May 14, 2010
Sometimes Im tempted to say Im a vegetarian, but Im not really. Its been a long time since Ive eaten chicken, beef, or pork, but I do eat eggs and Ill never be able to give up cheese. I know people like that sometimes describe themselves as ovo-lacto vegetarians, but that takes much too long to explain. And I also eat fish. Theres also a term for people like that–they call themselves ovo-lacto-pescatarians, but if someone’s taking my dinner order I think it’d just be easier to say, "Lookie here, I can dig grease and butter on some draggin’ fruit garden." I even once knew a woman who said she was a vegetarian but she ate fish and poultry, and at least once I caught her eating a bacon cheeseburger. There’s even a term for people like that–"not really vegetarian".
What I really call myself is an accidental vegetarian. I became one because my wife did and it was either go along with her or cook for myself, and I’m pretty sure I’d get tired of the only two things I can make–spaghetti and eggs benedict. I’d probably get so bored I’d try and mix it up and make spaghetti benedict, which sounds so awful it’s probably already served in New York restaurants as nouvelle cuisine. Besides, I’ve never really been a big fan of beef or pork, even though I have grandparents who came from Eastern Europe where pork was a food group. So was cabbage, but that’s another story. When I was a kid and I’d go to a restaurant with my parents my mother often commented that I almost always ordered the fish and if there wasn’t fish I ordered chicken, although now I handle so much raw chicken I don’t think I could stand to eat the stuff no matter how it’s cooked. I handle a lot of raw chicken because my wife feeds our dogs a special diet called the BARF diet. I’m not making that up. That’s an acronym for Bones And Raw Food, a diet that’s healthy because it’s an improved version of what dogs would eat in the wild, unlike most processed dog foods which are made from whatever gets swept up from the floor in factories that make chewing tobacco combined with margarine. Anyway, the name "BARF diet" also describes the reaction most people have when I tell them that every few weeks we buy eighty pounds of chicken necks that I then run through a meat grinder. It amazes me how many people have weak stomachs. Most people won’t even stick around long enough for me to tell them about those rare occasions when I find a chicken neck with the head still attached. If you feel like you’re about to start your own barf diet right now let me assure you that I probably won’t bring up chicken necks again. As for me, even if I did have a weak stomach I’m still be happy to do whatever’s best for our dogs. As Groucho Marx said, "Outside of a dog a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read."
The funny thing about being mostly vegetarian is I notice that even people who are pretty dedicated to being vegetarians can’t go completely cold tabouleh. That’s why there’s a whole line of meat substitutes with crazy puns on the packaging that say things like, "It’s soy tasty!" I’d have to be really boneheaded to fall for such a stupid line. So of course I’ve tried a lot of these meat substitutes and I can honestly say they’ve satisfied my craving for something that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike meat. My favorite are the soy hot dogs, partly because they’re pretty tasty grilled and slathered with mustard, ketchup, relish, malt vinegar, hummus, onion dip, vegemite, salsa, horseradish, and cream of mushroom soup. But I also always wonder what the lips and eyes of a soy plant look like. What I’m getting at is that I don’t know why I’m sort of a vegetarian. Some people become vegetarians because they have qualms about eating something that may or may not be as intelligent as they are, some people do it for health reasons. Others are just completely turned off by the way animals that are raised for meat are kept in tight pens and stuffed with antibiotics and the way the meat itself is injected with bleach and sprayed with DDT before going to your friendly neighborhood grocery store. I met a guy once who told me he’d never eat pork again after visiting a pork processing plant. That’s probably true of just about anything. As the old saying goes the two things you never want to see being made are laws and sausages. The same is probably true of all those meat substitute products. The way they’re made is probably soy disgusting–maybe even worse than handling raw chicken necks.