On Top of the World

Well behaved women rarely make history.

I think it’s called Pescatarian.

Yesterday my family had Frank Pepe’s pizza for dinner. Frank Pepe’s was named the Best Pizza in the World by The Food Network a few years back (trivia!). We got three pizzas: an original tomato pie for my mozzarella-hating older daughter, a mozzarella and garlic for me, and a mozzarella and bacon for my husband. Aeris (my younger daughter) was sharing with Daddy, but tried all three. The tomato pie was “too slimy” but she liked mine, and suggested I should have a slice of her bacon pizza in return. I politely refused, explaining I don’t eat bacon (I’m a vegetarian). She said it was the best pizza ever and I should try it anyway. I said, thank you, but I don’t like eating bacon, I haven’t eaten it since I was a little girl like her. She said I should try it again, then, since that was so long ago, how would I know I don’t like it still? This is something we tell her every time she claims not to like something we are having for dinner so I knew I was in trouble. I explained I don’t eat any meat and I haven’t since I was seven. She said:

“That’s ridiculous!”

Now, if I was the kind of vegetarian who doesn’t eat meat for moral reasons, I could explain that to her. But I’m not really. I do think animals are mistreated on big corporate farms but I don’t think it is explicitly wrong to eat animal flesh (I do eat seafood, for example). So going into a big explanation of the morals of raising animals to eat them — Well. She’s five. When her big sister told her all the dinosaurs were killed millennia ago she outright cried for a full hour and was weepy for the rest of the day. It wouldn’t be a pleasant dinner conversation.

But the real problem is my lack of a clear reason. Being a vegetarian is healthy, it is morally sound, good for the environment — but I became one when I was seven. I saw a 6 minute discussion about it on Sesame Street and told my mother I’d decided to not eat meat anymore. And she went along with it. And it stuck. It’s as simple as that. And because it’s as simple as that I have never been able to explain it to anyone. When I was in third grade I had to bring in a note to get permission to not eat the meat portion of any shared meals. When I was in eighth grade I went on a Women In Science field trip to Trinity College and lunch at the cafeteria was included in admission. And it was not vegetarian so I did not eat it. And my teacher, who’d paid, was angry. I said I was a vegetarian. Everyone at the table found this fascinating and asked questions about why (no, not because my family are, they aren’t ; no, I don’t care if you eat meat, that is your decision; etc.). They kept asking why because I kept answering no to all the options. Finally I got entirely frustrated and answered:

“Because Spock’s one, okay?”

Let this be a lesson to all: STAR TREK is a guaranteed instant conversation ender in eighth grade social situations. So it worked.

And my little Aeris, who loves Spock, would probably accept “because Spock’s one” as the answer to “why are you a vegetarian?” — but that is not actually my reason. That’s just my funny/sad middle school story. I didn’t bring up Spock. We all laughed that Mommy is ridiculous and just left it at that. I don’t know. I cannot imagine eating meat (seafood being counted separately). I wish that was explanation enough.



  Sigrid Ellis wrote @

We explain to the kids why we’re vegetarians. My son was particularly shocked by how much water it takes to raise beef cattle vs how much food can be grown with that water. I think he thinks beef is immoral, now, but we do tell him to not LECTURE other people about it.

  Jamie B. wrote @

I love hearing vegetarian origin stories, especially from the non-preachy kind. I’m from the same

  Jamie B. wrote @

background and I likewise have reasons but myriad of them really. I find it funny when my reasons are not satisfying to the curious meat-eating folk. I did decide just yesterday the new standard for answering the inevitable, “well, what do you eat?,” question: iceberg lettuce with ranch dressing, corn from a can, and mashed potatoes. At least that way I’ll get a laugh since that’s what they are thinking anyway.

p.s.-Your articles on theadorkable are great!

  Anika wrote @

Yes, that’s the other thing. Everyone decides I must make all these special plans for eating — and that they have to when I come over — and it’s like, I eat exactly what you eat minus the meat! I’ve never starved at Thanksgiving, for example. Anyway. Thanks for sharing!

p.s. – Yay! I’m so happy they’ve been well-received.

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