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sword
tiger_spot
Yay, someone finally sent me questions!


1. Why are you a vegetarian?

I think it's possible to raise and slaughter animals for meat humanely and ethically (where ethically includes environmental concerns). That's not the way it's generally done, though, so I'd rather not be involved. If I were being really logical and consistent, I'd eat a tiny little bit of pasture-raised meat, and I wouldn't eat dairy products from normal commercial farms (which would mean I'd have to go vegan at restaurants, yikes). But consistency is somewhat overrated, and it's much easier to identify and explain to people what I can eat if I just follow the normal US definition of vegetarian. Also, ethical dairy products are kind of hard to find and quite expensive. I'm good about eggs purchased for home consumption, because battery chicken farms are disgusting beyond belief, but I don't grill restaurant employees about where their eggs come from.

I ate meat according to more or less the normal American pattern until college. Somewhere at UT, my consumption dropped precipitously, both because I'd started thinking about some of the environmental issues and because all the meat at the cafeteria was really bad. I remember going to the "vegetarian" station in the food-court style cafeteria once and being asked why I was a vegetarian, and explaining that I wasn't, but I just liked the food. That caused a tremendous quantity of confusion.

As I ate in the cafeteria less and less, I ate even less meat. While I was living in the dorms I didn't really have any way to cook it, and after I moved out it was still a pain to transport (I had no car, and dripping meat in a backpack on the bus just seemed like asking for trouble), cook safely, and store for as long as it took me to eat it.

When I went to a restaurant right before I started my summer job after graduating, I had something with meat in it (because it was one of those obnoxious chain restaurants with no good veggie food). I had no other meat that summer, and by the end of it had decided that defining myself as a vegetarian made sense. These days, eating something with meat in it gives me rather nasty tummy upsets, so I don't expect I'll be going back. Meat doesn't register as "food" any more, just as "dead animal". Sometimes I have to fight the urge to give it a little funeral in the back yard.

I used to really hate it when people asked me why I was a vegetarian, because no matter what I said they would then try to talk me out of it. I think it's very weird when people take a dietary choice as some kind of personal affront.


1a. Would it bother you if your food came in contact with a serving or cooking utensil that hadn't been thoroughly washed after touching meat?

It would bother me if it left detectable residue on my food. So something like a ladle with meat-based stew on it really shouldn't then be used to serve me non-meat-based stew, but something like tongs used to pick up boiled shrimp could then be used to pass me a potato. I'm pretty flexible if there aren't extra utensils handy; we've done things like divide a large pan in half with tinfoil to cook veggie lasagna in one half and lasagna with a bit of sausage in the other half.

Also, anything that's been in contact with uncooked meat I don't want anywhere near me, but that's more a bacterial contamination issue, which most meat-eaters are already plenty aware of and take steps to control.

I don't expect people who don't live with me to cook anything especially for me. I am generally perfectly happy to subsist on side dishes or bring my own food. Most people like it when their guests can eat their food, so I do usually tell people I'm a vegetarian before they try to cook me something, but I don't really mind having potatoes or whatever for one meal. I do appreciate being warned that there's bacon grease in the beans (or whatever) so I know what to avoid; I don't always think to ask about stuff like chicken broth, which can hide in lots of things that don't look like they have dead animal in them.

It was a bit of a problem when we were visiting my grandmother, because she doesn't have any short-term memory anymore and therefore couldn't remember that I was a vegetarian (nor do I know what she would have done if she could remember; she has a very, very 1950s-middle-America approach to food) and kept thinking I'd finished my ham and needed more. Fortunately, "No, thank you, I've had all the ham I want," was both accurate and sufficiently satisfying for her. Turns out you can live a surprisingly long time on Velveeta & white bread sandwiches.



2. What did you get your degree in exactly?

Bachelor of Science in Biology (Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation). The University of Texas only offered this particular degree for I think two years; previously they'd divvied things up along Zoology/Botany type lines rather than level of organization (Microbiology/Organismal Biology/Systems Biology [ecology etc.])and afterward they slightly readjusted the degrees so the closest one to what I had was Biology (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior).

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