thing. Good try though.
On a serious note, proteins can be found in green peas, quinoa, nuts and nut butter, beans, chickpeas, tempeh and tofu, edamame, leafy greens, hemp, chia, sunflower and poppy seeds, seitan, dairy and non-dairy milk and cheese, and unsweetened cocoa powder among many others. The list really does go on...
6. Eww. I hate vegetables! I don't eat vegetables.
Again, there's a lot more than just veggies to eat. And, what do you mean you don't eat vegetables? That's quite worrying. You know you need fiber to regulate your bowel movements, right?
7. Why? Why would you do that to yourself?
It's by choice, I promise! Nobody has forced me into this. I know it's a shock for you, but it will all be alright at the end. Take a deep breath.
8. Eih elkalam elfady dah? (What is this absolute nonsense?)
This is what your favorite Egyptian Tante would say if you turned down her food because you're a vegetarian. Best keep that detail to yourself.
9. You must be constantly hungry!
We eat for hours - the same way cows graze. Just constantly eating, all because meat is not part of our diet. Lol.
10. Don't you miss meat?
Believe it or not, I really, really don't. If I missed it, I'd just eat it and call it a day.