You’re a What-atarian?

I was at a dinner party talking to my friend Jon, who was poking at a plate of quinoa.

“What is this?” he asked.
“Quinoa,” I said.
“What’s quinoa?”
“Yoga food,” I said.
“Is it pasta?”
“It’s a grain,” I said.
“Spell it.”
He asked if our friend had grown it in her garden. I excused myself. Over by the stove, a gal was looking at the Venetian bean soup I had brought.

“Is there meat in it?” she asked.
“Yes, pancetta,” I replied. She looked puzzled. “It’s like Italian bacon.”
“Oh,” she breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m a vegetarian. But the exception is pork.”
My kind of vegetarian.

Although it seems a somewhat cut-and-dry concept, you meet many different kinds of vegetarians. I was doing a cooking workshop for my friend’s Girls Gourmet Group the other night. I should’ve researched their eating preferences first. I held up a dead chicken soon to be Moroccan chicken with preserved lemon and olives, and they all looked mortified. Turns out three of the five girls are vegetarians, and one is a “sometimes, mostly” vegetarian. (Which meant I had a window with the chicken for her…) But the three were not “strictly” vegetarian, as they had gobbled down a catch of fish last time I cooked with them.

“So you eat meat that swims but not that flies or walks?” I asked by way of clarification.
“Right,” they said.

I think some people are vegetarians for moral reasons, and others for dietary reasons. Some are vegetarians for proximity reasons (i.e. they’re partner is a vegetarian). I’ve always admired vegetarians. I love the idea that nothing was killed in the making of your meal. But I also love meat. More.

There are those people on the fringe who think that the plant cries a silent scream when you pull it from the earth. What do those people eat?

When we eat meat at our house, we (usually) eat very small quantities. A few ounces each of Kobe beef, a couple thin slices of pancetta in a pasta, etc. I think if the carnivore world at large took a more ethical approach to meat — eat less of it, know where your meat comes from and that the animal had a good life — the world would be a much better place on many levels.

I never could’ve married a vegetarian. Except, maybe, for that pork vegetarian.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Gaskin
    Nov 24, 2010 @ 00:18:30

    good one Sean 😉


  2. Andrea Thompson
    Nov 24, 2010 @ 00:37:01

    Yeah! Ha ha! I’ve thought about those crying cruciferious (sp?) myself as the are “harvested”!!


  3. Suzanna
    Nov 24, 2010 @ 02:28:52


  4. Thelma Lee
    Nov 24, 2010 @ 07:47:23

    Here, check this link to my recent guest blog. In actuality conventional pork is pretty much a torture situation. Chickens not much better. However, it is most important, I feel, to eat meat that is humanely raised…on purpose. Vegetarians don’t do much for the humanity of our meat animals….our wallet does.

    Check your meat for the “Certified Humane” label.


    • scolgin
      Nov 24, 2010 @ 15:53:14

      Absolutely — Check it out folks. And even better, beyond just looking for certified humane, get to know the places you buy your meat from. We like Niman Ranch here in California for pork and Snake River Farms in Idaho for wagyu beef — both widely available in fine stores or by mail order. Thanks Thelma!


  5. g
    Nov 24, 2010 @ 19:17:10

    I have a friend who’s vegetarianism is determined by this criteria: He won’t eat anything that has ankles.


    • scolgin
      Nov 24, 2010 @ 23:19:49



    • Thelma Lee
      Nov 25, 2010 @ 04:47:31

      Okay, this really happened: My brother and his daughter, both vegetarians, were in a Chinese restaurant. They were trying to explain that they didn’t eat any kind of meat, finally saying: “We don’t eat anything with a face”. The restaurant folks replied: “Don’t worry…we can cut it off!”



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