Riding Shotgun: Meat is Murder. Tasty, Tasty Murder.

Going vegetarian is no picnic.

Meat is murder, or so they tell me. But it is tasty murder, filled with flavorful flesh-juices that make my stomach say, “Wheeeee, murder is yummy!”

So, why did I decide to go vegetarian? Why have I not eaten meat for the better part of four months? Did my stomach piss me off and this is my revenge? No. Did I join the Green Party? Of course not; I’m not that much of a masochist. Nor did I have a sudden burst of compassion for my fellow creatures. If a pigeon poops on me, I will kick it with my leather boots.

My reason was simple: We as a species have evolved to the point where we no longer need to eat meat to survive, so why should we? Shouldn’t we just take our vitamins and leave the lambs and the piggies and the cows alone? Sure, cows have been bred for thousands of years to be little more than a sack of meat with a digestive tract, but a digesting meat sack deserves a chance at a full life too, without me coming along and turning his innards into barbecue.

So, yes, no more meat. I went cold turkey. (Pardon the pun.)

Mind you, I fell off the wagon a few times before getting into the groove of things. Once at a barbecue; once while my wife and I were on vacation and discovered that West Virginia fine dining does not include many vegetarian options; and once while eating sushi that contained artificial crab meat (made out of real fish), and personally I don’t think that last one should count.

But, for the most part, it’s been easy. I didn’t eat a lot of meat to begin with. And I live in the D.C. Metro area, which caters to every kind of palate imaginable. There are restaurants here that have no meat on their menus at all. My wife has been very supportive, and any meal we make at home has been vegetarian. She satisfies her own meat cravings at restaurants where she can order a burger the size of her head.

I do miss burgers the size of my head. There are a goodly number of veggie burgers out there, but so far none have reached head-size. Also, ordering a veggie burger at a restaurant is a little like playing Russian roulette, only instead of a bullet in the brainpan, vegetarian diners risk getting something that tastes like cardboard and ass. A tip: Veggie burgers do not taste like hamburger, nor should they. Trying to make them taste like hamburger results in … cardboard and ass.

I also regret that most chefs consider mushrooms and/or tofu to be an appropriate substitution for meat. Mushrooms are an ingredient meant to be served in small quantities, such as when they are sautéed and spread over a T-bone. And no matter how crispy and soy-sauce-drenched tofu gets, its innards still have the consistency of bean curd. What with it being made of bean curd and all. I am making a concerted effort to like zucchini, however. Which is good, as my wife believes it is the second coming of Jesus and uses it every chance she gets.

Will I miss meat? Sure. (Tasty, tasty flesh-juices, remember?) Most of all, I think, I miss Chinese food — General Tso’s and sweet and sour chicken. But, really, that’s no great loss. At some places I’ve eaten, those dishes were almost certainly several genetic steps removed from anything resembling meat anyway.

So, for now, the cows and the piggies and the lambs are safe; free to live out their lives unmolested and undigested.

Although I do need a new pair of boots …

Article © 2007 by Steve Spotswood