Pollan on Vegetarianism

<p> In <a href="http://www.michaelpollan.com/omnivore.php">Omnivore's Dilemma</a>, Michael Pollan has this to say about his dabbling in vegetarianism: </p> <p><blockquote></p> <p>What troubles me most about my [recently adopted] vegetarianism is the subtle way it alienates me from other people and, odd as this might sound, from a whole dimension of human experience.</p> <p>Other people now have to accommodate me, and I find this uncomfortable: My new dietary restrictions throw a big wrench into the basic host-guest relationship. As a guest, if I neglect to tell my host in advance that I don't eat meat, she feels bad, and if I <em>do</em> tell her, she'll make something special for me, in which case I'll feel bad. On this matter I'm inclined to agree with the French, who gaze upon any personal dietary prohibition as bad manners.</p> <p>Even if the vegetarian is a more highly evolved human being, it seems to me he has lost something along the way, something I'm not prepared to dismiss as trivial. Healthy and virtuous as I may feel these days, I also feel alienated from traditions I value: cultural traditions like the Thanksgiving turkey, or even franks at the ballpart, and family traditions like my mother's beef brisket at Passover. </blockquote></p> <p>I wrestled with my novel dietary changes a bit, but ultimately aimed for (and nearly succeeded at) a vegan Christmas dinner with my parents where I'm comfortable cooking for myself and no one is going to feel bad, but folded entirely to the traditional twelve course Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner with my extenda-fam, where opting out of the perogies would have been exceedingly poor form.</p> <p>I think that vegetarianism is common enough, at least among my friends and family, that I don't really buy his argument &mdash; it's not very often that I'm the only veggie at a party, and even if I am veggie and it happens that I forget to mention it, I don't think anyone feels really bad about it. But that's just social context &mdash; I think if you apply what he's saying to veganism or my <a href="/blog/life/nyc/shrinking-feet.html">special flavour</a> of diet does seem like an imposition.</p> <p>This is a weird line to walk; if I've decided that, for my day to day life, supporting conventional American factory farming is untenable, why would I let that slide? And yet, these traditions <em>are</em> important, and especially with the recency of my shift it hardly seems fair to induce this breakdown in the host-guest relationship that Pollan speaks of. It's a quandary that I resolve ultimately via social expedience but the rubric of this traditionalism is moderately more satisfying, though Pollan himself doesn't really resolve the issue.</p> <p>Wow, that last sentence was rubbish.</p> <p><hr></p> <p>In other news, I had a nice, relaxing Christmas &mdash; the quietest one I've had ever, I think, though my sister and her family arrive tomorrow to add the requisite snow-playing and children-screaming to the holidays. I got a bunch of kitchen- and food-related stuff, which is most excellent. </p>
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