Being vegetarian isn’t easy. And I don’t mean just giving up the meat I love (Vienna sausages!), but learning to adapt to a vegetarian diet and, especially, having to explain and justify my choices to others. And that justification isn’t made any easier by my occasional—and limited—slippage into meat eating. There are a variety of vegetarians: vegans (no animal products at all); pescatarians (no red meat but fish is okay); ovo-lacto vegetarians (no meat, but eggs and dairy products are fine); and even pollo vegetarians (these eat chicken but no red meat). But for reasons I’ll explain, I have invented a new category for myself: a “hypocritical vegetarian.”
I first became a vegetarian after reading Animal Factories circa 1980, although a quick check on the internet suggests I may have that title wrong; regardless, I made the decision to become vegetarian based on a book (my partner said “You read too much,” which suggests where that relationship was going!). Later, I slipped back into eating meat; it’s very easy to do. Then when I moved to San Diego, and roomed with a pescatarian, I decided to follow suit. Within a few months I quit eating fish, too. And I stuck with that carefully while in San Diego and even after moving back to Texas.
Most of the time I call myself an ovo-lacto vegetarian. I have tried being vegan, and I believe that is the right choice, but I haven’t been successful, mostly thanks to having to give up cheese. So most of the time I believe in being vegan, but practice ovo-lacto vegetarianism; thus, I am a hypocritical vegetarian on one count. Ah, but there is more on the slippery slope to hypocrisy.
After moving back to Texas I was careful about my vegetarian diet—until my first visit to New Orleans. I found a vegetarian restaurant there, and had one of the worst meals ever. So, I made the decision to eat crab cakes based on the totally specious logic that really they were just large spiders. I know . . . So, when in New Orleans, I would eat crab cakes. Hypocrisy count two.
Later, when visiting my friend Roger in the wilds of Wisconsin, I was again faced with no options at restaurants except crab cakes. It’s a good thing I love crab cakes!
And then on my first trip to London and Paris, I decided that one simply couldn’t eat in Paris without having some kind of seafood. Those scallops in Paris were delicious. Hypocrisy count three.
Recently, my friend Keith, from San Diego, came to visit. He’s the pescatarian with whom I shared a house. There was nothing to be done but join him in eating fish. And then when I visited him and his husband, Victor, recently, I again ate fish, especially when we traveled to wine country in Mexico. And my first octopus. Hypocrisy count four.
I still consider myself a vegetarian. And roughly 99% of the time I follow that philosophy closely. But I have my moments of “slippage,” and while I’m not ashamed of those fumbles—I am, after all, only human—I do try to resist and for the most part I succeed. I can live with being a hypocritical vegetarian.