Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why Being a Vegetarian Sucks

Four reasons to avoid being a vegetarian…from a vegetarian himself

About seven years ago, I made the decision to become a vegetarian. There were a lot of things that provoked me into giving up meat, ranging from the very commendable (as a preventative health measure - heart disease is more common in my family tree than high school degrees), to the less commendable (I thought it would be easier to keep weight off if I didn’t eat my regular six cheeseburgers a day) to the not at all commendable, in any way (I thought it would impress that one bisexual Portuguese chick I was working with at the time.) No matter the long-irrelevant rationale for my dietary choice, I’ve managed to stick to the whole “not-eating-things-that-used-to-have-faces” thing pretty well over the last half a decade. Sure, I’ve slipped up here and there and snuck a slice of pepperoni, and I think that sometime in 2009, I may have accidentally eaten a chicken Parmesan sub, but for the most part? I’ve been pretty darn dedicated to this whole “vegetarianism” deal.

Over the last couple of months, however, I’ve formerly denounced my prior “vegetarian” status and converted to the much, much more manageable religion of “pescatarianism” (which my spell checker automatically transforms into “sectarianism,” which is really all kinds of awesome.)

A lot of people have asked me why I made the sudden change in what I find philosophically agreeable to eat. There really wasn’t a detectable tipping point that made me throw up my hands and yell “that’s it, NO MORE SOY DOGS!”, as much as it was a cumulative decision over time. What sort of factors influenced my decision to abandon “vegetarianism,” you might ask? Well, here’s four reasons why being a vegetarian, unquestionably, sucks

Reason Number One:
Being a Vegetarian is Expensive

The next time you’re walking down the aisles of your favorite big-box-store, try taking a look at the “meat alternative” sections. Take a REAL good gander at the prices. Now, waddle over to the frozen food section, and look at how much REAL sausage, chicken nuggets and fish tacos cost. I guarantee you that, no matter where you live, the “synthetic” meat will a.) cost nearly TWICE as much as the “authentic” meat and b.) the quantity of the “authentic” meat will be AT LEAST twice as much as the wannabe-meats.

In an economic crisis, trust me, you take note of this shit. For the cost of a pack of tofu sausage links, I could pick up FOUR PACKS of hot dogs. That means, for the exact same price, I could get 40 wieners as opposed to just six “protein links.” And if you REALLY want to make steam come out of your ears, take a look at how much a microwave tofu casserole will cost you, compared to a Michelina’s Alfredo noodles box. Wolfgang Puck’s frozen veggie pizza is damn near eight dollars, while Tombstone’s pepperoni pie is less than half the amount. Heck, you can even pick up a box with both hot wings AND pizza for less than the veggie pie. If you wonder why so many vegetarians are stick thin, it’s not because of what they eat…it’s because their food costs so damn much, they can only eat it once a week.

Reason Number Two: 
Being a Vegetarian is Inconvenient 

Let’s say you and your buds are hanging out on a Friday night. It’s getting late, and all of you are hungry. They say, “hey, let’s all go to McDonalds!” and you’re all like, “yeah, awesome, too bad I can’t eat anything on the menu!” At that point, someone will almost assuredly make a joke about ordering a salad, and while all of your pals are bonding over special-sauce soaked angus beef, you’re stuck nibbling on a packet of stale fries and sucking on a milkshake that, ironically, probably has a horse in it somewhere.

It gets worse, folks. Imagine being a vegetarian, forced to find food at a theme park, or a movie theater, or a convenience store. Hardly any fast food restaurants offer tofu alternatives, and if they do? The clerks always scowl at you, for making them walk over and warm up the frozen “pseudo-burger” that nobody has even thought about ordering for the entire day. If you want to become a social outcast over the course of an afternoon, trying being a vegetarian standing in line at Wendy’s sometime.

Reason Number Three:
Being a Vegetarian is, Ironically, Detrimental to Your Well-Being 

OK, let me preface this one by saying, yes, there are plenty of health benefits to being a vegetarian. We all know that vegetarians tend to live longer than omnivores, and for the most part, they are in way, way better shape than the rest of society. Even I’m willing to admit it from experience: after five years of eating tofu tacos and black bean enchiladas, my cardiovascular health is better than it’s ever been in my life.

Now, as for the negatives: being a vegetarian means FORGET about ever having muscle mass. Trust me, I have tried, and I will be several shades of damned if I haven’t been able to gain an ounce of sinewy tissue since going strictly veggie. At one point, I even bought one of those $15 bag of whey protein powder to bulk up, and all it did was make my BM smell more flowery than it used to. I guess it’s not 100 percent impossible for someone to go vegetarian and gain muscle, but it’s totally unfeasible if you plan on having a 40 hour a week job and NOT living in the gym on the weekends. And let’s not even talk about the mental health implications of vegetarianism, which has been linked to elevated rates of depression, anxiety and somatoform disorders. And you thought developing “soy boobies” was the biggest risk associated with going vegetarian!

Reasons Number Four:
Being a Vegetarian ALWAYS Puts You in Awkward Social Situations

Nobody likes vegetarians. Omnivores make fun of us for having too limited a diet, while vegans berate us for having too vast a diet. People automatically assume that you’re a vegetarian for ethical reasons - you are all for animal rights, you have some political slight against the fast food industry, etc. - so when other hardliner vegetarians find out you’re an apolitical vegetarian, you end up being ostracized from your own peoples.

Imagine this scenario. You’re showing up at your girlfriend’s place for the first time, and her mom walks it with one of those plastic alligator smiles and drops a big, fat plate of meatloaf in front of you. It’s the family specialty, she says, something that’s been passed down through the families since the middle ages or some shit. You poke it with your fork, and you gently meep, “gee golly, this dish sure is swell and all, but since I’m a vegetarian, I can’t eat this thing that has such an emotional tie to who you are as an individual.”  Your girlfriend is embarrassed, the mom is visibly disappointed, and the patriarch is ready to stab you in the face with a butter knife. Now, repeat seven hundred times, and that’s pretty much du jour for college-aged me. Even if you somehow mange to obtain a philosophically edible meal, things get way too political as soon as someone notices you are a vegetarian. All you want to do is jam some beans down your throat, and all your table mates want to do is start World War 3 over the pros and cons of pork. It’s physically impossible to have a normal social experience when the auger of you being a vegetarian floats over the table like Jacob Marley’s ghost every time you pick up a spoon and a wad of napkins. Trust me…I know.

So, with all of this information taken into consideration, is vegetarianism still a wise call for most modern-day Americans? Well, as long as you have plenty of money, and don’t mind being unable to eat at 90 percent of restaurants or social events, or care about having muscle mass and the ability to lift anything that weighs over 20 pounds without passing out, or don’t mind having people launch projectiles at you during heated get-togethers, than, yeah, I’d say that going vegetarian isn’t that bad of a deal. But for everybody else? Whatever you do, don’t put down that corn dog


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