Why Are You a Vegetarian?

From time to time, I have spirited conversations with foodies about eating animals. Some are vegetarians. They eat nothing with a “soul” (although if a carrot doesn’t have a soul, why do they refer to them as a baby? Yuck. IJS.).

So they go one step further — they don’t eat anything with eyes. (Don’t potatoes have eyes? I can’t remember.) Then there is the clan of the royal “I only eat seafood.” No Bambi or Thumper for them, no, sirree. (Although one might argue that if you are referring to soul (sole?), there is a rock fish, a fish roll up, and a blue(s) fish. But I’m stretching my point.)

My favorite snooty (misinformed?) eater is the “I don’t eat red meat” variety of diner. What. Ever. Have you ever been to a commercial chicken farm? If you had, you wouldn’t eat anything for a week. What are your reasons for not eating red meat? Cruelty? Fat content? Self-flagellation? I can pop all of those arguments in a jiffy. Just put down that bowl of Jell-O, get off your leather couch, slip on your leather shoes, and get back to me.

There is also a subclass of finicky eaters who ask waiters about the living conditions of the pork, cow, or wayward salmon they are about to order. Free-range? Ritz-Carlton-raised? Was the hill-hopping bunny reared by both (heterosexual) parents? It happens.

Last October, I was (snob alert) dining in Italy, and a handsome waiter placed a plate of rabbit terrine with a thinly sliced Granny Smith (Ruling: are relatives considered pets or fruits?) apple between me and a dear friend of mine. When she found out the beautiful dish was rabbit, she scrunched up her face and pushed it away. “I don’t eat anything I would keep as a pet,” she said. Hmm, I admit I was caught a little flatfooted. Now we were talking about what constitutes a suitable pet. I would love to have a goat (she wouldn’t). I also wouldn’t mind milking a few cows with funky names like Moo and How Now every morning before I drive in for an edit meeting. Hell, I spend a zillion dollars a month on bird seed, and most of the wild birds in my backyard have names: Sid & Nancy, George & Martha — you get my drift.

Pigeon? Yum. (I miss Mr. Chow.)

So, let’s discuss. It’s a new year. Perhaps we are entering a new age, and perhaps vegetables will have to at least be classified as a teenager before they are steamed.