The Vegetarian Within

By Shell Lessen

It’s a good thing I don’t believe in labeling people—including myself. If I did, my ego by now would have taken plenty of hits on the issue of vegetarianism. I mean, who wants to be known as the village hypocrite?

The problem in beating this rap was that I had to put my tush on the sharp horns of a dilemma. I needed a new label that explained why I didn’t deserve the hypocrite label. And, depending on whether or not you read the first sentence, you know how I feel about labels.

A little deductive reasoning followed by the condensed version of the story of my life might help clarify things:

People who eat poultry or fish have no right to call themselves vegetarian.

I eat poultry and fish sparingly.

Therefore, I am not a vegetarian.

But dammit, I’m a vegetarian at heart. The girl of my dreams (who is not now nor has ever been a veggie) cooks turkey burgers once every three or four weeks. I eat them. Then we kiss.  I also confess to putting away an occasional salmon dinner at home or (God forgive me) at a seafood restaurant.

But most of the time my sweetheart works miracles with rice, pasta and tofu concoctions. Yogurt is a friend of the family, too. I also consume up to three servings of oatmeal at breakfast time. And I down obscenely large lunch and/or dinner salads.

I know. I’m close to earning a big capital “V” to sew on my jacket. But close isn’t nearly enough.I accept that. But I do not accept having to bow my head and admit things are not what they seem to be every time someone marvels at the fact that I haven’t eaten beef in over 20 years, then says: “I could never be a vegetarian like you.”

That’s why I proudly label myself a VEGETARIAN IN TRAINING. It tells the world that I’m no wannabe. I’m an almost-is, seriously working for that capital “V.”

I don’t see anything hypocritical in that.