Of Mice and Meat: Why I Don't Trust Vegetarians
This post was originally featured on Tracy on the Rocks
I’m just going to come out and say it: I really don’t trust anyone who doesn’t eat meat. This isn’t to say that every vegetarian is some weirdo hippie activist tree- hugging PETA freak, but let’s be honest, a lot of them are. As a passionate meat-lover, I can’t wrap my head around willingly not eating a good filet every once in a while or a burger at a cookout. I can’t imagine depriving myself of a healthy portion of ham on Christmas or not eating corned beef with my cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. Or BACON! What about bacon?! You’re going to tell me a couple of greasy pieces of bacon and a pile of eggs on a Sunday morning isn’t good for the soul? Blasphemy!
While I don’t agree with a life without meat, I do try to respect it. And I always seem to get it wrong. If I’m hosting dinner, I’ll politely cook something without meat to accommodate any lettuce-eating guests. “I know you’re a vegetarian, so I made chicken parm!” I’ll say, proud that I went out of my way to plan a meatless meal.
“Umm, Tracy…chicken is meat…” the said rabbit-food lover will respond.
“What?! Chicken? No, no, honey, chicken isn’t meat, silly. It’s POUL-TRY,” I’ll explain shaking my head and laughing. You’d think if someone was going to run around saying they don’t eat meat, they’d at least take the time to learn the difference between meat and birds. Jeeze.
My favorite thing to educate a vegetarian on is the All-American wiener. I’ll be taking a delightful bite out of a Nathan’s hotdog, smeared in mustard, and catch a vegetarian friend looking at me with that “Ewww” face they think they aren’t doing when they’re watching you eat something they don’t approve of. “Mmmmm,” I’ll mumble into my bun, “You should try one…Nathan’s are the best!”
“Oh god, Tracy, do you know what’s IN that thing?”
“Don’t worry, there’s no meat in this. You can totally have one. I mean seriously, have you ever read the package? I can honestly promise you there is no real meat in this bad boy. Maybe some lips or hooves or something, but definitely not meat!” Cue to vegetarian running to the bathroom to upchuck her carrot sticks.
The most memorable run-in with a vegetarian I’ve ever had is an incident I like to call, “The Great Chicken Debate of 2011.” My friend Ally was getting married and we were spending the day at the spa and then going out to dinner and hitting the town for her bachelorette party. Ally was a real live scientist and she did all kinds of important experiments in beakers and Bunson Burners and stuff. I remember the first night I met her, we were talking about what we did for work and she said she worked in a lab that did research for Alzheimer’s. I was really impressed. I was even more impressed, and a little disgusted, that this petite little girl had to kill mice as part of her job. “What do you mean, you actually have to kill them?? Like they’re alive and then you feed them drugs or something and watch them die a slow death?!” The horror!
“Oh, no we’re much more humane. We snap their necks,” She clarified, matter-of-factly, making a two handed snapping motion with a little click of her tongue. Fascinated, and a little afraid of her ability to kill so easily, I asked her no more questions about her job but made a mental note to keep my neck as far away from her as possible.
The day of her bachelorette party, a bunch of her girlfriends came out for the affair; it was a motely crew of sorts. At the spa, we met her friends from the lab, her yoga instructor friend, a lawyer who was also 7 months pregnant at the time and a few others. Then there was me: the loud- mouthed, meat-eating, beer-loving, animal-hating, not- scientist who had tried yoga once and after two minutes of down-hill dog and backwards turtle positions, both of which I had gotten stuck in before I rolled up my mat yelling, “Yoga is stupid! I hate yoga! I’m going to happy hour!”
The good news was I could get along with almost anyone so it didn’t bother me that I didn’t have anything at all in common with most of the girls there. I mostly stuck with the Yoga instructor, who I had met a before and the prego (who posed no threat to my cocktail when I left it unattended to get my massage.)
However, there was one chick there from the scientist crew who was NOT NICE. Let’s call her Satan for the sake of this story. There is no sugar-coating this- she was just a straight up bitch. She had a comment for everything and was one of the most opinionated, dominating assholes I’ve met in a long time. For some reason, she seemed to have it out for me. All day long she made little nasty remarks in response to anything I said. For Ally’s sake, I kept my mouth shut but one more mojito and I was about to drown this orange-haired nerd in the salt-water pool.
After the spa, we headed downtown for dinner at a hip Asian-fusion restaurant. Perusing the menu, I realized that the dishes were meant to be shared, so I asked, “Okay, I know Ally and Yoga instructor are vegetarians- are you as well, Satan?” Of course she was. “Well, that’s all good and fine but this girl needs to get some meat in her. Does anyone do the fish thing? Maybe we can get one seafood dish?”
After we had decided what to order, I tried to make conversation. “So I know people are vegetarians for different reasons. Why don’t you gals eat meat? Is it to be healthy or because you are animal lovers or something else?” I innocently posed the question, sincerely interested in what would prompt such an insane lifestyle decision. Satan was staring at me with a look of disgust. Great. Here we go.
“Are you really asking that? Do you KNOW how they treat chickens?”
“Well, yeah”, I responded…”it’s pretty messed up. I think it’s kind of way worse for the farmers though. I read somewhere that companies like Perdue will finance these really expensive pieces of equipment to the farmers in exchange for an exclusive to use their chickens. Then Perdue will change the machines they’re using and force the farmers into buying new stuff when the old ones aren’t paid off and they’re in debt forever! How horrible is that? I think it’s pretty terrible for those famers to get trapped like that!”
“The farmers?!” She exclaimed. “What about the chickens that are jammed into these tiny cages and they can’t even MOVE around. They’re literally on top of each other.”
I knew I was treading in some sketchy water but this girl was really starting to piss me off, “Look, I’m going to be honest with you. I really don’t care how the chickens are being treated. Why do I care if they can’t run around and frolic happily in their coop when they are being RAISED for the sole purpose of being KILLED? Don’t you think setting them up in a nice spacious pad and giving them a good life is a little misleading? I think the chickens that are miserable in those cages are happy when they get killed. They’re probably lined up at the chopping block yelling ‘Pick me!’”
There was a flash in Satan’s eyes and I saw that this was going from bad to worse, but I couldn’t stop. Her sane train had derailed several chicken comments ago and this was about to get ugly.
“If the chickens can’t run around, how healthy is that? They can’t move, they can barely eat, they aren’t getting any exercise and no muscle is developing. You’re putting THAT in your body? Have you ever SEEN what they do to KFC Chickens?! Those are CLONED chickens. They don’t even have BEAKS!! How can that be healthy?” She all but shouted.
“WELL I DON’T EAT THE BEAKS SO I DON’T CARE IF THEY DON’T HAVE THEM AND I DON’T EVEN LIKE KFC!!!” I exclaimed. Well, was kind of a lie, their neon- orange mac and cheese is pretty bomb but I wasn’t about to give her that satisfaction.
“Okkaaayy…I think it’s time for a subject change. So, umm. The spa was fun, huh?” Yoga tried to salvage the rest of the dinner but all I could think about was shoving a chicken beak up Satan’s ass.
The second we stepped outside after dinner, that Looney Toon lit up a cigarette. I couldn’t believe it. For someone who was SOOOO worried about being healthy, she was huffing down a menthol like it was nobody’s business. In my humble opinion, the worst kind of crazies are the hypocritical kind.
I don’t wish bad things on people, but if I did, I would wish that that vegetarian menace would get attacked by a gaggle of beakless chickens and they’d all shin-kick her a bunch of times. Then she’d get gangrene or something awful and have to spend the rest of her days as a scientist researching a cure for mutant chicken gangrene.
A few days later, Ally and I met for lunch. I was armed with an apology for what had transpired at the dinner table the night of her party. Before I had a chance to, Ally said, “Sorry Satan was being such a bitch the other night! I don’t know what her deal is.”
“That’s okay, Ally, I hope you had fun anyway. Hey, let me ask you something. Does Satan ever have to kill any mice at her job?”
“Ohhh…she’s been known to snap quite a few necks in her day!” Ally laughed.
“Really,” I said. “Well next time you see her, do me a favor: make sure you ask her if those mice all have nice big cages to run around in before she kills them.” Then I ordered a chicken sandwich. It was probably made out of a chemically engineered, clinically depressed chicken that was raised in a matchbox. And it was damn good down to the last beakless bite.
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