Friday, January 15, 2010

Vegetarianism: The Questions I Am Most Frequently Asked

Disclaimer: these are the opinions of but one vegetarian.  I do not claim to represent everyone with my eating habits.

1.  Why did you become a vegetarian?

I was never a huge fan of the taste and texture of meat, but I ate it when I was younger.  My grandmother would take me to fancy places, and I remember really liking the chicken pot pies at Lamie's in Hampton, New Hampshire.  When I was fifteen, I got a summer job at a farm stand.  One of my jobs was feeding the animals.  I was essentially a city kid, and my grandmother wouldn't really let us have any pets aside from an extremely moody cat, so I was suprised by just how intellegent farm animals were.  They all had their own personalities: the chickens were mean spirited, but the sheep and pigs were just lovely.  There was a pig who would come up to me and root around at my feet, and let me pet her once in a while, I named her Agatha.  It was a working farm, so one day they took Agatha off to be slaughtered.  I had a hard time with that, and decided to become a vegetarian in mid-October of 1997. 

2.  Is it hard to be a vegetarian?

Yes.  It's not as hard now as it was when I was in high school, because now I can cook for myself, and I live near a big, liberal city where vegetarianism isn't considered some radical rebuke to traditional values, but it's not easy.  I dine out primarily at Asian and African places because those are two cultures that don't have to have meat in every single dish, but still have to fill up on cereal if I'm going to an "American" place.  (Applebees: boo!)

3.  How can you keep a boyfriend if you don't eat meat?

He can cook for himself, if he wants.  He does half the cooking in the house, anyway.  I don't really care if other people eat meat, but I won't.

4.  What do you mean, you don't care if other people eat meat? 

They're adults, they can do what they want.  I believe eating meat is morally wrong and that modern factory farms are inherently cruel and unsustainable, but in a diverse society one has to be tolerant.  I used to be much more hard line and extreme, but I realized that I put people off.  It was much easier to win people over to even a partial version of my way of thinking by simply not eating meat and then failing to keel over dead of lack of protein.

5.  You must really hate hunters.

Not at all.  Hunting is much more honest and environmentally friendly than buying shrink wrapped chunks of flesh in the supermarket.  I never could stand people who would eat meat but wig out when they were reminded that they were eating a once-living animal.  Hunters damn well know, and good for them. 

6.  Have you ever fallen off the wagon?

Yes, a couple of times in the past twelve years I've had bites of meat or a chicken sandwich or something.  The trick is to not let that convince you you can't be a vegetarian.  You just have to not eat meat one day at a time. 

7.  You're just trying to convert everyone to your pinko, food hating, family destroying ideals!

Look, I can't say I wouldn't be really happy if everyone in the world gave up eating meat, but we all know that's not going to happen.  What I'm trying to do is show people that vegetarian eating isn't a negative practice.  It's not about renunciation, it's about trying all these delicious things to eat!  Even cutting down the number of meat-oriented meals a family serves in a day would make a significant impact on cholesterol levels and food resources, and that would be a good thing.

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