I’d like to become a vegetarian. Not for the health benefits, although I’m sure I could use those too, but on moral grounds. It just seems wrong for an animal lover to eat meat.
(I don’t understand veganism though. I probably shouldn’t ask this because I don’t want to know the answer, but how does milking harm the cow? I’ve been around enough farms to know that not milking them causes pain.
And eggs? What damage does taking them after they have already been laid cause the chicken?
I do believe in humane treatment. I buy free range eggs, etc. But being a vegan just seems to take the point one step too far.)
The trouble is that I kind of like meat.
And it’s easy. When you don’t know what to have for dinner, you grill a burger. Or make a tuna sandwich.
That’s the other part of the problem. I’m a Vermonter. If I became a vegetarian I would have to completely re-teach myself how to cook.
My grandparents ate supper (note that it’s supper, not dinner.) every night at six o’clock. A typical meal consisted of: a fried or oven roasted meat like steak or roast beef, potato, a boiled vegetable and a stack of white bread on a plate to be eaten buttered.
If it was the summer, this meal would also include an in-season raw vegetable, cut up and served in vinegar, or vinegar and sugar. Tomatoes, cucumbers, onions were all eaten this way.
My grandmother made really good macaroni and cheese so sometimes that would take the place of the potato, alongside a meat.
Beans, when they were served, were baked with molasses or maple syrup. Green beans would be boiled and the leftovers were served creamed on toast for breakfast the next morning.
Yeah, that’s the other thing. My family will eat almost anything if you add cream and pour it over toast. Any fresh vegetable anyway. I think that’s the only vegetarian recipes they’ve ever eaten.
Not that meat and potatoes is a bad thing. It’s sturdy and traditional.
But being raised on a menu like that has limited my knowledge of vegetarian cooking. I can do pasta with marinara sauce, salads and I make a mean three onion pizza.
I don’t know anything about cooking quinoa, rice (other than the minute variety), lentils, tofu or any of the other vegetarian staples.
And I don’t really like beans.
So until I’m ready to commit myself to learning a new way of cooking and a new food life, I’ve come up with a compromise.
I am an uglivore.
That means I don’t eat anything that is cute.
While I feel a little badly that I am making the distinction based on looks, it makes me feel better about the meat I eat.
Here are a few of the rules to being an uglivore:
No baby animals. Ever.
Any baby animal is cute by definition, no matter what the species. I’d even go out on a limb and guess that baby rats are cute, even though rats are disgusting and even the babies would cause me scream and stand on top of a chair.
Being an uglivore means you don’t eat veal (aka baby cows), lamb (aka baby sheep) and piglets (aka baby pigs, but do people even eat piglet?)
I’ve never tasted any of these. At least not knowingly.
Nothing too fuzzy
Like being a baby, fuzzy is cute.
This eliminates bunny rabbits and other non-traditional woodland animals.
When I was a child, my grandfather briefly dabbled with trapping, an awful means of “hunting” animals.
He would mostly get raccoons and my grandparents would actually eat them once in a while. My grandfather thought it was amusing, I think.
Even though I shudder to think about it now, I once begged my grandfather to let me taste some raccoon.
My grandmother cooked it and we sat down to eat. I took one look at the raccoon on my plate and burst into tears. I couldn’t do it.
Thus the fuzzy rule.
Nothing that waddles or has chicks following behind it, except for chickens
Duck and geese are cute, even though geese can be mean.
Chickens are ugly and nasty too, so they are ok.
This rule is probably based on a bad chicken experience I had many years ago.
I was house-sitting for a family that had a chicken coop and six or eight chicken. I came back one evening to find all the chickens dead, feathers and blood scattered across the yard and driveway.
It was very traumatic. I’m not joking when I say that for a long time afterwards, I would see dead chicken everywhere. A rock on the side of the road looked like a dead chicken, a pillow on the floor looked like a dead chicken.
Strangely I blame the chicken for the mess and not the fox that attacked them.
Stupid chickens. They should have done something to avoid being killed like that.
Anything that stupid deserves to be eaten. I bet ducks would have figured out how to save themselves.
Seafood is not cute
All seafood is ugly. Fish are ugly, lobsters are ugly, clams are ugly.
There is seafood I don’t like and choose not to eat, like salmon and oysters. But I could eat them.
It’s sort of like a vegetarian not eating radishes because she doesn’t like the taste. Just because they’re allowed, doesn’t mean you have to eat them.
Nothing with long legs
Animals like moose and giraffes might not be considered traditionally cute, but those long legs make them endearing somehow, and a little vulnerable, which is just another way of saying cute.
So no deer, moose, giraffe or horses.
So what does that leave an uglivore, besides the aforementioned seafood and chicken? Beef and pork, I guess.
When in doubt just ask yourself, “Would I want this animal as a pet?”
If the answer is yes, then order a burger instead.