Inspired by Valentine's Day and an article entitled, "I Love You, but You Love Meat," found in yesterday's edition of The New York Times, today's post focuses on love - love for food, that is.
On a somewhat unsettling note, the above-mentioned article highlights several cases of broken hearts on account of differing dietary points of view. One vegan woman from Belleville, NY, for example, broke it off with her meat-loving boyfriend recently because she found his practice of grilling his beef patties next to her vegan burgers to be "unenlightened and disturbing."
Personally, I am a vegetarian who, according to research on sites like chowhound.com and slashfood.com, is of the more acceptable variety. Apparently, vegetarians who choose their diet for health or religious reasons are more datable than those who choose it for other reasons. Lucky me?
I'm one of those health-justified veggies. I came to the realization one day (last May, 2007) that I never actually cooked meat for myself. In fact, the only time I consumed it was when it was prepared for me by someone else - a family member, a restaurant, etc. After researching all the general health benefits, in addition to weighing in the medical history of my family (plagued by heart disease beyond belief), this new diet seemed like the simple and logical choice. And for me, it has proven to be just that.
Believe me - my fairly recent lifestyle change hasn't gone without scrutiny. Some omnivores, such as author Anthony Bourdain in his book, Kitchen Confidential, claim, “Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans ... are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit.” Pretty radical viewpoint, I'd say, but even as a vegetarian, I relinquished a chuckle.
New friends are often surprised to find out about my historical love affair with meat. I used to scoff at those who ordered their burgers well-done, and I always requested my birthday dinners consist of a practically still-bleeding/mooing slab of steak. People often ask, "How can you so easily give up something you love?" These are the people who, as the article puts it, "are suspicious of anyone who does not give in to the pleasure principle."
The answer is simple. I've found a new love - vegetables. Many meat-eaters can't even fathom the idea of a vegetable rivaling a cut of meat's pleasurable effects. Arguably, I cannot keep track of the number of times I've served a sans-meat dish to an über-carnivore and been rewarded a satisfied moan.
Still, while food may have a powerful affect on affection, the potential for love between an herbivore and an omnivore is not entirely doomed. If a kosher man and a vegetarian woman can coexist (see article), I see platefuls of hope for the cohabitation of leaf-eaters and meat-eaters alike.
After discussing the article with my meat-eating boyfriend, he views our future living arrangements and our potentially relationship-damaging, coexisting diets in a pretty blasé way: "Eh - I can see us eating pretty much the same things together," he commented. "I'll just also be having a side of meat with my veggies."