To the Faux Vegetarians...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

From the archives. I enjoy re-posting this once a year, usually when I get swamped from class. I edited it a bit this time around and added some new content. Enjoy!

I am officially done cooking for vegetarians. Okay wait, let me rephrase that: I am done cooking for faux vegetarians, and faux eaters in general.

"I don't eat any animals. But I love sushi."

I stare back in dumfoundry and reply, "Fish are animals."

She's encountered this remark before and counters, "No, they live underwater."

Someone explain that one to me, please.

"I eat meat but not pork. Well, except bacon." Oh, that makes sense. I wasn't aware there was such a thing as kosher pancetta.

"Eating animals is cruel." And your leather prada bag was developed through stem cell research, right?

In my opinion, as a total hardcore bacon portobello mushroom burger lovin' omnivore, vegetarians are people who eat nothing that ever flew, swam, or walked this earth. If it could move and think it's an animal and not on your menu. Last I checked that was the definition. So when I cook for someone who tells me they're a vegetarian, this is the rule I follow. Dairy and eggs are fair game unless they call me ahead of time and tell me otherwise (but that would be vegan then). All God's creature's are a no-no. I shouldn't be asked why I didn't prepare that "dish with those massive shrimp," by the said vegetarian.

Really, I don't mind cooking around allergies, likes, dislikes, health problems, and religious or moral viewpoints. I'm not going to serve a ham sammich with tomatoes to a practicing Muslim who gags at the thought of a sliced tomato touching their food. I will not, however, cook for someone who sits down and says they are on the Atkins for the next three days and can't eat the salad I made (insisting on near-raw hamburger instead), or the vegan eating a cheese bagel because "They're just too good to give up."

These are all real quotes and real food situations I've been tortured obliged to take part in, and it's this kind of random adoption of dietary proclivities that truly piss me off. It's ridiculous the types of food habits and special rules some people will adopt for themselves simply because it's fashionable or trendy at the time, then expect the host to cater to these farcical whims.

Is ridiculous a bit harsh? Not in my opinion. This tendency to see one's own fanatical and ever changing gustatory status as a "lifestyle" which should be catered to by everyone around them is the definition of the word. That, and it certainly can't be healthy for the mind or soul (nor the appetite for that matter).

Furthermore, jumping into the world of food allergies. If you're allergic to something, let's say apples, then tell me and I won't cook apples for you. If I catch you eating an apple later and you explain that really you "just don't like cooked apples, only raw" then you've been caught lying for the most ambiguous and unimportant reasons. There is no need to fib to refuse a dish, but rather just tell the truth even if it's during the meal in question where apples have been prepared. Forging dietary restrictions to get out of eating a meal someone served you is disrespectful to the host.

Sorry to have written in such a side-to-side, all over the board manner but I needed to get this one out of my system. To any faux vegetarians, semi-vegans, trendy dieters, sometimes allergic, stewed tomato eating raw food proponents: Bite Me. When you have figured out what you really want to eat, let me know, and you will be welcome to my table. There will be a hot meal waiting for you.


  1. Kosher pancetta! Haha. Priceless.

    (There is kosher turkey bacon, though - Wish I could get my hands on it, but they don't seem to have it at my kosher butcher. Darnit.)

    Fake vegetarians are annoying, it's true. But there are pesco-vegetarians, and there are people like me who are kosher and eat meat but only kosher meat so I'm vegetarian plus fish for all intents and purposes when I'm at a friend's house or a restaurant because the meat's not kosher and the meat laws don't apply to fish in the kosher laws.

    Then again, I don't call myself a vegetarian!

    I, too, am happy to cook for any allergies or religious requirements - and even for people's likes and dislikes if they're somewhat consistent and the person can express them to me clearly and politely... but the wierd whims and fancies and trends? And hypocritical inconsistencies? Tres annoying!

  2. PS - This also reminds me of when I was vegan and vegetarian as a teenager and people would say things like "but you'll eat fish, right?" And when I said "no, because fish is an animal"... They would either argue with me or tell me "but my vegetarian friend eats fish!" So in a way, by being inconsistent in the usage of these terms people can make life harder for the folks who really abide by these principles / dietary restrictions.

  3. You tell 'em!

    My rule is that we compromise. I will try my best to plan a meal around your stated eating philosphy and the guest will graciously eat whatever she can of the meal and just leave the rest without comment.

    I think the craziness is not so much the weird eating habits, but the insistence that additional or alternate dishes be prepared once the food ison the table. I mean, I've been places where I've happily subsisted on bread or nuts or whatever and it's totally fine. I know I can be a picky eater so I think it's my responsibility to work around it.

  4. Try working at a restaurant. The line between "I'm deathly allergic to ______" and "I don't like _____" is very often blurred. Cooking for these people is hell, serving these people that think that because they pay, they can be as difficult as they want to be is worse...

  5. Interesting post, Garrett.

    What bugs me about these people, particularly the ones that claim to have a moral standpoint on food for the sake of looking trendy, is that they don't even understand their own moral arguments!

    Like the sushi-eating girl you mentioned. It would be fine if she said 'I eat fish and not meat because fish are simple things and hence not as capable of suffering as some bigger-brained creatures', or something like that. But saying it's cruel to eat animals but its ok if they live underwater? What the hell?! She doesn't even know why she's a veggie!

    But when it comes down to it, lots of people with moral standpoints on food are inconsistent, even if they have the best intentions. The situations you mentioned are the more ridiculous inconsistencies. I think I might be making a related post on this subject later.

  6. That is SO true!!! I really agree with this sentiment. Particularly because I have been around and lived with people who were vegetarians. Folks would often serve fish as the veggie dish because there is now a myth that fish is vegetarian. So annoying!! Thanks for your post; when I return to the blogging world, I will link to this entry.

  7. Great post. I try to be mindful of illnesses and such, but I refuse to go overboard with altering a menu. As for my "diet" (I really really hate that word) I am not trying to be all strict on it, and allow room for a nice dinner out. I would NEVER expect someone hosting a dinner I attend to go out of their way for me. That is presumptious and rude...know what I mean?? I can't believe people really act like that.

  8. fish, like dogs are only one of two things:


    does that set the record straight?

  9. Amen.

    came across your blog via the link at the top of gmail, about the olive oil and wine cupcake recipe, and scrolled down to this post. i have some mild food allergies myself and i don't put it upon the host to adjust what he's serving, rather i adapt to whatever is on the table already.

    besides, it's rare that i'm at a party where there's absolutely no meat of any kind, so i'm usually safe (mildly allergic to some shellfish, ranging from no reaction at all to my throat tensing/closing up)

  10. Hee. I was a self-proclaimed "fishetarian" for 15 years, and stuck pretty clearly to that one boundary. I didn't eat anything that walked on land or flew. Not even bacon. But since my migration back into the world of the omnivorous, I have been voraciously carnivorous. Including bacon. Especially bacon.

  11. Completely agree with BytheBay. I am so annoyed by these 'But I know a vegetarian who eats fish' people, one of which runs the kitchen at my son's school! She wouldn't listen so as a result I have to send him with a lunch bag.

    Also agree with anon, embarrassingly enough I am married to a man who claims to be severely allergic to cheese and chocolate but in our 8 years together I know he has eaten those things by accident and been just fine!!! He conveniently forgets about it and going out to restaurants is a huge chore.

  12. I have one of these. She drives me up the fricken wall. I'm a vegetarian is what she tells everyone, yet she eats turkey, duck and foie gras(don't even get me started on that one), and steak...only if it is a good one. I think it is ridiculous.

  13. As a vegetarian that doesn't eat "meat" but eats "fish" ... there are a lot of us out there. And I will take the liberty of speaking for all of us when I say we are sorry for not fitting into your categorization. Like some of your comments elude to, there are a lot of times (me included) where it's just a personal choice, no blatant animal agenda. I DON'T announce or advertise that I don't eat beef, chicken, turkey, etc. (note my leather shoes), but what do I say when I go to someone's home? I say I'm a vegetarian. Otherwise it leads into a long, convoluted conversation that doesn't fall into the "just bite me" category you've created. (FYI, I'm a marine "bite me" is that?!)

    As an adult, I think you know we're all different and have different reasons for things (plain and simple? Too obvious?). You're allowed your own opinion! But bite me? For not following one rule or another? You seem like a hell of a lot of fun.

  14. Dear Fish-Eating Vegetarian: Thanks for reading and upping my numbers, I appreciate it. Though I think you may have missed the forest for the trees in my post, so maybe read it again.

    Also not to sure where your chosen profession fits into this arguement, but kudos. I'm sure your parents are very proud of you.

    I am lots of fun, so I'm glad you took note of that in the end (so few recognize true awesomenss when they see it).

    Have a nice day!

  15. It's the Internet, and I'm one of THOSE types of people, so I just have to say something about this ;-)

    fish-eating vegetarian: That's quite the oxymoron you've got going on there. If you're eating fish, you're not quite a vegetarian, are you?

    I myself eat meat. Tons of it. I can't get enough. If I don't, I feel like I have a protein deficiency. No fish though - I'm one of those people who's actually allergic to it. Most people say [i]"Oh, you don't like fish?"[/i] to which I reply "Actually, if I eat fish I vomit and have diarrhea for about a week" - They don't listen when I tell them I'm allergic to fish, so I don't get why they get upset when I tell them the side affects when I do end up eating fish.

    Garrett: I agree with you 100%. People calling themselves Vegetarians, yet have no regards as to how exactly one goes about being vegetarian should not be allowed to title themselves as vegetarians.

    It just complicates the whole matter and makes them look ignorant when they come to your house, claim vegetarianism, and then ask for big honkin' shrimp. Or Panchetta, or Bacon or anything that once roamed, flew or swam.

  16. I should add that I have no problem if you call yourself a pesco-vegetarian. Then at least I am aware and understand your eating habits. It's when it's sprung on me at the last second or you just have some sort of add eating habits that make no fucking sense that I get pissed off.

    You can have your fish and eat it too. Just give me the heads up.

  17. As a vegan, I am eating at your table. You know who I am! :)

  18. It is funny how you eat says so much about you as a person. I think people who eat meat and understand that they come from living breathing animals are the best. I love hunters for that reason. I grew up with 'vegetarians' who ate hot dogs! COmplete insanity! This blog entry made me smile, I am glad I am not the only on who gets indignant about this issue.Hehe:)
    BTW, I love your blog!

  19. Ulla - Glad you love the blog, and what an interesting idea about hunters. I never thought about them that way before. But I mainly hate them when they shoot to simply stuff on a wall. :P

  20. Wow, how did I miss this post! Bravo, bravo!!

    *stands up clapping*

  21. this blog is fantastic :) i myself am a vegan. i do not eat any animal bits whatsoever and haven't done so for almost 4 years now. nore do i wear any animal bits. i am greatly amused by people who claim to be vegetarian, and yet eat fish and chicken. well done for having your say!! these "faux vegetarians" give the rest of us non-animal eating folk a bad name.

  22. Nothing worse than a vegetarian that doesn't quite know why they are vegetarian. They are all around me. Omnivores think meat comes in plastic, and some veggies think fish aren't animals. Oh come on use your brains. At least veganism isn't as wishy washy.

  23. I am a vegetarian...and not the fake kind. I don't eat any meat. I hate when people pretend to be vegetarian to make a fashion statement it makes my sacrifice for the enviroment look like shit. And I miss meat so it pisses me off alot when people who are so called vegetarian eat it. I also get really annoyed by people like sushi girl. Fish ARE LIVE ANIMALS when people eat them they're eating MEAT. If you eat fish or chicken DO NOT call yourself a veggie. Veggie's look stupid because of people like sushi girl!

  24. Personally, I prefer to go to the leather farm to get my leather goods. Where purses and belts are free to roam the plains hurting nary an animal. No cows are killed in the process.. although we do have to shoot the accessories before bringing them to market. Luckily PETA has yet to start a campaign to protect them.

  25. i totally understand where you are coming from garrett. but where do you stand on picky eaters? when i am invited over, i ask what will be served prior to accepting the invite. i would never ask someone to change their menu, so if there isnt anything i would eat i politely decline and invite them out to dinner sometime.

    let me make a small list here of things i wont eat- any kind of ground meat (ugh), pork, anything with the skin on or on a bone, duck, dark meat poultry, anything from the ocean (seaweed included), "pungent" cheeses, any nuts except cashews, eggs (straight, mixed in baked goods is fine)and most beef. as you can see, im almost a vegetarian. i can honestly say that ive tried all of these multiple times (i just learned to appreciate tomatoes!!! :D) so its not just things that sound "yucky."

    in case you can't tell, i was an ovo lacto veggie for a long time lol. old habits die hard.

    that being said, i like a ton of different veggies, fruits, grains (mmm quinoa is a fav) pastas or breads. i would never expect someone to try to cook within those limits though.

  26. Well said!! I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets annoyed by these types of people! This is why I have an ounce of respect for my ex's new girlfriend. She doesn't say she's vegetarian, she just simply states that she doesn't eat red meat, end of argument!

    If you eat something that was once a living breathing animal (that's animals in general, not mammal!), you're not a vegetarian!

    Thanks for this post Garrett, really cheered up my day :)

  27. Bless you Garrett, you deal with so much on a daily basis. I am surprised you don't drink more.

  28. My dad, sister, and brother-in-law are all pesco-vegetarians. But the one thing I have always appreciated is that when in a social environment, they don't force the issue. They eat what they can, but don't request special treatment/food because of their choices. I accomodate them because I know about how they choose to eat. My issue is what vegetarians, of any variety, get preachy about meat to me. If I am not judging your choices, stop judging mine! Great post!

  29. Agreed! I found your blog when looking at recipes on "Simply Recipes".
    I once had a roommate who claimed to be vegetarian..or vegan...or some mix of both. She loved gummie bears but would only eat kosher ones that weren't made with gelatin. Yet she had no problem using milk and eggs when baking.
    We don't talk anymore :P

  30. Wow. I go away for one day and look what I miss...

    Well, I guess I now have a label for how I prefer to eat - Pesce Vegetarian. I never really thought about it, never really made it known/issue/pain in the a$$ about it etc. When I go out, I order what's on the menu that's not pork, beef or chicken. Simple. When I'm invited to a friend's house, I eat what I can and politely leave what's not my thing. I don't say anything. Why? Because it's NO BIG DEAL. I value the company of my dining companions more than I value getting exactly what I want on my plate.

    Oh, the no chicken beef and pork thing? It's a texture thing. For some reason I just don't like it. But I love beef/chicken gravy, soup etc. and have no qualms about eating that. Hmmm. Bacon. Crispy, no that's fine too. So I guess I do like one pork product.

    Who knew there were that many sensitive/insensitive people on BOTH sides of this issue. Sheesh...

  31. LMAO, Garrett! I deal with these types all the time when I am entertaining, but I tend to serve so many kinds of food, especially starters (as you blogged about the other day), that basically everyone can find something to fill their bellies.

    As for the whole issue, I will do something I almost never do - quote the Bible. Acts 11:7 pretty much says it all:

    "Arise, Peter, slay and eat!"

  32. The dead horse (oh, sorry...) has been beaten here but I must share what my eldest called them. Her new man was joining us for dinner for the first time and is a veggie. I adapt pretty well and we often have meatless meals but I asked her if he eats fish to which she replied "no Mom, he's not a Catholic vegetarian". She always questioned the Catholic practice of not eating meat on Fridays and holy days is fine and chowder or crab is the Christmas Eve meal of choice. Catholic vegetarian...there's yer sign.

  33. Here's the thing that gets me. I'm a vegetarian or a fake vegetarian, I guess, because I will occasionally cheat, but I keep my fish and occasionally meat-eating to as absolute a minimum as I possibly can. I have NEVER, NEVER, in thirteen years, asked a host to prepare a special dish for me. I have gone to MANY barbecues where I could only eat hamburger rolls with ketchup because there was no vegetarian option. I have crafted countless meals out of appetizers and side dishes while others ate meat. None of this bothers me -- that is one of the things you deal with when you have a special diet. I don't complain about it. Any vegetarian for an extended period of time has dealt with that. So, if people are complaining that they weren't served exactly what they want, that's a personality problem. Not a vegetarianism problem.

  34. Amen, Reverend Garrett!
    The Choir
    May I also add to the list people who are just generally inconsistent pains in the @ss? I have a friend who won't eat anything "squashy." No, not as in "tasting of squash," but as in "having a texture I deem too soft, although what that texture may be depends upon my whims." (Insert Eye Roll Here.)

  35. Great post as usual Garrett, I was laughing out loud.

    My sister-in-law went through a strict (read insane) few years where she would not eat anything that had died. That included any plant that died for her to eat- carrots, potatoes, pretty much any vegetable and all grains. That left basically fruit, nuts and dairy. Because the cows didn't have to die of course.

    Cooking for her visits was a disaster. Going out to eat was too humiliating. We had a lot of yogurt parfaits. She has now gone carnivorous again.

  36. Well said! I too am sick to death of people who are veggie but will eat fish. I ask you...

  37. lol! loved this post.

    I have a dear friend who is vegan. then in very fine teeny tiny print: "except when she comes to Jaden's house to eat" and she gets her animal part fix.

    I feel like a meat-pusher.

  38. Hi Garrett! I love your blog.

    It's my personal feeling that if someone is coming over for dinner and they've specified in advance any of their personal food issues, eating lifestyles, etc. That's fine. I will make sure there are things they can eat. If they are the only person coming over I will cater the whole menu to them. If they are merely one of a group, then I'm sorry, there will probably be things they can't eat and I will tell them in advance which items they will want to avoid. If it's an allergy (which can be really serious) I ban it from the menu regardless of the size of the group.

    That being said however, I find it rude for people to complain to the host about why I'm not serving something, or why I cooked meat when the majority of my guests are omnivores. I hate olives, but I calmly eat them without groaning if they are mixed into something someone has made for me. It is also rude to pick them out of food.

    I think it all boils down to manners. That's my two cents.

  39. Hee hee...good one. But - isn't it shocking how uneducated supposedly first world Americans are? It's not as if they can't look it up online. Or in any book.

    I am as shocked when someone I thought was an average, well-educated, grown-up American tells me they are vegetarian, but eat fish, (Or chicken, sometimes. Huh?), as if they suddenly started to shriek like one of the aliens in Invasion of the Body Snatchers!

  40. Anyone who says that eating what has been cooked for you is about manners has never had a food would be far ruder to gag on something I tried to eat then just not eat it. I am a vegetarian not because I think eating meat is cruel, but because I do not like it. I ate poultry for years, but I have started to dislike it over the last few. I would eat seafood if I liked it, but I do not. I have to admit, I do get frustrated when people assume vegetarians eat fish. Everyone has their own reasons for their eating habits, and you should not judge them for these just because they don't fit into your paradigm.

  41. Garrett, I agree with most of what you say here, and though I know these thoughts have already been expressed by other commenters, I will say that--

    a) as a guest I think one should eat what one can and not complain..make a good show out of it, there's usually enough food that one is willing eat to fill a plate

    b) as a host it is polite to try to accomodate people --reasonable and consistent people--when possible.

  42. I'd have to say, what does it matter what someone's eating preference is as long as they don't act 1) self-righteous about their choice; or 2) like an pain in the ass when you're cooking for them?

    I don't really care what people call themselves (or whether or not it's technically accurate) if it doesn't affect me.

  43. Not to start a war or anything, but sushi isn't fish. Sushimi is raw fish. Some sushi has fish in it, but it's main parts are the sticky rice and the seaweed.

    Great blog by the way, and I found your awesomeness in the first post I read:)

  44. You get a standing ovation from me! I've been a vegetarian for 2 years (no cheats during this time, on again, off again 2 years before that). I think people are completely STUPID for giving themselves a label they don't even know the definition to! It's like saying "I'm Jewish, but I don't know what it means. *takes a bite of pork*" WTF?

    When people tell me "I'm a vegetarian, but I eat fish," I just reply with "Oh, and I'm a virgin, but I have sex." I once heard "I'm a vegetarian too! I do eat fish on Friday because I'm Catholic, I eat turkey on Thanksgiving, and ham on Christmas."

    Can I come over to your house for dinner? :)

  45. Thank you thank you thank you for posting this.

    I am a sushi loving vegetarian (but.. don't worry. I just eat the avocado rolls and other non fishy delights).

    I could care less if people choose to eat fish or not, it's their own personal choice, but if they call themselves vegetarians, they are just flying in the face of logic.

    There is a word for people who eat only fish + plant products. It's pescatarian. Use that if you so desperately want a title.

    On the other hand, it is flattering that people think us veggies are so cool they want to be part of our group. Too bad they won't go all the way.

  46. You are awesome. Well said!

    I've been a vegetarian for 10 years, and it's just ridiculous how many idiots ruin it for us. Because of them, many people don't take us seriously when we say we are a VEGETARIAN who doesn't eat chicken or fish or bacon or turkey or whatever.

    I applaud you. You are one of the (sadly) few omnivores that aren't just plain stupid!


    ( By the way, I found this site through (; )

  47. I posted a link to this post on the Veggieboards, hope you don't mind :)

  48. When I went from vegetarian to pesco-vegetarian, i still had to tell people i was vegetarian or else they would get confused and serve hamburgers. It was the easiest way to explain the situation ahead of time. I would never express disappointment in not receiving fish when I've told someone I was vegetarian. Its endlessly annoying to communicate diet on both sides.

    I also never expect vegetarian food when going to someone's house. I either just eat the side dishes or give in and eat the meat (or sometimes eat later if my stomach is having a bad day). My reasons for vegetarianism are not related to animal welfare, but personal taste and digestion, so its never a big deal.

    I also get annoyed when people express outrage that I haven't catered to them when they don't accurately express what they don't eat.

  49. Have you ever crossed one of those vegetarians who eat nothing but junk food and doesn't like a lot of vegetables to begin with? Yea those piss me off. I'm like...what the hell.. you hate meat, but you hate most vegetables too!

    They are impossible to feed, go starve if you have to be difficult and stupid.

  50. "...Is autistic a bit harsh? "
    Yup. On people with autism. Would you accept "assmoles" as a reasonable alternative description for faux vegetarians?

  51. Check a dictionary on the definition of autisim. It's used for more than the medical condition. Was wondering how long it would be till someone said that.

  52. OMG! You and I have cooked for the same people. It's ridiculous. I don't think anyone should accept a dinner invitation if they continue to adopt ever changing food rules. If you are going to be that culinary retarded...stay at home and cook for your damn self. I have a vegetarian friend that keeps suggesting that we go to Jamie's for a steak sandwich while giving me hell for eating lamb. I am lost any right to say BOO to me the second that you opened the door to Jamie's. The gloves are off.

    Off my soap box now....

  53. I am so with you. We had (had is the operable word here)who was a "kind of" vegetarian, meaning if I was cooking she would eat no meat but she was not above eating a hot dog when no one was looking!

  54. I can second this! Thanks for expressing just how I have been feeling!!! " I am vegetarian, but I eat chicken and fish" Hmmmm????!! I really heard this, not kidding!

  55. I had a friend who told me one day that she was going to be a strict vegetarian and try to be a vegan. She would NOT under any circumstance eat meat. I was supportive of her in this decision. The next day I hosted a beer-themed dinner party she and other colleagues were coming to, and the previous week I stated I was going to try out a beef stew recipe as the main course as there were no vegetarians in the group. So in the last minute I get enough ingredients to make a second pot of vegan stew with lots of mushrooms.

    Then next night she and I go out to a bar and on the way home she tells me she's hungry. I head to a diner so that she can get something for her new veg-diet.

    She insists on Krystal's.

    For those of you not in the Krystal's part of the US, it's basically mini-hamburgers. A total gutbomb.

    It frustrated me to no end. From then on, I wouldn't cook "special" for her except for the knowledge that she could not, and never has been able to, stand chicken.

  56. I can understand your frustration, but it can work both ways. I'm a vegetarian of the classic meaning, and recently I went to a party where the host prepared a salmon dish just for me and actually told the other guests off when they went to take a piece. I had to gently explain I didn't eat fish or meat. Then other times I have ordered vegetarian food in restaurants and it comes covered in meat gravy or a noodle dish that had dried fish grated over the top. No wonder some people get confused!

  57. My mom raised me as a vegetarian and I have remained so for my whole 38 years. Being a vegetarian kid in the 70's meant freaking people out everywhere. Believe it or not I used to get taunted a lot in the school cafeteria.

    Whatever. I didn't really care much. But I just wanted to say that back then, before the vegetarian movement really took off, the definition of vegetarian was very simple:

    no flesh eating.

    We ate products of animals and we ate eggs because even though eggs are animal protein, they weren't developed.

    It wasn't a political statement my mom was making, it wasn't to be cool, it wasn't because she loved animals (though she does), it was simply that she believed a vegetarian diet was a healthier one than a meat based one.

    And now there is plenty of science to back up her beliefs.

    Anyway- To me there is only one definition of vegetarian and that is to not eat flesh.

    All the people who are vegetarians but eat fish aren't vegetarians in my book and they have filled my life with annoying complications such as others have mentioned here. People always want to know what the exception to my non-meat-eating diet is.

    There's no exception. AAAARGH!

    Vegetarian=no flesh
    Vegan=no animal product at all

    That's simple.

    I really loved this post.

  58. Oooh, if you want to see some really fun poking at picky eaters, you have to see the hummus posting at If you are lucky, you'll be called both a veggie hater AND a racist.

  59. Brilliant post, very enjoyable to read. I think you've expressed the feeling of many professional cooks out there, who have to deal with customers who have special "preferences" (versus justifiable dietary restrictions) on a daily basis. But at least they get paid and its just part of the Dark Side to the job to put up with such things.

    Being a guest in someone's home, however...I'm surprised at how rude some people can be. I'd be hard-pressed to invite them back.

  60. I'm not going to serve a ham sammich with tomatoes to a practicing Muslim who gags at the thought of a sliced tomato touching their food.

    HAHAHAHAH. I love it.

    As a practicing Muslim, I'd feel safe eating at your house, knowing that you wouldn't let any green bellpeppers touch my panchetta.

  61. There is a term for those "so-called" vegetarians who on occasion will eat meat, primarily chicken or the "fish-eating-vegetarians. They are called "flexitarians" and I am one of them. I follow a plant based diet because it works for me and I consider it to be a more healthy way to eat. However, I will on occasion eat my mother's grilled chicken when I travel home and for the holidays I will eat turkey. Because of this, I tell people I am a flexitarian, rather than a vegeterian.

  62. Exactly.
    Love your attitude, sense of humor and honesty.

  63. I am a vegetarian.. a true vegetarian that is and I couldn't agree with you more. We always get asked do you eat chicken? Fish? Um no, that's why I just said I'm vegetarian. I get super annoyed with so called vegetarians that say they are but... I can eat this or that. Then your not a vegetarian it's really that simple. We hate being pains in the a$$'s for those that do cook for us, but when we have company we will cook meat (that we of course do not eat) because it is only fair. Regardless for those that claim you are vegetarian but eat fish or chicken or whatever if you go to PETA's website will will soon realize that by their standards your are in fact NOT a vegetarian. Sorry to burst your bubble : (
    Kudos to you for putting it out there.

  64. Who the heck are these "friends" of yours that make all these demands? I guess I should consider myself lucky that in all my hosting/entertaining, I have never encountered this type of self-centeredness. (Maybe this is total geographic prejudice, but is it a CA thing? I feel like food trends/ whims are perhaps more tolerated there than in the Midwest?)

    Also, I totally agree with the person who made the comment about hunters. When I was in high school, a friend of mine's mother (who was NOT vegetarian) made a disparaging comment about hunters. My dad happens to hunt, so in his defense I said, "Well at least hunters know where there food comes from, as opposed to people buying a shrink-wrapped boneless skinless lump of protein in the store and being totally detached from what it IS". That shut her up. :)

  65. mlle: Some of these incidents are from years ago. Others are more recent. Some quotes are from co-workers or acquaintences rather than friends.

  66. Gotcha. You don't seem the type to suffer fools gladly! :) And who knows, perhaps a person prone to that type of behavior will read your post and have a glimmer of self-recognition. One can hope...

  67. I'm not here to add value to your essay but to let you know I completely agree. Love reading your blog!

  68. I'm pescetarian, personally, and I always say that. I never say I'm veg. And I would be veg, but my doc told me that eating fish would help with a medical problem I have.
    I rarely have to cook around things, even being pescetarian. My brother has allergies, but they're odd enough that I wouldn't include such things in my food anyway.
    Once, though, my friend came over for dinner. I prepared a completely vegan meal, including desert. Upon seeing the meal, she expressed that she'd only given up animal products for lent. Which was over at that point. You can imagine my frustration.

  69. Oh, one thing to add- It's fantastic that you even ASK. I'm 1/2 Chinese and have often had to go to traditional banquets (I no longer attend). They have set, formal menus and the only thing I can usually eat is black bean buns.
    I finally drew the line on going when a restaurant had my dad pick out a fish from a tank which they then took out, prepared, and threw in the pot. It's considered a very fancy thing to have done, but I didn't eat fish for at least six years after.

  70. Dear Fish-Eating Vegetarian:

    Vegetarian means you only eat vegetables. Remember Bio 101? I know you took it, because my degree is in marine bio too. What you are is a Piscivore,. not a vegetarian. You avoid eating mammals and other things with legs, maybe with a question mark on snakes.

    Vegetarian = Herbivore.

    Glad we had this chat.

    For the record, I couldn't be a vegetarian because of the sushi. I can't stand cooked fish, but I love the raw stuff! I could maybe give up steak and chicken, and even bacon in a pinch, bit not my rainbow roll.

  71. *gives you a standing ovation* I've recently gotten into going to a pot-luck situation every week that has a "fussy" eater (who never contributes, btw) who complains that she can't eat anything we prepare because it's not "kosher". We've even had completely vegetarian/vegan meals that she's brought her own special food to (are there kosher veggies? Please school me if there are). I'm still fairly new to the circle, but I'm almost certain that she does this just to be a pain in the ass. I don't think she's even Jewish. I've heard she's Buddhist (aren't they vegans?). Yes, I've taken her kosher needs into consideration when it's been my turn to do the main meal, to have her not eat what I've brought anyway. It's frustrating.

    So I feel you, man! I feel you!

  72. I live in a college town so this is extremely common. "I don't eat meat. (unless it's 3 am and I'm drunk and we go to *any type of fast-food restaurant*). Or, "I took a food science class and we went to a processing plant, blah, blah, blah... Where did you think that food came from before you visited the processing plant? People who are true veggies and/or vegans have my respect. I don't know how anyone lives without cheese, bacon, honey, milk chocolate, ice cream, butter.....I could go on forever.

  73. Wow, who knew people had such strong feelings about what everybody else eats/doesn't eat?

    To me its an issue of autonomy. We each should choose for ourselves what we will/won't eat. Base it on health, finances, politics, whatever makes ya happy. But at the same time don't preach or condemn others choices. And don't demand extraordinary favors from your host who has been kind enough to bring people into his/her house and give them food. Eat what looks good, decline what doesn't work for you.

    I mean nobody should be shamed or guilted into eating something against their will. And no host should have to make a tofurkey in addition to the 27 other dishes they are already making for Thanksgiving.

    Garrett you can cook for me and I'm betting many of my fellow commenters anytime. But just to let you know in advance I don't like tomatoes, olives, lima beans, or organ meats...thanks! Is next week good for you? :)

  74. Garrett,

    LOVE your blog - this post especially.

    One night I had some distant relatives of my ex husband drop in (uninvited) at dinnertime (which had already been prepared.) I scrambled around and stretched the menu to accommodate them and every single thing I served "they did not eat" while eating heartily! Even the so-called diabetic polished off two large servings of dessert.

    They didn't help with the dishes, either.

  75. Well, this is my first time reading this post, and I loved it. I feed many people who hamstring me into cooking one of the three things they "can" eat, and who later order all sorts of things in restaurants because they're "being bad that day." They all need therapy, but I need a little less thanks to this essay. Thanks!

  76. As some one who has straddled both sides of the fence, can I tell you how brilliant and spot on this post is?

    Once I held a large grilled fajita extravaganza and one guest (who embraces a poser lifestyle and who failed to declare their dietary choices) went on a lengthy diatribe about the evils of eating meat (there were vats of beans, rice, grilled veg available), except for bacon, because, well, bacon is delicious. I literally spewed a large mouthful of margaritas at her, because this was just hilarious.

    I now have ludicrous dietary restrictions, and follow a plant-based diet (vegan without the politics), and have additional restrictions as well. Basically I'm the worst guest ever. I look at invitations as on opportunity to enjoy your fine company, and hope that I will be an awesome and fun guest who will be invited back. I advise the host and suggest a couple of dishes I can bring that will complement the rest of the food. Then I eat what I can, without a peep of explanation, and have a good time. I don't think anyone cares what I'm eating, as long as we're having a good time.

  77. I have a coworker who as far as we can tell is semi vegan. The only cheese she would eat is feta, until she found out the kind we use is made from cows milk. Somehow cows milk cheese is bad, but goats milk is ok (she didn't know feta is generally from sheeps milk and had been under the impression it was all goat milk).
    She was complaining once about having a hard time finding vegan baked goods, so my husband suggested she ask me to make so. She declined, saying "non vegans can't prepare vegan foods with the same urgency as a vegan". If that weren't bad enough though, she eats from dirty little taco truck in the ghetto all of the time. So she probably consumes quite a bit of lard regularly, and that knowledge pleases me.

  78. Also, yesterday I sat at a table with two vegetarians during a wedding. One kept loudly prattling on about the difficulty of finding vegetarian food while traveling, the few options at the wedding, and Thanksgiving dinner the previous year that "was just hellish" as there was bacon in the mashed potatoes and meat in some of the other vegetable dishes. After listening to her complain the whole meal, my friend asked her why she chose to be a vegetarian.
    "Oh, I just don't like the taste of meat. But sometimes I'll crave it and get really excited over ham".
    What the...?

  79. A lot of people are beaming over their unassuming ability to just eat side dishes, but there's a flip-side to that: as a host, I would feel terrible if my guest left the pork tenderloin I'd prepared and just ate salad and bread all night because they didn't tell me that they're a kosher vegetarian. A simple heads-up about broad dietary preferences isn't such a bad thing.

    And, of course, honesty about those preferences makes a big difference. It's not that hard to say, "I don't eat red meat" vs. "I'm a vegetarian."

  80. You are my hero! May I print this and post it on my wall, probably best near the entrance. My in-laws will be completely offended! My sister-in-law is kosher but can eat marshmallows ( I told her they were made with non-kosher gelatin). Ugh!

  81. Yeah, problem is I tell people I'm pescetarian and they say "what's that?" Almost no one knows what it is. Then I guess I have the option of answering it means I eat fish, but not beef, chicken, pork, lamb, duck, goat, deer, or rabbit. But it is simpler to say it means I'm vegetarian, with the exception of fish.

  82. A-fuckin'-men.

    Your blog is great, btw.


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