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Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.


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Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Double-standards and sticky subjects

I'm a recent (or rather a returning) vegetarian of sorts. I eat fish, and I have faltered a couple of times since deciding to stop eating meat.
For everyone, the road to vegetarianism is different. Some people go -- ahem -- cold turkey, while others, like me, ease into it.
I try not to judge others who take the path toward a more healthful diet, and I don't want others to judge me.
That said, what do you think about people who say "There's no meat in it" but use animal broth or some other animal product? Other examples: Flavoring food with bacon or cooking meat and vegetables together.
I have this issue with some members of my family.
I find the double-standard amusing: Many omnivores would be outraged if I served them faux meat or tofu though there's no good reason for them to not eat such food. Yet, I have moral and ethical problems with eating meat (primarily I oppose the use of hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy) and people seem to think it's OK to sneak it into my diet.
No one bats an eye when someone says, "I don't like broccoli, and I wont' eat anything that has touched broccoli," for example. Yet, my meat aversion becomes an issue.
Vegetarians, has this happened to you? How do you handle it? Omnivores: What do you think about having to accommodate vegetarians?


10 Comments:

at 6:29 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

By saying, "I try not to judge others who take the path toward a more healthful diet...," are you implying that vegetarianism is a more healthful choice? Although this can be so, one could make both nutritional and evolutionary arguments that a balanced diet (that includes reasonable amounts of natural meats) is a healthier option.

Argument aside, vegetarians are easy to accommodate. Vegans are nearly impossible to share a meal with (unless you happen to be a vegan).

The biggest problem is in accommodating whimsical special requests. Your broccoli-phobe would be a perfect example. Then again, so would you. You don't eat meat, but you eat fish (meat, last time I checked). You won't eat the cow or chicken, but you will take the milk, cheese, or eggs. Many vegetarians don't agree with the treatment of commercial animals, but instead of seeking out and supporting a more ethical meat product, they swear off meat completely (counter-productive, I might add, since it decreases the need, and perceived support, for a better system of meat procurement). Combating one extreme with the other may not make much sense. I guess the question is: why the double-standard on the part of vegetarians?

 
at 7:37 PM Blogger Stepf said...

People can eat a healthful diet and eat meat. It's not my choice, I don't like meat but I don't care if other people eat meat. Unfortunately, too many people in this country base their diet on processed, nutritionally void foods.
I eat little dairy, and when I do, it's organic. I eat vegetarian, cage-free eggs. When I eat fish or seafood, I try to make good, ethical choices. (Read "The Ethical Gourmet." It's a great book.) When I include animal products, I make the ethical choice, even if that means going without sometimes.
We should be taking steps toward a more responsible, ethical meat industry. You're absolutely correct there.

 
at 7:56 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get it when "vegetarians" scarf down fish. If you eat the flesh of an animal (including fish) you are not a vegetarian. Here's one way to look at it: If the piece of protein on your plate ever had the ability to run, swim or fly away from you in a desperate attempt to save itself, know that the meal you are about to savor is not vegetarian. Gasp!

Why not say that you don't eat red meat or poultry? Is it cuz it's not trendy enuf?

 
at 8:38 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"double standard" is understating things:

http://www.vegsoc.org/fish/

if i walk/bus (how green!) to the farmers market (how green!) to pick up local produce (still green!) and pay for it with the cash earned from working at a friggin newspaper (not so green), what does that say?

http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2007/05/digging_deeperweb_leads_print.html

makes me think of glass houses and rocks

 
at 8:04 AM Blogger Stepf said...

Happy to see some thoughtful and educated opinions on food here :) I say "I don't eat meat," and I don't (usually) say just "vegetarian" unless it's at a function where I must specify. I was really worked up yesterday because my mom's visiting, and she planned to make "vegetarian" soup and use chicken broth. That was the point of my argument. I could talk about this all day, but work beckons! :)
Oh, and anonymous at 7:56, you're right: Fish isn't a vegetarian option. (Though you'd be surprised which living creatures are still considered "not meat" and suitable to try to feed a vegetarian in some countries!)

 
at 12:02 PM Blogger Julie Gaw said...

I don't mind accommodating vegetarians when I know they're veg. But I hosted a dinner party in college, and a friend who'd been away on a study abroad program several months showed up and announced that he couldn't eat meat. Now, last time I'd eaten with him, he was a meat eater. Needless to say, that was a little late to accommodate him, and not at ALL happy with him for not letting me know in advance.

Extremes can be challenging though. I had another friend who refused to eat some Chinese food b/c it had oyster sauce in it. That made me crazy.

 
at 1:09 PM Blogger Dustin Dow said...

I have no problems in accommodating vegetarians, though I do find the moralistic argument interesting. I object to the conditions in which animals raised within the industrial farm complex must live. And to be sure, it is against an individual animal’s own interest for humans to kill and eat that animal. But it is definitely within that animal’s species’ interest for it to be domesticated on a self-sustainable farm for the purpose of eventual human consumption. Cows have not existed forever. They evolved over time to meet the demands of farming. So have humans (that’s why adults can drink milk). So have pigs and poultry. A truly free-range is chicken is a happy chicken quite content with its place in life. I’m not sure the same could be said if that chicken were released into the wild.
An important source of fertilizer on sustainable farms is cow manure. An agriculture world without cows would be one that would require more dependence upon fossil fuels to fertilize. And it would serve to even further industrialize what’s already a heavily industrialized food system, reliant upon petroleum for energy rather than the sun. The only way for agriculture to truly exist as agriculture – not monoculture – is for humans to eat animals.

 
at 8:30 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can and happily will accommodate anyone's allergic prohibitions, but I find anyone who by choice decides that they will not eat this or that to be intolerable. It is childish. If you don't like something, then don't eat it. Sometimes you will go hungry. Take nourishment from the fact that someone has taken the time to cook for you. It is a gift. Similarly, if you cook tofu for your meat eating relatives, they should eat your creation and thank you for your kindness.

 
at 7:09 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had a friend who joined me dining out recently. She advised that "I am a vegitarian", then proceeded to order Sushi.

My comment to her order was..."you don't eat meat, but you will eat bait?"

She changed her order to Steak Oscar.

True story........

 
at 11:14 AM Blogger Stepf said...

That's hilarous!

 
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