A few months ago the lovely young woman who was renting my upstairs loft asked me if I was a vegetarian. She had seen no meat in my refrigerator, and she was afraid she might offend me if she brought home any animal products.
No, I told her. I can’t afford to buy meat, that’s all. I’m an accidental vegetarian, and even if I was an intentional vegetarian, I don’t think I’d judge the eating habits of a lodger.
I try to be non-judgmental, although you never know.
Yesterday my son Drew was telling me about the Evertune guitar bridge, which keeps an electric guitar in tune for months.
I had a primitive visceral reaction: This is magic! I do not understand it! I fear it! We must burn somebody!
It seemed outside the realm of reason that you would not have to tune your guitar for months. Looked up the Evertune online and read an explanation of the engineering and physics of the machine. It is awfully clever, and not a reason to burn anyone.
Whew. Education to the rescue.
So I believe I would not judge how someone ate. Now, if someone was holier-than-thou about their diet or started giving me, “I’m only trying to help you,” suggestions, then yeah – judgment.
Many years ago, when I was young and could handle a little vitamin and mineral deprivation, I was an intentional vegetarian for a few months.
I cooked out of “Diet for a Small Planet,” a little book that talked about combining your foods so you got complete proteins, and “Ten Talents,” the official cookbook of the Seventh Day Adventists, who promote a plant-based diet, but don’t insist on it.
The Small Planet recipes tended to taste alike, so, boring.
The Ten Talents recipes were labor intensive and came with a lot of preaching about right living. Seventh Day Adventists with whom I went to elementary school and their parents looked normal, but the front cover of Ten Talents featured a woman who could step right into a wagon train. Her clothing, her hair, her smile, her whole demeanor, looked 19th century Stepford wife to me.
But the recipes were time-tested. There is a recipe for cashew gravy in that book that I have made several times over the years.
Most people become vegetarian intentionally. They make their choice for various reasons.
Perhaps they realize how many resources go into producing a pound of beef and wish to eat in a way that is more environmentally sound.
Perhaps they love animals and have heard of or have seen the squalid conditions in which corporate meat and dairy peddlers house their pigs, chickens, and cattle. They have seen how animal flesh is processed, and they like it not.
Some, like the Seventh Day Adventists, who strive to be healthy so they can better serve God, are vegetarian for reasons of a belief system.
Some people eat a vegetarian diet to lose weight.
Some people can’t afford meat.
Some vegetarians say they will not eat anything with a face. It would be cruel to serve them a vegan pancake with a face drawn on it in syrup, but that is what I thought of right away because I am twisted.
Historically we humans are omnivores. We hunted and gathered, and we ate what we could, when we could. The idea was to survive. Having access to enough food to survive and thrive on a chosen diet is a luxury. If you have enough food security to make the choice to be a carnivore or vegetarian or vegan, wow, you are living, forgive me, high on the hog.
Which reminds me:
When my husband Rick was a boy his Uncle Dean worked in a meat processing plant in Iowa. Dean took Rick on a tour of the facility once. Rick said there was a chute that live pigs went down, into a little shed, and they came out the other side on a conveyor belt, dead.
That day one pig went down, and whatever the killing process was, it didn’t quite work on him. He came out of the shed alive, and boy, was he mad. He jumped off the conveyor belt and ran amok through the plant.
Took them a while to chase him down and, alas, send him to the same fate as his brothers and sisters.
I have always felt admiration for that pig. Up the revolution! He was doomed, but he let them know how he felt, how they all would feel if they had the chance. You go, pig. Rage, rage, rage against the dying of the light!
That pig’s story, right there, is a good argument for being a vegetarian.