I dream I’m a vegetarian. I also dream that I have a fabulous cook who prepares all my über healthy meals for me, at a great price. Oh, and that I have a cleaning person. Who looks like Jared Leto. No wait, that’s my pool boy. Oh. I also dream that I have a pool. A vegetarian pool.
I don’t eat red meat. I don’t eat lamb. I don’t eat pigs. I don’t eat animals with starring roles in Disney movies. And I have reasons for all of these things (beside the obvious hot dog – butt-hole rumor).
When I was in junior high (an ancient term, meaning between grade school and high school. now sometimes called “middle school”) my sister was my idol. She was two years older (still is, oddly enough… no matter what she tells you) and I thought she was the coolest chick in town. One of her favorite artists was Howard Jones. Do you remember him? Well, she loved him sooooo much that she sent him fan mail. His mom actually sent her a letter back because he was away on tour. Wow. Even his mom was cool! Howard Jones was a proud vegetarian. Therefore, my sister became a proud vegetarian. I think a bunch of British invasion pop bands of the 80’s liked to brag about their meatlessness (except for George Michael… he will never be meatless). If my sister was going to give up meat, I would too. It just made us that much more likely to meet Duran Duran (not eating red meat was sure to bring us together).
I went to barbeques in high school and ate hot dog buns with ketchup. I survived on a daily supplement of peanut butter and jelly. “Healthy” and “vegetarian” are not synonyms.
My parents had fooled us into eating lamb, because it was not red meat. It worked. For a while. Until the slaughter.
A friend invited us to a traditional Arab meal of kabsa. Al kabsa is a celebration meal in the middle east, consisting of an entire lamb, on a platter, surrounded by rice and some veggies. I’m talking, ENTIRE lamb. What was even better than a whole cooked lamb in a bed of rice, looking at you while you ate it, was the process of choosing your dinner. People in the U.S. pick out their lobster from a restaurant aquarium? Well, we went to a special lamb butcher, where we chose our poor sweet dinner from a corral. Beautiful brown eyes, fluffy coat, and all. My sister and I (with higher functioning brain cells, from avoiding red meat) stayed in the car, probably rocking out to some Howard Jones, thinking we were awesome for giving up burgers, while my parents chose our dinner.
We returned to our friend’s house, where the meal was set out before us. Since there were no teen boys around to preoccupy me, I soon was distracted by the smell of food and I indulged. We all did. The Saudi man who was kind enough to invite us over, proceeded to gross us out by eating an eyeball! I think this was mostly just to scare the lamb out of us.
We didn’t make it through the night before the explosions began.
The gastric explosions, that is.
“Wa BOOOM!” went my dad.
“KER Splat!” answered my mom.
“Ka POWIE!” replied my sister and I. Ain’t food poisoning fun? I never ate lamb again. I had a similar experience with Wild Turkey (not the animal) in college.
Pork. I never liked “the other white meat.” When I was little my parents would put weird things on it like chutney and applesauce. Blech! It was tough and dry and hey… don’t they use pigs in scientific studies because their tissue so closely resembles humans? Well, my initial reason for not consuming this animal was that I lived in a Muslim country. Pork is against Islam, and therefore not allowed in Saudi Arabia. Thank you Islam, and thank you Howard Jones. Okay. Thank you food poisoning. All of those contributing factors have saved countless animals from being put into my belly. Now there’s more room for chocolate.
I do still eat chicken, turkey and fish. And I LOVE dairy products. I hope to one day be motivated enough to join my old 80’s pop idols in their quest for purity through absolute meatlessness. As long as I stay in my current geographic bubble, people don’t mock me. The parties outside my bubble, where I am looked at cross-eyed for not eating the sloppy joes, are the challenges. Well, guess what? You (Mr. Sloppy Joe Eater) are an adult eating a SLOPPY JOE?! No wonder your eyes are crossed! At these parties, I’ve repeatedly been told to just “pick out” the meat in chili. What do I look like, a surgeon? A bonsai tree trimmer? I do not have that much patience with my food.
In my bubble I vow to never eat the lead characters of Disney movies. They are sweet and full of human emotions. I may make an exception for the Little Mermaid, though. I think she actually qualifies as fish…