Sunday, April 01, 2012

So, do you want fish with that?

I've been vegetarian for thirty-two years now, and it still surprises me when friends ask me if I eat seafood or chicken. Er no, I reply, I'm vegetarian. But vegetarians eat fish, don't they? people ask. I know lots of vegetarians who eat fish, they say. Then they are not vegetarians, I reply.

I almost had a stand-up row with someone over this issue once. This person had told me a while before that they were vegetarian too, which was nice as I'm often the only vegetarian in the workplace. But then one day, she was telling me about the chicken dish she had cooked the night before. But I thought you were vegetarian, I said. I am, she replied. I just don't eat red meat. That doesn't make you vegetarian, I said. Vegetarians don't eat any meat.Turns out, she tells people she's a vego so they won't serve her a steak. It's easier, she says. For her perhaps, but she's making it a whole lot harder for 'real' vegetarians because she's contributing to the perpetuation of the misconception that we eat seafood. I've lost count of the number of times restaurant staff have pointed to the seafood options on the menu when I've asked about available vegetarian dishes.

Back when I first became vegetarian, it was almost impossible to eat out. Nowadays, just about every restaurant does have a vegetarian section on its menu. Which is great. What's not so great is when they list a meal as vegetarian and blissfully add that it's cooked in oyster or fish sauce, or chicken stock. Er guys, newsflash - that's not a vegetarian meal.

Come on, it's not that hard. Vegetarians don't eat flesh of any kind. We also don't want to eat food that tastes of meat, or has meat-based flavour enhancers in it. We don't care that it's not real chicken in those chicken flavoured potato chips you're offering us, we don't want to be eating it, thanks very much.

And a final thing. Why is it that all the meat eaters at any function zero in on and scoff all the vegetarian food? I know, I know. All those little spinach and ricotto frittatas, stuffed mushrooms and vegetable kebabs just look so much more appetising than your fried chicken wings and boiled frankfurters, who could blame you for hoovering them up. But really, come on. They were for me, you dumbaxes!

There is a solution to this and I have often suggested it at my workplaces. Make all the catered food vegetarian. No meat options at all. It's not going to kill the carnivores amongst us to not have any meat for one meal and us vegos don't have to worry about not getting enough to eat. Simple, really.

No comments: