Guess who’s coming to the cookout (with seitan?)

All-American Stack Burger at Veggie Grill

Photo by Larry [Muy Yum] via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Yesterday HuffPost Food featured a post from Joe Berkowitz on the meeting of meat-eaters and vegetarians and the ways the resulting social exchange can go awry. (The article originally appeared on Medium, a sort of Twitter for blog-length posts that I hadn’t heard of before.) It’s an entertaining, lightly snarky piece that taps into themes that I suspect a lot of folks can relate to, whether vegetarian, vegan, conscientious omnivore, or other unconventional eater. Berkowitz writes,

When having dinner with a vegetarian, it’s best to assume that this guest is not quietly hoping the discussion will swing over to food philosophies. Still, people rarely hesitate before asking vegetarians why they don’t eat meat, as if the answer couldn’t possibly transform lively dinner table discussion into a sad symphony of fork-scrapes. They also seem shocked when, unlike the couple that’s designated cheating “hall passes” for celebrities or whatever, we haven’t left even one kind of meat option as a loophole. “Not even fish?” they might ask, bewildered. Disbelief then leads directly into maternal concern over whether we’re getting enough protein, the entire table inexplicably morphing into one hydra-headed grandma.

Even worse than an infantilizing spinach inquisition is the experience of having somebody peg you, in all regards, as hippie ambassador to the animal kingdom. Some people seem downright offended by vegetarians, just in general, and are always looking for ways to prove that meatlessness is meaningless, because animals are going to suffer at your hands one way or another. It’s an exercise in futility, though, to challenge a vegetarian on the supposed hypocrisy of eating eggs or wearing leather or whatever. For one thing, pretty much everybody is a hypocrite about something. More importantly, though, it’s entirely possible to not be a hypocrite and still be an asshole.

Check out the full piece at HuffPost or Medium.

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