Of all the things I've heard asked of vegetarians, this one is by far the most ridiculous. Standing there with a puzzled look of disbelief the beguiled omnivore often asks: "Oh, well if you don't eat meat, then, what do you eat?"
Odd indeed. As even for meat eaters, meat is rarely the only thing on the menu, let alone the dinner plate.
More than that, how could anyone with a reasonably varied diet answer such a question? For the vegetarian, the most correct response would be, "I eat everything BUT meat!" However, perhaps due in part to the shock of answering such a ridiculous question, the witty portion of their brain inevitably shuts down, and they find themselves struggling to recount a few favorite random meals. Usually, what was eaten the night before or perhaps what they might plan on eating in the near future.
Needless to say after recounting a handful of things, anyone would be drawing a mental blank and growing weary of the exchange. Now in the mind of the meat eater, this only serves to validate the unsaid statement hidden in their question. That statement being: since you are not ingesting the genetically manipulated and chemically enhanced carcasses of abused factory farmed animals, you must certainly only be managing to eke out the most miserable and meager culinary existence.
Why just think of all of the food you are missing out on! No doubt the omnivorous bully conjures up the mental image of the lonely waif vegetarian begrudgingly digging in to an oh so unsavory dinner of iceberg lettuce, steamed white rice, plain tofu, and perhaps a few carrot sticks tossed in for dessert. Yum Yum.
What is truly amazing though, is that while ignorantly scrutinizing the supposedly severe and unbearable limitations of being a vegetarian, (file that one under urban legend, myth, and flat out lie) they ignore the staunch repetition of a meat based diet. A diet that generally revolves only around chicken (or insert other fowl which tastes like chicken), beef, and pork, maybe with some occasional seafood tossed in when the checking account balance isn't in danger of calling upon overdraft protection.
Really, it all comes down to this: no matter how you skewer, braise, fry, grill, or broil it. . .you are eating the same meats again and again, repeat ad infinitum. Now compare the four basic meat items to the nearly limitless fruits and vegetables available both here in the U.S. and abroad just waiting to indulge our culinary fantasies. And, ask yourself the question: "So, what do you eat?" Let us know the comments.
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