The waitress came to our table and confidently placed the salad with vinaigrette dressing in front of my wife and the plate of greasy potatoes and fried meat in front of me. She asked if there was anything else we needed and went to her next table.

My wife and I smiled and switched plates. This happens all the time.

I grew up on beef and salted pork products and this culinary leaning put me with the 99.99 percent of American men who aren’t already dead. However, I don’t often eat delicious beef or salted pork products anymore because medical professionals (occupational slogan, “if it makes you happy, stop doing it”) tell us a diet like that causes a buildup of arterial, heart-stopping plaque. And by “arterial plaque” they mean our important internal parts are clogged with packages of bratwurst and cans of Spam.

That’s why I often order a salad when we go out or fix something with lentils at home. If living is one of a person’s life goals, they shouldn’t be ashamed of it.

However, a study by the Man Food Project from the U.K.’s University of Southampton has shown they are. Most men are embarrassed to order a meatless dish at a restaurant due to what the research scientists call fear of “social isolation.” And this is from a study that specifically chose subjects who were either vegetarians or wanted to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle.

“What we have discovered is that many men are interested in eating less meat, they just need social permission to do so,” project researcher Dr. Emma Roe told the U.K. Telegraph.

Social permission? What a bunch of sissies.

One of the great things I’ve found about being a man, other than how easy it is to pee outside and the right to drink enough beer to want to, is the ability to do something other people find stupid and if ridiculed, do it twice. That’s why I ordered the vinaigrette.

In this world of people afraid to say anything that might offend, vegetarians are an easy target. What we don’t realize is there are a lot of them out there.

The study “Vegetarianism in America” revealed there are 7.3 million vegetarians in the United States, which is about 3.2 percent of the adult population. A half percent of that, 1 million people, are vegans, who eat no animal products because, I don’t know, they’re from Venus or something.

If 3.2 percent of the population doesn’t seem like much, there are twice as many vegetarians in the U.S. than there are people native to the Hawaiian Islands, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

My point? Eat what you want in front of whomever you want. Being a vegetarian is OK, guys. Well, except maybe in Texas. I think it’s against state law, or something.

– Jason Offutt’s column has been in continuous publication since 1998 appearing in newspapers and magazines across the United States. Follow Jason on Twitter @TheJasonOffutt.