In high school, I became a vegetarian and refused to eat meat for the next seven or eight years. My mother, an amazingly tolerant parent, didn’t really react except to begin substituting cooked vegetables for meats for me whenever she prepared a family meal. As a parent of two somewhat picky eaters, I now realize how much extra work it is to cook an extra variation for each meal and I should probably email my mother later, and / or send her some ironic Omaha steak thank yous.
If I could reach back in time and talk to my 16 year old self without giving 16 year old me a Joan of Arc complex or destroying the space time continuum, I’d probably explain that vegetarian eating doesn’t mean living on macaroni and saltines, and also that veggie burgers (a soggy bean-filled travesty back in 1997) really do get better and that someday, suburban restaurants will carry vegetarian options other than French onion soup (with beef broth, but it’s otherwise completely vegetarian!).
When I met my husband at college, he ate some truly horrible dining hall entrees in an attempt to avoid offending his vegetarian girlfriend (uh meaning me, he didn’t have a type or anything). College is for experimentation, but the stuffed tomato zucchini plate was just taking it too far. After awhile, he went back to his carnivorous ways, when it became clear that meat eaters did not offend me (because they remind me of T-Rexes, and you can’t be upset with someone with those teeny little arms and precarious balance issues).
Fast forward to 2017, when there are low-carb bacon diets, feeding your dog marrow-filled cow parts is normal, and if I were to create a cookbook detailing my children’s evening meals, it would be entitled: Plain White Chicken: 101 Ways to Make the Same Dish the Same.
There are Morningstar veggie links stashed covertly behind the ice cream in our freezer because we and the media can’t decide if soy is a miracle food or a poisonous monster, so we’re either eating it in moderation or else building up a tolerance like the guy in Princess Bride with iocane powder.
I eat meat now, because it’s simpler and kind of delicious, but if I think about it too much, I get grossed out and feel like I’m eating people legs, which is pretty disruptive to enjoying a meal, although does sort of explain my affinity to T-Rexes. Possibly, we’ll find out in the big Soylent Green [spoilers] reveal that soy products are actually people, and it will solve the debate once and for all.