I was at a local burrito place today and ordered “seitan chorizo con papas” as my protein option. The preparer checked with me to make sure I knew it was vegetarian. I told him that was why I ordered it. He then shared with me that a lot of people freak out when they learn this. They reject it and go with the barbacoa.
I’ve noticed a lot of people are like this. They are terrified of being without meat. I’m like this. I’m trying to eat less meat but I haven’t taken the plunge yet and gone totally vegetarian.
It is as if there is a fear of being without meat, like we will faint or fade away from lack of nutrition.
Looking at the obesity rates of Americans, there is no worry about fading away to nothing anytime soon.
I had a coworker that I invited to an Indian buffet. He asked what was available and I started to describe what we were likely to find. He was quite interested in the chicken tikka masala but bored by the spinach and potato dishes. He was a little dismayed by the absence of any beef dish. When I told him that the best dishes were the vegetarian ones he visibly got defensive.
What? Not eat meat? Are you kidding?
I pointed out that there are people who go without meat for their entire lives and they do just fine. One meal without meat wouldn’t kill him. He was so skeptical that he decided not to go.
I remember a conversation with the manager at an Indian buffet many years ago. He said that people in India and in America are both dying because of food. Indians are dying from not enough food, while Americans are dying from too much food. We are eating ourselves into our graves. We suffer from preventable diseases for many years beforehand.
Our doctors, insurers, and pharmacists make a lot of money on treating these diseases with palliative treatments. I don’t have all the words yet to explain how angry and upset I am about Western medical thought, about how it treats symptoms rather than addressing the cause of illness.
I know I feel better when I eat a vegetation diet. I feel lighter and happier. I know I am doing something nice for my body.
Our bodies are temples. Our bodies are temporal houses for our immortal souls. So why do we fill them up with trash? Why do we pollute them with preservatives?
I haven’t made the full switch because I like the taste of meat. I like the texture. I don’t want to limit myself to only two or three options on the menu when I eat out. I don’t want to be a bother to friends when they are kind enough to invite me over to their homes for dinner.
I remember when I was in college and had gone entirely vegetarian because my boyfriend was. It was as if I needed a buddy or a partner, like in a hike in the wilderness or in AA. I needed someone to participate in this different diet with me. Plus, he cooked.
I was invited to a cousin’s wedding and the invitation said that if you had special dietary needs to call. I called and told her that I was vegetarian. She said that wasn’t a problem. A day later I got a call from my aunt, her mother, saying how dare I insist that they change everything around just for me. I was immediately uninvited to the wedding.
It was years later before I realized that side of the family was crazy in an abusive kind of way.
There is a knee-jerk reaction against being vegetarian. It is seen as counter cultural. It is seen as rebellious. It is seen as other, as weird.
But the norm is to eat all you want, spend all you want, and die soon and poor.
I don’t want to be normal. I want to live a happy, healthy life. But I also want the convenience of eating out. It is a sign of our culture that it is almost impossible to get vegetables if you eat from fast-food places. And when you do find vegetables they are either very salty, or cooked with pork, or they are just salad greens with little nutrition.
Perhaps it is time to Occupy the Kitchen.
There is nothing more countercultural than cooking your own food. There is nothing more rebellious than taking charge of your health.