Understanding meat eaters through the lapsed vegetarian lens
[Editor’s note: This is the first in a series on vegetarians, omnivores, food habits, diets adopted by successful athletes (bias towards runners of course), perhaps eventually leading to a psychohistory of food. Several years of Facebook sharing has taught me that *any* article on these topics (lengthy, nuanced or researchy) invariably lead to defensive or offended responses from my social graph. This series is an attempt to keep readers on *one* hair ‘splittable’ topic.]
“Our special today is duck smothered in oyster sauce.”
“Oh! Please don’t tell me how you killed it!”
While this might be evocative of your modern day Newyorker cartoon, this cartoon appeared in a Reader’s Digest issue around 35 years ago.
Barring 3-4 episodes of collegial rebellion, I’ve been a vegetarian all my life and a chegan for the past year.
In a global population of 7 billion, vegetarians are a minority. One might even call them a fringe group of sorts (aka a cult). I understand vegetarians well. It’s the other group I want to understand better.
An omnivore friend with an intense carnivorous proclivity said something very similar to the above cartoon.
“Most non-vegetarians are lapsed vegetarians.”
This assessment goes a long way towards understanding the majority group.
Who the heck is a lapsed vegetarian?
Any homo sapien carnivore that is not a hunter, not a butcher, not a meat industry worker is a lapsed vegetarian.
If you’ve not seen the goings-on at a chicken/goat farm, you are a lapsed vegetarian.
If you haven’t done a tour of a state-of-the-art industrialized beef farm in US (on the lines descibed by Michael Pollan in Power Steer), you are a lapsed vegetarian.
If you haven’t gone fishing in the past 10 years and caught a tuna or two, you are a lapsed vegetarian.
To the true blue chest thumping carnivore bristling with indignation at this name calling, here are a few litmus tests to prove that you DON’T belong to this yucky group of ‘lapsed vegetarians’.
Go to your local butcher shop and wield that machette and *take a life*. Or two.
Didn’t get your adrenaline rushing yet? Well, go on a licensed hunting expedition and shoot some wild fame.
To the rest of you non-indignant meat eaters, that chieftain from the movie Madagascar says it best:
“You are pansies!”
Like that woman in the restaurant, you don’t WANT to know how the dish on your plate was killed. You’ve been doing it for so long that you don’t even THINK of your dish as ‘ex-living-animal’.
The good news is that smart inter-disciplinarian scientists are creating meat in-the-lab which will taste and feel no different from traditional meat. So whatever subliminal conflicts you might have in your mind might just be resolved in your lifetime.
Next episode candidates in this series…
- Blame the butcher!
- Hey vegetarian, you are just a lapsed vegan!
- Killing for meat or clothes: does animal size matter?
- Eating pork chops while petting your golden retriever
- Why do vegetarians annoy people who eat meat?
- Vegetarians and the “anticipated reproach” theory