From Too Many Chefs -

July 14, 2004

The redhead and I went to a barbecue party for the All-Star game last night. (I'm sad the National League lost, but glad Clemens got shelled. You think Piazza was telling the hitters what was coming?)

My wife and I are semi-vegetarians. We eat fish during the year, turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas with the family, and I'll indulge in a steak twice a year. The hosts are pretty good friends of ours, so they graciously had some "not-dogs" to grill along with the rest of the full meat weiners.

We enjoyed the fake franks quite a bit, but apparently this anti-meat behavior wigged out a couple of the other guests. One of the funnier comments was a characterization of me as a "meat elitist" because I would infrequently eat steaks at Gibson's, but wouldn't have a lowly hot dog.

This was all in fun, and we laughed at our own expense, but there was one guy who kept pick pick picking. If we were having potato chips, he'd make a comment that we should be careful, there might be meat in there. When we sat to talk, he said, "If God wanted us to be vegetarians, he wouldn't have made animals out of meat."

Now, we're not vegetarians necessarily for ethical reasons. For me, it's mainly a health choice, so I didn't point out that, like animals, people are made of meat; I also didn't ask him if his family baked, boiled, or steamed his great-grandmother when she passed on.

About the time he dropped the fourth snarky comment or so, I'm wondering why this guy is belaboring the point so hard, and it hits me - He's a vegephobe.

He's attracted to vegetables, but hides it. Sure, he goes home to a nice dinner of pork chops or leg of lamb, but down deep he really wants a carrot. A thick, crunchy, carrot. He secretly worries that he may have vegetarian tendencies and worries that the right cook might cause him to question his carnivorality.

He's looked furtively in the stores at the Deborah Madison cookbooks, but quickly reshelved them when another carnivore came by; he lingers a little too long over the salad page on the menu of his favorite restaurant before ordering the veal; he dreams at night not of cattle on the range, but of a nice garden that, for some reason, he's flying over.

He has Burpee's Seed Catalogs hidden under his mattress.

Our Guy wants the Lunch That Dare Not Speak Its Name. He's a vegetarian trapped in a carnivore's body and he wants to come out of the meatlocker.

I can imagine the conversation,

Our Guy:"Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you. I'm not like other meat-eaters."
Dad:"What are you talking about?"
Our Guy:"I... I think I'm a vegetarian." (Mother bursts into tears).
Dad:"What?! You are not. You had a burger just the other day."
Our Guy:" I know, I know, but the whole time I was chewing I was imagining it was a lentil and bulghar patty!"
Dad:"Watch your language!!"
Mom:"It's a phase. Just a phase. In college, I was a VUG myself. A Vegetarian Until Graduation, but then I met your father!"
Our Guy:"Mom-"
Dad:"Get out. I won't have vegetarian filth in this house."
Our Guy:"But-"
Dad:"Out! And don't come back without a slab of ribs and barbecue sauce on your lips!"

Very sad. Maybe he can transition by being an omnivore. They eat anything that moves.

(Please note, before you write, I like meateaters. I don't have any problems with them. I just don't understand why a few meat-eaters are so wigged out by vegetarians. Now vegans - they're the crazy ones! )

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at July 14, 2004 1:07 PM | TrackBack

on a totally random note, the morningstar farms veggie dogs (found in the freezer section with all of the other morningstar farms goods) are the best out there. just thought i'd share...

Posted by j on July 14, 2004 at 4:45 PM

He sounds like a charming fellow, no really. Did you sneak some vegetables on his plate when he wasn't looking to see if you could contaminate his meat??

Of course, what can you expect when you elect to lead a weirdo lifestyle??

; )

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 15, 2004 at 6:03 AM

By weirdo lifestyle you mean moving overseas and marrying a Brit?

Posted by Barrett on July 15, 2004 at 9:40 AM

That is a lifestyle choice that is sane under the current administration. (Call me very far-seeing.)

The point is, I think, that meat-eaters of the less intelligent variety assume that vegetarians are always not eating meat out of moral scruples. This makes them uncomfortable because they are insecure about their own morality and assume you are secretly judging them. The pre-emptive strike is for them to get aggressive.

I think you should tell the next guy that it's been proven that meat makes men impotent and see how he reacts...

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 15, 2004 at 11:21 AM

Hilarious! I have sent this post to every vegetarian I know.

Posted by jen on July 15, 2004 at 12:05 PM

Just to be clear, I don't think any less of someone who is a meat eater. I don't like jackasses of any variety - meat-eating, vegan, vegetarian, or omnivorous. I can't emphasize that enough. I eat lots of weird stuff that other peopel disdain.

In fact, I'm still trying to figure out if snails are meat or seafood. Can I get a pass on bugs and mollusks?

Posted by Barrett on July 15, 2004 at 1:13 PM

I thought bugs made you swell up and die--or is that just aquatic bugs?

Regardless, edible snails are mostly of family Helicidae, which are all terrestrial, so they're meat, not seafood (for some definition of "meat" that doesn't include seafood).

Posted by sweth on July 19, 2004 at 1:47 AM

Crustaceans, which are bug-like are what do me in.

I'm not convinced on the snails being meat. Dolphins live in the ocean and they are meat rather than fish. I'm thinking it may boil down (boiled snals, yuck) to how complex the beastie is.

Or, you know, how Jesuit I can can get in my justifications.

Posted by Barrett on July 19, 2004 at 9:04 AM

But how many non-crustacean arthropods have you tried? Apparently some people with shellfish allergies discovered during the Brood X explosion that their allergies also applied to cicadas. Best to play it safe and only feed the bugs to the wife.

And why are dolphins meat? If dolphins are meat, why not tuna? And what about whale, or dugong, or even penguin?

Posted by sweth on July 19, 2004 at 9:11 PM

Penguin's easy - it's a bird. Dolphins are meat because they're mammals and help Porter, Sandy, and Bud all the time. Whale is also a mammal and may contain traces of biblical prophets or crazy old one legged sea captains.

Dugong is clearly a - What the hell is dugong?

Now sea otters - I'd probably turn down a sea otter burger, but I won't guarantee it.

Just looked up a dugong. Sea cows? Can I get sea cheese from that? How about sea ice cream? I'd have to say they're meat.

Tuna is a fish and therefore dumb. I 've never seen a tuna dial a phone, retrieve important naval gear, or tell Bud that Skippy's caught in an underwater sea cave. Probably when he went to milk the sea cow.

Plus tuna has gills. I've never seen a non-fish with gills. Except Aquaman and that hardly counts. And the Submariner, I guess.

I'd read that about the cicadas. I think that reinforces the thought that they're probably seafood. My scientific reasoning for snails being seafood is that they deliver garlic really really well when soaked in butter. Therefore, they must be like crostini, which are clearly fish.

Now frogs...

Posted by Barrett on July 20, 2004 at 1:19 AM