I’ve been thinking pretty hard in the last few days about giving up fish, about whether I should become a “real” vegetarian. After all, the blog is called No Meat Athlete. I suppose I could justify my fish-eating by saying that “no meat” is an ideal that I’m hoping to achieve one day, but it’s not about the blog title. It’s about the title I give to myself.
I know that titles don’t matter much. If I were to eat fish only one time per year, there are plenty of people who would argue that I still wouldn’t be a vegetarian. But who cares what it’s called, right? If I know in my head that I am vegetarian 99.5 percent of the time, then the title doesn’t matter at all.
Only it does matter. It matters because I’m honest, and something would feel very wrong about telling others that I’m a vegetarian when in fact I still consume some animals (let’s not forget that fish, dumb as they seem, are animals). I could just say “almost-vegetarian,” or “pescetarian.” But I don’t like doing anything “almost,” and most people think pescetarianism is a religion.
But still, all that is about names. And there’s more to my dilemma than just names. I want to be someone who doesn’t eat any animals. For now I’m semi-ok with dairy, because you’re not eating a corpse when you drink a cow’s milk (though with all the hormones and whatever else finds its way into most milk, I wouldn’t call it healthy). But actually eating animals is on another level.
On the other hand, I’m not quite ready to be that guy who can’t eat crabs at a crab feast, or the guy who has to make special arrangements when a wedding reception dinner includes a fish option but nothing vegetarian. It’s really not about missing fish; we already eat it less than once per week and it’s not like I count down the days until I get to eat it again. I could do without it at home. But as far as convenience goes (and I really hate to use the word “convenience” when I’m talking about eating a once-living being), it would just be so much easier to have fish as an option when I go out to eat with friends or go to someone’s house for dinner.
Here’s a solution that a friend proposed to me, and I’m kind of happy with it. Stop making fish at home, don’t plan on eating it out, but realize that there will be some situations when I’ll end up eating it, and be ok with that (as a Marylander, can I really be expected to eschew a crab feast?). And call myself a vegetarian. It’s that last part that I’m struggling with.
Finally, just to keep things in perspective, let me brag a little. Just two months ago I was eating essentially anything, and yesterday at a party I turned down a home-smoked pulled pork sandwich with vinegar-based sauce! I once drove seven hours through the night to get this type of sandwich when I was in college (not a lie; my friend and I literally drove there, slept in the parking lot until the place opened, ate a sandwich, and drove home). I may not be a perfect vegetarian yet, but turning down vinegar-based barbecue, dear readers, was a victory.