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It’s okay to hate vegetarians. March 3, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: , , , , , ,

“Nobody likes vegetarians.”

Silence Dogood here. I was reminded of this quote, which took my breath away when I read it, casually inserted into some op-ed piece a few months ago, when I ordered a cookbook from Amazon this morning.

Now, picture opening a paper or magazine or clicking on an article and seeing statements such as “Nobody likes people who go gluten-free,” “Nobody likes biologists,” “Nobody likes Zen monks,” “Nobody likes people with heart disease,” or “Nobody likes female racecar drivers.” (Or pick any “Nobody likes” ending you can think of.) If anyone made a statement like that, there would be a huge uproar. But there isn’t, because people don’t make sweeping generalizations about others, at least not in print, unless their name is Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” infamy. Apparently, however, vegetarians are (un)fair game.

It’s sadly true that being a vegetarian really pushes people’s hot buttons. I’ve been attacked by numerous people, many of them virtual strangers, who felt it necessary to defend their consumption of meat upon learning that I was a vegetarian (and often not learning it from me). I’ve even been attacked in comments on a post I wrote about being vegetarian on my other blog. The immediate response seems to be “How dare you assume you’re superior to us because you don’t eat meat?! Hey, you’re killing vegetables!”

I have never once claimed to be superior to anyone, for being a vegetarian or for any other reason. To do so would be ludicrous, stupid, arrogant, and pathetic. I have chosen to live my life as a vegetarian, as I have chosen to garden organically, for the good of all life and for the health of our beautiful home world. Others choose other ways to do good in the world, ways I would never be brave enough or smart enough or rich enough to attempt. As Pope Francis would say, “Who am I to judge?”

And yet, people can’t distance themselves from even the possibility of vegetarian leanings fast enough. Getting back to that cookbook, it was Chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s bestselling, beautiful, innovative book, Plenty, which “happens” to be vegetarian.

The reviewers couldn’t wait to proclaim that the dishes were great, even by their standards, though of course—they hastened to announce—none of them were vegetarians themselves. That Chef Ottolenghi isn’t a vegetarian, which is, according to them, why his vegetarian cookbook is so brilliant. That every meat-eater would love this book and “never miss meat.” (Perhaps they should ask celebrity meat-lover Tony Bourdain about that.)

Every single reviewer felt compelled to declare their non-vegetarianism and reassure apparently terrified omnivores everywhere that the book was nothing to fear. God forbid that the publisher, wishing to maximize sales, should have even one person review the book who actually was a vegetarian, such as acclaimed Chef Deborah Madison. Cooties!!!

After all, nobody likes vegetarians.

‘Til next time,




1. William Scudder - March 3, 2014

Our boy Ben was a failed vegetarian.
He may not have been wealthier (though he toyed with vegetarianism to save money on meat.) and may not have been wiser but he certainly would have been healthier.
Rich foods haunted him later in life as gout became his constant companion.
I fear vegetarian are like alcoholics, we feel guilty indulging ourselves around them.

You’re so right, William, the youthful Ben Franklin was both a vegetarian and a teetotaler, the only person I’ve ever heard of at that time advocating drinking water (gasp!), which of course was widely—and rightly—recognized as polluted and a cause of sickness, since nobody knew about germs and threw their sewage into the water supply. (Ben also insisted on sleeping with open windows to let in fresh air, which was also considered a source of illness at the time, so the unfortunate sufferers of disease were kept in closed rooms and bled regularly.) Talk about ahead of his time! And yes, he fell off both wagons as his position as a public man required that he wine and dine with the best. It’s too ironic that today, one of his most famous quotes is that beer (or wine, depending on what you’re reading) is God’s way of showing that he loves us and wants us to be happy. All I can say is that I hope old Ben was happy, whether he was drinking water, beer, or wine, or eating bread and cheese or ragout, beef and blackbird pie at the French or British court.

2. Becca - March 3, 2014

That’s pretty funny. šŸ™‚ By the way, what other blog??

Oh, dear, Becca, I try to never mention my other blog on here because the topic’s so different that I’m sure no Poor Richard’s Almanac reader would want to go there. It’s a spiritual blog, The Reiki Blog (http://thereikiblog.wordpress.com/). If you’d like to check it out and let me know what you think, I’d be honored, but please don’t feel obligated.

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