Thursday, January 8, 2009

Opinions are Like Vegetarians

I don't believe in vegetarianism. Much like the concepts of God or global warming, I just don't believe that the arguments in favor of this lifestyle choice and value system outweigh the much more sizable arguments against it...for me, I (a) don't care about the animals (and recognize that there wouldn't be a whole lot of cows, pigs, or chickens running around if we didn't raise them for slaughter), and (b) believe that since the human body is built to digest such animal products--and in fact, needed such products for survival back in The Day of hunter-gather societies before cheap, pre-packaged, mass-produced foods--it therefore stands to reason that we are meant to be eating them.

Now. I'll give you the growth hormone toxins/excess of consumption arguments. Those I will give you. Because of the scarcity of meat back in The Day, our ancestors' bodies were not conditioned and did not evolve to be able to process large quantities of meat regularly consumed. Our American meat-and-potatoes diet is surely detrimental to our health--as is the growth hormones used in the livestock and the pesticides used in the livestock's feed, etc. No argument from me there. (Plus, organic beef really is that much better.)

What I can't stand are the self-righteous "meat is murder" types, or those who argue that the human body isn't "meant" to digest animal fats and proteins. Homosaywhat? The human species is classified as omnivorous for a reason--we eat things that are dead. And get by the interim periods with things grown in the ground. But I suppose those hunter-gatherers must have had it wrong, eh? If only they had been enlightened enough to realize they could survive on nuts and berries.

I long ago surmised that ailments such as insecurity, anxiety, and the complusion to yammer to a therapist about them are distinctly White People Problems. I'd actually like to see a breakdown of psychologists' clientele by race: I'd wager that the white-to-brown ratio reads like the Lions' losses-to-wins. By extension, these are also the afflictions of wealthy people in a welathy country with nothing else to worry about...if you spent a majority of your time worrying about how you were going to put food on the table and pay your gas bill, you probably wouldn't spend so much time concerned over how you interact in social situations and whether or not your parents didn't love you enough or loved you too much.

White People Problems.

Vegetarians have much in common with the kind of people outlined above. In fact, I'd clump "vegetarianism" (and oh by God veganism) into the "Stupid Shit White People Do" categorization. How many black vegans do you know? (Aside from the occasional Earth Mama and slam poet who claim Nation of Islam but have mostly Caucasian dread-sporting, patchouli-stinking friends.) How about strict vegetarian Latinos? Ever met a hungry African who refused a slab of beef, citing animal cruelty and the poisoning of the body's temple?

No. No, you haven't. Because those are White (American) People Issues, that the Rest of the World couldn't give a pig's entrails less about. The French eat fresh monkey brains, for chrissakes. Leave it to greedy, slovenly, self-serving Americans to give the world McDonald's and then judge everyone for eating it. This rampant spread of fad vegetarianism is also a uniquely American symptom: see, in other countries, where traditional cuisine has been stabilized over centuries, people didn't pump their cattle full of growth hormones that gave them all cancer a few decades later and excess has never been a way of life. In America all we ever seem to want is everything in the extreme: extreme sports, extreme home makeovers, triple beef patties wrapped in a quarter pound of bacon and slathered in special sauce for $3.99.

And then you have the extreme reactionaries, the people who think the only solution to the problem they see is to fling themselves in the polar opposite direction. And so we have vegetarians (or, in the most extreme, vegans). The solution can't simply be "eat less meat," no. Now the solution becomes "eat no meat at all" (or, in the most extreme, eat nothing made from an animal, including dairy and eggs).

But you know what? Whatever. I'll quietly judge you and think to myself how ignorant and misguided you are, as I do most people. I'll mostly keep it to myself unless I find myself in the vicinity of a friend who finds my hypercritical observations humorous. BUT. When you make a decision to go all polar-opposite extremist on everyone, DO NOT EXPECT EVERYONE TO CATER TO YOUR SELF-IMPOSED DIETARY RESTRICTIONS.

Case in point: prix fixe menus. Says one vegetarian to another, "Oh! This really nice restaurant is offering a fixed-price menu for pretty cheap! I've always wanted to check that place out; we should go!" Says the other in response, "Well. They aren't offering any vegetarian options, so we can't go." And the other says back, "The nerve. How dare they offer a special tasting menu at a fixed price and not include a vegetarian option. I hate it when places don't take us into consideration."


Your self-righteous diet is none of the chef's concern (in fact, I often wonder if [white] people don't make the decision to be vegetarian in order to justify increased levels of self-righteousness). When you visit a 4- to 5-star dining establishment, you do not expect the Michelin-rated Chef de Cuisine who trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris to completely rearrange his specially-prepared d├ęgustation menu designed based on what his personal specialities are, what ingredients are in season, and what dishes best represent his restaurant and the region to suit you. You pompous pain in the ass.

I am dating a person who unforutnately has a number of food allergies, and even he isn't nearly as demanding or self-entitled as these people are. For them, it is not a matter of it being a favor on the part of the chef to prepare them a special meat-free dish just for the sake of their incessant whining, is an expectation that this will be done, and further an inconvenience when they are forced to ask.

These people, much like the people who whine about prices, need to stay out of fine dining restaurants. You don't belong there, you don't appreciate it, and your loud demands sully the dining experience of all those around you. I'll make you a deal: I'll stay out of your PETA meetings and your various greening initiative grassroots organizations if you stay out of my restaurants. Go bother the people at Whole Foods, and leave me to my sweetbreads and foie gras drenched in thick, rich cream-and-butter sauces. Deal?

No, of course not, because you think the whole world needs to cater to you, you useless American.

Next time you see an announcement for one restaurant or another offering a limited prix fixe menu and you see it does not include a vegetarian option, instead of showing up anyway and demanding one, just don't go. Just don't go! See how easy that was? Or go, but order off the regular menu and do not demand the prix fixe menu be altered for your sake. If you have religious reasons for not being able to eat certain animal products at certain times, don't go during those times! See??? See how easy????

Much like my boyfriend does not have a hissyfit everytime he sees a menu heavy on nuts, dairy, and shellfish (he had a hell of a time in New Orleans, let me tell you) because he understands that the majority of the rest of the world is able to digest these items without issue and does not expect culinary artists to alter their creations for his benefit, so should you refrain from doing so.

Thank you, and happy dining.

"I'm not a vegetarian, but I eat animals who are." --Groucho Marx
"'Vegetarian'--that's an old Indian word meaning 'lousy hunter.'" --Andy Rooney