Summer Blues for Vegetarians
I am a terrible vegetarian.
For starters, I eat meat. Well, fish. But I tell myself the honey-glazed salmon and sesame-crusted sashimi on my plate are really just Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. It alleviates the guilt of not actually being a true vegetarian but rather being a pescetarian. And let me tell you, living as a pescetarian gets you zero points from both vegetarians and full-fledged bacon-lovin’ omnivores alike.
Apparently, my diet is a deep offense in its own right, as my friend and fellow Piscean often points out, calling me cannibalistic for eating the animal of my astrological sign. I am not only a vegetarian who eats meat but also a vegetarian who cannibalizes.
Sadly, being born a day later, under the Aries sign, wouldn’t have solved all my problems. I wear my faux-vegetarianism like a medal around my neck, literally. More than 10 years ago, I took a hunk of bone into my hand and carved it into a fishhook necklace, which I have never taken off. It’s a daily reminder that despite my giving up most meat when I was 14 years old, I’m not exactly spokeswoman material.
But that’s not even the worst part. What makes me a terrible vegetarian isn’t the fact that I still eat animals. What makes me a terrible vegetarian isn’t the fact that I wear a huge hunk of bone around my neck, Pebbles Flintstone-style. What makes me a terrible vegetarian is that I still miss meat. And no time of year makes me question my convictions like summertime.
It is an impossibility that any sane person ever chose to curb meat consumption during the summer. How could anyone? The campfire culinary concoctions! The grilling! The barbecues! The sweet smell of smoked hide that fills the neighborhood. The fast-food pit stops en route to the beach! The corn dogs at the amusement park! The giant turkey leg at the Renaissance fair! No, is that one just me? OK, fine, the deep-fried chicken and Krispy Kreme doughnut sandwiches at the county fair! C’mon, I know I can’t be the only vegetarian who salivates over those crazy cardiac arrest cakes!
This summer has proved to be especially difficult for me, for one main reason: emus.
During a shining streak of something special, another lifetime and many moons ago, I worked as an adventure tour guide in the Outback.
There, I befriended an aboriginal shaman who opened up his land for our adventures. During one of those weeks, the metallic strands in my hair scrunchie caught the eye of an emu, leading to five of the most terrifying minutes of my life.
My shaman grabbed a piece of wood and chased away my giant winged nemesis. He returned more than an hour later, dragging the dead bird behind him.
He dropped the emu by my feet and said, “Dinner.”
That day, my diet adopted an addendum: If you attack me, I will eat you!
The emu was cooked into a stew over an open fire in the wild of the Outback. And it was the most delicious thing I have ever eaten. Scaring the living daylights out of someone can really amp up an appetite!
I scarfed down the stew, knowing full well that my body no longer knew how to metabolize meats. Knowing full well that I would probably become ill and would suffer greatly for this act of gourmet revenge. But I didn’t care. And, miraculously, I didn’t get sick. It’s as if my stomach signed on to the new “attack clause” in my diet.
The emu incident never made me second-guess my diet. I went back to being the same terrible vegetarian I always was. Everything returned to status quo. Until this summer.
My in-laws came to visit and took us to an emu farm, where we could feed the birds. It was supposed to be a gift for my animal-loving son, but the winged wackos were so aggressive I couldn’t let my toddler near the fence. The emu farm did not provide the family-friendly adventure we had anticipated, but it did effectively remind me of my intense hatred of emus. And in turn, it reminded me how delicious emus are.
Last night, I smelled an exquisite aroma coming from my neighbors’ backyard as they were grilling dinner. They had picked up emu patties from a shop down the street.
I may not be a pescetarian by summer’s end.