Barbarella
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In the strict scientific sense, we all feed on death — even vegetarians. — Mr. Spock, Star Trek

My friend Hanis has a tattoo of a pig on his left forearm — a simple outline and diagram of butcher’s cuts, each portion labeled from head to hock. For months now, Hanis has been nurturing two live porkers on a farm in East County. They are comfortable and cared for. He closely supervises their feeding — they get only the choicest slop and leftover mash from a local brewery. Hanis’s hogs have names: Happy Tummy 1 and Happy Tummy 2.

While Hanis (a chef) gets a gleam in his eye while thinking of how tasty his pigs will be, it seems an increasing number of my friends have gone vegetarian. I organize the growing number of herbivores I know into three categories: Live and Let Die, Holier Than Thou Hypocrites, and Militant Vegans.

Into the first cubbyhole, I place my favorite no-flesh-eating friends. Like a Cafeteria Catholic, the Live and Let Die folks pick and choose their own forbidden fruit. My sister Jane doesn’t like the taste of most animals, fish included; if pressed, she’ll admit she gets queasy thinking about where meat comes from, but she allows the occasional processed slice of turkey to find its way into her sandwiches. My friend Jessica is a full-on vegetarian, but, like a quietly confident Catholic, she doesn’t make a big deal of it. Low-maintenance at dinner parties, Jessica will eat what she can and is so polite she wouldn’t think of uttering a word of displeasure or disdain when her options are limited.

I should disclose here that I am an omnivore. All humans are omnivores by nature, but I am one who chooses to follow in the evolutionary footsteps of my ape cousins and Homo ancestors, such as erectus and neanderthalensis. I don’t fault a man for sinking his teeth into steak any more than I would hold a lion accountable for enjoying antelope for dinner. I see nothing wrong with cultures that consider dogs to be food — it is illogical to balk at the ingestion of one animal while eating another; some Easterners love cows the way Westerners love cats — a person from each faction would likely freak at the other’s cavalier consumption of the one’s cherished creature. I don’t feel an obligation to justify why I eat meat, nor do I expect practicing herbivores to explain why they don’t.

I know a few “pescatarians” — those who don’t ingest poultry or meat but have no problem feeding on the “fruits” of the sea. People who will eat fishies only fall into my first category if they don’t claim a “moral” reason for avoiding meat. I don’t mean “moral” as in concern for the treatment of animals before they’re killed and eaten (free-range chicken is as easy to find as unfarmed fish), I mean “moral” as in an elevated regard for the life of all Earth’s creatures. If a pescatarian tells me he believes eating animals is “wrong,” I imagine he rationalizes eating fish is not as wrong. I can only assume this is because it’s a bigger stretch for us humans to anthropomorphize, and therefore identify with, those slippery aliens. I wonder how these people would feel about eating vegetation if plants grew fast enough for us to perceive their movement or if they had eyes.

A minor pet peeve of mine is when a dinner companion, upon imparting the news of her vegetarianism as though declaring loyalty to a political party, then adds, “But it’s okay, you can eat what you want, I don’t mind.” Following such a statement, I can’t help but think, Why, thank you, how extremely gracious of you to allow me to select my own meal. I am certain your sainthood awaits. Of course, what I actually say is, “Okay, good.”

Like born-again Christians, Holier Than Thou Hypocrite veggies like to propagate their kind by preaching their newly adopted good word. It’s not enough for them to have made the decision to not eat meat — they will not be satisfied until you either join them or feel sufficiently guilty, and damned if you don’t. But as dedicated as these vegetarians claim to be, they are only as fastidious as is convenient for them.

One such acquaintance recently lectured me on the horrors of slaughterhouses. During her priggish monologue, she revealed that she owns two cats. As I took in her moral outrage, I wondered if she ever considered looking into where and how meat is acquired for cat food. I did.

With a little research, I discovered the laws for labeling pet food have more holes than a Wiffle ball. Not only do the scraps of meat come from the very slaughterhouses she condemns, the food is then tested on animals. In one article, I read that the manufacturer for hippie-endorsed brands including Nature’s Variety, Iams, and Newman’s Own Organics intentionally fed animals tainted food — dogs and cats that ended up dying from “painful” kidney failure. It went on: “Videotapes reveal the animals’ lives in barren metal cages; callous treatment; invasive experiments; and careless cruelty.” Cats are strictly carnivorous, and most of the vegetarians I know have one.

It’s not that I mind inconsistencies. We are all inconsistent on one point or another. It’s those who make a habit of haranguing others about their choices, those who are arrogant about their wholesomeness whom I find most annoying, especially when all that is required to expose some blatant hypocrisy is a quick Google search. Which leads me to the Militant Vegans.

I’ve only met a few of them. These are the people for whom life is a scavenger hunt. Innocuous vegans quietly go about their lives searching for soy milk, fake leather, and tofu. But like religious zealots, Militant Vegans are outraged by nonbelievers — and with so few fanatics, heretics abound.

Militant Vegans are a smug bunch, stomping through Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s with a sneer for anyone pondering the meat selection. They are disgusted with omnivores (only if human) and leather lovers and are not afraid — rather, compelled — to detail the reason for their scorn. Fortunately, such literal interpreters (think of the Bible’s “eye for an eye”) are so dedicated to their canon that they are unlikely to befriend us heathens.

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Comments

Joe Poutous April 8, 2009 @ 2:40 p.m.

Imagine a born again Christian that is also a vegan.. .

  • Joe
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Barbarella Fokos April 8, 2009 @ 2:46 p.m.

Oh, Jesus. No, I'd rather not, Joe. That's the stuff of nightmares. ;)

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magicsfive April 8, 2009 @ 2:59 p.m.

lol...holier-than-thou hypocrites...you never disappoint! good article Barb! xoxo

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sarahlayne April 9, 2009 @ 12:02 a.m.

normally i love your column, but this one seems really judgmental to me.

i am one of those "pescatarians" you referred to. i don't preach to people or even like to explain my dietary reasoning to people when asked unless i know that the person asking actually wants the information (read: isn't just attempting to start an argument). my choice are my choices and i don't think i'm going to convince anyone to follow my path; even my husband is a full on meat eater. what i find more common than a preachy vegetarian is people who do eat meat somehow finding offense in the fact that i choose not to (mostly). and i get that sense from your column this week.

and owning a cat makes someone whose vegetarian a hypocrite. seriously? that's a bit of a stretch.

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David Dodd April 9, 2009 @ 1:14 a.m.

I sort of disconnect with any comparison to born again Christians to vegetarians (irrespective of militants in either camp). The only similarity that I draw is that both would be tempted to tell you that your lifestyle is incorrect if you are opposed to theirs. But you know, people are going to do that anyway - through politics, through your sexual preferences, and in any and all other lifestyle choices.

People can be pretty damned self-righteous.

I defend Christians in this way: They choose their belief based on faith and hope. And in the life of any atheist, I would hope that they do the same, God or no God. I would defend vegetarians similarly, in that they seek a healthier lifestyle. I would hope that steak-loving people everywhere would also watch their diet accordingly.

But to Christians I would warn that your God is only yours, and that if God really exists that it is only through the human belief that he or she does exist. And to vegetarians I would warn that the plants that they eat thrive on manure and the decomposed remains of animals. In other words, if not for one, there would not be the other. This is the true nature of the universe.

As for me, I love meat, and I don't attend church.

The thing I like about you is that you're not afraid to say what's on your mind. Hopefully, as time passes, you'll be equally unafraid to understand what's on someone else's mind. Don't beat them down, make them love you with patience and knowing that if not for them, there wouldn't be you. Or at least, your voice would be less relevant in their World without them.

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Barbarella Fokos April 9, 2009 @ 5:24 a.m.

Sarah, you missed a crucial point in this story, and that is that anyone who has specific food choices (as many of my friends and family do), who does not preach (as you do not) is not a hypocrite. It is only those people who lecture and preach, and whose lives (as with all of us) are filled with contradictions who I'm calling out here. A "militant" or "preachy" anything is off-putting to me, which is why I prefer the "Live and Let Die" folks I describe -- vegetarians or pescatarians or otherwise who make their own choices, live their own lives, and let others live theirs. I hope this helps to clarify for you, and thank you for reading!

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Barbarella Fokos April 9, 2009 @ 5:29 a.m.

Thank you, refriedgringo, that's well worded, and I agree with you. I like to consider myself a "live and let live" sort of person, who occasionally balks when those who disagree with my lifestyle attempt to annoy me into adopting theirs. I too am religion-free, yet I respect the beliefs of all of my Catholic family members, and my "all of the above" father. ;)

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Joe Poutous April 9, 2009 @ 7:33 a.m.

It never fails.. whenever someone is spouting off on the virtues of a meat free life, someone in the room will say "Yeah but bacon tastes good. Pork chops taste good."

The best quotes come from Pulp Fiction..

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bohemianopus April 9, 2009 @ 7:51 a.m.

I was a vegetarian for four years. During those four years I paid a visit to my very Italian family in Jersey. At a gathering of the relatives, I was treated as if I had lost my intestines, stomach and mind. After the gathering, they all went to the nearby Catholic church to light candles and pray for my recovery.

Pat

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Barbarella Fokos April 9, 2009 @ 8:14 a.m.

Tiki, you make a good point in a convoluted way -- meat eaters can be just as obnoxious about forcing their lifestyle on others. It all has to do with the person. ;)

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Barbarella Fokos April 9, 2009 @ 8:15 a.m.

Pat, that's hilarious! I've got Italian family members in Jersey myself, and can vividly imagine your situation. Got me giggling over here.

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Joe Poutous April 9, 2009 @ 8:33 a.m.

Most of the good that I do happens in a convoluted way..

And you are right - every group had its obnoxious zealots... http://www.bbqaddicts.com/blog/recipes/bacon-explosion/

  • Joe
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friggaSapples April 9, 2009 @ 10:52 a.m.

Yep. I'm in that first category and I gotta say, I get tired of the other two types giving the rest of us a bad name. I just want to be left alone to decide what I want to eat, and I'll leave you to make that decision for yourself.

I've never understood why other people are so concerned with what I put in my mouth...

Oh, ya, first time commenting but loooonnng time reader :) I always look forward to and enjoy reading your posts!

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Barbarella Fokos April 9, 2009 @ 11:01 a.m.

Stuntdouble, clever phrasing, but you're missing the point. I'm not bothered when people choose to skip meat, that is their prerogative. I am only irritated by those who, as you so eloquently describe, think their way of life is superior, and feel compelled to lecture others. In your way, though you seem to have misunderstood the crux of the story, your comment is in wholehearted agreement with my thoughts on the issue. "Hypocrites" are only those who don't walk what they talk. And all of us, even me, are full of contradictions, as I have oft stated, and as I stated again in this column: "It’s not that I mind inconsistencies. We are all inconsistent on one point or another. It’s those who make a habit of haranguing others about their choices, those who are arrogant about their wholesomeness whom I find most annoying..." And regarding guilt, you may be correct. I was, after all, raised in the Catholic tradition. ;)

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Barbarella Fokos April 9, 2009 @ 11:03 a.m.

My sister feels the same way as you, frigga. But no worries, as Tiki pointed out in an earlier comment, every faction has its obnoxious members. I'm happy you enjoy my work, and I thank you for reading it. :)

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stuntdouble April 9, 2009 @ 10:48 a.m.

For a person who has only met a "few" vegans you sure do have the goods on these evil hypocrites. You must be completey free and clear of any and all hypocracy yourself. I'm gonna start trying to be just like you and make sure that everyone knows it.

Honestly, this article sounds like you are mad because other peoples choices are making you feel guilty about something you are doing. Its like being mad at a person for being thin when you are a fat ass.

Dont hate me because I'm ethically superior. Stop judging entire demographics because you need some s***y banter to call a collumn.

Barbarella=Happy dummy 1

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stuntdouble April 9, 2009 @ 12:01 p.m.

Honestly, how many times have you been "lectured" by a vegan? How many times has a vegan or veg declared this moral superiority? You say that your tired of these people flaunting ethics and superiority in your face but I'm tired of people imagining this superiority and then whining about it. Its so cliche, even for a columnist.

I've been vegan for almost a decade. I've seen people that are enthusiastic about it, I even encountered some of these militants that you speak of. If you ever encountered a real militant you wouldnt be describing him/her in the same way your column does. If you wrote an article about a militant spitting in your face and then throwing paint on your clothes I could understand you being pissed but this doesnt seem to be the case.

As a vegan and as most vegans that I know, I do must absolute best not to say anything about other peoples food/clothes choices. That is, until I am asked. If you ask me about my diet I will tell you all about it. Again, I wait until I am solicited. If you are hanging out with a veg/vegan and you are listening to them speak about their lives you can expect to hear something about their dietary choices. If that sort of thing bothers you then maybe you should only hang out with omnivores? On the other hand, if you are one of these self righteous types that has to declare(as someone else pointed out above) "I love (insert meat product here)" as soon as they find out that I'm a vegan then they can expect me to say something back. If you walk around talking trash out of your ass then you can expect to be challenged.

The point that I was making is that it is a slippery slope calling people hypocrites. You better make some real solid arguments and have specific examples of real things that have actually happened, otherwise, you just make your self look dumb.

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Barbarella Fokos April 9, 2009 @ 1:16 p.m.

I can see that this is a very sore subject for you, stuntdouble, and I can appreciate why. But if you are a vegan who does not lecture other people on how to live, I don't understand why my thoughts so rubbed you the wrong way. If you "do" lecture people, then I can see how I might have hit a spot. Must I define the word hypocrite a third time? It means those who PREACH one thing and PRACTICE another.

My story was not so much an "argument" as it is my personal (made public) thoughts about the many veggies and vegans I encounter, many of whom, as I already mentioned, are friends and family and not preachy or hypocritical. Living in Hillcrest and involved in the arts, I run across my fair share of vegetarians, some of whom are vegan.

You are right again, that dietary choices come up in conversation naturally. So do lots of things. But this is not what this story is about. It is about those people who go above and beyond to "convert" others. If applied to any lifestyle choice, I'd have the same opinion. You are also right that meat eaters can be just as offensive as PETA-crazed militant vegans. People who tell others how to live their lives are annoying. That's my argument.

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stuntdouble April 9, 2009 @ 2:06 p.m.

This is a sore subject for me. Its sore because this trite argument is ignorant and (most of the time)totally unqualified. Like I said, how many times have you actually been morally accosted by obnoxious vegans? I bet you could count the times on one hand.

Your article is the equivalent of the victimized meathead that has to tell the vegan that they are happy and proud that they love bacon. You can define the word hypocrite till your blue in the face but that doesnt mean that you are not being one.

You keep trying to clean up this article by saying "your missing the point" or "this is what I really meant, hope this clarifies" but the fact is, this article is full of ignorant, prejudice, and unsubstantiated statements that is meant to put vegans/veggies beneath you. You should have cleaned it up before it was even printed. It reminds of they guy that says "I dont have any problem with fags, I just hate it when they come one to me". Nobody is coming on to you! Its all in your head.

Andy Rooney has makes these "You know what I hate?" types of arguments a regular feature in his segment on 60 minutes and its annoying from him too.

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David Dodd April 9, 2009 @ 2:47 p.m.

Oh! "Morally Accosted By Obnoxious Vegans" is the name of my next rock band. The patent is pending.

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ageorgi0621 April 9, 2009 @ 3:48 p.m.

As a vegetarian cat owner I feel called upon to make a point here: my cats have no choice in their meat eating habits. They absolutely need it to survive. There are plenty of resources to indicate that felines, especially males MUST eat meat (http://www.vegsoc.org/info/catfood.html).

I, on the other hand, do have choice. You stated that humans are "omnivores by nature" but humans do not have to eat meat to survive. I am making what I consider to be the compassionate decision in my own eating habits- not that I am preaching about it Barbarella. The fact is that your friend's pigs are a happy exception to what happens on 99.9% of the livestock we consume. It's not a system I can support personally although to each his/her own.

My cats, on the other hand are unable to make a choice. Some vegetarians and vegans can't stand to own cats because they can't stomach the idea of feeding them meat products. My two guys are rescues and would be eating meat at the shelter if they weren't eating it at my house. They eat certified organic cat food from animals that have been at least slightly more humanly farmed and we have always avoided IAMS due to PETA's long standing boycott.

I don't believe owning cats and being a vegetarian is an inconsistency. I am an animal lover and I love my cats and want them to be healthy. They have to eat meat to do this, so while I try and make somewhat more compassionate choices for them as well (organics) I also recognize that it's in their nature to be omnivores and they have little or not choice in the matter.

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Joe Poutous April 9, 2009 @ 4:07 p.m.

Stuntdouble: do vegans really call people that eat meat "meatheads"??

If so, that's f-ing rad... - Joe

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catty1 April 9, 2009 @ 4:14 p.m.

Ugh, if I ever have to hear another vegan describe a bee hive as a "rape wrack" with a straight face again it will be too soon. "Thank you, stranger who knows nothing about me or my life, for helping me make my food choice today!"

I believe that's the kind of rhetoric Barbarella is disparaging, stuntdouble.

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stuntdouble April 9, 2009 @ 4:29 p.m.

I usually use the term meathead in its classic sense but it does (kinda) take a double meaning coming from a vegan in this context. Usually, its some tuff guy(meathead) that must make me aware of how much he loves him some pig. It always comes off as this weird dominant thing. Its at that point that I do my best to make some smart ass comment.

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Barbarella Fokos April 9, 2009 @ 4:50 p.m.

That is a great point, ageorgia, thank you for making it. You sound like a compassionate, thoughtful person. Your cats are lucky to have you. I agree that you are not being inconsistent, as you are consciously searching for meat products for your cats that were produced in a way you approve, while personally choosing not to eat meat yourself.

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Barbarella Fokos April 9, 2009 @ 4:51 p.m.

stuntdouble, I believe I'm being accosted by one now. ;)

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stuntdouble April 9, 2009 @ 4:59 p.m.

Barbarella: thats pretty weak. Being held accountable is something you should get used to when you have a voice like this. Stop crying and up your game.

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David Dodd April 9, 2009 @ 5:26 p.m.

stuntdouble:

"But it’s okay, you can eat [meat], I don’t mind."

Would you find it equally as innocent a statement (post speech on one's proclaiming the virtues of THEIR eating preferences) if, at dinner, I replied that I loved to consume almost all meat products but then followed it up by telling you, "But it’s okay, you can eat [salad or beans or other non-meat products], I don’t mind"?

Many writers (including myself) build a story around a premise or event. This one statement was it. Why should anyone have to "be accountable" for how they feel, eat, worship, or whatever? Put the shoe on the other foot, it would upset you if someone, in essence, gave you PERMISSION to be a vegetarian. And rightfully so.

The entire family of my first wife were (and still are) vegetarians. They believed in family gatherings often, and I had to attend. You don't want to know how concerned they were about my health because I ate meat almost daily. But they forgave me, being the good Christians that they are.

I finally had enough preaching, so one time when her parents came over, I served perfectly broiled filet mignon. Her mother was happy with only the baked potatoes, corn, and salad, but her father ate two steaks.

"We don't want food to go to waste," he said.

I find Barbarella's story to be very accurate.

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cmsmuse April 9, 2009 @ 6:22 p.m.

I know of someone who makes "vegan brownies" What's a vegan brownie and why would you want to ruin a brownie?

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stuntdouble April 9, 2009 @ 7:30 p.m.

refriedgringo

Wow, forcing meat (i.e. your beliefs) onto your veggie parents is pretty harsh. I guess they are used to sort of thing being "good Christians".

Kinda sucks, doesnt it? I dont know your parents but I wouldnt say they are evangelical nut jobs just because they are Christians.

"But it’s okay, you can eat [meat], I don’t mind."

I have heard people "react" to this the same way that Barbarella did: "Oh, your giving me permission to eat meat?". You can twist it into that, or, you can just take it as a friend telling you to not be afraid of some non-existent judgment.

You obviously dont know very many vegans if you agree with Barbarella's piece. I suppose you can justify anything by twisting it into a personal issue. "Oh, you exercise? Are you saying I'm unhealthy? How dare you!"

If vegans bother you just by being vegans then you have deeper issues that will come to the surface, if not through vegans, then through something else. If we were getting in your face in an unsolicited, harassing way, on a regular basis then you would have a point, but dont project your self constructed delusions on a group of people without any real substance behind it.

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edwin_decker April 9, 2009 @ 10:15 p.m.

Refried, Barbarella, I think you're both making to much of a hoo-ha over the. "I don't mind if you eat meat" statement. Put yourselves in their shoes for a moment: They have heard over and over (especially through articles such as Barb's) that they are forceful and overbearing about their diet choices. It seems to me that when a vegan says something like that, they are not giving permission for you to eat what you want, rather, they are anticipating the meat eater's discomfort (if not guilt) and being proactive in trying to eliminate it. This behavior should be rewarded, not scorned.

Furthermore, I'm not a vegan or vegetarian, but it seems to me that their dining choices are under far more scrutiny than than the meat eater's choices ever will be as I have seen them attacked relentlessly, in person, and in print, over and over again. Sure, there are the militant, annoying few, but as StuntDouble said, "Honestly, how many times have you been lectured by a Vegan."

In my life, the answer is never, AND I LIVE IN OB!

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David Dodd April 9, 2009 @ 11:05 p.m.

Mr. Decker:

It's a considerate response. Since I enjoy cooking, I'll make an example this way: There are plenty of vegetarians out there. I host people a lot, and lots of people I've never met show up and eat here. I generally always serve a meat dish, sometimes chicken, sometimes beef, sometimes fish, and so on.

If a vegetarian was coming over to eat, and he or she notified me, "Hey, by the way, I'm a vegetarian, just though you should know," I would be thankful that I could create a special dish or two that didn't contain meat (like torta de garbanzo with black beans in steamed rice). I would be happy to know in advance. I would hate to have them show up and not have an option other than side dishes, I would rather offer them an entree as well.

And I spent quite a few years of my life putting up with my first wife's family's veggie-links and soy-products-that-look-like-meat, and I never complained. Well, until I finally tired of the lectures about God wanting me to be healthier, which was obviously not true since She didn't make me immortal. I didn't always like the food, although some of their ethnic Ukranian foor was outstanding.

Anyway, point is, I'm fine with people eating whatever they want, and no one should get lectured either way. At a restaurant, the appropriate thing to do is to order what you want. That was Barbarella's first cubbyhole. The second cubbyhole is someone who insists on telling you how much healthier they are as a vegetarian, and then turning around and letting you know that it's okay for you to eat meat around them. It's pretty irritating eating next to someone who is insinuating that they're "putting up with" your lifestyle. The third cubbyhole is someone who enters the restaurant and demands that no one orders meat because they can't stand to have it around them.

I'll happily dine with the first, begrudgingly dine with the second (and maybe write about it if it ever happens to me), and though I've never dined with the third, I have known some. There is a good reason that we don't dine together.

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mike1 April 10, 2009 @ 12:11 a.m.

It's very simple. The meat eater makes the choice FOR animal cruelty, global warming, and a host of other ills. And we're talking miserable living conditions for the animal and a terrible, painful death. Millions of animals. I can't understand how anyone with compassion can turn away. And make no mistake, it IS a choice for humans. And I am pretty disgusted, Babs, when I see people at the meat section of the supermarket oohing and aahing over the bloody slabs. I often wonder how they can't see how sick it all is. There is no reason for anybody who has access to a supermarket to eat meat other than Barbie's..."I like the taste of it." You might as well be killing the animal yourself although I'm sure you don't see it that way. I'd ask how you sleep at night but I'm sure the answer is very well on your 500 thread comfy linens.

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David Dodd April 10, 2009 @ 12:42 a.m.

"The meat eater makes the choice FOR animal cruelty, "global warming", and a host of other ills."

  1. Global warming? What are you driving around these days, Mike1? An economy car? I bet that my carbon footprint is half of the size of yours.

  2. By eating plants you are making a choice for depriving animals of their food. Feel guilty, much?

Hey, man, be a vegetarian and believe what you believe, but put it into context. I have no idea how a rational person can eat lima beans, but I don't grieve over the vegetables' seemingly painful death, I understand that tractors and machines are needed to harvest them, and I promise not to get sick when I witness someone purchasing them.

People don't eat meat because they hate pigs, they just enjoy bacon every so often.

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mike1 April 10, 2009 @ 1:53 a.m.

Refried... you certainly make a persuasive case.

I drive an extra large hummer of course. And I eat lima bean stew along with my lima bean juice followed by lima bean pie for dessert everyday. Not sure if you're serious about #2. Hope not. And of course plants do not have a brain and central nervous system so they don't feel pain nor sense the terror of impending pain. Like when pets have to go to the vet. They know something is up. A lot of pigs are bred and then killed just for your enjoyment of bacon. I'm sure you don't have any personal feelings against Porky and I'm sure he appreciates it. Rain forests are being chopped down just for grazing space, not for my salad. That adds to global warming. And a lot of grain that goes to feed the extra animals that are bred solely for the purpose of meat, could be going to feed the hungry. I won't ask if you're feeling guilty much. I know the answer.

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David Dodd April 10, 2009 @ 2:20 a.m.

Mike, I'm simply pointing out that your choice is yours.

And if you're going to define what to kill and what not to kill based on a brain and a nervous system, that's also your choice. I will assume then, that you are anti-abortion. And that you eat no dairy products. Have you seen how they treat the cows there?

Also, I will point out, and I would be surprised if you didn't know this, that the veggies you enjoy are all fertilized unless you grow them yourself. Fertilizer is not limited to animal droppings. But I don't want to rub it in, I simply invite you to investigate it. (Hint: There's a lot of by-products in growing your lima beans that isn't manure.)

And most of the rain forests that are being chopped down are turning into farms. More veggies. Some for cattle, most for human consumption.

I wouldn't know enough about pets, I care too much about them to keep one captive and dependent on me. But, you know, I have no issue with pet owners, to each their own.

I honestly applaud how you care, I simply point out that you seem to have drawn an unrealistic line.

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yatuchabe April 10, 2009 @ 10:17 a.m.

On day zero, man created god in his own image. And then, god created everything else. That is why I love meat.

Carlos San Miguel

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yatuchabe April 10, 2009 @ 11:33 a.m.

"I'd ask how you sleep at night"

I sleep with a stomach full of carne asada tacos :-)

Saludos Carlos San Miguel

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david April 10, 2009 @ 12:10 p.m.

Hi. David (Barbarella’s husband) here.

As Barbarella mentioned in her column, I was a vegetarian for seven years. I understand how difficult it can be to try to maintain the veggie lifestyle in such a carnicentric society.

I remember once having gone to a Mexican restaurant north of Boston and seeing “Ask your server to see our vegetarian menu” printed along the bottom. Hallelujah. So, our server brings me their vegetarian menu and I quickly note that 11 of the 12 items on the menu are made with chicken. Well, normally I’m a pretty mild-mannered, just-let-it-roll-off-my-back kind of guy, but that day I must have been feeling my oats. I get the attention of our server and when she comes over I say, “I’m sorry, but exactly on which plant does your chicken grow?” Defiantly, she puts her fists on her hips, draws herself up in a huff, then points to another table across the room and says, “Well, those people are vegetarian and they’re eating chicken!”

Was I being snarky? Yes. But I felt I was entitled in this case because the restaurant specifically advertised a “vegetarian” menu. Had they not offered that option, I would have worked my way around the menu to find something I could eat without making a fuss.

I understand, respect and sympathize with vegetarians, vegans and anyone else that is trying to live what they believe is a better life. I assure you that Barbarella is of the same mind. Regardless of whatever lifestyle choices you may have made – eat meat, don’t eat meat, religious or not, children, no children, pro-choice, anti-abortion, Democrat or Republican, etc. – we are absolutely cool with it and respect your choices so long as you don’t try to tell us how we should live our lives or preach to us about how our lifestyle choices are somehow wrong and misinformed.

continued in next comment...

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david April 10, 2009 @ 12:10 p.m.

continued from last comment...

We understand that when a vegetarian announces “It’s o.k. if you order meat.”, this is most often meant as a thoughtful gesture, but it can come across wrong. Our assumption is that if you, the thoughtful, considerate vegetarian, has chosen to dine with a group of people at a restaurant that serves meat, then you have already implied that people can order whatever they like from the menu without fear of offending or disturbing you. If this is not the case, then you should never have accepted the invitation to that restaurant. The point is, that it is not necessary to tell us that it is o.k., and when people do we sometimes hear ourselves thinking, “Why thank you, Your Majesty.”

But this type of thing is just an innocent, well-meaning faux pas. The real offense is the casting of stones by those who live in glass houses – the hypocrisy to which Barbarella was referring -- the person with 3 kids that becomes apoplectic when we buy water in plastic bottles. Barbarella and I are childless by choice. One of that person’s kids will use up far more of the earth’s resources and do far more to damage the environment than all the plastic water bottles we’ll ever use. We respect their choices – to have kids and to not buy water in plastic bottles – but they should respect ours as well. We don’t go around telling people not to have kids, and they shouldn’t tell us how we should shop.

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Josh Board April 10, 2009 @ 12:12 p.m.

Ed Decker and Stuntdouble said it best.

I thought it was interesting in Barbs column that she brought up cats. I hadn't thought about that before, regarding Vegans/vegetarians.

But everything else in the column is the same old argument people have been having for years. And it just simply isn't the case.

I know plenty of Vegans/vegetarians, and as Ed stated...they simply say that to make you feel at ease. Which is nice on their part. I know that I wouldn't feel comfortable scarfing down my burger if people in my party feel uncomfortable by that. Maybe Ted Nugent could stand up and say "I love animals. They taste delicious. Especially with catsup" (I went with that instead of ketchup, to keep with the cat "theme").

But the simple fact is, they rarely preach. It's US, the meat eaters, that ask them questions. Usually with smirks on our faces, and at that point, how can you expect them NOT to be confrontational about it?

It would be like standing in the parking lot of a church, and calling out all their beliefs when they're just trying to enjoy their Sunday.

Because, the simple truth is this, Barb. If someone is a hardcore Vegan, the way you describe...they aren't hanging around with people that eat meat. Therefore, you aren't being confronted by it.

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David Dodd April 10, 2009 @ 1:06 p.m.

David:

I had a chuckle over your Boston Mexican restaraunt experience. I don't know if there is a large Mexican section there, but here in Mexico, some people don't eat meat, which is "carne" in Spanish. Carne translates from the root word "carnivorous", but many Mexicans don't consider chicken or fish in that category. I have no idea why.

For example, my mother-in-law, who speaks no English, commented one time that she though we (as a family) might be eating too much "carne". I asked her to then recommend a dish without "carne". Among her suggestions were chicken and fish. The word for beef in Spanish is "res", but it's very common that beef is translated using "carne" instead.

If the owner of that restaraunt were Mexican with very little exposure to what vegetarianism is in U.S. culture, that could explain your shock at finding chicken on their vegetarian menu.

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david April 10, 2009 @ 2:06 p.m.

Señor Gringo,

That's very interesting -- I didn't know that. That may have been the case at the restaurant north of Boston but I would be very surprised. Boston doesn't have a particularly large Mexican population (many Portuguese and Brazilians however). In fact, at the time I think I only knew of two Mexican restaurants (not counting Taco Bell). This one was very much of the Chevys variety -- specializing in fajitas and margaritas -- and our server was not even remotely Mexican. I'll never know, but I got a good story out of it.

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yatuchabe April 10, 2009 @ 8:30 p.m.

David, Mr. Gringo is right on. Many mexican vegetarians don't consider chicken(pollo) and fish, carne. I once was a vegetarian, but I ate fish and chicken. And it was ok by me. By the way, in Mexico a chicken is a "Gallina" when its alive. Once its dead, it becomes a "Pollo". So a Gallina is the only animal that changes sex when it dies.

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SDaniels April 10, 2009 @ 8:56 p.m.

I have enjoyed this column now and again, finding some worthwhile content and shared joys, and that is why I am surprised at this week's column, for many of the reasons described by others, but mostly because it falls prey to the lazy, sensationalist practice of dividing everyone into easy categories--I really would expect more from Barbarella, who gives the impression that she thinks more deeply about current topics in general.

If I had a weekly blog-style column read by at least hundreds, I think I'd feel it best to treat this kind of topic with more depth and care, as well as humor and anecdote. It is possible to write intellectually worthwhile yet humorous content, and Barb has shown that she can, with this week being a glaring exception.

I suppose I fall into your category of a hypocritical leather-wearing (sometimes, but one vintage article is enough, I'm sure) pescatarian (or vegaquarian, as friends like to call it, for a variety reasons, to do with health, a global moral sense, and the environment--but it isn't the category that so much matters, as the actions we take.

If this sounds like proselytizing, so be it. Our flippant eating and shopping habits, whether we like it or not, are not just a matter of preference, pose, or proselytizing, but one of real environmental and social crisis. As individuals, the responsible steps we consistently take, large or small, to ease the current and future toxic load on this planet of ours should be applauded, not met with derision or criticism.

Not being an all-or-nothing thinker, I'll continue with the open-minded occasional read of Diary of a Diva--however, I will just have to cut bait on this particular entry :)

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mike1 April 11, 2009 @ 12:33 a.m.

Refried...you care too much about animals to keep one captive as a pet? But have no problem having millions of them captive before being led to slaughter? Huh? And the argument that there may be animal products used to grow plants and vegetables is weak. There are slaughterhouse by-products in the tires of my car and in the glue in my non leather running shoes. It may indeed be impossible to escape completely. So therefore I should what? Have my three squares at McD's everyday?

And for the record I am a vegan. I know that the dairy industry isn't much better than the meat industry. And humans certainly don't need to drink cow's milk. It's actually not very healthy. And since you asked, I'm pro-choice. I don't know anyone who is pro-abortion. Although in some cases abortion might be the way to go. Bush and Cheney's mothers should have given it some thought. I don't like the idea of abortion but I can't see the government getting involved in it except to provide easy access to contraception. The problem with pro lifers is they're against abortion AND against any kind of sex education. Their just say no until marriage approach is unrealistic. I don't see a conflict between allowing a woman to decide her sexual reproduction choices and not wanting to see animals slaughtered wholesale by the millions simply to satisfy people's desire for hamburgers and fried chicken. I happen to be an extremely liberal person who is for gay marriage and the legalization and regulation of drugs and prostitution for example. I believe an adult should be able to do whatever they want as long as it doesn't harm other beings be they human or animal. That's the "unrealistic" line I draw for my own morals.

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David Dodd April 11, 2009 @ 1:13 a.m.

Mike, some points:

  1. You can do anything you want, live your life how you see fit.

  2. You can lecture me on how I am horrible for eating meat. In return, I will tell you that you can do anything you want, live your life how you see fit.

  3. While you haven't missed EVERY point I've made, at least you realize that there is a line. Yours is yours and mine is mine. I don't drive, I recycle, and I use the type of lightbulbs that save energy, and so on. I also eat meat. I also have no pets. Again, you can do anything you want, live your life how you see fit.

  4. I also don't believe in zoos or Seaworld. But I will not campaign to have them removed. Other people apparently enjoy these attractions, I choose not to attend. They can do anything they want, live their lives how they see fit.

  5. I am pro-life (I love kidz) and pro-choice (it isn't my decision). I am also against the death penalty and for assisted suicide. Wrap your head around that one. They can do or not do anything they want, and live or not live their lives as they see fit.

  6. I think that people should be able to marry their pets if they want to. I have no idea why anyone would be against gay marriage. Again, they can do anything they want, live their lives how they see fit.

I'm sure you're seeing a pattern here. Our only difference is this - you have a qualifier in your liberal ideals: "So long as". My liberal ideals are maybe just a little more liberal. With respect, I think you know what that difference is.

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mike1 April 11, 2009 @ 6:37 p.m.

I draw the line at marrying pets. The pets have no say. And if that makes me less liberal than you then so be it. I'm also against the death penalty and for the option of assisted suicide if one desires (with some caveats in place.) I don't see a conflict there. And obviously, people have the right to eat meat and do so by the ton. But let's not deny the consequences of the meat, dairy and seafood industry to the environment and to the millions of animals who feel the same pain as you and I. And to suggest a plant based diet is in any way on the same scale is absurd. Remember...every energy saving light bulb you install is offset by every hamburger you eat. Them's just the facts. And I'll just leave it at that. Hope you got some of my points. Peace

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goo April 11, 2009 @ 7:45 p.m.

1) I think that this article perpetuates anti-vegan/vegetarian sentiment and breeds ignorance, already proven by such comments as ruining a brownie because it’s vegan. I’m so tired of seeing people react this way over and over again to vegan food and I’m not even vegetarian or vegan. The worst part is this judgment comes before even trying it (in vegan brownie’s case, not even knowing what it is)! This type of statement screams ignorance to me – to the point where I feel ashamed on their behalf. Let’s not contribute to the ignorant American stereotype. Just remember, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

2) In “Horribly Obsessed”, you mention that when you find something you like, you want all your friends to try it/experience it, like that Starlite burger. In fact, this is your quote from the video clip, “I’m not satisfied until everyone tries it and agrees that it’s one of the tastiest burgers in town. I like to share what I think is good so that others might experience some of my enjoyment.” (http://bit.ly/MbuE) Couldn’t it be that vegetarians and vegans share this passion (or obsession) with you and only want to share their discoveries with their friends? Why is it okay for you to be enthusiastic about something but when veg/vegans talk about their diet it’s preachy? Is it possible that you might have misread their intentions? Or is it preachy because you don’t agree with it?

3) If the only example of militant vegans you can come up with are people who sneer at you while shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, that’s pretty unfair. How do you know these strangers are vegan? Maybe they just don’t like your outfit. How can you make such a judgment based on a sneer? I know a lot of veg/vegans and just like other people have said in their comments, don’t know any that match your descriptions.

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Duhbya April 12, 2009 @ 5:53 a.m.

"I draw the line at marrying pets."

I now pronounce you "Man and Ferret".

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bluenwhitegokart April 12, 2009 @ 8:58 a.m.

refried: you sound more like a Libertarian.

Come out of the closet, queenie; we'll face the world together!

(never can figure out what movie that was from)

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pete78 April 12, 2009 @ 9:41 a.m.

I am craving a carne asada burrito now.

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Joe Poutous April 12, 2009 @ 9:43 a.m.

I stopped drinking soda over 2 years ago. They put strange sh!t soda.. Like high fructose corn syrup. Also, I suspect that because of shady backroom deals between the government and the farm lobby we stopped using sugar 35 years ago and now hfcs is in EVERYTHING... but it is starting to change. Last year you could start buying Thomas's English Muffins and Orowheat Bread marked "Now made without high fructose corn syrup".

I can't avoid the stuff completely, the chocolate syrup that is made without it is not good at all. Catsup from Hines has it. Thank god there is no HFCS in Jack Daniels.

Anyways - that is just me. I really don't care what you drink or eat. Or marry. Or worship.

I know that this goes off the militant meat or no meat topic.

  • Joe
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David Dodd April 12, 2009 @ 9:45 a.m.

bluenwhite:

I am not affiliated with any political party, nor do I support their ideologies as a whole. I excersize my right not to vote; otherwise, I would be as an athiest attending a mass.

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Josh Board April 12, 2009 @ 11:52 a.m.

goo...your post rocks. Very good point. I had that same argument with a black guy that insisted cops were being mean to him because he was black. And, he had no reason for why cops have also been mean to me, and I'm white. I said, "Uh...maybe cops are just jerks when you're driving 85 mph and breaking the law, not because of skin color."

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Barbarella Fokos April 12, 2009 @ 1:02 p.m.

I disagree, Josh. It amazes me how many of you have misconstrued this story. Goo, there are so many holes in your logic I wouldn't know where to begin. I only recommend good burgers to friends who are either asking where to get a good burger, or whom I know to eat meat. Regarding my "pushing" things I love to "all" my friends, as I wrote in a previous article (and thank you for reading), that's called hyperbole, Officer, allow me to present my creative license.

Regarding everyone's beef with whether or not I have had any specific run-ins with vegans, my answer is YES. I have known a handful of vegans, and I base my opinion on more than projections. I have over a dozen vegetarian/vegan friends -- these people, like most vegans and vegetarians, are not preachy. It is only the few, as mentioned in my story, who bug me. Just as it would bug any of them if I were to insist they eat meat.

I repeat myself for the umpteenth time: I am not anti-vegetarian or anti-vegan. I am merely irritated with ANYONE, meat-eater, religious zealot other otherwise, who says that my choices are "wrong." Comprende?

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stuntdouble April 12, 2009 @ 1:50 p.m.

"Militant Vegans are a smug bunch, stomping through Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s with a sneer for anyone pondering the meat selection."

Please...nobody is sneering at you. This is one of the clearest statements of your article that screams: "I'm projecting!" Or, "I'm freaking paranoid!"

"They are disgusted with omnivores (only if human) and leather lovers and are not afraid — rather, compelled — to detail the reason for their scorn."

Can you give me a specific example of this? Do you just magically know what they are thinking? Or, did they tell you about it? If so, when and how.

"Fortunately, such literal interpreters (think of the Bible’s “eye for an eye”) are so dedicated to their canon that they are unlikely to befriend us heathens."

Exactly, read: I dont know any of these people, so, how can I know what they are thinking.

It is intellectually irresponsible to use abstract ideas about others and present them as fact. Please, give us examples. Let us judge the specific people who wronged you, not entire demographics of people that you have issues with.

Didn't your english 101 teacher tell you that referring to "them" and "they" is not good enough? If you are going to write sloppy articles then you must be prepared for the backlash.

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David Dodd April 12, 2009 @ 2:07 p.m.

stuntdouble:

For which publications do you write? I'm suddenly very interested in your amazing talent for storytelling and your expertise in journalism. It's obvious that you have some sort of super-human ability to see right through the difference between a journalistic rant and a brazen attempt to insult half of the human race.

Please proudly provide some links or other published material that I can purchase at my favorite bookstore so that I can bask in your incredible genius.

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goo April 12, 2009 @ 2:15 p.m.

Barbarella,

Look, there's no need to diva out on your readers. This is the same snarky tone I got from the article. Please read my comment more carefully. I never accused YOU of being anti-vegan/vegetarian. I said that this type of article only perpetuates this sentiment, as evidenced by certain comments above.

I also have to point out that if ALL these people don't "comprende", the common denominator is you. You have had to come back repeatedly to say we "missed the point" and your husband had to make a comment trying to explain what you really meant. Obviously you didn't express your thoughts clearly enough the first time.

Again, you say you know all these militant vegans, but no real example of how they accosted you. Real anecdote, please.

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stuntdouble April 12, 2009 @ 3:05 p.m.

refriedgringo

It's called community college, english 101. You can take the class for about $20 a unit. I believe the class is 3 units and usually requires additional text books.

http://www.sdccd.edu/catalogs/city/

Good luck with that.

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SurfPuppy619 April 12, 2009 @ 3:45 p.m.

It's called community college, english 101. You can take the class for about $20 a unit.

By stuntdouble 3

And it used to be completely free.....now this state is the laughing stock of America.

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Josh Board April 12, 2009 @ 4:14 p.m.

Barb, what I meant by goo having a good point, I can give an example of (and as the other posters have pointed out, you've yet to give examples of being preached to by vegans you know). On a side note, I dated a Vegan briefly. She never preached to me, only when I asked questions about it. I even ate meat in front of her. And, I've met lots and lots of Vegans (both friends of friends or at parties), and none have ever preached.

But, what I meant was this -- YOU DON'T know what is in someones mind when they look at you. What if you're with Ollie, and someone is glaring because of his tattoos. You might think it's because you're in the meat section, and they have a hemp shirt that says "Meat is Murder". Or, they don't like you're boa...or who knows what. It could even be they smell something bad, and happen to make a face, just as you turn and see them from 50 feet away.

Also, an example would be that musical/website that you wrote about enjoying so much. You said your dad didn't care for it (can't remember the name..."dr" something or other, with the Doogie Howser actor). If I remember your column correctly, you and David were with someone that had never seen it. And you guys immediately said you were going back to your house to show it to him. And you mentioned showing many of your friends (all that seemed to like it), this same website.

Well, what is the difference between that, and a vegan wanted to "discuss" something they are passionate about? (before you answer, yes...I know there's a difference if they are telling YOU not to eat meat, but as has been stated here before, they are usually answering questions US meat eaters are posing to them).

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Josh Board April 12, 2009 @ 4:28 p.m.

Barb, here's another way of explaining the point that a few are trying to make. If someone wore a shirt that had that same graphic as the tattoo on your friends arm showing the pig in different parts; or we put one of the Darwin fish on our car, we think that's funny. We might even eat a burger as we say "i love animals. they're delicious," not realizing that is the same as someone being preachy about vegetarianism. It's making a snotty comment, hoping to get under the skin of the vegan at the table.

Yet, if we see the religious fish on a persons car, or them wearing a cross and wishing us a "Happy Easter," we can easily say "Oh look at that! They think everyone celebrates Easter." When they're just trying to be nice, and not necessarily just thinking it thru and realizing not everyone celebrates "their" holiday.

(anyone ever see "Mother" and how Debbie Reynolds tries dealing with Albert Brooks and his vegetarian diet? it's hysterical)

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David Dodd April 12, 2009 @ 5:16 p.m.

stuntdouble:

I guess I'm out of luck. I took English Comp. and English Lit. at a university, I reckon that your community college probably doesn't recognize those credits. Plus I was only seventeen. Your high standards are too much.

Do you think they would allow me to re-enter high school, so we could be class-mates?

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mike1 April 12, 2009 @ 8:20 p.m.

I don't know if your choices are "wrong" Barb. Is kicking an animal wrong? I would say yes, maybe you'd say no. Can we agree that it's cruel? Is driving a Hummer wrong? Can we agree that it isn't good for the planet? If you saw someone finish a can of soda and then just toss it in the street would you glare at them? The bottom line is if you eat meat you're supporting a cruel and very environment unfriendly industry. And yes that's your choice. I think it's the wrong choice and one that's very hard to defend other than you're free to eat meat and tough boobies because you're a diva, a free spirit, and darn it you do what you want! But I promise not to come up to you at the Whole Foods meat counter and lecture you. But if you see someone glaring, it might be me.

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Barbarella Fokos April 12, 2009 @ 10:09 p.m.

Stuntdouble, Goo, Josh, etc., thirsty for a specific example of a judgmental, glaring vegan? See Comment #65 by mike1.

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mike1 April 12, 2009 @ 10:43 p.m.

Yes babs I'm judgmental on this subject. We're posting after all. It's called opinions. And you started the ball rolling. But besides my opinions I've also stated facts (gasp!) on which my opinions are based. See how it works. And I'll have you know that I have never gone up to a stranger and preach nor would I. So you can't cite me as an example on which you based your column. Sorry dear. And I frequently walk by the meat counter with nary a glance at the meat lovers. But I wish I had a dime for every time I got a preachy reaction from people who found out I was a vegan. (Right after the do you eat chicken or fish question). Besides, I bet you never glared at anybody for any reason. And by the way I'm also an atheist. You should hear my thoughts on religion!

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stuntdouble April 12, 2009 @ 11:14 p.m.

refriedgringo:

Do you file a 1040EZ or does Barbarella pay you under the table?

Ha haaaaa...just kidding!

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lallaw April 13, 2009 @ 1:33 a.m.

Perhaps I am not as sophisticated as those who practice Herbivory, but I thought Barbarella expressed her thoughts on this particular subject quite clearly in her article. Clear, concise, interesting, and with her characteristic subtle profundity. Yet another enjoyable read.

There should be no further explanation needed. If her article is not highlighting you or your behavior that she finds objectionable, then why get your feathers in a fluff? (Oh that's right, you don't do chickens, sorry). If, however, her article hit a nerve...take a breath and search within to find out why. Should you be able to do that, consider yourself constructively criticized. If you cannot, that's precisely the point. (Perhaps its the excess fiber?)

Barbarella, you rock. I may not always share your opinions, but they are always well said and worth reading (pondering :), and much like Voltaire...I will defend to the death your right to "speak" them.

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MSNavarro April 13, 2009 @ 5:02 a.m.

Your diatribe was a very annoying read. I do admit that as a vegan, I can't understand why a person would opt for a non-vegan life style knowing the negative effects it has on animals, the environment, culture and communities, workers, and the body. But I have never felt the need to degrade another person's choices. This "I can't understand" is without snot or attitude, but merely a 5 year old's "I wonder why" point of view. Therefore, the attack you make on vegetarians and vegans is not only arbitrary, needlessly offensive without any definitive thesis or goal - but it is also irritating because of the holes found in your argument. If you display your rhetoric publicly, you need conclusive and concrete evidence to support your claims. Your statements are based on personal ideology and only include a small group of part time vegetarians, vegetarians, and vegans. Everyone knows accurate results require a large test group. What was your total count? This article is completely provincial and one sided, written from as you noted "an [omnivore's]" standpoint. P.S. you need to review physiology and anatomy 101 so you know the difference between cultural and natural omnivores. If you send me your email address, I will be happy to send my lecture notes your way.

If you want to eat meat, eat meat. If you don't, then don't. But why write without including anyone else's experiences but your own (I do not consider your circle of friends outside sources)? Why cite erroneous statements that only serve as a way to bend facts to suit your needs and misinform your readers? If you have a chip on your shoulder, go to a support group and get it removed. There is no need to publicly attack people different from yourself.

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Barbarella Fokos April 13, 2009 @ 7:54 a.m.

MSNavarro, I'm tired of repeating myself, so now I will cut and paste. From comment #18: "My story was not so much an "argument" as it is my personal (made public) thoughts about the many veggies and vegans I encounter, many of whom, as I already mentioned, are friends and family and not preachy or hypocritical...People who tell others how to live their lives are annoying. That's my argument."

I invite you to re-read the name of my column, particularly the first word: DIARY. I am not "anti-vegetarian/vegan," I'm "anti-bad-manners."

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MSNavarro April 13, 2009 @ 8:22 a.m.

Side note (because I found humor in this one): it's interesting to see Whole Foods come up in this article since I work there. I have to say, the smug customers who walk around all hoity-toity bring their purchases to my register and place the following on the conveyor belt: chicken, fish, beef, vegetables, and grains. So the people who supposedly look at you with disdain in their eyes share your eating habits.

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MSNavarro April 13, 2009 @ 8:38 a.m.

A) If you are tired of repeating yourself, then 1. don't and 2. you shouldn't have written this article.

B) If your article was responding to your friends and acquaintances, then you should have edited your column prior to posting because you dance around words that generalize a whole group of people and stray from discussing vegetarianism within your group of friends.

"People who will eat fishies . . . " "Militant Vegans are a smug bunch . . ."

C) If this piece is about the "many" vegans and vegetarians you know and most of them are not preachy as you say, then your column is responding to 1-3 hypocritical people? Then how did such a small group suddenly grow with words like "people" and "vegans are?"

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David Dodd April 13, 2009 @ 9:16 a.m.

stuntdouble: I can assure you that I've never met nor communicated with Barbarella other than in the comments sections of this website.

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Barbarella Fokos April 13, 2009 @ 9:43 a.m.

MSNavarro: Apparently not everyone who shops at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's is anti-meat (myself included). I get most of my groceries from those places because I prefer to buy organic, and I find the quality of the food is better than that at most standard grocery stores. Plus, Whole Foods has an exceptional cheese selection.

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Barbarella Fokos April 13, 2009 @ 9:48 a.m.

Wow, you are the analytical one, MSNavarro. I'm honored that my words are being examined as a scholarly work. Responding to your #74: Militant Vegans ARE a smug bunch. Not every vegan is a "militant vegan." This is my opinion, based on my experiences. You have every right to disagree.

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david April 13, 2009 @ 10:03 a.m.

MSNavarro,

Barbarella’s use of the word “militant” was used as an adjective to indicate a small subset of poorly mannered vegans. She was not suggesting that all vegans are militant or that one is militant simply because they are vegan.

Since there still seems to be some confusion regarding Barbarella’s column, I have produced the following summarization. I hope this will clear up some of the misunderstanding as both Barbarella and I think it’s totally cool to be a vegetarian or vegan. Really.

Her article in no way criticizes someone for choosing a vegetarian of vegan lifestyle. She only criticizes rude, inconsiderate, ill-mannered people which she knows come in both vegetarian and meat-eating forms.

Barbarella’s column says (in a nutshell):

I have a chef friend, Hanis, who is raising pigs. Quite a number of our friends are vegetarian [ed. Note the use of the word “friends”]. People make their dietary choices for differing reasons. I am not a vegetarian and I am o.k. with that. Occasionally, I find myself put off by people who tell me that is o.k. for me to order whatever I like from the menu. I am also put off by people who lecture me on how I should live my life. There are innocuous vegetarians and vegans (good-mannered) and miltant vegetarians and vegans (bad-mannered). I do not care for bad-mannered people. David was once a vegetarian.

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MSNavarro April 13, 2009 @ 10:21 a.m.

I have too much to say, but there is little need to continue. The circles are crazy and end here. I have no time talking to walls.

Cheers.

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Josh Board April 13, 2009 @ 10:59 a.m.

David, since you're clarifying for Barb, I'll clarify for some of the vegans that have posted here.

They are asking HOW it is Barb is jumping to a conclusion, that she's getting dirty looks for purchasing meat at Whole Foods. That still has yet to be answered.

If she says "Well, I was putting meat into the grocery cart, I looked up, and a hefty woman wearing Birkenstocks was staring me down!" That would be an example, instead of her just saying over and over again, that she doesn't mind vegans, just the "militant" ones.

But then the following questions still exist: A) how often does that REALLY happen when you're buying groceries? the only time I notice people looking at me, is when I'm in line with my purchases, which is rude, but hey...people are bored and noisy, and aren't content to just stare at the National Enquirer in front of them.

B) If we are to believe that you get stares when you put meat in your grocery cart, the follow up question AGAIN, is...how do you know what they're staring at? Maybe Barb was talking loudly, and that annoyed them. Maybe she had been talking about wine, and the person just lost a loved one to a drunken driver. I'm guessing the MADD crowd can be a helluva lot more militant than these pesky Vegans.

Because, as we've said...either the people posting here ARE vegetarians, OR we all know vegetarians (my sister, an old girlfriend, a former roommate), and yet we've never experienced these reactions, even when cooking, and/or eating meat in front of them.

So, instead of it being posted AGAIN that she doesn't hate the people that preach, let us hear some examples of people that confronted her.

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Barbarella Fokos April 13, 2009 @ 11:33 a.m.

Josh, are you straight-up calling me a liar? Like if I don't provide specific examples with dates and times and hidden camera footage of each instance that I have been confronted then your only obvious conclusion is that it never happened? My column is not an academic dissertation, nor am I providing evidence in a court of law. My story is not about "a time a militant vegan lectured me," it is an abstract compilation of many experiences, good and bad, from my time both here in San Diego, and the years I lived in West Hollywood. If it makes you all feel better to imagine that I have never encountered a vegan or vegetarian who lectured me or demonstrated hypocrisy, go right ahead. But don't try to tell me that I haven't had the experiences I've had. You have no idea. And I'm not going to catalog my life just for the sake of others telling me it's okay for me to have my opinions.

As MSNavorro said, there's no point in talking to walls. Cheers.

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stuntdouble April 13, 2009 @ 11:54 a.m.

Barbarella,

I dont think Josh is calling you a liar, I think he is saying that you are straight-up lazy. So am I, so are the others.

You can justify this column all you want but this is what happens when you write sloppy, lazy, trite pieces about about your personal fantasies. I dont think you are lying about having these fantasies, I just think you might be unaware that they are just that, fantasies that are all in your head.

Usually, facing your fantasies and delusions takes some work. Sometimes writing a decent column that is responsible and fair takes some work also.

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lallaw April 13, 2009 @ 12:11 p.m.

Wow, "stuntdouble" do you realize that the content and tone of your post #82 proves precisely what Barbarella had to say about the militant attitude she's encountered among some Vegans? Judgmental, harsh, intolerant, i.e., militant. Bordering on the angry, and two clicks from climbing a bell tower with a high powered rifle if one disagrees with their world view. Just HOW is it you KNOW her claimed experiences are just "personal fantasies"? Your anger and insults are wholly misplaced. Not to mention annoying.

I've never had such experiences, but I am familiar with the attitude she describes. And after reading some of these posts regarding her DIARY, (you do understand the difference between a diary and a news article, right?) I have no doubt she reports her experiences accurately. Again, wow.

Barbarella, these guys are a bunch of legumes. I wouldn't bother responding to their missives. They don't get it because they don't want to get it. Either that, or they are just really cranky from hunger.

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Josh Board April 13, 2009 @ 12:21 p.m.

No, I wasn't calling you a liar. And, I'm not implying you write "lazy". Hell, you write a better column than I!

Here are my points. I would think you'd welcome giving an example. If that means calling out a friend or a friend of a friend that is one of these "militant" types you speak of, you would. I've seen your writing, you do this when necessary (even if it bothers a sister or two).

I think your writing is like David Sedaris. And, he often gets knocked for "making up facts", but the difference is, he'll make up facts about an aunt, to make the story funnier. You are actually using Vegans, and yes, yes, we know. You're talking ONLY about the militant ones. THe problem is, that may be less than 1% of the Vegan population.

I think most do what David did. They get in a situation where they have to sometimes be snotty (because a menu was listing something wrong). The vegan I dated, had to tell a waiter she loved, that she couldn't eat the dessert, as it had honey in it. And he went off on her. And they had always had a great relationship before hand. But guess what? She'll have the reputation from that as the "militant one" because he simply didn't understand what she could and couldn't eat.

I was with a group of people, that included one Vegan. They asked the people throwing the party if they should stop and get something they can eat. The person said "No, I'll have stuff you can eat."

We got there, and that "stuff" included a bowl of peanuts and a bowl of M&Ms. When the Vegan complained, quietly to us, well...the next few days, it was that vegan that was made fun of, for being so "picky." When, they simply asked if they should pick something up. They didn't "insist" that something be there they could eat. They didn't call us all names for eating poor, defenseless animals.

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David Dodd April 13, 2009 @ 12:27 p.m.

Diary: A daily written record of (usually personal) experiences and observations.

In this case, it's a published column, sometimes snarky and sometimes quirky, but a diary, none the less. It isn't a beat reporter for the Los Angeles Times reporting on specific events. The responsibility of a diarist is the write what's on their mind, their perceptions, from their perspective, in any way they want to. A responsible diarist does this without regard to making sure that their perceptions are valid; it's implied that they are. They're HER perceptions.

Regardless of the number of asinine letters from upset vegetarians that The Reader decides to publish this week, the diarist was completely responsible and accurate.

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stuntdouble April 13, 2009 @ 12:27 p.m.

Should I be tolerant of her intolerance and judgment just because I'm vegan? If you have never had such experiences then how do you know what she is talking about? Just a question, I'm just asking, just like everybody else.

She can call this a diary, her innermost thoughts or whatever. But this is a published article that comes out in print. She has a voice and is using that voice to speak to people. We are just speaking back.

Personally, I have had enough of people puking out this recycled, self-justified hate. I'm sorry that we are different from you but we are here to stay and at some point you are going to have to deal with your animal crackers having a V on the lower right hand corner of the box.

Call me when someone firebombs your house for owning a fur coat, until then, quit your crying.

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Sarah111 April 13, 2009 @ 12:59 p.m.

Geez! IMO, the reason this article got so much flack isn't because of veganism or meat loving but because readers recognized the tone of the article itself as hypocritical. For someone who claims to be a classy dame, you're rather lacking in the manners department. You're nothing more than a big gossip, replacing friends' names with "Vegans" and other classifications.

The penultimate rule of etiquette, my dear, is to comport yourself in a way that puts people at ease, something at which you have failed completely. So continue on, as you will I'm sure, to write these articles to convince the rest of us that you are what we should strive to be. We'll continue happily on our own way, understanding that the only person you really have to convince--and who you simply can't seem to convince, for that matter--is yourself.

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renee April 13, 2009 @ 1:10 p.m.

So would it be in bad taste to say that maybe all these militant vegans are in such a bad mood because they are in dire need of a nice big hunk of meat?

Seriously, though, WHO CARES? Don't get your panties in an uproar over people who eat meat--or don't. I eat meat, and damn but it tastes so good. Out here in Pennsylvania, the fall is my favorite season, not the least because of all the fresh deer meat thanks to the hunting season. Out here, hunting is a huge supplement to families' food budgets as year after year the cost to support the sport goes down and year after year the cost to buy groceries continues to rise. Oh, and did I mention it tastes good?

I thought the article was funny. And you know what, for the huge price tag of $0 it cost me to peruse the Reader and this column in particular, even if I didn't think it was funny, even if I thought it was judgmental and whatever, I sure as hell wouldn't raise my blood pressure getting into a flame war in the comments.

But to each his own. Oh wait...maybe that was the point?

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stuntdouble April 13, 2009 @ 2:39 p.m.

Renee,

If you dont care so much then why are you here?

Maybe its cause you wanted a chance to use that played-out "you guys sound like you could use some meat" joke.

You sure did zing all of us with one.

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lallaw April 13, 2009 @ 2:49 p.m.

So, "joshb" at post 84...would you then agree that some people are just clueless or and/or inconsiderate, possibly judgmental because they think the rest of the world should just do as they do because their way is the right way? Do we really need a specific example of a named person acting this way to make that statement any more true? I understand what you are saying, that Barbarella may have exposed herself to cries of "foul," "fantasy," and "lies, all lies!" by not being more specific (you may even be rightly inferring that it makes for better writing)... but I doubt that would have dampened the heat she's taking now. From the tone of some of these posts, I think specifics would have just re-directed the rage much like a fire break before a canyon fire. Extreme positions often provoke extreme reactions when questioned. And not just in this genre. Think animal rescue worker versus back yard breeder - zowie! Moreover, I don't see how naming names would have added to B's point which I took to be a simple one: she doesn't appreciate others imposing their chosen lifestyle on her, especially when leveled with attitude. Who does?

I just don't see any basis to question her credibility when she writes about her experience in this regard any more than any other personal experience she writes about. Whether someone agrees or not that doesn't make her opinion wrong nor negate her experiences. Did I miss your point?

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goo April 13, 2009 @ 3:48 p.m.

Thanks to refriedgringo for providing that definition: "Diary: A daily written record of (usually personal) experiences and observations." Yes, personal experiences.

It’s not like we’re asking you to end world hunger or cure cancer. We merely want an example of your experience with the few militant vegans upon which you base your opinion, as you provided for the other two cubbyholes – no names are necessary.

Mike1’s posts don’t count as they are a reaction to your article. You can’t wave something red at a bull and not expect it to charge. Are people (and I say “people” because it’s not just vegans or vegetarians) upset with this article? Yes, and they will speak their mind, some passionately, but don’t say, “See? This is what I mean” when you’ve provoked that very response. That’s not fair. I think this is what joshb was talking about. Often, it is a response to some sort of provocation.

For example, “I was shopping at Whole Foods, minding my own business, when a militant vegan accosted me, shaking his/her finger and telling me I was wrong to have meat and cheese in my cart.” This, I would understand. But, based on sneers and assumptions of the thoughts and intentions of others do not strike me as solid examples, which again, was provided for the other two “types”.

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goo April 13, 2009 @ 3:50 p.m.

Not sure if I had to point this out, but that example I provided was made up.

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mike1 April 13, 2009 @ 7:24 p.m.

I would post again but me and my militant vegan posse are going to hijack the meat counter at Ralph's. Oh wait, nevermind.

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oliviam April 13, 2009 @ 8:51 p.m.

I totally agree. It's clear that Barbarella is just making up stories because all vegans are such peaceful and loving people it is absolutely impossible that any of them would ever act rudely or do anything like, say... throwing paint on people wearing fur coats.

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Josh Board April 13, 2009 @ 9:13 p.m.

oliviam, to mention throwing paint on people wearing furs is a perfect example....of the things wrong with the original column. how many people are doing that? i'm guessing the same amount that hardcore extreme types do in anything; it's like saying Christians bomb abortion clinics. it happens. but not with any regularity.

Lall...you make good points, but to answer your question: yes, I agree "some" people are clueless and/or inconsiderate and want others to live their lives the way they do. With vegans/vegetarians, i'm guessing that's less then one percent. and why are examples important, you ask. well, let me ask you. if you have a black friend, that complains cops always harass him, do you just take their word, and sit there going "yeah, damn cops. what jerks!" or do you say, "Wow, really? I'm sorry to hear that. What happened?" I mean, I do that out of curiosity as much as out of skepticism. and, when their story doesn't make sense, i ask them for more details on it, or better examples. they usually don't provide them.

And yes, people get provoked and have extreme opinions on the subject, but ya know what? it's usually the meat eaters, that are trying to get under the vegans skin. I hate to say that, because I'm a meat eater. but, i realized when I was 15 or so...I thought Ted Nugent was god. he played a mean Gibson hollow-body, had funny innuendos, and in interviews talked about how he loved meat, and would love to hunt down vegetarians. i then realized that it wasn't cool to flaunt and try to bait people into getting angry. if nugent is out wearing a leather jacket and someone says something, sure...he can get in their face and let 'em have it. but when people just go on and on about a topic for the sole purpose of offending.

and, i'm not even saying that was Barbs initial intend. but, if i remember what she original wrote properly, she named 3 types of vegans. and 2/3 were mean. how could they not be offended by that?

And, in actuality, there are two kinds. one that does the "live and let live" (for lack of a better phrase) and those that want to tell you HOW you should live and treat animals. and those two camps split this way: 99.8% mind their own business. And about .2% want to tell everyone they know, and even people they don't know, why they should be vegan.

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oliviam April 13, 2009 @ 9:42 p.m.

Josh, poor Josh. I didn't even suggest that many vegans are extreme or rude, I was only pointing out that it is possible that these sorts of things may sometimes occur. And you yourself said that 0.2% will act in this manner, whereas mike1, stuntdouble and goo seem to think it is more like 0.0%. What makes you so sure that Barbarella has never encountered one of the crazies?

Also, just because she has divided them into three categories hardly means that 66.6% of them fall into the two "mean" categories. From Barbarella's comments, I think that she would agree with you that perhaps the numbers are more like 99.8%, 0.1% and 0.1%. I think all that Brabrella was saying is that she doesn't bother the 0.2% so she gets annoyed when they bother her.

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David Dodd April 13, 2009 @ 10:51 p.m.

"it's like saying Christians bomb abortion clinics. it happens. but not with any regularity."

I vote THIS for worst analogy of 2009.

Because Christians only SPORADICALLY bomb abortion clinics?

What?

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mike1 April 14, 2009 @ 12:11 a.m.

Oliviam,

Speaking only for myself, I believe that of the militant vegans, 1.33% of them are actually crazy while 6.9% could be classified as disturbed. I fall on the borderline somewhere. However, 100% of all meat eaters support the meat industry. And my research shows that 15% feel bad about it, 10% don't know (mostly children)and the rest don't care. And I'm just waiting for someone to actually stand up for the meat industry. Call me crazy but I feel we could actually have a better more compassionate world if people gave up or at least cut down their meat intake. And I'm actually sad about the fact that it won't happen. So let's not worry about who threw blood on whose fur. And maybe Barbarella could post a video on her page of her friend's pig being slaughtered and then herself and David and whoever else sitting around the table orgasmically enjoying the yummy pig meat. Maybe have quick shots going back and forth between the two like a hip indie movie. Yeah, happy tummies all around.

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Josh Board April 14, 2009 @ 12:57 a.m.

Okay refried, I'll give you that. Worst analogy of 2009. They've never been my strong suit, coming up with good analogies.

And Oliviam, I doubt that Barb is going to break down the numbers that way, or she wouldn't have written the column. If 0.2% of the population is doing something, it's hardly call for a column demanding they shut up and stop being so militant. It's hardly a blip on the radar screen.

And as I've said before, but will say in a different way...it's us meat eaters that are the rude ones. Not because we eat meat, I agree with Barb on those points on why we should consume it. But, on trying to constantly taunt the vegans.

I never hear vegans starting fights. I only hear the meat lovers.

It's the same with religion. I'm agnostic. I know many that are atheists. And, it's those ones that go on and on about how they don't want to be preached to, etc etc etc. Yet, I never hear the religious folks preaching to me. And I'm out all the time, meeting all kinds of people, of all kinds of religions. Does a Joviah Witness show up at my door on occasion...sure. But its rare, so it would be silly to go on and on about it.

Today, at a computer with speakers, I was able to watch Barbs video (she does a great job producing them). And, just the fact that they're laughing about him naming the pigs Yummy Tummy, proves this entire point. Meat eaters can sit around laughing about how they'll name the pig something that works with what they're going to do it.

I enjoy meat. I eat meat. But I'm hardly going to celebrate and laugh, at the fact that it's being killed for my enjoyment! And when people like my vegetarian sister want to tell me about how I should boycott KFC (I believe she only did this once, when she was going to Humboldt State), I laughed and said "When they stop making mashed potatoes and chicken that is addictive, I'll stop going." I figure I can have rude comments like that, because it's my sister. And, I really do listen to what she says. I just hope she has her facts straight, because once someone proves to me they just talk out their a**, I don't listen anymore.

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mike1 April 14, 2009 @ 1:37 a.m.

Josh,

I appreciate you sticking up for the "other side" in the meat debate and I have a feeling your sister is right in her facts whatever they may be. Especially regarding KFC. (Evil!) But speaking as an atheist, and maybe I misunderstood you, my problem is not that individuals come up and preach to me but the total seepage of religion into the culture, taking over politics, keeping gays from marrying (and I'm straight for the record), and causing so much trouble in the world (religious fanaticism and weaponry...what a combination huh?)and yet I'm the one who supposedly has no morals because I refuse to believe in the invisible man in the sky? It's a total societal preaching, subtle and not so subtle. Atheists are rated lower than criminals in the court of public opinion. And people who feel the world is going to hell because there's not ENOUGH religion out there? Those damn atheists getting their way all the time? Let's put prayer back in school? Please. Yeah I get a little touchy about it and maybe the believers don't notice it as much because they don't see the problem. So as a vegan atheist I have less of a chance at being elected president than Manson. (Chuck or Marilyn). But I've learned to adjust and not break down at the sight of every church or Burger King. So I don't go around preaching veganism or atheism unless the subject comes up and then I don't back down because I believe I have firm factual footing in both cases. But thanks again.

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ageorgi0621 April 14, 2009 @ 12:20 p.m.

Barb,

I just wanted to put in my two cents about why this article got people all riled up and started such a firestorm:

As vegans/vegetarians we constantly encounter meat-eaters who do exactly what you claim vegans do to you. I am very non aggressive about my choices but I've had countless instances at BBQs or wherever else when I've brought my own veggie burgers and then had to spend the afternoon fighting with some random guy who makes statements such as "I love animals, they taste great" and feels the need to confront me about it. I would say that about 75% of the time there's someone that wants to give me a hard time or feels obligated to make a few rude comments when I say I am vegetarian. I don't think that those who eat meat encounter this sort of constant confrontation from vegans but I could be wrong.

Anyway, there are jerks on both side of argument and, if I understand you correctly you don’t like either kind :) But what is at the core of what is bothering other readers (if I understand correctly) is that we have to defend our choices pretty frequently and often to people who haven't put as much thought into them as you (i.e. they were raised eating meat so they keep eating it).

At the end of the day, militant vegans are a stereotype that a lot of us non-militant ones have to fight against. Invoking them in your argument without giving us a few specific descriptions ones you encountered (and therefore taking them out of sterotype realm) gets us aggrivated.

I am aware that you were just out to write an entertaining, thoughtful column, not start a riot and I am also aware that you aren't saying all vegans/vegetarians are like this and you don't like ANYONE telling you how to live your life. Just be aware it's a sore subject and when you aren't more specific you run the risk of relying on a common stereotype which is bound to offend some.

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SDaniels April 14, 2009 @ 1:54 p.m.

I agree with ageorgi0621 about the root issues bothering most of us about this column, but would disagree that Barbarella set out to write a thoughtful piece. She perhaps thought it would entertain some, but that shows a naivete beyond belief, in terms of the social milieu within which she tries hard to portray herself as belonging (not just upper-middle class monied, educated, aware of the finer things in life and partaking of them, but also a proud liberal stance and awareness of current issues and lifestyles). Unless the piece was say, written for a sympathetic, largely meat-eating audience.

Let's take for example the instance of the quiet, unassuming "good" vegetarian, according to Barbarella:

"My friend Jessica is a full-on vegetarian, but, like a quietly confident Catholic, she doesn’t make a big deal of it. Low-maintenance at dinner parties, Jessica will eat what she can and is so polite she wouldn’t think of uttering a word of displeasure or disdain when her options are limited."

Barbarella seems to be either just so out of it etiquette-wise, or simply smug in her dominant right to comfort that she sees this person's degree of satisfaction as a guest as commensurate only with the degree of dignity with which she comports herself.

This vegetarian isn't 'uppity' and demanding that she also be fed at a gathering. How thoughtful and dignified! By asking to be fed, she isn't trying to push her agenda on the rest of us!

Newsflash: Anyone not providing a solid square for ALL of their guests shouldn't invite them to dinner parties where you provide the food and host. The idea is to make ALL of your guests comfortable, and not just expect some to graze at the perimeters of a salad (should the prosciutto or bacon bits be mercifully withheld) or a plate of raw veggies. How many picnics and dinner parties have you all been to, where those who ate meat sit back, sigh, and slap their happy tummies before they remember to ask you how your carrot sticks were? "Oh good, good. Well, again, we're sure sorry. Next time we'll try to have something for you. You sure missed out on that pork, though. Heh heh." Slap.

Another helpful tip: If the situation calls for potluck, you should also make sure that the vegetarian or vegan's food is set aside, so that meat (and/or dairy) spoons don't get shoved into the dishes they otherwise would have been able to eat. I extend this analogy only in terms of dietary needs and restrictions: You wouldn't dream of doing this to Jewish persons at a kosher seder, so why disrespect vegetarians?

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SDaniels April 14, 2009 @ 1:54 p.m.

Then there is this matter of "creative license" you invoke, Barbarella. In my first post, I mentioned a lazy, easy, sensationalist categorization of people. Others have indirectly brought up English 101. I remember long ago taking Gwyn Enright's English 101 at City College, and one of our very first essay (essai=attempt) assignments: Write 250-500 words placing persons or things into 3-4 categories. Justify your categories. If you are going to adopt such a form, do something CLEVER with it. Enough said about writing and baby steps.

I think the only way to settle this, Barbarella, is to invite myself, stuntdouble, mike1, and all meat-eating commenters to a nice, home-cooked meal ;)

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Barbarella Fokos April 14, 2009 @ 2:47 p.m.

SDaniels, I like that you ended your thoughts with a suggestion to bring all of us together. For that, I will add a little fact that I left out of my column (one I didn't feel necessary to include, because when I set out to write this, it wasn't a piece about general dining/dinner party etiquette, so much as a rant about a particular faction of preaching extremists who annoy me). So here it is: Before inviting friends to dinner, David and I always ask if they have any dietary restrictions. For example, my friend Rosa is allergic to shellfish. I treat my friend Jessica's restriction to meat the same way I treat Rosa's restriction to shellfish, and no one goes home hungry. David knows how to cook excellent vegetarian food, as he was once a vegetarian. It is true that when shellfish or meat are in the house, neither Jessica nor Rosa bat a lash, for they are as accepting of my dietary choices as I am mindful of theirs. Otherwise, we probably wouldn't be friends.

Mike1, I too am an atheist. I have suffered the attentions of fanatical Christians who have attempted to convert me (three of whom tried more than once -- there must be some kind of prize they get for saving extreme sinners). With the religion analogy in mind, I can understand what you mean by the pervasive aggression against vegans. I could have just as easily written an article about the three categories of meat-eaters, fitting myself into one. But I didn't. Maybe some day I will. For now, this is the one I wrote after the cat-lady vegetarian lectured me. These were the thoughts I had. People may agree with my thoughts or disagree with them, but I had them nonetheless.

I'll start working on a menu for that dinner party, SDaniels. Wait a minute! I forgot I don't cook. I'll see if David's up for it. ;)

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SDaniels April 14, 2009 @ 3:31 p.m.

Right on, Barbarella. I'm sure David is a fabulous cook, and my partner Greg and I would for two be happy to accept. If nothing else, it would make for a very interesting column, no? If you are serious, just let us know when, where, and what kind of wine to bring :)

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Josh Board April 14, 2009 @ 3:44 p.m.

Well, the perfect thing to do wouldn't be to have David slave over the stove YET AGAIN.

But, you do a pot luck. I know, those two words make so many cringe. But this way, the vegans can bring a pot of something that nobody will eat but them (hehehehe), and the rest can enjoy the meat, cheeses, wine, etc!

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David Dodd April 14, 2009 @ 3:54 p.m.

Josh, the challenging thing for a pot luck would be for meat-eaters to bring two dishes: One for meat eaters and one for vegetarians. That would be very interesting. It would also be a gesture of kindness and understanding. And in might surprise many vegetarians how well non-vegetarians can cook good food without the use of meat or dairy products.

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david April 14, 2009 @ 4:16 p.m.

Josh,

Are you really implying that food can't taste good unless it is made with animal products? wow.

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SDaniels April 14, 2009 @ 4:26 p.m.

We've been to many a potluck and enjoyed them immensely--nothing like a marvelous spread of a variety of foods reflecting everyone's tastes, and even personalities-- as long as you aren't confined to weenies and Ro-Tel dip. refriedgringo, with some of the comments you've made here, I'm most surprised, but also pleased at your understanding and thoughtful suggestion.

True, and there really are many dishes we all make that are vegan, without really thinking about it. I am a passionate cook myself, and do make use of dairy and seafood products in my recipes (trying for microbial or vegetable rennet for cheese, and dairy from compassionate sources) --though if my new GI doctor has her way, I will soon be embarking upon a solely vegan existence--but that's another story, and my particular cross to bear (yikes! did I just invite in another religious analogy?!)

I think we should let Barbarella decide what she and David are up for--if she is serious--but I agree that a potluck again, can be an excellent opportunity to learn about people and how they eat--unless they arrive and plunk down the kinds of horrific store-bought stuff I seem to recall Josh B. bringing to some of his "Crasher" events. What was it, green dye #7 cupcakes? Fritos? :)

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Joe Poutous April 14, 2009 @ 6:14 p.m.

This might actually end on an up note.

  • Joe
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Josh Board April 14, 2009 @ 6:49 p.m.

David, I was just trying to be funny. The best lasagne I ever had was with Paul McCartney and his (now) ex-wife. No animal products used what so ever. But, I have seen countless times, where a vegan made a meal, and it tasted kinda funky.

SDaniels, I don't cook. So when I go to pot lucks or parties and bring something, I either pick up a dish or I trek to my moms and have her cook something up. No harm in that, is there?

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mike1 April 14, 2009 @ 7:57 p.m.

OK Josh... I'm a vegan, an atheist and... a major Beatles fan! You can't just leave it at that. Please spill the (lard free) beans!!!

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SDaniels April 14, 2009 @ 10:50 p.m.

I was kidding, Josh, and hey--it's a compliment! Means someone has sincerely on the fly retained something from reading your column.

Candidate for the funkiest vegan meal ever made has to be one I prepared for a vegan couple, back when as an undergrad who didn't yet cook either. To my very poor estimation at the time, all dishes simply had to be adapted to vegan requirements.

And coincidentally, eggplant lasagne was the dish of choice! Only--probably UNLIKE the McCartneys, I made liberal use of a foul-tasting array of soy cheeses: soy ricotta, soy jack, and soy cheddar, with the whole bubbling mess topped off with a foul-tasting grated soy parmesan that had to be the worst of the bunch. It tasted like rancid rubber or plastic--anyone who has ever been five years old with fingers might remember that taste.

The couple was extremely polite, and praised the dish. After they left my then-boyfriend and I collapsed onto the floor in tension-relieving giggles. What a mess! But they told me the next day that it was rare for anyone to go to such trouble, and they enjoyed the wine and company. Sometimes it really is the thought (and I'm sure we all wish it had remained a thought) that counts :)

Suzanne D.

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Josh Board April 15, 2009 @ 1:16 a.m.

Thanks for the kind words, SD.

mike, I already feel bad that it may appear that I hijacked Barbs thread, when that wasn't my intend. Email me and I'll give ya the story.

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lallaw April 15, 2009 @ 3:17 a.m.

For Josh at post #95 (95?!) and Barb, et. al....

Josh your curiosity and skepticism is probably what makes you a good journalist. When I practiced law, I too would approach most tales told with probing questions for more facts too because I was also curious and skeptical (not to mention you kinda have a duty to reasonably investigate). But for the most part these people were strangers. If, as you asked me, an African American friend came to me and said he or she had been hassled by the cops I would ask for more details. But not because I didn't believe my friend. Only because I cared about what happened to them, and felt maybe by getting it out I could help them deal with it (or help them sue :). Point being, with someone I know or someone who has not given me a reason to think otherwise, I don't come from a position of "prove it." Unless and until they give me reason to think otherwise, once credibility is earned it does not need to be re-asserted. For me, anyway. And btw, I just returned to SD from Trinidad, CA...Humboldt County, so your having attended Humboldt State is not only one more reason for me to read your columns, but also explains your "natural" skepticism. lol... And of course you are right, meat eaters can be just as obnoxious as those on the other side of the fence. Perhaps even more so as their are more of them. They are wrong too. All I have to say is I am at the top of the food chain, and while I love animals, if I am cold or hungry they better look out.

And dear much beset upon Barb... you have defended yourself well and I enjoyed your column about your experiences with militantly-minded Vegans. I don't think it was your intention to insult anyone, and I was surprised by the vitriol that's been posted here by some (although I would guess you were not). I particularly thought your point about vegetarians who own cats was well taken. And please keep in mind that I occasionally cook for friends' dinner parties or do some selective catering...so if there is going to be any kind of potluck as joshb, Mike1, and my new friend Suzanne (SDaniels) suggest I will gladly bring the bruschetta. Bruschetta which is guaranteed to make any who partake moan with each bite (both the mild and spicy varieties). That's my goal: food to moan by (that can be eaten by all).

Interestingly, whenever I have agreed to prepare a menu for pleasure or pay I am the one who always needs to ask if there are any vegetarians or special diets. Perhaps more social awareness is called for in this area, along with tolerance. These qualities are not dependent upon whether or not someone will eat something that has a face.

For raising this awareness, I think Barbarella should be appreciated.

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Barbarella Fokos April 15, 2009 @ 11:42 a.m.

lallaw, thank you for your kind and thoughtful posts. It's nice to get a little love. :)

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SDaniels April 16, 2009 @ 12:42 p.m.

lallaw, well put! I also want to say ditto, for your comment on my story, and your wishes for health. I think we should collaborate on some form of gopher story together--it is only right!

I'm sure that at this point we could all use some 'bruschetta to moan by,' and your democratic recipe could be just what the doctor ordered, if you are up for sharing here. Seems like a great way to take this thread out, if not with an actual meal ;)

Josh, thank you too for taking the time to contact, and funny you should mention, I don't have a story about Leonard Cohen, but do have a sort of amusing one about a 'brush' with Lou Reed in the East Village (NYC, not SD). Tell me where I should post it, and I'd be happy to do it.

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