Sunday, May 20, 2007

"I must have left my sense of humour in my other suit."

'Cause this is just not cute. I thought I was going to be reading a thoughtful column in which the problems encountered by both parties in an interdietary relationship (one partner is a vegetarian, the other is not) are addressed, and possible solutions/areas for compromise are suggested. What I got was something quite different.

I have a couple problems with Martin Booe's column. The first has nothing to do with the subject of the column, but with an analogy Booe's makes in the first paragraph. I'm not going to get into it in anymore detail than such idiocy merits, but I feel I need to point out that one cannot equate vegetarianism--which is a lifestyle choice--with lesbianism--which is not a choice. Such an analogy is both ignorant and disrespectful to the LGBT community.

Now, as for the column at large... I find the tone of the whole thing to be both dismissive and disrespectful of vegetarianism and vegetarians. Instead of focusing on how veggies and meat-eaters can partake from the same table, Martin Booe seems more interested in focusing on the hardships of the omnivorous set. He is "surrounded" by vegetarian tyrants--if one is to take his friend Ernie's wife as an example--who refuse to accept that others don't make similar dietary decisions. Booe's vegetarian (now ex) girlfriend is characterized as a princess:
she is displaced royalty, a missing link in the House of Bourbon and, I suspect, a not-too-distant cousin of King Juan Carlos. Place a pea under her mattress and she'll awake feeling like she's been beaten with a rubber hose. She likes things just so. [Emphasis original.]

She refuses to cook for herself, and so the meat-eating Booe must once again bow to her every whim.

And it is as a whim that Maria's conversion to vegetarianism is characterized. Booe casts aspersions on her commitment to her new lifestyle:
There's just one thing that puzzles me: Our cat, El Signorito Rafael del Carmen, has developed a voracious appetite for prosciutto, chorizo, and chuletas de cordero. Maria claims she feeds these things to him when I'm not around.

Can a cat really eat three quarters of a pound of prosciutto in one sitting?

Maria can't really have made a change in her diet; she must be eating meat in secret.

In Booe's world, vegetarians are alternately tyrannical/demanding, and flippant. How can one share a meal, let alone deal, with such people?! That seems to be the conclusion at which Booe arrives.

The thing is, most vegetarians understand that not everyone shares our lifestyle. In fact, most of us realize that we're living in a meat-eater's world, and we're just trying to get along. We don't demand that you change your diet to suit us--only that you show us respect by refraining from mocking us, from casting us as authoritarian dietary police or flakes. And, after all, it is respect, something of which Booe's column is completely devoid, that is the foundation for any relationship, interdietary or otherwise.

EDIT: I just found a discussion close to the kind I was hoping Booe would have. Please check out this recent Seattle Times article by Haley Edwards.

No comments: