For about the first two years of “No thank you I don’t eat that,” I quiet purposely avoiding using the term vegetarian. Mostly this word (like feminist) caries a lot of baggage that instantly makes the listener suck in a quick breath, raise their eyebrows and quickly glance around to see if they have somehow stumbled into an unsavoury convention of “Us vs Them.” For these first two years I simply said to people “I don’t eat meat,” which for some reason seems easier to swallow then that dreaded title…vegetarian. I equate it to saying, “I’m not a feminist, but I do believe women should have equal rights” oh well! That’s completely different! I found it strange that I could say “I don’t eat meat” and everyone was just fine with that, but once I declared myself a veg-o, people instantly wanted to clarify what that meant.
The reason I so avoided using the term vegetarian is because:
a) I don’t want to make someone else feel uncomfortable (though that same gesture isn’t always extend to me)
b) I didn’t want people to think that I was judging them (At restaurant’s, I have had people check if I was “Okay” with them ordering a steak)
c) I didn’t identify with any grandiose moral reason…I just thought it was kind of gross to have an animal cemetery in my belly (still my current go to tactic when someone makes me ‘defend’ my dietary choices).
On a side note, I absolutely cringe when someone inevitably asks “But, why don’t you eat meat?” I hate answering this question because it is reasonably easy to deduce why someone doesn’t eat meat. To me it feels as ridiculous as saying: “What? You go to work everyday?”
“You put fuel in your car?”
“You wear socks on both feet?”
One time (at broccoli camp), I threw this question back to a young fellow who simply said, “Because that’s how I grew up, it’s what you do.” It’s what you do. So shrug your shoulders and turn on the TV.
This “Why” is usually then followed by a “How” as in — how committed are you to preserving your belly as a free-range park?
“But you eat chicken….right?” No I don’t eat chicken but yes… look it’s true… if I am out at a BBQ or restaurant and there’s no other option I will eat fish.
HA HA! They cry as a gleam crosses their eye “Got you!” they think “Pow! Pow!” She’s not a purist after all heh heh! Yes it is true, apparently I am ok with my belly being the metaphorical toilet that all dead fish get flushed down – what can I say we’re all full of contradictions (You contradicting freak).
Plus my old mate Kurt Cobain agrees “I can eat fish because they don’t have any feelings.” One of my all time favourite questions however has to be “But…what do you eat?” Really? What do I eat? Well old chap; since I like that-there pocket watch of yours so much I’ll tell you! I prefer to live off the fruit scooped up from my neighbour’s lawn, strictly in the dead of night – you’ll understand – when I am least likely to get caught! Then I usually swim out into the rice field and go diving for those precious flicks of white gold and once that’s all done well! I usually top it all off with some exotic plant clippings collected from my pilgrimage across the Silk Road. It’s usually at this point that I like to slip in, that I have no interest in having children.
Oh boy! Oh boy! What will she say next!
Mike Bitzenhofer. Empty nest syndrome.