I used to spend a lot of time in the used bookstore downtown Aberdeen, sitting on the musty carpet floor with a stack of books to taste-test. I bought a lot of books I never read that way, some I did. One book I found this way and did read is Diet For A Small Planet, groundbreaking in 1971 when it became a best seller, still relevant when I read it in 1991, and still relevant today. Shortly after reading DFSP, I proudly announced to my meat and corn family that I was a vegetarian.
Remember this was Hoquiam in 1991. For ten years after that my mother still asked on every visit, “Are you still a vegetarian?”
She doesn’t ask any more and I am still a vegetarian. I raised my child as a vegetarian. Nearly a quarter century has passed and now being a vegetarian is cool. While people used to ask questions like, “Where will you get your protein?” or “Do you eat chicken?” because they were sure that I must be malnourished without flesh, now they respond differently. “I’m mostly vegetarian” or “I used to date a vegetarian”. Times have changed for sure and there is a downside to being a vegetarian now that it’s cool.
This past school year I had an after school meeting to attend. The email specifically said dinner provided, which was great since I had to head out right after my last student left and the meeting would last to 8:30 that night.
An hour into the meeting, dinner was served. Four giant platters of ham and turkey sandwich wraps, one small bowl containing six or so servings of kale salad. As I waited in line, I watched the salad dwindle, watched person after person heap their plate with sandwich rolls, plus a spoonful of kale salad. By the time I came to the front of the line the salad bowl sat empty. For dinner I had Fritos and Mini assorted Mars candy bars. At another event, a meat-eating friend reached for a slice of the four veggie pizzas on the banquet table, out of thirty total pizzas provided and I said, “But don’t you eat meat?”
“I do, but I love veggie pizza. I could almost be a vegetarian. If it weren’t for hamburgers.”
At least people who host these things now at least think of us?
Another trouble spot for me in being a vegetarian now that it’s cool is how much vegetarian junk they are trying to sell us. Just how huge must that Morningstar farm be?
I know, I know. It’s my choice. But it used to be sooo easy. If I wanted veggie burgers, I had to make them from scratch or buy a portobello. Now, there’s a whole two cases in the frozen aisle just for me.
While mostly I enjoy the credibility we’ve gained, there is a downside to being a vegetarian now that it’s cool. Remember that next time you reach for the kale salad. There may be a vegetarian starving somewhere in the room.