On What People Think About Vegetarianism

Recently I’ve started this quasi-vegetarian diet, in which I can still have meat, but only if it was harvested in my state or a state touching mine. It’s a carbon-footprint thing.  Preferably (and so far almost exclusively) that meat is either wild game or raised on a small farm.

Being new to this whole quasi-vegetarianism thing, there are a few things that still baffle me a little bit.

“Gross.  This pizza is vegetarian.”

The other day I ordered one vegetarian and one “the works” pizza for a meeting I went to and almost everyone skipped the vegetarian pizza without even opening the box to see what it looked like. It was covered in green and black olives, green peppers, red onions and mushrooms.  It tasted so good.  It looked so good, but because the box said “veg”, no one wanted it.

Don’t get me wrong, I loves me a good meaty pizza, but it makes so little sense to pass up on something because it doesn’t have meat in it.  Like what if I refused to give any dessert a chance unless it involved cake?  Chocolate pudding?  Ew.  Creme brulee?  Gross.  Ice cream?  Wtf.  Cookies?  Hells no, you cannot have a dessert without cake, losers.

Fun side note: at the end of the meeting everyone was grabbing a last slice of pizza and someone made a snarky comment about the vegetarian option.  “I dare you to look at that pizza and tell me it looks gross.”  He rather abashedly admitted that it looked good.  Someone else looked over his shoulder and exclaimed over the green olives he hadn’t noticed.

There is so much delicious food that does not have meat in it.  Similarly, there are plenty of foods that kind of suck even though they have meat in them.  Using the source of protein in a dish as the primary measuring stick for how good it is going to be is childish and, dare I say it, stupid.

Don’t be stupid.

The Vegetarian Menu

It is weirdly difficult to find items on menus without meat in them.

Appetizers:  Plenty of sliders, chicken fingers, tacos filled with meat, etc. And then a veggie spring roll that your host warns you also has a little chicken in it. Or a veggie platter that is only celery and carrots.  Wheeee.
Salads:  Maybe one of them will not have meat sprinkled all over it.
Sandwiches:  One veggie option.  Even if it is a sandwich store.
Burgers:  Again, one veggie option.  I mean seriously, how hard is it to have two options with, like, a different cheese or sauce or combination of toppings on it?  That’s all any other burger is.  Same beef patty with different toppings.  Also, can we please get more portabella burgers everywhere.  Those things are make me drool.
Entrees:  Chicken centered dish.  Pork centered dish.  Steak centered dish.  Seafood centered dish.  Pasta…with your choice of bacon, lobster, steak, chicken, etc.  You want something vegetarian?  Get that one salad that doesn’t have meat on it.
Desserts:  OMG SUDDENLY IT’S NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE SOMETHING WITHOUT MEAT WHAT HAPPENED SOMEONE TALK TO THE COOK WE HAVE A PROBLEM WHERE IS THE CANDIED BACON.

The Vegetarian Tax

Usually, I don’t mind getting the vegetarian option, but it is frustrating to go to a place, see no vegetarian options, and be told that you can order the same thing as everyone else and just ask them to hold the meat, as though meat is that onion that you don’t like or something.

So you’re telling me that I can order something off of your menu, ask them to take off the most substantial part of that order and pay exactly what everyone else pays.

#thanksobama

“I could never be a vegetarian.  I like meat too much.”

This is the one that really irks me.  Mostly because I’ve used this line plenty of times myself, but now that I’m on the receiving end of it, I realize how little sense it makes.

Before I go any further, let’s take a moment to remember that I’m not a vegetarian.  I’m coming at this argument as someone who also loves and eats meat.

With that in mind, saying that you couldn’t be a vegetarian because you like meat is very much like saying:

“I could never stop drinking.  I like wine too much.”
“I could never stop smoking.  I like cigarettes too much.”
“I could never leave the office as early as 5.  I like working too much.”
“I could never give to charity.  I like spending money on myself too much.”

And yes, these are definitely things that people say.  But we react to them differently because if someone 1)  drinks too much they’re an alcoholic, 2) smokes they’re giving themselves lung cancer, 3) is always in the office they’re destroying their family life, and 4) only ever spends their money on themselves (and has the means to do otherwise) they’re selfish.  Every single one of those excuses is justifiably met with an eye roll.

If I was you right now, my reaction would be this:  “I get what you’re saying, Holly, but you can’t compare things like alcoholism to eating meat.  Alcoholism is a disease.  It destroys relationships and peoples’ bodies.  Eating meat doesn’t hurt anyone but animals and hullo food chain.  It’s falls completely within the natural order of things for animals to eat other animals.  Plus, people can drink and work in moderation and what people do with their money is their own business.  And smoking is gross.  Steak is not gross.”

Since those are my would-be reactions, obviously I agree with you.  Eating meat will not destroy your body or your relationships and every example I gave above (with the possible exception of smoking) can be done in moderation. Just like eating meat.

However, it’s significantly more rare for a person to be concerned their meats’ origin or environmental impact than things like the balance of their work and personal life or how many drinks are consumed in a night.  Which is not surprising.  The effects of drinking too much in a night or not spending enough time with your family are much more obvious than something as obscure as the carbon emitted by the meat industry before your food ever even gets to you, but the statistics are there.

The Carbon Foodprints of Different Diets

This photo is linked to its source, which has more carbon footprint food information.

Just as a friendly reminder:  I eat meat.  I had bacon last weekend (my farmer’s market has THE BEST BACON).  The best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had used beef broth and I was all about that shit.  My favorite dinner is chicken fried with kale OR, like, a giant plate of cheese and prosciutto and sausage and smoked fish with a baguette on the side and a glass of the smokiest red wine you can find.

I am definitely not attacking anyone who eats meat, because I get it, dudes.

However, as intelligent thinking creatures, I think we can agree that it is ridiculous to say “I can’t do *insert good thing here* because I like *insert contrapositional pleasurable thing here* too much?”

Fucking join the club.  Sometimes you don’t get to do the things that you like as much as you’d like because you’re a human and humans are supposedly smart enough to realize that the choices they make have ramifications.

This brings us back full circle to the conclusion of my first point:  do what you do, love what you do, think about what you do and, above all else:

Don’t be stupid.

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