This issue is near and dear to me as a 16 year vegetarian. It's 2006 and we still have to put up with a lot of flack just for the fact that we choose not to eat dead animals. We've heard them all, (and they're all quite lame)...
- "What do you eat? Lettuce?"
- "You're pretty big for a vegetarian."
- "How about you have this big juicy steak."
- "So you can't even eat seafood?"
- "Vegetarian: Indian word for bad hunter."
Of course, I have comebacks for most of these, but they may be offensive so I won't list them. The real question is this: Why is it that some meat-eating people feel so threatened or offended by the fact that we don't eat meat? If anything, it's more meat for them. Perhaps it's just not "normal" to be vegetarian. Or maybe it threatens their cultural heritage or their industries. One of the many famous vegetarians, K.D. Lang even had her songs taken off the air in her native province of Alberta which is a big beef producing area. Are they scared of us? Do they think we're weak because we don't like to make animals suffer? If anything, we're smart for eating food that is generally healthier, doesn't require defrosting, and makes meal choices at restaurants easier and cheaper. I won't get into the philosophical aspects.$7 for 1-Year to Vegetarian Times Magazine (Value $44.91)
And why do food producers do so little to cater to us? According to Wikipedia which references http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2000may/2000maypoll.htm, approximately 3% of the population is vegetarian. That's quite a niche market if you ask me. Food producers often tell you if food is kosher, why not tell us if something is vegetarian so that we don't have to read food labels closely? I propose the following code for all food producers to put on their labeling...
V - vegan
OV - ovovegetarian (contains eggs)
LV - lactovegetarian (contains dairy)
OLV - ovolactovegetarian (contains eggs and dairy)
(Props to places like almost every ethnic restaurant, Trader Joe's, Burger King, Taco Bell for offering veggie options.)
Now if only airlines would bring back vegetarian meals, then I could fly without starving. Wait a second, they need to bring back meals in general first.