Sunday, January 28, 2007

I am a vegetarian

I am a vegetarian. Not quite earth-shattering news ... but at least self-revealing.

And I have been so since Papa Bush launched his Gulf War, on 17 February 1991. I didn't select the specific date as a protest per se - although I could have. But by that time, I had significantly reduced the amount of animal in my diet. It was, however, a momentous date, one which I could easily remember.

That being said, I dislike the word vegan. It sounds so hard and ugly. It seems to reference an alien space traveler from the star Vega. And, it is an unnecessary neologism; there already exists a perfectly good word for the lifestyle - vegetarian.

Vegetarian: One who abstains from the use of flesh, fish, and fowl as food, with or without the use of eggs and dairy products.

Joseph Brotherton, 1847

Modifiers are often appended to the word: pesco, lacto, ovo, etc. But to my mind, these appear akin to a specious pronouncement such as "slightly pregnant". Either you happily restrict your diet to only vegetables, fruits, and grains, or you don't only do that. And, linguistically, what is to prevent the word vegan from being similarly adsorbed?

Many years ago, when a waiter, I was asked by a dining couple as to what were the vegetarian choices on the menu. The restaurant wasn't vegetarian-friendly, but certain items could be modified: that is, there were salads, pasta dishes vegetable side plates, etc. This I explained.

When I returned to take the order, the couple asked for the double-cut, sausage-stuffed pork chop and for the filet mignon, very rare. My eyebrows must have involuntarily arched, Spock-style. "You see," the diners quickly reassured me, "we are, indeed, vegetarians - at home."


Anyway, I have enjoyed my choice, and I do eat well (and have become a better cook and brewer in the process). And I take great amusement in the incessant "But what do you eat?" queries. About vegetarianism, there are many cookbooks and medical studies, and there are, of course, many food options.

Look up Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I dig her recipes and ethos. I'd like to buy Ms. Moskowitz a beer - itself, a wonderful vegetarian foodstuff and cooking ingredient.

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