13 November 2005

As I was making my Morningstar Farms www.morningstarfarms.com veggie breakfast bacon strips the other day, I was thinking about the bizarreness of the name of this product--veggie breakfast "bacon" strips. They used to be called simply breakfast strips, if I remember correctly. Why the insertion of bacon in the name? It made me think about the current argument in the vegetarian/vegan community about meat analogs. See www.vegnews.com Some argue that we shouldn't eat anything that is even a representation of meat, as this reinforces the primacy and importance of meat as food. These adherents would say that it is offensive to eat something that tastes like and looks like actual animal products. I see their point, really I do. But--I also like veggie burgers, fake bacon, and even the dreaded tofu pups and soy chicken nuggets. I really like fake corn dogs! Try them--they're fucking amazing! I admit I have never eaten a real chicken nugget, so I don't have anything to compare it to. But, while I understand the idea of eschewing even mere representations of dead animal flesh, I also approve of anything that draws people away from eating meat. My friend Carmen tried soy sausage in my black bean chili and declared it delicious! She now buys it all the time, in a gesture that is certain to reduce the frequency with which she buys real chopped up animal sausage. So, in that respect, the argument about meat analogs seems almost silly.

Making and enjoying my fake bacon and better than burger sandwich on Milton's multi grain bread, I also thought about the questions that carnivores ask me when they discover that I'm a vegetarian and have been for over 20 years. Mostly they ask me why I'm a vegetarian. I used to try to answer them truthfully, with a variation on my process from a failed macrobiotic diet to a vegetarian-aspiring-vegan diet. But lately I've been tiring of the usual, and often I invert the equation and ask them why they eat meat. Yes, I'm aware that I'm on the verge of being an obnoxious vegetarian. I'm certain some already consider me extremely obnoxious. So be it. But part of me wants to challenge meat-eaters to think about their choice to eat meat. Will my questions make a difference? Maybe not. But I like to make people uncomfortable about eating animals. Most people would never eat their companion animals. So why eat a lovely cow or pig?

One complaint--what bugs me to no end are lapsed vegetarians. Give me a break. They have such good excuses. "Oh, my new BF/GF/partner/husband/wife eats meat--it's too hard." "I was eating too many processed foods--isn't that why I became vegetarian in the first place?" The worst excuse is when they say "It's too hard to be vegetarian where I live!"

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