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November 06, 2003

Unnaturally natural

My father raises, and eats, pigs, chickens, and sheep. I love to cook, and one of my favorite, and most popular, dishes, are meatballs (which necessarily include not only obscene amounts of ground beef and ground pork, but also good Italian pork sausage and pork ribs to cook in the all-day sauce) and roasted duck. I recently took a class on making sausage, and intend to make more. I'd like to learn to make prosciutto. I'm also dating a butcher.

I say all this by way of making the point that in my world, vegans are an alien and suspicious species. (I also remember a moment a few months back when a coworker came into my office to explain that he had finally figured out the problem with another coworker, who seemed all-too-often unencumbered by either reason or reality--"She's a vegan!" he proclaimed, and it all suddenly made so much sense.) Vegetarians I have enough of an issue with. Not eating bacon or lamb (or for that matter even a good juicy steak every so often) just seems like an anemic existence on so many levels. But vegans? Well, I'm sorry, but there is just something really, truly, seriously wrong with not eating cheese! I mean first of all, what fun are staple dishes like pizza and cheesesteaks without some good, goopy dairy? No ravioli? No alfredo sauce? And no eggs benedict? Yeah, it's just all very, very wrong. In fact I used think of vegans as some of the most wrong-headed and scary people out there. Fanatics, really. And not in a good way. Not like Yankee fans or Springsteen fans are fanatical. Just weird and scary.

But it turns out that there are people scarier even than vegans. Raw foodists. Who are like vegan extremists. People who are not only vegans, but won't even cook any of the boring food they eat. And who apparently also find onions, garlic, and spices to be too racy to include in normal meals. Yeah, so not only do raw foodists object to eating anything from an animal, and not only do they object to rendering things tasty and pleasing in texture, or warming and comforting, but for some reason they also have a prejudice against aromatic vegetables. Cuz that makes sense, right?

Slate has been running this week the diary of a recently converted raw foodist, a woman who's postings, I notice, sound not unlike what I would expect diary entries from Jim Jones' commune to have sounded like. And as she describes her meals (for example, something called energy soup which she describes as "a room-temperature concoction made of sunflower greens, which are the tiny first shoots of a sunflower plant, and rejuvelac, a fermented wheat drink that tastes a lot like bad lemonade." Hey, can I get some?), I just wonder whether they have vegan deprogrammers like they do for people who join these religious-based death cults?

Uhm...Ick. I mean, really? I'm not even sure where to begin, except that what I find most interesting is that for people who each spend at least four hours a day directly involved in the process of producing the food they will eat, who by all accounts eat throughout the day and obsess about food, they seem to have forgotten that cooking and eating are about more than meeting basic nutritional requirements. Nourishing and nutritional are not the same thing, but are equally important. There is no love involved in the preparation of the bland, tepid, and nutrient-rich meals these people put so much effort into. If anything, what one gets is a fairly strong sense of fear, as if this extreme diet is about desperately trying to gain control over the effects the world has on our bodies, about not accepting that life is a journey with a definite end and that taking the scenic route is as much about enjoying the process of getting there as it is about trying not to reach the destination too soon.

If I sound harsh, I am. I come from a long line of people who believe very strongly that food and love are very deeply entwined (and I've written about it ad nauseum on this site), and I'm saddened by people who run from that kind of pleasure out of some morbid fear that enjoyment will kill them too soon. Maybe, though my Italian ancestors seem somewhat to be proof that a species can survive while eating and drinking with gusto.

And besides, am I really supposed to take seriously anyone who makes statements such as "You have a very spiritual colon."

Uhm, I kind of think not. Anyway, Sunday dinner this week is tagliatelle bolognese, which will include ground beef, pork, and veal, all cooked for a very, very long time.

Posted by paulette at November 6, 2003 02:02 PM | TrackBack
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Deer-est Carnivore; “The Rawist” ARE just plain crazy. They have sucked the life out of eating in the name of ‘living’. This is just ass backwards to me. As a veggie, it sounds to me that you have the same problem with their conviction as most vegans/rawist/vegetarians have with the conviction of meat eaters. Instead of finding their(mine) ways weird and strange, why not celebrate the fact that they have strong beliefs and are willing to go to extremes for them (which these days it not such a bad thing since we live in a world of such apathy!) As a veggie, I do not find meat eaters repulsive, nor do I find offense when meat is consumed in front of me. I also have no problems with wearing leather products. What I do find offending is when a meat-eater finds offense in my beliefs, or think that i am 'strange or weird'. I choose not to eat meat because I know if I had to go out and kill it, I could not…plain and simple. I can find all my nutrients and benefits from the plant world, and believe me I do not suffer in doing so. I choose to use leather products as they have a longer lasting effect on my life, mainly protection from the elements…and yes I do struggle with the killing matter on this, but one must make choices, right? For me, vegetarianism is my choice and for the most part keep it to myself, I do not make a scene about it at dinners and usually do not tell people when I go to their house to eat….I will not put people out for my beliefs. Please do not lump us all in the same boat, this stereotyping is no different than those on religion, race…you get the picture. I would never assume that you are a raging homicidal maniac with a huge butcher knife and loaded shot gun, running out to the stock yards slicing the throats of all how roam the fields….although it sounds like that might not be to far form the truth. By the way, you have a beautiful colon and Very spiritual bowels.

Posted by: jamie on November 7, 2003 09:16 AM

I know this comment is a bit late, but hmmm"...just something really, truly, seriously wrong with not eating cheese..." I guess we can assume that many other cultures, and don't forget those with serious lactose-intolerance or who just do not like the taste, just have "something really, truly, seriously wrong" with them...or perhaps you are just ignorant. Is it really wrong and scary for someone to be concerned about her/his health? Have you ever tried gourmet raw or vegan food, because if not then you have no right to say that raw foodists or vegans do not appreciate taste. I've in fact tried a slice of gourmet raw pie as I was interested in what it would taste like, and it honestly tasted amazing. Oh, by the way, Albert Einstein was an advocate for vegetarianism, but I suppose you can think what you want of such a brilliant man.

Posted by: Tiffany on January 29, 2005 08:56 AM
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