The World vs. Vegetarians?

“Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these water heads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It’s healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I’ve worked with is brought down by any rumor of a cold. Oh, I’ll accommodate them, I’ll rummage around for something to feed them, for a ‘vegetarian plate’, if called on to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine.”



This is a quote by one of my favorite chef/writers Anthony Bourdain, from his book Kitchen Confidential. It made me laugh out loud on the train one morning. I find it utterly and completely hilarious and I am not at all offended by this quote.


I was raised a vegetarian – specifically a vegan.


Today, (if you must put a label on it) I am a pesco-vegetarian. In simple terms the only thing I don’t include in my diet is red meat and chicken. My family has lived this lifestyle for over 30 years. It just works for us. In my immediate household, I prepare meals for not only myself but also for two meat eaters.  How is that possible, since I am a vegetarian? Well, I have my grandmother to thank for those talents (read more on that story in my bio ).


AB (Anthony Bourdain) is an intelligent man who is well travelled and seems to want to immerse himself openly in many cultures. From eating a beating cobra heart to the eyeball of a seal, Anthony Bourdain is no stranger to food experimentation. So imagine my surprise when I realized how close-minded he was to vegetarianism.


The reason I found this quote so funny is because I can relate to what AB and many others have expressed. I have met the zealots – the granola eating, lifestyle overbearing, constant protest screaming, Birkenstock wearing, cult like behaving odd balls. I grew up being taunted by those who saw something that they didn’t understand and ass-umed because of these zealots, that I was some tree hugging – devil worshiper. Let’s face it – there are zealots in every walk of life on this planet. I am not one of them. Though I deeply enjoy explaining to people that vegetarian food can not only be delectable but it is more versatile than you might think; and if you do it right, a meat eater will find the experience absolutely amazing.


Through cooking, when you create a meal you are exposing your emotions. AB was right about one thing, it is through a creation of a meal that the chef communicates with you. The meals that are always remembered are the ones that stop you in your tracks bringing everything around you together into one memorable experience. For a cook/chef a vegetarian meal takes immense creativity and skill that most are not up for. The meal must look good; smell divine and taste even better. All of the elements must be perfectly designed or you risk creating a retched pile of sewer sludge that no one will eat. It takes a certain level of cooking magic and mojo that one needs to be able to ensnare the senses of the eater during a vegetarian meal.


I might never know the taste of a beating cobra heart but I know that the experience of seeing someone eating it is just as enjoyable and special to me as the actual person devouring it. That experience for me can be absolutely orgasmic (speaking in figurative terms, of course). If you truly love food the sheer possibilities and inception of creativity is what will satisfy you. AB likened being a vegetarian to going to the museum and choosing to only look at two colors, red and blue. I’d like to think of it as – instead of going to the Modern Art museum or Natural History museum, you might decide to visit the Jean-Michel Basquiat or Salvadore Dali museum. It’s just different.  


It is our differences and our ability to be able to come together in spite of; that is what makes us human. I hope to dispel some of the myths about vegetarianism.


If eggplant and zucchini is all you put together for a vegetarian, I’d venture to say you need more time to broaden you limited mine.


P.S.: I still love AB and have already purchased his new book. I can’t wait to read it!


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