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Episodes: The things people will tell you when you stop eating meat (one day a week)


Emily VanDerWerff

Feb 23 2016

5 min read



ON THE ONE HAND: I really do think that eating meat probably contributes to a bunch of global ills, just in the sense that, like, livestock production contributes so much CO2 into the atmosphere, etc., etc., etc.

I also think that I like animals a lot and have to sort of put out of my head that I am eating them when I eat meat.

I also, also think that I am ENORMOUS, and since my biological father died of heart disease when he was a skinny dude, that can't be a GOOD thing.

ON THE OTHER HAND: I grew up on a farm. And it's hard for me to make the leap from "thinking about not eating meat" to "actually not eating meat," because I know a little bit about the food production chain and how hard the people at one end of it work. (Also: My view of things is skewed, because I had the good fortune to grow up on the now-mythical Small Family Farm.)

Also: I really LIKE meat. All of my favorite foods are meats. None of my favorite foods are vegetables. It's just true. I like some fruits and a few grainy things. But vegetables? Nah.

Also, also: Without meat, I don't get full, and when I don't get full, I try to eat my cats in my sleep.

So my wife and I decided that it was probably time to at least TRY going without meat one day per week. We couched this in all of the reasons above, and we didn't go for two days or three or full time because of the other reasons above.

And here is the thing: the SECOND you say something about not eating meat, EVEN FOR A SINGLE MEAL, you wander into some unexplored political fault line of the American body politic. And what's kinda crazy about this is that one side is endlessly, eternally, annoyingly helpful, while the other is endlessly, eternally, annoyingly ANGRY.

Every conversation about not eating meat goes a little like this:

YOU: "I don't think I'm going to eat meat on Mondays, just to see if I can do it."

PERSON A: "Good for you. We all need to eat less meat, don't we?"

YOU: "Yeah. I--"

PERSON B: "Not eating meat? But I like meat!"

YOU: "I do too."

PERSON C: "Not eating meat? I have some recipes you should try. They're delicious. Just ask!"

YOU: "No, that's fine. I have some things I like already."

PERSON B: "I like meat."

PERSON A: "I tried to stop eating meat, but by the end of the second week, I had barbecued an entire pig and eaten it from the inside out. See, I forgot I was being barbecued in it, because not having meat made me weak in the brain."

PERSON D: "I can't believe you would stop eating meat, but you're right, vegetables are better for your health." *surreptitiously glances toward your waistline*

PERSON E: "Can I suggest [ethnic cuisine]? I couldn't imagine giving up meat until I tried [ethnic cuisine], and now all I eat is hummus."

PERSON B: "Don't like hummus. Like meat."

PERSON F: "I have some really great vegan recipes you should try. Just check out my blog."

PERSON D: "Fish isn't really a meat. Could be a good way for you to enjoy meat but still get some health benefits." *pulls out tape measure* "Woof. What a lardo."

PERSON G: "Do fish have souls?"

PERSON B: "If animals have souls, God wanted us to devour them."

PERSON H: "There's no law against eating meat. Not yet at least. Wait until Obama's last days in office. You'll see."

PERSON I: "I struggled with eating vegetarian at first, too. Then I discovered these amazing recipes using a site called Google. Now, I only eat plants and the tiny birds that crash into my windows. I have some great recipes for those, too. Just look up my blog!"

PERSON H: "I'd like to see all of you vegetarians eat some MEAT." *picture of bacon, because liking bacon is a lifestyle choice now*

YOU: "Thank you to everyone for your thoughts. Including the guy who called me a lardo."

MY BEST FRIEND: "I once reassembled and mounted the skeleton of the family Thanksgiving turkey." (Editor's note: This really happened.)

ME: "If you're going to eat meat, at least don't be wasteful, I guess. Happy holidays!"

Thus, I can draw only one conclusion from all of this:

1.) Eating meat makes you really angry about eating meat and anybody who might not eat meat. They threaten you for reasons that are not immediately clear.

2.) Everyone who is a vegetarian and/or vegan has some great recipes to share with you and probably a blog about it.

3.) Talking about vegetarianism is soon to become like talking about religion or politics. Don't do it.

There. Now you're equipped for an exciting adventure in food preparation!


Episodes is published at least three times per week, and more if I feel like it. It is mostly about television, except when it's not. Suggest topics for future installments via email or on Twitter. Read more of my work at Vox Dot Com.

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