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Confessions of a vegetarian

Illustration by Jennifer Kearney
By Scott Patterson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, November 28, 2005
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Gee whiz, I admire herbivores! And hypocrisy can be a hoot as well.

Thanksgiving is a day for giving thanks. Yeah, I did that, but I took it step further. I had a revelation. After over two decades of living on this planet, it finally hit me - I am a vegetarian.

While enjoying a healthy plate of succulent caramel ham and a sizzling, sizable helping of juicy, oven-baked turkey, it suddenly became obvious. I finally realized that I, in fact, belong to that select group of people who refer to themselves as "vegetarians." After all, next to turkey and ham, there is nothing I like more than a tender 22-ounce cut of prime rib.

Of course, there are probably several of you out there who question the sincerity of my recent conversion. After all, it doesn't seem logical that one could eat things like prime rib, ham and turkey and still be considered a vegetarian. Well, I beg to differ.

I cannot count the number of self-proclaimed "vegetarians," with whom I have come into contact who insist that, despite frequent consumption of chicken and or fish, they are vegetarians.

It's unfortunate, but all throughout the U.S. people are parading themselves as vegetarians while at the same time enjoying chicken tiki for dinner or fresh sliced mackerel for a light brunch. This, of course, doesn't apply to all vegetarians. Several true vegetarians do exist, and I respect their right to do so.

Scott Patterson

Yet for the poseurs, this is wrong. Their defense: I'm not vegan. There are different kinds of vegetarians, you know? (Yes, I wholeheartedly agree.)

According to the Vegetarian Resource Group, we vegetarians can be divided into four groups: lacto-ovo, lacto, ovo and vegans. Lacto-ovo vegetarians omit meat but eat eggs and milk products. Lacto-vegetarians exclude meat and eggs but eat milk products. Ovo-vegetarians eat neither meat nor milk products but consume eggs. Vegans eliminate all foods from animals, including meat, milk products and eggs.

Nowhere in any of these definitions are exceptions made for chicken, fish or for any other form of fowl or seafood. Thus, the standard vegetarian defense of "there are different kinds, you know?" just doesn't cut it.

Instead, there are three possible explanations for their behavior.

One, fish and chicken are not meats. Fish, after all, swim in the sea, whereas meat comes from animals living on land. As for chickens, they are birds. Naturally, birds don't count either.

Two, vegetarians are liars. They know full well that fish and chicken are meats, yet they are so caught up in the vegetarian craze that they are willing to go to great lengths to keep from being left behind, including lying about who they really are.

Three, they are ignorant. Much like the group of liars, they strive terribly hard to jump on the vegetarian bandwagon. In their haste, however, they fail to educate themselves on this abstract idea they have decided to support so passionately. As a result, they believe strongly in something they don't understand.

In thier haste, however, they fail to educate themselves on this abstract idea they have decided to support so passionately.

I, personally, enjoy the first explanation. The International Vegetarian Union (IVU) even supports the idea that chicken and fish are not meats, yet does not concede that those consuming them are vegetarians. Instead, the IVU recognizes them as nonmeat eaters. A nonmeat eater "does not eat meat. Most definitions do not consider fish, fowl or seafood to be meat."

The significance of such a seemingly minute detail must not be underestimated. There are two serious problems here. First, we have an entire generation of "vegetarians" who not only lie to those around them but to themselves as well. Second, great swaths of people blindly buy into an ideology they know little to nothing about.

Such patterns have been observed before. President Bush, for example, told his people that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to the security of the U.S. Again, uneducated people bought into it. The result: More than 2,000 U.S. soldiers dead for nothing.

If people don't begin taking the initiative to educate themselves about principles they feign to be interested in, the appearance of the Bushes of this world will only continue.

As for me, I have become a vegetarian out of protest. I will continue to label myself as such in the most opportune of circumstances; for example, as I bite into a double quarter pounder with cheese inside the local McDonald's. With any luck, I will make great strides in exposing the hypocrisy that is slowly becoming vegetarianism.

Scott Patterson is an international relations senior. He can be reached at

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