Saturday, August 29, 2009

The wrath of the carnivores

Different people have different notions about what it means to be a vegetarian. There are places where the concept is unheard of, while a fair number of people equate vegetariansm with 'malnourished hippies who only eat vegetables' or 'people who dont eat any milk, cheese or other animal products' (that's veganism). While traveling in South America I came across some other interesting misconceptions regarding this group of 'social radicals.' Here's an example:

An otherwise fantastic country, Peru, was fairly disappointing when it came to food for the vegetarian budget traveler (moi). The food seems to include a lot of meat (often fried, but I digress) and finding someting I could eat was a bit of a challenge. I generally resorted to "I'm vegetarian. Do you have something on the menu that does not contain meat?" I mostly subsided on rice and salad but there were times when joint after joint responded to my query with a negative and affirmative responses have been followed up with "we have chicken" or "how about fish?" While fish don't help me any, I can see where they might be coming from, but chicken?! How is that not meat?

My rant continues... I find myself seriously dreading the ordeal of airplane food. The vegetarian meal is generally labeled 'special', reminiscent of the euphemism for disabled people in nations like the United States. There have been times when I have forgotten to specify a vegetarian meal when booking my flight, but then I deserved what I got. However, it really disturbs me when there is a delicious-sounding non-meat option (like cheese ravioli) offered to ther passengers, but my tray is snatched away from me right before I can peel back the foil, as the stewardess remembers that I am consigned to a dessert-less vegetarian non-dairy version of boiled vegetables and rice. I get a bun of bread but no butter. Worse, someone goofed up on my flight from Lima to Sao Paolo and they had no meal for me. The flight was three hours late to start with and instead of giving us meal vouchers we were served ham and cheese sandwiches (for beverages, we had Coca Cola and Inca Cola- the South American version of radioactivically yellow cough syrup with gummy bears dissolved in it, but no water). I was understandably looking forward to the meal on the flight but after much waiting they offered me the 'chicken meal' with the pieces of meat picked out. (How is this not a perfect opportunity to sue the airline?) When I refuzed, not without the adamant tone of a martyr, the flight staff became apologetic and offered me extra salad, a bag of chips and a green puree of unidentifiable content that they called soup. Not the most fabulous meal I've ever had but at least I didn't have to go hungry. Something similar happened on my bus from Cuzco to Lima (the trip took 20 hours) but there I had to resort to pulling out the meat from the sandwich and trying to ignore the smell and taste.

In addition to being miffed about the inconvieniences my dietary choices often amount to, I'm sick and tired of having to explain why I'm a vegetarian as I eat rice around a piece of chicken or discover that the crouton in my soup is actually a chunk of bovine femur. I'd like to hear you bloodthirsty carnivores defned your hedonistic diet for a change! What pisses me off even more is when people knowingly nod their heads and say "aah, you're from India" (and thus vegetarian by default). My agency and the conscious (and admittedly somewhat self-righteous) decision are taken away from me, replaced by ill-founded prejudices about regional religious superstition. And those of you who find it funny to tell me to try a bit of your meal, that it's a type of shoot/exotic vegetable when in fact it's bovine intestinal lining, you may be my friend but you are throughly evil. I am right and you are wrong and you would be a vegetarian too, if only you knew better!

I'll end the rant here for today. Don't get me started again!


Avec MaƮtre said...

Want a nice steak? :-)

Punk Princess said...

I am, what you'd call, a chicken-a-terian maybe(a veggie who eats chicken once in a while) and I am tired of explaining to my bong relatives, why I don't find the fish appealing [they put fish in EVERYTHING].

The rant was scrumptious and delicious. Yummm