Vegetarianism came up three times today. I really should be getting used to this by now -- after all, it's been 12 years! -- but it surprises me each time.
I posted to LiveJournal not too long ago about a coworker of mine who was kind of... grotesque in the way she described eating meat after she learned I was vegetarian. I was kind of surprised by our exchange, then, as I was walking by her desk to go prepare my lunch (Healthy Choice spinach ravioli florentine, if you must know, lol):
"Oh hey, so, I'll have to get some procedures from you!"
"Wait, what do you mean, procedures?"
"I mean, whoops, some recipes. Vegetarian recipes, if you want to share any."
"Oh, sure! I can send you some!"
"Great! I'll let you know how they are."
Very interesting, considering our first exchange! I haven't e-mailed any to her yet; I'm thinking about maybe sending my roasted honey-glazed root vegetable recipe (which I'll post here as well), though I don't want to intimidate her with rutabaga and parsnips quite yet, lol. Maybe something similar. I'll have to check my recipe book.
The second conversation came kind of randomly. I was throwing out some grapes in the copy room, and another coworker passed by, asking, "What are you doing?" I explained that the grapes had gone bad (they had a weird taste to them -- serve me right for freezing then thawing them), and he said he'd never tasted a bad grape before. (LOL)
As I was passing by his office to get to my cube, I asked about the grape thing, and he said he has adopted a "frat boy" diet. Basically, if it's not unnaturally green or moldy, he'll eat it. Even if it tastes funny. Save for milk, of course, which is just gross to think about, lol. So I said I should have saved the grapes for him!
Remembering that he had brought in a vegetarian hoagie/sub/whateveryouwannacallit the other day to share with the office, I then asked if he was vegetarian. His answer surprised me (just getting surprised all over the place, ain't I?): That he wasn't, but he really wanted to be. We chatted about that for a bit, and I learned that he was against animal cruelty, but as his wife cooks and he doesn't have much say in it*, he doesn't really eat vegetarian at home. However, when out and about, doing his own thing and ordering whatever he wants, he typically goes vegetarian.
*I think Matt would have a cow (ugh, punny me, you know it) if I didn't give him a say in what we were eating. LOL
I told him about myself and Matt, as a vegetarian and omnivore, and said that it could work, but that the other person has to be willing to do the same. Apparently, his wife is not. ;) Matt's pretty open to vegetarian dishes and so forth, and has even done it willingly. Don't get me wrong, he'll still order pepperoni on his half of the pizza most of the time, but as we have to adapt recipes to fit my dietary choices, so has he adapted to eating mostly-veg at home.
Anyway. That conversation got me thinking about why I'm vegetarian. I mean, there's the obvious "I don't like meat," and I really don't. It's no exaggeration. There was a bit of chicken on my slice of the aforementioned pizza (when Matt gets meat toppings, he goes ALL OUT -- he had pepperoni and chicken on his half!), and I ate it before realizing. It tasted... awful. Just awful.
Then there's the question about animal cruelty and the slaughtering industry. I admit, I never was the kind of person to ostracize an omni for choosing to eat meat; so long as they don't care what I put in my mouth, I don't care what goes in theirs. (I guess this could apply sexually, too, so long as you all were thinking that. Pfft.) I never think about it as perpetuating cruelty and murder.
But, I don't know. Matt and I were on the subway on our way home last weekend, and on the way, I grabbed a copy of each The Onion and the veg*n pamphlet that PETA puts out. Matt ended up reading The Onion, and I started in on the PETA thing. I didn't realize it was PETA, actually, until it got to the images of animals and their treatment in slaughterhouses and cramped in their cages. I always skip over that part, not wanting to see it at all.
I didn't think that was a part of my vegetarianism, as I constantly avoided it, anyway. But I just figured, if I'm avoiding it, there must be reason, right? It makes me uncomfortable; I hate looking at those kinds of images. Compare it to the feeling one gets when viewing images of the Holocaust or other human genocide or maltreatment. I don't look at those images because they make me feel terrible, and for that reason (as well as simply being a humanitarian overall), I'm very much against treating humans with anything less than utmost respect.
Unless they cut me off in traffic. Then they're at risk of me unleashing a barrage of swear words. ;)
Well, if something like that makes me uncomfortable to the point that I do, in fact, strive to treat others as equals, wouldn't the same logic apply to my diet and why I choose not to eat animals? Not that I'm much of an animal person -- hell, I'm not a people person most times, lol -- but I see life as being equal, whether that life be a fellow human being or the lowest of animals. The thought of another creature dying so I might enjoy a steak or chicken breast makes me sick; I'd never want to inflict that kind of pain on another creature.
I once told someone that I refuse to eat anything that I can't harvest (whatever that might mean) myself. Well, I can grow and pick a mean tomato or strawberry, but I can't fathom raising and slaughtering an animal. Therefore, I don't eat it.
I guess I'm more of an animal rights activist than I often let on, or even than I care to admit. After all, who wants to be lumped into the same group of crazies that comprise PETA. I'll tell you, no one! Well, no one in their right mind, at least, lol. Upon deeper introspection, though, when it comes down to it, I'd want each living creature to be treated the same way I'd want to be treated.
And if that means, please don't kill me for your dinner, I extend to them the same respect. :)
Honey-Roasted Root Vegetables
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)
2 cups coarsely chopped peeled sweet potato (about 1 large)
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped peeled rutabaga (about 2 medium)
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped parsnip (about 2 medium)
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped carrot (about 2 medium)
1/4 cup tupelo honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 shallots, halved
Preheat oven to 450°.
Combine all ingredients except the cooking spray in a large bowl; toss to coat. Place vegetable mixture on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 35 minutes or until vegetables are tender and begin to brown, stirring every 15 minutes.