I’ve been a full-blown vegetarian for about ten years. I say it like that because it sounds funny to compare vegetarianism to HIV/AIDS, and because fifteen years ago I eliminated beef and pork from my diet, then five years later gave up the rest. When you think about it, I’ve actually been a vegetarian longer than not, because I’m sure I didn’t start eating meat until I had teeth capable of chewing, which happens around age two (the internet tells me). I started eating canned tuna again about four years ago, and when I moved to the Ocean State, I started eating fish and sea creatures in general, though not very often.
The thing is, for me, I do not really care for meat. Even when I ate meat, I didn’t eat much of it. It’s not an animal rights thing, it’s the fact that it sits in my gut like a brick, and I care neither for the taste of most meat nor the texture. I also don’t eat celery for the same reasons.
Last St. Patrick’s Day, I had dinner with a few friends who have traveled extensively throughout Asia. We had a lot of crazy exotic dishes that I had never seen before, and I was eager to try them. About mid-way through a curry-type thing that I was eating, Wise Lawyer Friend said, “Andria, that has pork in it, didn’t you know?”
“You don’t eat meat?” Hostess asked frantically, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t know that. I should have told you that had meat in it.”
I looked down at what I had been eating, and saw tiny flecks of what could have been pork amidst larger chunks of tofu and other delicious ingredients. I finished eating it anyway wondering if trace amounts of pork would make me sick.
“How long has it been since you’ve eaten pork?” Wise Lawyer Friend asked me.
“About fifteen years.” I told her. Hostess continued apologizing, but I shrugged and told her that I really didn’t care too much, and I certainly wouldn’t be an asshole and get mad at her about it, or go throw up the delicious meal she and her husband had prepared– that’s crazy.
Since that meal, I’ve eaten meat on two other occasions: once when DC Insider offered me a bite of his chicken sandwich from Wendy’s and I decided to go for it since I used to like chicken quite a bit; and last week when I was out for brunch and discovered that the quesadilla in my huevos rancheros had bacon in it. I didn’t realize what was going on with the flavor until I was about halfway through it (since I don’t really remember what bacon tastes like, and I wasn’t expecting it), but I finished all four pieces anyway, and didn’t even tell Jewish Friend for fear of establishing some kind of bacon-eating precedent that would make her entirely too happy.
Now I’ve been informed that the annual “grog and dog jog” is coming up. It’s a relay race where you run 1.5 miles, and have to chug and beer and eat a hot dog before the next person on your team can go. It sounds very appealing to me because I haven’t been running at all lately and that short of a distance sounds very manageable, I love beer, and I’ve been craving a hot dog for some reason for a while now so this seems like a good reason to eat one. Also, there may be prizes involved.
What worries me, is what if I choke? Not literally, but athletically. What if it comes down to the moment that I need to eat the hot dog– for the team– and I simply cannot do it. That happened one other time when I insisted that I wanted chicken strips, and then could not actually eat one. I held a chicken strip, and stared at it for about ten minutes, but could not make myself bite into it. I don’t really want to do a test run with a real hot dog, but I don’t want to be that asshole who asks the event organizers to sub in a soy dog just for me.