[North County Times - opinion]
Nine years ago, my friend Jennifer, a hard-core vegan and
then-co-worker at the North County Times, sent out an in-house e-mail
challenging her colleagues to lay off the bird on Thanksgiving.
Judging from people's reactions, you would have thought she burned a
flag or personally crucified Christ.
One guy responded with a graphic description of ways he planned to
torture the turkey before eventually strangling, eating then rudely
It's a tough time of year to be a vegetarian, especially an outspoken one.
My wife, Worm, and I would know, as 15-year vegetarians. OK, I can't
technically call myself a vegetarian since, over the years, I've made
three or four exceptions for chicken or turkey, usually while visiting
friends' parents who have cooked a special meal. No red meat or pig,
though. Beef and pork definitely aren't what's for dinner.
It's strange how some people, once they learn that I don't plan to
indulge in the ceremonial bird or accompanying meats on Thanksgiving,
go on the defensive.
"Do you own any leather products?" a critic will triumphantly sneer,
as if the rawhide handle on our 40-year-old chest negates any possible
benefits of a vegetarian or low-meat diet.
Or my Bible-toting friends will explain how "the Lord gave us dominion
over the animals" and how it "matters not what goes into a man's mouth
but what comes out of it"; science friends will argue that our
incisors, ideal for slicing a chunk of meat, and molars, perfect for
grinding it, make us natural carnivores; and comedian friends will
tell me that "if God didn't want us to eat animals, he wouldn't have
made them out of meat" and that a turkey is just a "fast-moving
plant." I've even had a burger-cradling 280-pound oaf, with mystery
sauce dripping from his mouth just like in those revolting
commercials, taunt me: "Sure you don't want some?"
Despite all of my defenses of vegetarianism, however, I never
converted a single soul. So I eventually slunk down off my soapbox
(the soap was not tested on animals, by the way), and, these days, I
always refuse the temptation to quote from the book "Fast Food Nation"
at the dinner table. Holiday meals have gotten a lot easier since I
shut the heck up.
In fact, Worm and I have both become so lax that we just purchased a
free-range turkey, which we plan to eat. We didn't want to deprive our
19-month-old son of his chance to become a true God-fearing American
meat eater. Now if we can only figure out what to do with this dead
bird (do we treat it like tofu?) and what to tell our betrayed
vegetarian friends, who will soon be all over us with accusatory
Jennifer's going to strangle me.
-- If you know how to prepare a turkey, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.