Monday, August 30, 2010

Oh You and Your Part Time Vegetarianism

As I have clearly stated before, I am a vegetarian. If you want me to be specific, I am an ovo-lacto vegetarian, though I really need to cut out the ovo, and maybe the lacto.

Anyway, what that means is that I eat no meat at all, but I do eat eggs and dairy. I am also a very strict ovo-lacto-vegetarian. I check everything I can for any animal product, and forgo anything, much as I may love it, once I find out what it has. This means I can't eat at so many Mexican restaurants because of the lard in their food. This means that I can't have jello shooters anymore (not that I have actually ever had one) because gelatin is made from animal hooves. The gelatin thing also leaves out a lot of desserts, yogurt, and even marsh mellows, but so be it.

I try my best to buy shoes that are all man made, which let me assure you, sucks when it come to finding great footwear.

I do all this, and more, as a choice. This is my lifestyle. This is the way I want to be.

Let me also state that I do not think it is wrong to eat meat, but I think it is wrong for ME to eat meat. I do not expect anyone else to make my choice. If you eat meat, great. If you don't, great, let's exchange some recipes. I really think that whatever you choose to do, be happy with it, and it is all good.

However, there is one thing I don't understand, the idea of part time vegetarianism. This is the big movement now where people only eat meat sometimes. They may do it for different reasons, but not every meal has meat. In the south, we just called that poor. You see, not everyone, even those with farms and animals of their own to butcher, has enough to have meat at every meal. So, the reality is you don't have it. I doubt any of them are calling themselves Part Time Vegetarians (PTVs).

My own father has eaten meals without meat. He may not like it, but that's how it is sometimes. I dare you to call him a part time vegetarian to his face. Double Dog Dare, even.

My own children could be called PTVs, I suppose. The Big One only eats chicken now, and it must not resemble an actual piece of chicken in any way for her to eat it. No. It needs to be ground, breaded, and shaped, preferably like a crown or star, for her to be into it. I by no means consider her a PTV, nor do I care for anyone else to call her that.

She eats meat. She may not eat much of it,but she likes it when she eats it. She doesn't have a guilty conscience if she eats it. I think all of the disqualifies her from being any kind of vegetarian at all.

I read someone liken being a PTV to being a Part Time Christian somewhere, and I nearly wasted perfectly good Coke Zero. The idea of a part time Christian, only when it suits you, is funny. No one would go around and proclaim part time Christianity. To me, both are based on deep personal beliefs. Granted one is a religion, but both of them represent specific ways of life that you choose to live.

So, why is it ok to only hold true to certain beliefs sometimes, when you think you can count yourself in, but not when it matters. To me, you can't count yourself into the crowd until you are really willing to follow through. We aren't even talking about making mistakes here, but intentional choices. You either choose to eat meat, or you don't.

To call yourself a vegetarian, in any way, when you actively partake of meat on at least a part time basis, is a bit demeaning to the term. I actually am a bit offended. You are not a vegetarian. You just eat less meat. If I walk into the woods dressed in camouflage, am I suddenly a hunter? In my case, I would probably be there to scare the animals away, but still, I participated in half of the appropriate related activity. So, under this same misguided premise, wouldn't I then be hunting? Maybe I would actually have to carry a gun. I certainly wouldn't have to kill anything because many hunters come back with nothing to show for their efforts, even though they wanted to. So, you can't make that a requirement.

I hope I am not alone in seeing the absurdity of someone who is a meat eater calling themselves a vegetarian. Don't get me wrong, I think it is great if you want to eat less meat. Good on you. However, if you really feel the need to label yourself something special as a reward for your effort, try a different word or phrase. I hear people use flexitarian, and that is at least not offensive as calling yourself a vegetarian. Instead, how about you forget about trying get other people to pat you on the back for your sacrifice, and just enjoy a wonderful, flavorful, healthy meatless meal.