“Vegetarian” doesn’t even begin to describe…

Even though in most aspects of life I’m pretty easygoing, when it comes to food, I can be quite difficult. What movie are we going to see? Well, I’ll express my opinion, but if the vote goes against me, I’m not going to kick up a fuss about having to see Scary Movie 16 or serious-movie-about-the-Middle-East-and-Americans 20. What restaurant are we going to eat at? Well, then there’s only so far I can be accommodating.

I’ve met quite a number of liberals who became vegetarian for political reasons (humanitarian or economic) and then gave up after a year, five years, or even ten years. The taste of meat lured them back in… usually, for some strange reason, a hot dog. Well, I’ve been a practicing vegetarian for sixteen years and a wannabe vegetarian for twenty-five years. It has to do with taste, not politics, so I know I’m not going to be changing that any time soon. I’m just picky, and meat isn’t included in the limited repertoire of foods I eat. Without listing every single food I eat or don’t eat, the best way to sum up my diet would be (in order of preference) sugar, fat, dairy, starch, fruits, and cooked vegetables. I don’t like seafood (though if I’m stuck in a seafood restaurant, I’ll eat the shrimp—the least offensive seafood). I don’t like meat. I don’t like spicy food.

But when you don’t know someone well, it takes too much explaining to go into a huge list of all the foods I like or don’t like. The simplest way to sum it up is “I’m vegetarian.” I am vegetarian, but that’s just the beginning of the story. Those who know me best usually chime in to clarify shortly afterwards: “He’s not vegetarian. He’s just picky.”

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9 Comments

  1. oh that word has so much meaning for me [but i’m too lazy to explain it all :)]. the denotation is you, you don’t eat veggies, but you’re talking about the connotation. why not just tell them “i’m a vegetarian because I don’t like meat”
    “why?”
    “i don’t like how it tastes.”

    sure, some people might look at you oddly, but that’s just who you are. i have a friend who’s like this. they are hindu, yes, but they just don’t like the taste of red meat.

  2. I have only consumed vegetarian food all my life. You can call it anything: cultural background, religion, lifestyle etc., but the fact is, I cannot even imagine eating any kind of non-vegetarian food. It just is taboo.

  3. In my part of the world, vegetarian food is as natural as non-vegetarian food in the west.

    Don’t think that we pick and choose, johnraff. Personally I would rather starve and die rather than eat meat. It’s a deeply embedded cultural and religious ethic that I cannot get rid of.

  4. I’ve always wondered how such things came to be. One cannot argue that, from a strictly biological standpoint, the human body is designed to consume meat as part of a regular diet. It has the utilities to chew and digest it, as well as the metabolic need for certain fats and amino acids naturally only found in meat (excepting perhaps a very limited number of substitutes of which I am unaware). And yet, somehow, these cultural practices origins have largely passed from all memory or history.

    As for the OP, there are two kinds of picky eaters. One says “no, I don’t like that” and doesn’t try it. The other will try things, but then say no, I don’t like that. I can respect some inbetween spaces, like in hari’s case, meat. But in general, I just can’t stand the first type. My wife used to be one, but she’s thankfully gotten over it. I’d offer her a peice of sushi. She’d ask what was in it. I told her, and one of the ingredients was crab. She said, “ew, no thanks, I don’t like crab.” I asked her if she had ever had it and she said, “No, but I don’t like any seafood.”

    That’s like saying “you know, that strawberry you’re offering me, thanks anyway, I once had this really sour green apple that I didn’t like, so I don’t like any fruit.” It doesn’t make any sense! Unfortunately, such habits are rarely based on sense.

    I also can’t stand it when picky people want to butt-in to non-picky people’s meals. That can be, “ewwww I can’t belive you’re eating that!” But that I can mostly stand. I had one coworker who was picky. I announced I was going to Burger King and if people had cash, I’d pick up an order for them. Everyone wrote down what they wanted and I got ready to lave. I decided to ask the picky one about what her order meant as it wasn’t clear.

    It was a fifteen minute explination. It’s BURGER KING. Do you want a burger, or chicken? Nuggets or sandwidch? DONE. She wanted something really crazy, think it was their angus burger, without the beef, onions or ketchup, with extra lettuce, pickles and cheese, and the special sauce from a Whopper, etc. etc.

    It’s fine to be picky, that’s you’re choice (have it your way!) but some people need to understand their preferences are extreme and find ways to cope, like brining lunch to work.

  5. Hello from Germany. *wave*

    First I wanted to say a huge thank you to Ubuntucat, your tutorials have helped me a great deal – this is actually why I came to your blog to express my gratitude. With your help I am now actually running a /home directory on a separate partition with XP access. Woohooo.

    Coincidentally you wrote this entry on vegetarianism – I’m a vegan so now I’m kinda combining things:-)

    > I’ve always wondered how such things came to be. One cannot argue that,
    > from a strictly biological standpoint, the human body is designed to
    > consume meat as part of a regular diet. It has the utilities to chew and
    > digest it, as well as the metabolic need for certain fats and amino acids
    > naturally only found in meat

    This is somewhat contradictory. First you say that the human body is not designed to consume meat, then you say meat contains stuff the body really needs and can’t really have any other way.

    Both of which is actually incorrect. The human body is perfectly adapted to consume animal products like dairy eggs and meat, and a diet containing these things in moderation have, in combination of little fitness, no negative health impact whatsoever for the human. Of course, discussing health only makes sense when discussing the health of all involved. Meat, dairy and eggs is very unhealthy for those who are forced to supply it – they die in the process…. Most non-vegan vegetarians for example don’t know that male chicks of the egg laying breeds get sexed after hatching and gassed or shredded. So for each egg laying hen, a male counterpart had to die – be it organic or conventional. The female counterpart is not much better off of course, given that this bird normally would lay about 6-12 eggs in a year, not one per day.

    This is why vegans reject the consumption of eggs and dairy. In dairy, similarly, the calf is a byproduct of forced impregnation needed for milk production and killed, just as its mother once the ratio of milk production becomes uneconomic. This is usually in her youth age, these breeds wear out quickly.

    Secondly, there is nothing, absolutely nothing in an omnivore diet which can’t be supplied by a vegan diet as well. I recommend the position paper of the ADA here: http://www.eatright.org/cps/rde/xchg/ada/hs.xsl/advocacy_933_ENU_HTML.htm

    This is on vegetarian diets in general, but includes a central statement on vegan diets as well: ” Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence.”

    Especially the amino acids you mentioned happen to be a circulating old myth which is based on an error of scientific conception which has been addressed a long time ago. It used to be believed that all essential amino acids needed to be consumed in one food for the body to get enough of it, until it was discovered that the body can actually “torrent” amino acids consumed from different foods even at different times.

    Two nutrients one has to look into is Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. Vitamin D is a general issue of nutrition, there is new intense debate given that some scientists are saying that we actually need up to 5000 IU of it per day to maintain adequate levels, and they got good science backing these claims up. There is no food supplying these quantities, so either we all have to move to the equator to get enough UV-B sunrays so it can be made in the skin, or start supplementing. Again, this is a general issue of nutrition which affects not only vegetarians and vegans.

    Vitamin B12 is actually produced by bacteria, so meet your new food group: yup, bacteria. The B12 in non-vegan foods is from bacteria as well, for example in cows they exist in huge numbers in one of the stomachs, therefore leaking B12 as a sideproduct into the digestion system of the animals. These bacteria can be cultivated in a process similar as baker yeast, so that B12 in pure form is actually not a synthetic vitamin. There is an insanely long thread on B12 on veganfitness and I recommend just reading the posts written by Ava http://www.veganfitness.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10363 , everything you could possibly ever wanted to know about B12 but were afraid to ask.

    As to the rest of the comment… I assume I as vegan would be seen as someone extremely picky, however this is probably a psychological reaction to vegan food, because interestingly there are up to 30,000 eatable plants and other vegan foods, it’s actually the people eating mainly combinations of dairy eggs and meat which actually have a severely limited and restrictive diet.

    That said, veganism is not about food of course. We also reject non food things based on other animals, like leather, wool, silk, shellac and cochineal red.

    For anyone interested in the reasoning behind such severe lifestyle shift, I can recommend Gary Francione who is a Professor of Law, his style is not only concise, but he is one in a confusing array of voices who’s got a real grip on this issue.

  6. In Re: VV, rereading my post, there was just some poor proof reading. I was actually suggesting humans are biologically design TO eat meat, as you are. We’re trying to agree on that front. ;)

    Interesting about the diet, I’ll have to check the link later, but I always enjoy it when I find out a more accurate peice of information than what I had. I imagine vegitarians in general have a better, healthier diet because of the need to be concious of these sorts of things. Be that as it may, I’ll still probably take more than a few of the hot wings being brought in to work tonight.

    I wouldn’t consider vegans picky, nor vegitarians. Not eating something for a philospophical reason is one thing. I, for one, refuse to eat at Hardees becuase of what I call their “make America Fatter” campaign of making every burger ridiculously huge. Sure, other fast food restraunts are doing the same thing, but at least they’re advertizing their salads and such; Hardees seems proud of the fact it’s the worst-for-your-health fast food restraunt.

    Refusing to try things because you “just know” you won’t like it is what I consider too picky.

  7. > In Re: VV, rereading my post, there was just some poor proof reading. I was
    > actually suggesting humans are biologically design TO eat meat, as you are.

    Ah, I see.

    > We’re trying to agree on that front. ;)

    Oh we’re not “agreeing” in that sense, since ‘biological design’ is such a reductionist and tunnel vision parameter for human behavior and can in no way serve as a justification to delete other life forms for the sake of taste. Just because we are able to digest animal matter, does in no way justify doing so… The fact that it is happening regardless is something vegans consider a global ethical psychosis which counts billions of victims every year.

    We’re also biologically designed to be able to make ethical choices, this fact is often overlooked by people who seek justifications for using other animals. Men are also biologically designed to share their DNA with as many women as possible, and the most efficient method to achieve this would be rape. However, no one sane would recommend this method because it has ethical implications and in a court room the excuse of the rapist that he was following his biological design would not be an acceptable justification. At least in countries where women have the status of humans.

    It’s interesting that “we” can recognize the importance of ethical rights in other humans, and that these rights overwrite crude justifications like “biological design”, but that this logic suddenly collapses for people who suffer from racism, sexism or speciesism.

    > Interesting about the diet, I’ll
    > have to check the link later, but I always enjoy it when I find out a more
    > accurate peice of information than what I had. I imagine vegitarians in
    > general have a better, healthier diet because of the need to be concious of
    > these sorts of things.

    This is a misconception. Everybody needs to be conscious of diet – it’s the key to your existence. You stop eating, you die. You eat wrongly, you die early. That onmivores are not conscious of *their* diet is evidenced by the fact that most causes of deaths in western countries are directly linked to a meat/dair/egg based diet. However, your suggestion is a very common psychological response to the vegan diet in particular, even the word produces an instant fantasy of things ‘gone’ or missing, while in reality the reverse is true as I already mentioned in my other post.

    > Be that as it may, I’ll still probably take more
    > than a few of the hot wings being brought in to work tonight.

    Yes, speciesism is very deeply ingrained into our thinking. Would you eat hot wings if they were made from your arms or the arms of your child? If you’re sane, the answer is no. The interesting question is, why don’t we extend that sanity onto others who do not belong to our species?

    > Not eating something for a
    > philospophical reason is one thing.

    Being vegan is actually not a question of philosophy, just as stopping on a red traffic light is not a question of traffic philosophy. It’s about mathematical principles guiding a functional social interaction which guarantees the least harm possible for everybody, including non-humans.

    I always stress this, because the devaluation tag “philosophical” is often used to make veganism sound like an esoteric mental hobby of hippies, when really we are the pioneers of the next step of human civilization. Some even claim the first.

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