Monday, November 12, 2007

Misconceptions

I haven’t eaten meat in over two weeks, but I still consider myself a meat-eater. I just don’t feel it in my meatless gut that I don’t do the meat thing. I still hold some of my old notions of vegetarians, even though I have something in common with them now, namely vegetarianism. I wonder why I don’t fully relate? I suspect I am actually different from a genuine vegetarian. I saw something in a TV show that made me think about this. I was watching an episode of The Office (Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC) where all the characters attend an Indian holiday celebration called Diwali. At the party Angela, who is generally the unhappy and annoying character, is walking through the buffet line of Indian food and asks the server if there are any vegetarian dishes with a disgusted tone in her voice that indicates she is assuming the answer will be no. While the man responds “It is all vegetarian” she is already rolling her eyes and saying “I will just eat some bread” and walking away with some dry Nan and a sad evening ahead of her. It makes me laugh because it is Angela, and she is always up to something crazy, and then I smile afterwards because I think to myself “Yeah, vegetarians are so mean like that.” But now that I think harder about it, I don’t really remember the people in my life who are vegetarians. Not that I forget them, I just don’t keep close tabs on other people’s diets. So I don’t have the chance to see if they are pricks about the whole thing when they go through buffet lines.

So why is it engrained in me that vegetarians are overbearing jerks about their special dietary needs? Maybe it is TV shows and jokes that perpetuate the idea. But on the other hand, maybe it is something I have genuinely felt before in mild doses. If you are having a cookout and somebody doesn’t eat the meat, you feel like you failed them. I am sure they didn’t want to offend you by not eating the meat, they may have even brought their own veggieburger to enjoy, but why wasn’t your food good enough for them? Are you living an inferior lifestyle? Do you suck at grilling? Is it your apron? It was a mistake to get the one with the cow carcass on it, wasn’t it? You feel these things subtly, deep down as a host, but not because the vegetarian asserted any of those things about you. You jumped to those conclusions on your own. I think everyone who ever goes against average societal trends incites these feelings in others. Why did they have to go and be all different? Why is my way not good enough for them anymore?

I think I understand why people think this experiment of mine is strange now. It may not be because they have stock in Big Meat or run a struggling slaughterhouse out of their cellar. Maybe its just because they don’t like seeing someone turn their back on something they themselves still partake in. I find I can soften the bad news by making it sound like something very personal that doesn’t apply to them. Then I slowly sneak the truth on them: of all the vegetarians they have ever met I am the one who in most concerned with their personal choices as well as my own. At that point they fall back on other assumptions that distance it from them again. “So, you expect to lose much weight?” No, I will probably gain some with all these carbs. “Aaahhh…but you will save some money at least, that’s nice.” No, this organic hippy protein stuff is expensive. “Oh…so how about them Lions?” They suck, they are unpredictable at best.

If anyone feels the slightest bit inferior after reading all these pompous blog posts of ours, no need. Yes, we think you are part of a problem. But so are we, and we love your cooking and your hideous apron even if we sometimes forget to tell you. Some people out there have earned our collective resentment, surely. We all know that one person who thinks we all eat maggoty vomit compared to what they eat, but they are few and far between. I actually don’t know anyone like that off hand, but I just had to say that in case any of you do.

Well, looks like we all learned something today. If you are a pretentious snob you need to knock that off, and if you heap guilt on yourself for things people are not even accusing you of you should that stop too.

1 comment:

Devin E said...

Alex, you raise a good point when you say that vegetarians are pretentious jerks. And considering that I know at least two or three vegetarians who consistently read our blog, that's a perfect message to proliferate. But in all seriousness, we know not all of them are. And the good point you brought up was the fact that both of us will indeed eat meat again. Heck, we have plans to do it juntos (together) when I am back. So it is important to point that out. Keep bloggin my friend.