Small Talk

Confessions of a near vegetarian

I’ve been eating mostly vegetarian along with my son this summer and the results look good. I don’t get so hungry and I sense I am more well-thought of by cows and pigs, in general. I’m still not too popular with poultry or fish, though.
I am aware of, and even in agreement with my son’s reasons for giving up meat, revolving around efficient feeding of the world and global warming. I can go forever without craving a hamburger. (The veggie burgers are really quite good.) I can go for months without dreaming of a crisp slice of bacon or a spare rib. I can knock back a rice and bean burrito with the best of them these days, as long as there is plenty of guacamole.
All I can say is thank goodness for soy in all its wonderful disguises. That’s one swell bean, but they do work on a veggie veal. I’m also currently quite grateful to the Greeks for their ability to make a decadent, yet fat-free, yogurt. I haven’t even asked how they do it, nor do I care as long as it keeps appearing on my grocery shelf.
And I am sympathetic to the humane treatment of livestock, driven home by the occasional lecture from my tender-hearted husband. But tonight I am sneaking out like a guilty teenager, to indulge in my greatest carnivorous weakness. I am going to my favorite Italian restaurant where I very probably will order the scallopini. You know, the schnitzel, the veau, the vacuno. Oh fine — the big-eyed, baby calf who’s not even weaned yet.
I know, I know and I’m already sorry. I really hate that the farmers keep those sweet young bovines in tiny stalls and are so unkind to them. If I had my way, I would only order veal that had happy, although short lives, being petted and loved by some cute 4-H member.
I do agonize over it every time. I’ve even been known to opt for the spinach lasagna or the eggplant parmesan, but every now and then, I crumble. Tonight is looking like one of those weak nights, likely to produce delicious nirvana followed by café latte and a helping of self-loathing.
In my defense, I will point out that I have denied myself a great many meatballs and a large portion of bacon, ham, prime rib, stew, chili con carne, hot dogs, tacos, summer sausage, brautwurst, smoked pork chops, flank steak and pot roast this year.
My summer diet has been an herbivore’s dream, with vegetable soups, vegetable lasagna, salads galore, fruit, yogurt, pasta, cheese pizzas, eggplant sandwiches and pesto. It’s all quite tasty, but I feel I have neglected my canine teeth, given to me specifically to tear apart meat. Hey, every body part deserves equal respect.
I will return to my well-behaved, planet-conscious self tomorrow and once again buy only free range chicken eggs and organic milk. I am working hard to be a locavore, even buying dog food made in El Cajon. (A locavore is someone who buys all their food locally. Less gas to transport, fresher, just a good thing.)
You have my solemn promise that my next dinner out, I will have nothing but the delicious Caprese salad and the rich butternut squash ravioli. It’s a terrific sacrifice, but my social conscience only permits me the occasional fling.