I Was A Teenage Vegetarian

by Marinka on October 29, 2008

As parents, we have hopes for our children. They span from the most basic–let my child be healthy and safe and happy, to the more specific–let them be employed and marry someone who I can stand, and if at all possible, no French pedicures. But lately, I’ve been obsessing about a different type of hope.

Dear Lord, please do not let my kids go through a vegetarian stage. Amen.

I have absolutely nothing against vegetarians. I am of the “eat and let eat” school of thought. But I cannot stomach the idea of a child, particularly a teenager, who decides that she wants to be a vegetarian.  Or more specifically, who becomes a vegetarian and then tells everyone why. (By the way, my daughter has been known to approach a grazing cow and take a bite out of her side, so I doubt that she is in immediate danger of vegetarianism, but still, as a mother, I worry.) The reason I fear this is that I was a teenage vegetarian, and wow, was I ever a pain in the ass.

I decided that I wanted to be a vegetarian after a Gandhi-like experience of finding a vein in my chicken. “WHAT IS THAT?” I said after I was revived from a fainting spell.
“Iz vein,” my mother said. “You don’t haf to eat, but you haf to zit down and stop making faze. Faze can freeze.” (Ok, I know I’m making my mother’s accent sound more German and Russian, but you try doing the Russian accent. On your own blog.)

Right then and there, I became a convert.

“I think I’ll have a cucumber instead.” I announced.

My already-hip-to-vegetarianism friends preyed on me.

“Meat is murder!” “Why should an animal have to die so that we can eat?” “Haven’t you ever noticed how we have to disguise the meat we eat with ketchup and mustard to mask that we are eating flesh?!”

So, in order to blend in with the semi-cool vegetarian kids, I became a zealot.

“Nice of you to serve me a dead animal,” I’d comment at dinner-time.

“Why do others have to die so that you can have bacon and eggs?” I’d initiate a breakfast-time discussion.

“Because it’s delicious,” my father chewed.

“You know what’s delicious? This beet. And the knowledge that no one had to die for it. But that’s me, I guess I’m just not comfortable with murder,” I would reposition myself on the cross, while simultaneously adjusting my halo.  

This went on forever. I rebuffed my parents’ attempts of reasoning with me–everything from the nutritional value of protein (“you know what else is loaded with protein? SPERM! And yet, I don’t see you suggesting that I become the school’s fellatio queen!”) to their sneaking suspicion that I was more of a dessertarian than a vegetarian (“I need to get my calcium somehow and no innocent life had to be cut short for this ice cream!”)

My parents put up with it all with good humor and indulged me. They didn’t even harp on the fact that I was basically freebasing pate and that it could possibly be at odds with my vegetarianist zen.

It lasted for years. Until I went to college. Until I went to a Pro-Choice march in DC. Where carrying a hanger, I became so ravenous that I grabbed the first hot dog I saw and then ate another one of its brothers.

And although during my vegetarian rant my parents never once said, “just wait until you have a lunatic child of your own!”, they totally should have. Because believe me, I certainly have a few drafts of that speech written for my kids.

One year ago ...

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Kylie w Warszawie October 29, 2008 at 11:52 pm

Ha! My husband was a teenage vegetarian too and while I would LOVE to do a post on this, he would hate me so I’ll write it here.

I knew him in high school and I know that he knew a girl who was a vegetarian and he “converted” because of her. And he became the whole “meat is murder” zealot.

I, having grown up in a hippie household, didn’t really eat that much meat growing up anyway, but since my main sources of protein growing up were peanut butter and beans, I didn’t ever think that meat was murder.

Hubby’s parents DID tell him that he was crazy and did not humor him. They were not much of vegetable eaters anyway, so he just ate cheese and tortilla chips.

But because of that, he doesn’t eat red meat (he does eat poultry and fish) to this day. He won’t tell anyone that it’s just because he wants to prove to his parents that it wasn’t just a faze. He plays the martyr and says that it’s his “sacrifice” and he “has lost the taste for meat”.

Yeah, and it all started with a girl. Who was not me.

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ingrid October 30, 2008 at 1:49 am

I have a friend who became a veggie when in college in order to meet a girl, which entailed going to ani-meat meetings.

Great entry. Loved it.

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Kristine October 30, 2008 at 6:07 am

I have always loved meat. Tasty tasty meat.

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Marinka October 30, 2008 at 6:32 am

You know, I completely forgot the whole “boy becomes a vegetarian for a girl” thing. Which doesn’t make my fears of teenage vegetarianism any less acute. FUME.

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Nilsa October 30, 2008 at 6:35 am

My brother was a teenage vegetarian. And while he wouldn’t spout off at the mouth quite as much as you did, he was still a royal pain in the ass. My mom would cook two meals, one for him and one for the rest of us. I felt he wasn’t deserving of that special treatment. Thankfully, he’s back to his meat-eating ways!

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Heinous October 30, 2008 at 7:23 am

I know all the arguments against meat eating, but the flavor keeps pulling me back.

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daydreamymama October 30, 2008 at 7:48 am

Hilarious. And I’m a vegetarian! But not an obnoxious one, I hope. If anybody catches me being obnoxious, please stop by my blog and smack me over the head. Twice.

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Roadchick October 30, 2008 at 10:19 am

I used to work with an obnoxious vegetarian who, when joining us for lunch, would avert her eyes from the “animals sacrificed upon your plates”.

After awhile, a co-worker and I got tired of it.

Since he could make noise without moving his mouth, he would make muffled screaming noises and I would look into her Tupperware container of salad and tell her:

I can hear that tomato screaming when you stick your fork in it.

I wonder why she stopped eating lunch with us.

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jen October 30, 2008 at 10:33 am

i, too, was a teenage vegetarian.

it all started when my parents took my sister and i to eat at a restaurant that had thousands of animal heads on the walls. i could not eat an animal with all of them watching me.

then mcd’s called when i was in college.

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Madge October 30, 2008 at 11:11 am

my son likes to go to fast food and say, ‘do they have live chickens here?’

uhhh. no. he means just regular chickens, but for some reason he can’t say chicken nuggets, he says, live chickens….

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Andrea's Sweet Life October 30, 2008 at 1:43 pm

After seeing your name mentioned countless times at my favorite blogs, I FINALLY popped over here… and am so glad I did!

I worry about this, too, especially since we live on a ranch and eat things that had names. I see teenage vegetarianism in my future, for sure.

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Vodka Mom October 30, 2008 at 3:59 pm

I LOVE a big juicy steak!! However, Bitchy claims to be a vegetarian. We still think she sneaks meat on the side, but it has never been confirmed.

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Lish October 30, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Sorry, but I haven’t read this post yet. I’m all excited about your secret other blog that you haven’t returned to since July. And which I haven’t been able to comment on since anon comments are not kosher.

It’s the best blog idea I’ve ever read. Please don’t abandon it!!!

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Frogs in my formula October 30, 2008 at 6:55 pm

I’ve always wanted to try being a vegetarian but I can’t give up Kielbasa. It’s…just…so…tasty.

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Tracey October 30, 2008 at 7:57 pm

Oh, that cracked me up!!

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Z October 31, 2008 at 6:47 am

AH, yes. The teenage vegetarian. So young. So passionate. So… Annoying.

And yes, I AM a veggie 😉 Luckily, I’m out of my teen years. Some days. Others, I’m not so sure.

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King of New York Hacks November 1, 2008 at 11:27 am

I was a vegetarian too until my penis turned into a very small pickle.I had to eat meat to have my sausage return.

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Newt November 1, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Oh, dear, I was a teenage vegetarian, too. A sanctimonious one, too. My family still teases me about all the years when I named the Thanksgiving turkey in the hopes that my family wouldn’t be able to eat something I had humanized. (They always ate it, with no apparent attacks of conscience).

I still don’t eat meat, actually, but I’m a lot less annoying about it now. At least I hope I am 🙂

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bernthis November 1, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Marinka, i really just love reading your blog. i laughed out loud on this one and the one prior. I don’t know how you can do so much funny stuff. It takes me forever to put one post together you are my new idol

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bikerchick November 1, 2008 at 9:38 pm

Ha! I was a teenage vegetarian! You know, I didn’t realize until I read this that this was a “stage” for so many, since none of my friends were. My parents tried to quelch it by *not* cooking for me… with not such good results. And so was born my part of the kitchen, in which I proudly grew sprouts, abused dairy products, and learned to make– ugh– lentil loaf! Thanks for the laughs!(I’m here from FiveStarFriday).
Cheers, Barb

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susan November 2, 2008 at 9:18 am

I kept seeing you in sidebars so I had to pop over…I’m glad I did. You give me HOPE.

I am the proud ownner of a teenage vegan, she’s been that way for three years. Although this may be false hope because growing out of it in college does ME no good!

Great post!

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Lish November 6, 2008 at 4:46 pm

“I would reposition myself on the cross, while simultaneously adjusting my halo.” This is one of the most amazing sentences I have ever read. When I finally get to New York and fight my way into the book business, I will hunt you down.

Don’t worry – I’m not psycho. Just an English major. Consult Mama Ginger Tree and I Left my Heart at Pre-School if you are worried.

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Kate November 10, 2008 at 4:00 pm

What do you do when your vegetarian is 7, and makes an exception for hamburgers?

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