Friday, August 04, 2006

Whose cuisine reigns supreme?

There are two different types of people in the world, vegetarians and omnivores, (well, I guess three if you want to include vegans, but I don’t because they’re just too depressing to consider and their lifestyle is an aberration, blasphemy against all that is good and decent. Actually, I suppose that there could be some carnivores out there somewhere too, but those people are zombies and don’t count for the purposes of this column.)

Okay, well, that was a rather large digression in the last paragraph, so let me try starting this over.

Other than vegans (which I’ll get into later) and zombies (who don’t count) there are two types of people in the world: vegetarians and omnivores. These two groups have two different approaches when it comes to the consumption of fuel for the body. Which approach is better? you might ask. What is healthier for the body yet also tastes delicious at the same time? What will give my body energy and also keep my mind functioning well?

Do I look like a dietitian to you people? I don’t know any of that junk!

There is no objective side in this debate. Omnivores tend to look down at vegetarians as the misguided reprobates they are, and vegetarians look down at omnivores as stubborn, thick-headed enablers of animal abuse. Who’s right?

Wayyyyyyy back, when I was in college, (I went purely as research for the blog columns where I talk about school) I had a friend, (yes, I had a friend. A few of them in fact, and I didn’t even have to pay them off) we’ll call him “Charlie Brown” (although his real name is Jimmy Fossie, of Cleveland, Ohio.)

Charlie Brown was a typical late-teen, early-20s white American male. He loved good food, good weed and extremely alcoholic liquors. I remember that often was the time when we would enjoy some chicken at the KFC buffet, or burgers or anything meat-related. Those were the halcyon days, my friends. But things can never stay good can they? No, life has an ugly way of showing up in the middle of your good times and repeatedly kicking you in the crotch while wearing soccer cleats.

I don’t know exactly how it happened, but one semester, Charlie Brown took a class, (I don’t know which one, perhaps psychology or some other sort of pseudo-science) where the teacher must have incorporated brain washing in his lectures. One day Charlie was a regular manly-man like the rest of us, the next he was a vegetarian (implying that vegetarians are less manly).

“How did this happen?” his friends wailed. “Who could have done such a thing to our poor Charlie Brown?” There was much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth that day.

Once we had calmed down, the dust had settled and the police had left the scene, Charlie Brown explained it to us. It seems that animals are treated in incredibly horrible ways in farms and slaughtering houses. They are cut up while still alive, mutilated, forced to live in cages the exact same size as themselves, (but with a dozen other roommates anyway) and victims of conditions that would make the most shocking and brutal horror movies look like Blue Clues in comparison.

It’s much too much for some people. They see how awful the lives of these animals are, and they decide to take a stand in protest, by not eating the meat of our fellow travelers on this big blue marble we call Earth, (don’t get me started that name again!). These people are vegetarians. This was the fate of good ‘ole Charlie Brown.

At first we all thought it was a phase. “Ha!” we’d say to him. “Hahahahaha! You’re not going to last the week! You love meat too much!”

Then it became, “You’re not going to last the month!”

Then, “You’re not going to last the year!”

Until years went by and still the flesh of a dead animal had not passed through his lips. We still try the occasional, half-hearted “You’re not going to last the decade!” but we don’t really mean it anymore.

And so it came to be that Charlie Brown joined the legions of vegetable-eaters.

But at least he’s not a vegan.

See, being a vegetarian is one thing. I personally don’t get it, (to be honest and insensitive and completely like other omnivores, I don’t care how the animals are treated and I don’t care to know how they’re treated. It’s no skin of my back to be apathetic to their plight. That’s why we eat ugly animals. If we ate cute little puppy dogs and kittens every woman in the world would be a vegetarian.) but I can respect it, (after all, I like vegetarian eggrolls, and meatless pizza is still the ultimate food.)

Vegans, on the other hand, are a complete enigma to me. I could never imagine not being able to eat things made with milk, eggs or cheese as well as meat. How limiting is that?! What’s left: cheerios? Blades of grass? And what’s really weird is that vegans know that they’re cutting a major portion of essential (and delicious) stuff out of their diets, which is why they try so hard to find soy and tofu replacements. I almost pity them when they come out with their eggs substitute, (new and improved tofeggs! They almost taste like something!) their soy mayo substitute (Enjoy veganese*, now with a more stupid name!) and their weird, fake cheese made of some unidentifiable substance, (ChReese† is dolphin safe!).

When you’re replacing most of the food you’re supposed to eat with stuff a dog wouldn’t consume, (and remember, they eat their own vomit) then I think you’ve lost sight of what eating is about. It’s about food that tastes good because that’s the way it was made, not food substitutes that taste almost but not quite like something that actually does taste good, (damn that sentence was hard to get through). I mean, if I want to see a titty but there are no girls around, I’m not going to ask a guy to show me his nipple! It’s just not the same! (Though I have seen some girls with nipples hairier than guys’ nipples. Gross!)

On the other hand, we omnivores have scrapple‡, so I guess we’re even.

*A real product

Ditto

Imagine all the shit left over in slaughterhouses after they get all the possible cuts of meat. All that stuff is made into hotdogs. Now, imagine all the shit left over after they made hotdogs: hooves, snouts, tails, whatever. That’s scrapple. It tastes just like it sounds.

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