Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's Just Too Much

A couple of months ago I wrote that a friend and I went to a new vegan restaurant in the neighborhood called Nutshell. In the post I jokingly referred to her as a "flexitarian," a word I'd run across that describes someone whose diet is mostly vegetarian but can also include chicken and fish.

It did get me thinking about the new words we're using to describe our eating habits, often in excruciating detail. I mean, we've had the term vegetarian for awhile now, and my mother is starting to understand what a vegan is (though it seems to confuse her that Dave's lactose intolerance precludes yogurt but not mayonnaise). And hopefully the people on raw diets will die from boredom before I have to explain that one to her.

It's understandable that omnivore is popping up thanks to the popularity of Michael Pollan's book but, really, did we need locavore (OED's word of the year last year)? And, please, don't even get me started on "retrovore."

Then this morning I'm reading a seemingly harmless Valentine's Day article in the NYT about couples who have different food preferences, and one woman says that she's been able to tolerate her husband's occasional need for animal flesh because she's not a "vegangelical." What?

Is this level of specificity just further proof that we're getting more and more narcissistic all the time (says the woman with the blog)? Do I really need to know that you only eat five-toed sloths in the month of January that have been pasture-raised by Zoroastrians within 100 feet of your house? All I can say is, "T...M...I!"

Cartoons from Toothpaste For Dinner.


TK said...

I enjoy this blog and this is my first comment, but I'm having a very difficult time wrapping my head around the point of this post.

You're a writer and you have a problem with creative use of language? Seriously? Apparently so, since you conclude with "TMI".

The existence of an evocative word like "vegangelical" is proof that the language is alive and rich with possibility. I'm sorry you don't see it that way. It's your loss.

kab said...

Sorry, I tried to make this clear, but linguistic creativity isn't the problem. After all, it was me who first coined the phrases "Geez Louise" and "It's a good thing." No matter what anyone else says.

My (hopefully humorous) target is some people's need to declare their food proclivities to anyone within earshot. Especially since they all simply used to be called "picky eaters." (Joke again.)

TK said...

Sorry I missed the point. On the plus side, I like "flexitarian" as a word.

kab said...

Hey, it was brave of you to leave a comment...I love 'em!

Coach said...

What would you call someone who is 85% vegetarian, 5% omnivore, and 10% vegan? That's me. Leaning hard toward the vege side of the equation, but refrains from most dairy products (including mayo - I really like Veganaise). However I can't turn down some really good chicken - and don't even get me started on a good cheeseburger.

Well written article!

PS: When it come to my health, my wife is clearly vegangelical. :)

Mary said...

I love your blog - I have used it to guide me to many new places in Portland.
I think you hit the humor just right. I've been a vegetarian for over thirty years and only recently have people begun to fear that I would start to criticize what they are eating or talk for ever about how I came to my moral high ground (kidding) (one of my boyfriend's brothers was even afraid to invite me to their Easter dinner - I assured him I love the smell of lamb.)

kab said...

If we didn't have a 23-year-old pork-worshipping meat freak in the house, we'd definitely be eating differently. That said, I'd still be hard-pressed to turn down a dinner like the one my brother cooked for us last weekend. Choices, choices!

Loo said...

My husband and I are kabatarians. We are normally tee-totalling vegetarians until we go over to kab's house where all bets are off.

kab is a fantastic cook and to not eat what she has made is one of the only sins I subscribe to. Oh, and they are always pouring something amazing as well...

What we eat at home is our business, but to not participate in social gatherings by snubbing the gift of food is just bad manners, unless the offending item will kill you of course! Then you get a pass.

kab said...

We always try to cut a little slack where fatality may result.

And as a host, the two questions I ask new dinner guests are, "Do you drink?" and "Do you have any dietary restrictions?" Of course, a negative answer to the first question usually causes so much static on our phone line that any further communication is impossible. (Funny how that works!)