Owing to the excesses of Memorial Day weekend, what with my motley crew of friends and I turning into insatiable carnivores, I needed to go on a few days of veggie detox before the Secret Spain Party tomorrow and beef noodle soup at Joy Restaurant on Sunday. Veggie detox? Hold your shock and disdain (carnivores) and keep the broccoli crowns off your heads (vegetarians).
There are those amongst my acquaintances who would deny that there is no such thing as too much meat but I certainly felt my blood sludging through my arteries. Even I will admit that knocking back rib-eye steaks, chicken apple sausages, and hotlinks (purposely excluding that one half slice of turkey bacon because there’s no way that tasteless twig deserves to be called meat) with copious amounts of wine in Bodega Bay was bad enough. But then on Memorial Day, Neen’s BBQ brought on an unending flow of carne asada from Mi Pueblo while B and the doctor brought chicharrones, bulgolgi, and kimchi to style our own makeshift Kogi-Q tacos. It really was too much though it wasn’t a matter of quantity consumed but more a matter of it being consumed in daily succession since I rarely eat rich cuts of meat.
Anyhow, I endeavored to go on a quick veggie detox to bring my ying and yang into balance. I ambitiously attempted to declare it a vegan week but remembered that even Neil Armstrong only took one small step before leaping into greatness. I made vegetarian chili and cornbread (eggs and butter soundly negating my vegan conviction) and stayed true to the path. But yesterday, I was in need of a quick bite before heading out to Sunshine’s for happy hour and before I even registered it, I was munching on a spicy tuna roll. The thing is, even as I was searching around Bristol Farms for food, I kept saying to myself “no meat” and I guess mentally, I didn’t categorize seafood as meat. Fall off the wagon once, might as well keep walking. So today, even though I abstained from ordering beef soondubu, I ate the yellow corvina pan chan at My Tofu House. Although my kind friends tried to comfort me by saying that fish technically doesn’t count as meat in either case, I was honor bound to admit that my veggie detox was officially terminated the moment the tuna hit my palate.
And this was where I began to ponder philosphical dilemma on what the definition of vegetarianism is. I might catch hell from my veggie friends for the rest of this post but I’ll venture forth to put out my rambling thoughts on this. I feel that there is a chasm between true vegetarians (vegans or ovo-lacto vegetarians) and people who just call themselves vegetarians (people who eat mostly veggies but will make exceptions for bacon, seafood, and the occasional In-N-Out burger). In my mind, the difference between the two is that I am willing to put up with the righteous preaching from the former and seek to silence the hypocrisy of those among latter who act holier than thou. Ooh, this is turning into a rant but the train is in motion and I won’t stop it.
People who call themselves vegetarians but make “exceptions” annoy the heck out of me. For example, right after college, my friend D came home to the OC for a visit and we went to a Japanese restaurant for dinner. She told me she had recently been converted to vegetarianism owing to the influence of her partner. Imagine my surprise when she ordered salmon teriyaki. Her response was that she still ate fish when her partner wasn’t around. Really. (as in Seth Myers and Amy Poehler–Really). Upon further reflection, that moment might very well be the root of my current cynicism. And then come to find out recently, she still eats bacon! Really.
Or take another friend whose family is vegetarian but he sneaks in chicken on the side and generally refers to himself as a vegetarian. Really. When we go to Korean BBQ, he’ll eat dak bulgolgi but God forbid his piece of chicken even lightly caresses a slab of kalbi on the same grill. Another example – a friend of mine tells me his wife is vegetarian, but oh the other day she ordered shrimp in her pad thai because she’ll eat seafood. Really. How can you call yourself a vegetarian and still eat seafood?
And then this is where all the hyphenations come in to sate those who still want to call themselves a vegetarian. Stop pretending to be what you are clearly not. Pesco-baco-bugero–vegeterians shouldn’t be allowed to use such terms. Tell me you just don’t eat a lot of meat, or that you like seafood and dislike meat. Or better yet, don’t annouce your diet to me unless I’m hosting a dinner party and care that you enjoy the meal or I need to speak for you in a Mandarin or Spanish language only restaurant. I won’t judge you if you order mushroom ravioli most days and still want to go on an In-N-Out run with me or take the last link of sausage. But don’t look at me with a straight face and say you’re a vegetarian. If I ever hear you put the words pesco or what not infront of the word vegeterian when referring to yourself, I’m going to make you eat turkey bacon. Really.