Thursday, September 15, 2011

VeggieDag Thursday: Answer the question

VeggieDag Thursday
VeggieDag is an occasional Thursday post on an animal-free diet and its issues.

On numerous occasions, someone, who upon being told that I am a beer 'expert' or some such silliness, will ask me what my favorite beer is. I have no answer for them, because for me, it's more about the beer experience, an ever ongoing thing. That answer has often upset the questioner, who will accuse me of evasiveness or worse.

Now, another conundrum.

On a recent occasion, a person overheard that I wouldn't be ordering a certain dish at a restaurant, because. as I explained, I don't eat animal flesh. He asked me, "Oh, are you a vegetarian or a vegan?" Those two terms are so fraught with different definitions for different people, especially those who are not 'vegan' or 'vegetarian,' that I find them pointless. I chose my response carefully. "I don't eat animal flesh," I replied.

Do I eat eggs? No. Do I wear leather shoes? Yes.

Do I eat fish or cows or pigs or chickens...? No. Do I eat honey? Yes.

Do I eat cheese? For over a decade, I haven't. I do now, but only artisinal cheeses (and for a very beer-related reason: it's such an amazing food pairing with artisinal beer.)

My interrogator pressed the issue, so I answered, again, "I don't eat animal flesh." The response did not sit well. "You're just like Michele Bachmann," he said, annoyed. To him, I appeared to be evasively staying 'on point,' as he believed the presidential candidate to be during interviews.

Regardless, I don't believe Mrs. Bachmann to be a meat abstainer.

Mock 'Tuna' Salad Sandwich

Here a few non-animal flesh recipes, tested here at the YFGF kitchen.

  • Cole slaw: My Nana's recipe for a non-creamy slaw.
  • Sandwich: Mock tuna salad.
  • Pasta: Quick zucchini pasta.
  • Rice: Kale with brown rice.
  • Dessert (or breakfast): Banana spread.


    • Why the name "VeggieDag?" Here
    • Suggestions and submissions from chefs and homecooks welcomed!.
    • See prior VeggieDag posts.
    • Follow #VeggieDag Thursday on Twitter.


  1. It is funny how people feel like your dietary preferences are a subject for debate. I've had a very similar experience to the one you describe, because I don't eat pork and people ask if it's for religious reasons.

    Do I keep kosher? No. Do I think it's fine that other people eat bacon? Sure. Do I think God cares? I hope not. I just do it as a sort of constant reminder of a heritage. There's no great statement on the world I'm making with a dietary choice that is - in this day and age - really pretty easy to make. But there's something about beer and food choices that make a certain stripe of folk look for deeper meaning and a political stance.

    Looking forward to trying those, particularly the Zucchini pasta.

  2. Good comments, Greg. I think the sometime vehemence of the questioning is a reflection of the questioner's need to validate his or her food choices, with the assumption that a non-meat eater is passing moral judgement. How peculiar!

    Here's a thoughtful response, posted to Facebook, for which I received permission to re-post:

    "Read your latest blog on vegan/vegetarian and thought it made perfect sense that you won't answer the questions. I find, for myself, the longer I wander on a particular path -- be it spiritual or food or anything else -- the reasons we are led to partake of certain things or to abstain are highly personal and rarely follow conventional "rules."

    I am very pleased "the beer" has led you back to cheese, however. Some years ago, one of my favorite doctors was encouraging me to look at the benefits of a reduced animal-fat lifestyle. I could picture giving up meat in the classic sense. Cheese was the biggie for me. I will never forget what he said in return. "Instead of a big block of mediocre cheese which doesn't satisfy, hold that for a little slice of the very best cheese." I liked that viewpoint very much. Very Buddhist.

    And, in fact, almost all of the spiritual teachers I have known who have remained for any length of time have said it really doesn't matter what you eat. It took some time to understand that. People get caught up in the rules or the affectations of some of this and never actually get into the depths of the lifestyle because they are hung up on superficial rules."


Comment here ...