My name is Scott, and I’m a vegetarian.
I’m still amused by the reactions I get from some people when I share this fact. It’s as though I’ve revealed a secret that makes them slightly uncomfortable – and wary of me.
Why, I don’t know.
All it means is that I don’t eat meat. It doesn’t mean that if I see you eat meat, I’m going to start screaming or try to hit you in the head with a hammer. I’m not on a crusade.
Besides, I still enjoy eggs, which come from chickens, which count as animals even though many of the chickens I’ve met are complete assholes. Even so, I make sure that the eggs I eat are from free range, cage-free chickens who are self-sufficient and have access to the best schools.
Also, I get that eating meat is instinctual. That’s why humans have teeth designed for shredding flesh, and why there are so many Golden Corrals and Cracker Barrels in business.
I just choose not to eat meat because it’s the right decision for me. As George Bernard Shaw said, “Animals are my friends … and I don’t eat my friends.”
He also said a lot of other things, too, but that’s the line that applies directly to this column.
Anyway, I’ve only been a vegetarian for a decade, so that means the vast majority of my life was spent dining on roast beast. And sadly, that’s a dining desire that does not go away – at least it hasn’t for me. So while it seems mildly hypocritical, I do enjoy meat substitutes.
Remember the TV series “True Blood,” where nice vampires sustained themselves on a synthetic form of blood (called Tru Blood) so they didn’t have to feast on humans?
It’s kinda like that.
Or think of “Blade,” who was a vampire but was able to thwart his bloodlust due to a special serum that allowed him to become a “Day Walker” and fight other vampires.
Tell you what … forget all that weird vampire shit. I’ve gotten way off topic.
The point is, while I love vegetables and fruit and eat plenty of both (and always have), I still crave “meat.” And fortunately, there are plenty of soy and hemp-based products out there that mimic the flavor.
Tempeh is the most versatile, and that’s my every day, go-to substitute. Its uses run the gamut from sandwiches to main courses.
There is also hempeh, which is like tempeh, only hemp-based. It’s very good, and I imagine quite popular among beatniks and folk music enthusiasts who smoke marijuana cigarettes.
And sometimes I’ll have fake sausage (soysage) for breakfast, a treat I’ve developed quite a fondness for. When I first tried it, it tasted like regular sausage that had quit trying, but now I really don’t even notice the difference.
Or maybe I just don’t remember.
Fake hot dogs (also known as Not Dogs) have also become a staple of my diet. There are some brands that taste like absolute garbage, admittedly, but there is at least one (thank you, Morningstar Farms Veggie Dogs!) that’s really good.
Even my wife, who still eats meat on occasion, enjoys Not Dogs. It’s like eating a regular hot dog only without the sheep penises and rodent lips.
Of course my primary weakness is still bacon. Back in my carnivore days I couldn’t get enough of it, and it remains the meat I crave the most.
Sometimes to fight the urge, I’ll have to watch “Babe” to get my head (and heart) right.*
* And I’m referring to “Babe” the movie about the talking pig and not “The Babe” with John Goodman starring as George Herman Ruth. All that movie does is remind me that good sports-themed films are rare.
Sadly, I’ve yet to find a vegetarian replacement for bacon. Absolutely nothing tastes like the delicious, sizzling sliced hog, which creates an aroma so good I have actually searched the internet for bacon-scented candles.
That being said, I’m quite happy with my decision to become a vegetarian.
I feel like I’m much healthier than I was during my meat-eating days, and I no longer feel guilty when I drive down the interstate and wave at cows.
I still can’t look a pig in the eye, though.
With apologies to Mr. Shaw, it’s a friend I still want to eat.