Do children of vegetarians get to eat animal crackers?
I only ask this because I am not a vegetarian so I don’t necessarily understand the complete wisdom of the calling.
There have been times in my life I’ve debated going in that direction both philosophically and gastronomically. Philosophically I agree with the idea, but when it comes to the vittles I see on my plate I waver on the concept.
Once went to a fabulous home-cooked dinner at the home of a dear friend. She’s vegetarian. I knew that but love her anyway. She’s also an extremely good cook. So, we sat down to this meal that was an amalgam of vegetarian dishes and it was all scrumptious. But when the meal was complete, I realized that I was still incomplete. What was missing? Oh, right, meat! Or fish. Or crustaceans. Or shellfish, or something high in animal protein. So, I realized I wasn’t ready to make such a commitment.
When I met Wendy she was largely vegetarian and very rarely ate red meat. She told me that a while before she’d been full vegetarian for about three years.
“Girls always do that,” I, in my wisdom and worldliness pronounced. “My stepdaughter did that when she was about 15. She wouldn’t eat ‘anything with a face.’ “How about an oyster?” I asked her. “Oysters don’t have faces. I defy you to find the face of an oyster.” All that served to do was make her loathe me even more than she imagined she already did at that tender hormonal-raging age.
Anyway, Wendy wasn’t offended, and basically concurred that men, with all their testosterone-fraught posturing that told them they were essentially rugged hunters even if they worked as chartered accountants, were less inclined in the direction of eschewing meat-like food.
Yet, I know the vegetarian impulse does reside within me. As I have mentioned before I used to be an avid angler. I was an aficionado of the wisdom of old Izaak Walton and spent many years merrily trout and salmon fishing. And then I stopped. Almost just like that. I realized I had lost the heart to take the life of the fish as much as I loved the sport and its challenge, and being out on the water, or standing in a river. I simply lost the will to kill.
My decision was confirmed within me when I stood on a dock in Kona, Hawaii, and watched them hoist a huge and beautiful marlin off a boat so that they could hoist it up to a scale, so some florid-faced asshole from Waukegan or Saskatoon could have his photo taken alongside this magnificent creature that he’d just murdered. This only served to leave me with the question, Why did you want to do that? Is killing something that awe-inspiring the only thing that will give that dickwad an orgasm? I’ll seek mine elsewhere, thank you.
So, there went fishing. As for hunting, that is a so-called sport that’s beyond my comprehension as an agreeable pastime. “What fun, let’s go and kill something!” If you live in the wilderness and must hunt to put meat on the table, I won’t judge. But for pleasure rather than necessity? Truly beyond the pale is trophy hunting. That showily be deemed a criminal act and universally outlawed.
Then there is livestock. When I was on Rarotonga for a few weeks I befriended a little piglet that was on the farm next door to our condo. The exotic tropical allure of roast suckling pig departed during that relationship. Pigs are very smart and very affectionate. Anybody who has spent time around them knows that. Yes, I still eat pork, but at least I think about it and am left uneasy.
As it stands, I won’t on principle eat veal. Pork or even chicken work very nicely for schnitzel. Last year we decided we didn’t want to eat lamb any longer, despite how much I love a lamb chop with mint jelly. But, my decision, as wimpy as it was, revolved around the fact that each livestock animal deserved to live to at least adulthood. I know it’s a cop out, but for the moment it works.
I once kept chickens, but all of my hens died of old age, I couldn’t bring myself to expedite them. But, I eat chicken, nonetheless. Red meat, not so much, though I love a good burger and we will (albeit rarely) indulge a well-marbled steak or prime rib. We eat beef so rarely that we always opt for the best cuts.
Fish and shellfish we eat both because they’re healthy and because (despite my squeamishness over fishing for myself) I don’t think they suffer as much as warm-blooded animals. I may be wrong. On the other hand, I can’t bear the process of killing crabs or lobsters.
So, am I a hypocrite? No doubt. Am I a coward for not taking the plunge? Likely, too. So, why don’t I go there? Well, it goes back to that fine vegetarian dinner served by my friend. It was just the feeling I was missing something and the thought of dropping off at Burger King on the way home didn’t entirely leave my consciousness that evening.