Oh, yes. You read the title right. Unless you didn’t… in which case, do that real quick and meet me back here.
Oh, yes. You read the title right. I’m giving up vegetarianism forever. With Thanksgiving having just passed and Christmas quickly approaching, a few things occur to me. One is that I just missed out on mostly everything on the dinner table on Thanksgiving. Again. Just like last year. My aunt made some yams which smelled like what amazing might smell like if it had the inclination to smell like anything. I was pretty excited about that until, of course, she poured an obscenely sized bag of mini marshmallows on top of them. I watched as my beautiful orange dreams disappeared under a mountain of harsh white reality.
Now, if you’re not a vegetarian, you might not understand why those marshmallows had ruined my life. It’s because they’re filled with animals. Specifically, gelatin. Gelatin, as we all know, is hydrolyzed animal collagen. Putting aside the food holidays for a moment, let’s consider ALL the other things that are rendered inedible to me because of that cheap and readily available product: gummy bears, gummy anything, starbursts, cheesecake, yogurt, pop tarts, jello (duh), and basically everything else ever made that I want to put in my mouth when I’m angry, PMSing, or sitting on the bed watching Boyfriend Scott play League of Legends when it’s cold and I want to cuddle the heat out of him. Don’t get me wrong; I like watching him play, and if I was able to power down some pop tarts, maybe my body could manage the energy to make its own damn heat.
But that’s just gelatin. There are also the enzymes. Oh, the dreaded enzymes.
Now, I always knew cheese was not vegan. That only stands to reason seeing as how it is made with a substance that you have to coax out from a cow by rather unseemly means, but I didn’t know until two years ago that cheese was not even vegetarian. You can credit a very special episode of Jeff Corwin’s “Extreme Cuisine”, wherein he was describing the ingredients of cheese, for my realization of this one. I believe his exact words were “enzymes from the lining of a cow’s stomach”. It makes sense, of course. Enzymes catalyze chemical reactions, and in this case the product is cheese. Which, thanks to Jeff “has no business being on the food channel” Corwin, I can no longer eat. Milk bothers me enough as it is, but I’ve always been able to muscle through the knowledge of what it is and where it comes from. As a vegetarian, however, I can’t actually go around consuming cow parts, no matter how small they may be. That meant that cheese was out. It’s only after you can’t eat cheese that you realize it’s in everything. It’s in your bread, it’s in your crackers, it’s in chips, it’s in your toothpaste*, it’s in your dreams, and more importantly, it’s in your nightmares. It’s everywhere, and once you know something, you can’t un-know it.
Enzymes showed up one fateful day on my TV, and have haunted me from then on… because, as it turns out, they are also used in the production of countless other tasty things that I had to resign myself to an empty life without.
Until now. This Christmas, I am headed out of my little corner of the planet and off to Boyfriend Scott’s corner in Iowa, and I know everyone he’s ever met in his life is going to offer me food. The prospect of having to turn everything down, and worse – having to to explain to a brand new batch of people my vegetarianism, makes me sad and tired. I want to say, “yes!”. I’m eating pie and cookies, and I’m not asking what’s in them. By God, I’m eating everything.
Why, yes, Boyfriend Scott’s Mom, I would like a piece of that honey glazed meat-stuffed animal piece of art. What’s that, Boyfriend Scott? Would I like some of that macaroni and cheese? Yes, I would. Thank you for asking. Oh, hot chocolate with marshmallows? Of course!
And while I’m at it, I’m going to eat a cheeseburger, chilli fries, a burrito, a meat sandwich with EXTRA meat, every starburst on the face of this world (and other worlds if I can get my hands on them), teriyaki chicken bowls (SEVERAL BOWLS), a horse (I hear they’re good for when you’re hungry), and, I don’t know… some orange juice or something. BACON orange juice. Then I’ll sit back and enjoy the inevitable psychological torment, the first time I’ve been full since I was a little girl, and Boyfriend Scott’s arms as he gently carries me off to the hospital.
Which is an interesting segue to the actual point of this blog post. I’m going to quickly debunk a common myth: that vegetarianism is always better for you. Vegetarianism is not necessarily a healthy choice for some people because most people don’t know how to be a vegetarian. As I’ve exhibited rather theatrically above, it’s difficult to find things to eat. I was once told by a doctor that he considers vegetarianism an eating disorder, because it is about restriction to a certain extent. Either people will restrict too much, or they won’t be able to find ways to make up for the lack of protein, iron, vitamins, and various etceteras in their diet. It can be a little on the unsafe side. I’ve been a vegetarian for decades (sounds so much more official than “20 years”), and I still suck at this sometimes. Boyfriend Scott routinely hides walnuts in my food to aid in the matter.
Sigh. Vegetarianism, you cruel and beautiful mistress. I owe it to you to keep trying.
Aw, you didn’t really think I was going to give up being a vegetarian, did you? Hell no. I’d have to change the name of my blog. I’m much too lazy for that. I just like to fantasize about being a normal person sometimes. Which brings me to the second point of this post… Meat eaters, go easy on your vegetarian friends during the holidays. Especially if they seem extra angry, because what you’re mistaking for grumpiness is actually just jealousy and hunger. I’m just glad I won’t be home this year to be asked, yet again, if I want every meat product on the table by my father, and be forced to do that thing where I’m half playfully annoyed and half actually annoyed. Anyhow, if you want to be a vegetarian, do the research and be safe. Which hipster-vegans aren’t, because they’re still doing everything exactly wrong. It’s definitely a healthy life style choice if you’re doing it right.
Or just eat meat like a normal person.
*There’s no cheese in toothpaste. As far as I know.