If you live in some weird place with abundant organic food and “diversity,” you are probably nonplussed about meeting vegetarians. In California, for instance, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a vegetarian. Partly because there are so many vegetarians, but also because they get all uppity when you swing dead animals at them. In Austin vegetarians are allowed to baby sit, and there are even programs to integrate them into the navy.
In Oklahoma, where I hail from, vegetarians are regarded with suspicion. We consume enough red meat annually to smuggle and reassemble entire cows into other states via our colons. During my childhood we had a Meat Index in the weather reports, next to the temperature and humidity. When the index climbed high enough, we would all happily gather forks and napkins in preparation for the barbecues spontaneously erupting all over the neighborhood, and keep our eyes peeled for virgins to sacrifice in the event of tornadoes.
When vegetarians say cute things like, “I don’t eat anything with a face,” we get confused. What exactly do they hunt, exactly? Cabbage? You can roll cabbages down hill and blast at them with a shotgun, which we also do in Oklahoma, but this is only “practice hunting.” And cabbage season only lasts three months!
Leaf eaters also make us defensive. Red State people live in fear that we will be accused of murder by vegetarians. This hasn’t actually happened since the 1960′s, when it was considered fashionable to be preachy and not bathe. The Red States view the 1960′s as a minor apocalypse we barely survived, and which must be warded off from returning with garlic and sexual repression.
Back then, probably at Woodstock, some guy was standing around eating a hot dog and thinking about Spiro Agnew, when a bunch of protesters came up and hassled him for eating meat. They told him, qua hot dog, he was a murderer. (Of animals.)
Of course the guy hadn’t personally killed the pigs and cows used to assemble the hot dog. A different guy in Illinois did that, then a janitor swept up the spare pieces of pork and beef which hadn’t been sold as prime cuts or used in automobile production, ground up the leftover bits with some old boot leather and labeled it a “hot dog.” So the guy at Woodstock didn’t really view himself as a murderer, but the hippies understood trickle-down-economics in the narrow category of meat consumption, and viewed him as indirectly responsible.
Even though this ugly exchange hasn’t occurred anywhere since 1968, Red State people expect it anyway. My old roommate was a vegetarian, and people constantly picked fights with him. Folks would say things like, “Howdy Rob, care for a leg of bison?” And he’d say, “Gee, no thanks, I’m a vegetarian.”
He never said if he was a vegetarian for health reasons, or ethical reasons, or whether he planned to burn down the houses of meat eaters. Yet his mere dietary preference sent many a neighbor into a blind rage. “OH?” they’d yell, “So I guess I’m a murderer then, huh?”
Rob would just stand there, sort of confused, probably because he hadn’t eaten enough protein to think properly. Meanwhile, small crowds would form to yell at him for judging them, and how they didn’t appreciate him making them feel bad about eating baby cows.
My girlfriend is not a vegetarian, but she eats mostly the sort of thing I would use to punish a rabbit. (Note: I also reward rabbits by feeding them bacon. Proper reward-and-punishment training is vital to rabbit rearing if you ever plan to hitch sleds to them.) Do I trust her? Of course not. This is partly because sometimes when I’m drunk I accuse her of witchcraft, and she never refutes my claim. But the diet thing is a factor, too. Here I am, eating normal food and installing secret webcams, while she’s busy making potions out of crazy stuff like “kale” or “beets.” She doesn’t even use a pistol or anything, except to stir.