About forty years ago, I became a vegetarian because I thought it was the right thing to do. Besides, a guy I liked decided he was going to be a vegetarian and how better to gain his attention and respect? Ok, so it was mostly the latter but I was fifteen and I didn’t know any better.
I became a vegetarian, and then three days later I had a Big Mac. We were on a school trip and on the way home we stopped at McDonald’s for dinner. My new principles went by the wayside and then something amazing happened. One of my friends on the bus took one look at the hamburger in my hand and said: “I knew you couldn’t do it.”
Oh yeah? Hummmpph! Not only did I become a vegetarian, I became a vegan. That’s right my doubting friend…just watch me not eat animal stuff! You just watch! I was a vegan for a year and then it became obvious that living without cheese was a life not worth living….at least for me. Plus, I was going to college soon and I wouldn’t be able to cook for myself there. Even if I could sustain a vegetarian lifestyle, I was sure being a vegan would be next to impossible. As it turned out, I was right.
I was lucky that my college did offer a vegetarian menu. It consisted of pasta a couple of times a week, but mostly it was lima bean casserole. If I never see another lima bean that will be just fine with me. I must have consumed my weight in lima beans 10 times over and I’m a big person!
In spite of the lima beans, that Big Mac on the school trip was the last piece of meat I’ve had. It’s been over forty years and I’m still meat-free. Sure, it started for all the wrong reasons, but I’ve never regretted it.
My parents might have questioned it a bit, though. My big decision to prove my friend wrong happened just a few days before Thanksgiving. My mother was shocked that I wouldn’t be eating turkey. How could this be? She was so concerned that she contacted our doctor and asked his opinion. It was a short reply: “she’ll die.” As you can imagine, it was a rough road there for a while. As time went on, it was obvious that I wasn’t dead yet, so things settled down.
I got through college, went out on my own, got married, got a job, and did all of the things people do. I still wasn’t dead, but by that time, the doctor was. It seems that being a vegetarian isn’t nearly as lethal as cigarette smoking.
People would hear me say I was a vegetarian and they would ask if I ate chicken…uh no. “Don’t you eat fish?” Uh no. Finally, I came up with a way to make them understand. I would say “I don’t eat anything with a face or a foot!” That sounds weird, but it meant I didn’t eat clams or other shellfish either. Hey, they don’t have faces, so I had to improvise!
I figure if I can’t kill an animal, I shouldn’t be eating it. One of my best friends is a hunter and she bags turkeys and deer and even bears! She guts them, skins them and uses every last part of them. I admire that. At least it’s not a trophy and nothing more. I couldn’t do what she does, but I respect it. Since I could never pull the trigger (at least against anything four-legged) you won’t see me eating bear burger anytime soon.
Early in my life as a vegetarian, every once in a while I would go to McDonald’s and have some french fries. I’m rather partial to french fries and they were a treat. Then I learned that McDonald’s put tallow in their fries, so they weren’t vegetarian! I sent them a scathing comment on their website. Not long afterward, I got a message from some law firm telling me I was part of a class action suit! Wow, a scathing comment can have some ramifications! The end result was that McDonald’s had to give a few million dollars to a bunch of charities who didn’t like tallow in french fries either. Good! Serves ’em right! I vowed I would never set foot in one of their establishments again.
Then the unthinkable happened; I had to go there. McDonald’s was giving away a doll with the purchase of two Quarter-Pounders. One of my customers in Chicago who is a dear friend was desperate to get one for her niece. All of the McDonald’s in Chicago were sold out. Damn it…er I mean luckily, Maine still had them. I couldn’t possibly buy meat because it was against my principles. But I was torn. This was for someone I really cared about. I was stymied.
Against my better judgment, I went there. I asked if I could buy the doll outright…No. I asked if I could pay for two Quarter Pounders and get the doll and not take the Quarter Pounders…I was just met with silence. Once they regained their ability to talk, they politely told me that they didn’t have a button for that. Eventually, they agreed to provide two Zero-Pounders and the doll. They didn’t have a button for that either and I’ve always wondered how they dealt with those four extra burger patties at the end of the day. It didn’t matter, I proudly left with my Zero Pounder sandwiches consisting of nothing but buns with ketchup and mustard…and the doll. Score!
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that I went against my vow to never set foot in another McDonald’s ever again. How could I do such a thing when I promised myself? Well, I didn’t…I went through the drive-thru!
Photo source: Centralmaine.com