pointed critique of certain "vegetarian" practices
(1) I'm frustrated when vegetarians don't know the food prep practices of the restaurants they eat at, or the cuisines they enjoy. A rather repulsive case in point - a good friend of mine years ago would only eat McDonalds rather than Taco Bell because she ate their fries. Yes, the ones fried in animal fat. If she cared, she should have done the research. I mean, Taco Bell has a lenten menu. One can get food for vegans there, if need be. And this friend (who, I think, is still a vegetarian, but frankly, no longer a friend) always said that Taco Bell had nothing meatless. Was it an excuse to eat fries? Did she just not like Taco Bell? (Understandable, but in a fast food context, you could do worse.) I wonder to this day . . . .
(2) I'm saddened when vegetarians adapt dishes (or food groups) with meat and dairy substitutes rather than just learning about and eating cuisines that don't include meat. I was recently hosting a vegan friend here in Pittsburgh who insisted on going to Mad Mex, where he had heard he could eat vegan cheese and sour cream (which, I understand, are suspect to the informed vegan), rather than Aladdins, where they know how to prepare bean dishes.
(3) While I enjoy fushion as much as the next adventurous diner, when making substitutions, I ask the vegetarian to make informed choices. Tofu does not go with every cuisine. Pick the cuisine appropriate bean. Read a range of meat and meat free recipes from the cuisine you are preparing to get a sense of which flavors are essential and which can be left out of a dish or which ingredients can be substituted in to round out an adapted dish without doing violence to culinary tradition.
(4) I am often uncomfortable travelling with vegetarians (especially outside the US) in cultures or to household where meat is part of the diet. I don't think its polite to refuse a dish, or to explain to someone all your food ways, if you are a guest.
I could go on and on about how pushy, but ignorant, so many vegetarians I've know have been about eating out and cooking in. In every one of these cases (and more besides), I have held my tongue and not bitched until now, in this post, with you, dear readers. Like titling a blog "i hate the new yorker" this post will probably be misinterpreted by many well meaning souls. . . but please,
(5) Don't assume I like to sit home eating raw beef. Ok, so I've eaten raw beef, but only when it was served to me by someone who wanted to share something they thought perfectly normal and enjoyable. I cook veg all the time, but I put a lot of effort into it - research, reading recipes and cookbooks, talking with culinarily experienced friends and family, experimenting, shopping carefully.
Thanks for your patience. And happy eating . . . Please feel free to write in with suggestions for "keeping veg" responsibly.