I am not a vegetarian. Really the only thing keeping me from hunting and tearing into the flesh of small furry animals myself is I’m too fat and lazy, and it’s a lot easier to get my grilled rodents in the Burger King drive through. I’m very much in the same mindset of Denis Leary: meat IS murder….that’s what makes it taste so damn good!
Somehow, the fates have aligned to give me two vegetarian daughters. While it can make for some awkward moments at the dinner table whenever I dive face-first into a bloody hunk of steak, I’m ultimately very proud that they have stuck to a decision that most kids their age would have relented the moment they discovered that KFC doesn’t have a vegetarian platter.
My admiration for their commitment only goes up as I hear the questions they are invariably asked. Questions such as:
But you eat fish, right? This one never fails to amaze, especially since it’s not just asked by your average tea-partier (whose understanding of biology might confuse this whole “fish as an animal” thing). It’s usually the first thing asked by people who are smart enough to know better. Really, in what world are fish considered vegetables? I think these people might be confused by the concept of ‘fish farms,” where apparently the Tuna Trees grow tall and you dig clams up like potatoes.
This same mindset leads to ridiculous assertions by people who for some reason want to consider themselves vegetarians without all that messy not eating of meat stuff. So you get “Flexitarians” who eat meat when they are feeling particularly murderous, “Pescetarians”, who eat fish and seafood, and “Beady eyed vegetarians” who only eat animals with beady eyes. I’ve always wondered at what point an animals eyes are considered small enough to be “beady”…I mean, rats have beady eyes. I guess if you had a particularly untrustworthy and shifty-eyed cow, it could it end up on the menu. When you point out to these people why eating any member of the animal kingdom sort of precludes them from being a vegetarian, you immediately get:
So you’re a Vegan? No. Vegans are a whole other school of crazy. Vegans are the Jeffrey Dahmers of the non-meat eating sect. They are to vegetarians what the Mossad is to your local neighborhood watch. Vegans not only don’t eat meat, they won’t eat items produced by animals (eggs, milk, butter, cheese), nor will they wear or use items made from animal skin or fur. Plus, as anyone who has watched Scott Pilgrim vs the World knows, Vegans have superpowers.
Now that we’ve established the parameters of what exactly constitutes a vegetarian, we move onto:
Did you ever see a vegetarian lion? I know this is a rhetorical question meant to make some point about the “natural” order of things, but the answer is still no (dumbass). There aren’t vegetarian lions outside of a Madagascar movie. Lions and most other carnivores, have short digestive tracts that can’t process vegetable matter, so even if one were to ‘choose’ to go veggie (you know, assuming it evolved free will and fought a few million years of evolution and instinct), it would die of malnutrition in about two weeks. Humans on the other-hand are generalists, with a digestive tract that evolved to handle all kinds of shit. Speaking of shit, lions also are known to eat carrion, so if you pose the food chain argument, why don’t you chow down on the next piece of flyblown road possum you happen across.
If this doesn’t deter the ‘natural’ order argument, they’ll usually move onto:
Well, why do you think we have these canine teeth? Yes, like most mammals, we have these four sometimes sharp teeth on each side of our mouth.
But let’s get serious, a human’s canine teeth are tiny, relatively blunt and virtually useless for shearing off meat like a true carnivore. And as we move to a diet that seems to consist mostly of pudding pops and pre-digested taco filler, most scientists think our teeth are shrinking, up to 1% every 1000 years.
Still not convinced? OK, let’s look at the other side of the equation. Do you know what other animals have canine teeth? How about horses? When was the last time you saw a horse chowing down on a nice steak. And how about this guy:
The Mountain Gorilla has canines that those True Blood vampires would kill for, yet they live almost entirely on a diet of leaves and roots…with an occasional grub thrown in for seasoning.
So now that we’ve established it’s not outside the natural order of things to be a vegetarian, you get:
What happens when you eat meat? What’s the appropriate response here? The vengeful God of Vegetarians strikes me with lightning? My stomach acid revolts and I dissolve into a sobbing pile of goo? I get shipped off into another dimension where cows tear me apart and beat me with my own limbs? Obviously, nothing is going to happen. If the vegetarian discovers they ate meat, they will be pissed, maybe even a little sick, but no one is going to dissolve into a pool of gastric juice.
The worst thing about this question is it is invariably accompanied by a little gleam in the asker’s eye, like they’re contemplating slipping you a piece of bacon so they can later spring on you that you’ve eaten Wilbur the Pig. My suggestion is to tell the asker that eating meat drives you to a murderous rampage where you kill everyone whose ever asked this question. Noting your bloodthirsty side, the questioner will inevitably move to:
Did you know Hitler was a vegetarian? Yeah, and do you know who wasn’t? Every other freakin’ dictator, tyrant, and warlord mankind has ever known. People who ask this question seem to think that just because one xenophobic megalomaniac with dreams of world domination chose salad over steak, all other vegetarians are one bad haircut and funky mustache away from firing up the furnaces. And most historians don’t believe Hitler was a vegetarian anyway, citing information from his chef, who claims Hitler loved sausages and stuffed squab. His vegetarianism, was adopted later in life, not on moral grounds, but to eliminate the meat-farts that apparently followed him everywhere he roamed.
So next time you meet a vegetarian, be careful what you ask. You might end up provoking murderous rage in a beady- eyed loving, super powered, former meat farter who would like nothing better than to use you as fertilizer on their fish farm.