You could do a lot worse than be a vegetarian. You could be a cereal killer and rip the rice off bubbles. The corn off flakes, coco off pops … (Note to self: stop milking this dry.)
You could be a fruitarian, for example, only allowed to eat stuff that falls from trees, voluntarily. At least fruitarians are easy to recognise – they’re the really skinny ones who you struggle to see if they stand side-on. They’re probably close relatives of vegetablearians, who reckon they can hear carotene-laced screams when you pull carrots out of the ground.
Nobody really knows what a vegetarian is or does. Especially in the movies where big Greek weddings are featured. Remember that fabulous woman who, on hearing her potentially new son-in-law was a vegetarian, said she would not be offended if he didn’t eat the beef she prepared. He could have the lamb.
Yes, the lamb. Something about them brings out the best in us, most of the time. Like when we go to great lengths to save them as poddies after Mum doesn’t want to know.
We spend a fortune on formula to replicate mum’s milk, bottle feeding them all hours of the day and night. Wrap them up in, duh, woollen blankets so they think mum’s still around, care for them like they’re abandoned newborns – which they pretty much are. Then we eat their legs. On a Sunday, no less.
It’s not that I don’t like meat. I just don’t like things that look like what they are. Or look at you while you’re eating them.
Tuna is fine, if it’s in a can and lost its life in wild seas before it met me. Also, don’t come the raw prawn. Even when you rip off their heads, legs and other veiny bits, they still look like they have relatives who are going to come back and get you.
You could argue that mince falls into the unrecognisable category. It could actually win that category. A mix of unrecognisable muck that you can mould into anything you want. How is that not suspicious? It went to the same finishing school as sausages.
When I came out as a vegetarian about a decade ago, my family thought it was yet another phase I was going through. Like pretending to be Joan Baez because she had a thing with Bob Dylan. Or pretending to play the guitar – yep, same reason.
My mother would make pasta, saying it just had cheese sauce so I could eat it. But then I’d bite into crunchy bits that tasted just like bacon. I pretended to be deeply offended that she, as a Jewish mother, would put bacon in a meal, but she just shrugged and went off in search of some Jewish corned beef (ham) – and a doctor or two to marry off her daughters.
But being a vegetarian can bring out the best in the people who care for you. Like that Christmas Day lunch when friends made me tofu in the shape of a turkey. Or when everyone else just ate vegetables too.
Or, my favourite, when we just ate one thing throughout the day. Well, it had all the right food groups, like fruit, dairy etc – pavlova.